In Another Groundbreaking Act, Pope Francis Confesses His Sins in Public

Image AP

Pope Francis continued his rock star turn yesterday by breaking with tradition and publicly confessing his sins while leading a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The pope, dressed in a simple white alb and purple stole, spent about three minutes kneeling before the priest’s open confessional and received absolution. The priest also clasped the pope’s hands and kissed his simple silver ring.

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As we noted, just days ago, Pope Francis, who had made the cover of Rolling Stone, promised Jersey Vargas, a ten-year-old girl, that he would mention immigration reform in his meeting this week with President Obama. Specifically, Vargas was appealing to Francis on behalf of her father, Mario Vargas, who is in the process of being deported.

The plea, at least in the short-term, worked. Around the same time that the Pope was confessing his sins, Vargas walked free.

Mario Vargas was freed from a detention facility in Louisiana after he posted $5,000 bond. A relative who saw the girl on television pleading with the pope during a public audience helped with the funding, said his wife, Lola Vargas.

Vargas will reunite with his family for the first time in two years while they await the ruling of an immigration judge in the outcome of his deportation case.

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Taken from: http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/03/in-another-groundbreaking-act-pope-francis-confesses-his-sins-in-public/359861/

 

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Medical experts approve miracle attributed to Archbishop Sheen

By Catholic News Service on Friday, 7 March 2014

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A seven-member team of medical experts convoked by the Vatican reported there is no natural explanation for the survival of a child delivered stillborn and whose heart did not start beating until 61 minutes after his birth.

The survival of the child, James Fulton Engstrom, now three years old and developing normally, was credited by his parents to a miracle attributable to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who gained fame for his 1950s television show Life Is Worth Living and his 16 years at the helm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

The medical experts’ report was announced in the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, which is led by Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria.

“Today is a significant step in the cause for the beatification and canonisation of our beloved Fulton Sheen,” Bishop Jenky said in a statement. “There are many more steps ahead and more prayers are needed. But today is a good reason to rejoice.”

James’s mother, Bonnie Engstrom, described what happened when she addressed a 2012 gathering of the Midwest region of the Catholic Press Association in Peoria.

When Mrs Engstrom was pregnant with James, a feeling came over her that “God wants this baby to exist”, she said. “Maybe he’s going to be the pope. We didn’t know, but we were shooting high.”

During delivery, what caused James to be stillborn was that his umbilical cord had knotted itself, cutting off his blood flow and oxygen supply. The more he progressed through the birth canal, the tighter the knot became. “He was born stillborn,” Mrs Engstrom said, remembering how “his arms flopped by his side” when she reached for him to hold him.

Others did CPR and chest compressions for 20 minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Mrs Engstrom said she had no pre-composed prayer asking for help from Archbishop Sheen. “I just kept repeating his name over and over in my head: Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen,” she recounted. “I didn’t know what else to do.”

At the hospital, James was described as “PEA”, for “pulseless electrical activity”. Medics tried two injections of epinephrine. Neither worked. A nurse held one of James’s feet in an effort to give him some measure of comfort, and Engstrom said she remarked later: “It was so cold, it was so cold. It was like in the saying ‘cold and dead’.”

Mrs Engstrom remembered that a doctor in the emergency room said, “We’ll try for five more minutes, then call it,” meaning recording the time of death. “If he had known about the previous 40 minutes” of efforts to revive him before arriving at the hospital, she said, “he would have just called it.”

She added, “They were just about to call it when his heart started beating – 148 beats per minute, which is healthy for a newborn. And it never faltered.”

The case will next be reviewed by a board of theologians. With their approval, the case could move on to the cardinals and bishops who advise the Pope on these matters. Finally, the miracle would be presented to Pope Francis, who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps might take place.

If the Engstrom case is authenticated as a miracle, Archbishop Sheen would be beatified, elevating his from “venerable” to “blessed”. A beatification ceremony could conceivably take place in Peoria, according to the foundation, which promotes his sainthood cause. In general, a second miracle would need to be authenticated for canonisation.

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Taken from: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/03/07/medical-experts-approve-miracle-attributed-to-archbishop-fulton-sheen/

 

For Jonah as an historical figure, see (http://www.academia.edu/6007295/Prophet_Jonah):

Prophet Jonah and the Beginnings of a New History

by Damien Mackey

 

Was Mary a Temple Virgin?

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by Dr Taylor Marshall

Previously we examined the tradition and biblical foundation for the Catholic teaching that Mary was consecrated as a Temple virgin at the age of three and lived in the temple precincts till the age of fourteen when she was married to Saint Joseph and there after virginally conceived the Son of God.*

See post: The True Presentation of the Virgin Mary (Foretold in the Book of Sirach)

This school of Temple virgins in Jerusalem formed an altar guild that fulfilled the necessary tasks at the Temple. This included sewing and creating vestments, washing the vestments of the priests which would be stained regularly by animal blood, preparing liturgical linen, weaving the veil of the Temple, and most importantly, liturgical prayer. The Jewish and Catholic tradition holds that this school for Israelite virgins was completed by marrying age of about 14 and that they were dismissed at this time. There were also older women, perhaps widows such as the prophetess Anna, who served as teachers and governesses for the virgins under their care.

There has been some doubt as to whether their were really consecreated Jewish virgins at the Temple. In my previous post I referenced the first-century Jewish historian Josephus in support of “Temple virgins” in Jerusalem, but I fear that this cannot be substantiated. Jimmy Akin asked me for the citation and I cannot find it. One would assume that it would be in Book 5 of the Jewish Wars of Josephus. There Josephus mentions cloisters, but he does not tell us who lived in them. That’s as close as Josephus gets.

There are, however, three Scriptural accounts that are used by Catholics to demonstrate that there were special women who ministered at the Temple complex.

Exodus 38:8 mentions women who “watch (צָבָא) at the door of the tabernacle.”

The second is in 1 Samuel:

“Now Heli was very old, and he heard all that his sons did to all Israel: and how they lay with the women that waited (צָבָא) at the door of the tabernacle:” (1 Samuel 2:22, D-R)

In both of the verses above, Hebrew verb for “watch” and “waited” is the same. It is the Hebrew word צָבָא, which is the same verb used to described the liturgical activity of the Levites (see Num 4:23; 8:24). This corresponds to the Latin translation in the Clementine Vulgate, which relates that these women “observabant” at the temple doors – another liturgical reading.

So these women are not simply hanging out around the Temple, looking for men, gossiping, or chatting about the weather. These are pious women devoted to a liturgical function. In fact, the Court of Women might exist formally for these special “liturgical women.”

The third and final reference to these liturgical females is in 2 Maccabees:

And the virgins also that were shut up, came forth, some to {High Priest} Onias, and some to the walls, and others looked out of the windows. And all holding up their hands towards heaven, made supplication. (2 Macc 3:19-20)

Here are virgins that are shut up. In the Greek it is “αἱ δὲ κατάκλειστοι τῶν παρθένων” or “the shut up ones of the virgins.” In this passage the Holy Spirit refers not to all the virgins of Jerusalem, but to a special set of virgins, that is, those virgins who had the privilege and right to be in the presence of the High Priest and address him. It’s rather ridiculous to think that young girls would have general access to the High Priest of Israel. However, if these virgins had a special liturgical role at the Temple, it becomes clear that they would both address the High Priest Onias and would also be featured as an essential part of the intense supplication in the Temple at this moment of crisis.

There is further testimony of temple virgins in the traditions of the Jews. In the Mishnah, it is recorded that there were 82 consecrated virgins who wove the veil of the Temple:

“The veil of the Temple was a palm-length in width. It was woven with seventy-two smooth stitches each made of twenty-four threads. The length was of forty cubits and the width of twenty cubits. Eighty-two virgins wove it. Two veils were made each year and three hundred priests were needed to carry it to the pool” (Mishna Shekalim 8, 5-6).

We find another reference to the “women who made the veils for the Temple…baked the showbread…prepared the incense” (Babylonian Talmud Kethuboth 106a).

Rabbinic Jewish sources also record how when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in AD 70, the Temple virgins leapt into the flames so as not to be abducted by the heathen soldiers: ”the virgins who were weaving threw themselves in the flames” (Pesikta Rabbati 26, 6). Here we also learn that these virgins lived in the three-storey building inside the Temple area. However, it is difficult to find any other details about this structure. The visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich placed the cloisters of the Temple Virgins on the north side of the Temple (Emmerich’s Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary 3, 5).

Even more, the first century document by the name of the Apocalypse of Baruch (sometimes called “2 Baruch”) describes the Temple virgins living in the Temple as weavers of the holy veil:

“And you virgins who weave byssus and silk, and gold from Ophir, in haste pick it all up and throw it in the fire that it will return it to its Author, and that the flame will take it back to its Creator, from fear that the enemy might seize it” (2 Baruch 10:19).

So then, there is ample evidence for the role of consecrated women, especially virgins at the Temple. If one were to accept the passages above, we have plenty of testimony for cultic women in the time of Moses’ tabernacle, in the time of David, in the Second Temple era, and in the first century of Our Lord.

This substantiates the claims of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church who claim that the Blessed Virgin Mary was presented to the Temple and served there from the age of three until the age of fourteen. To claim that Temple virgins are a myth of celibacy-crazed Catholic bishops does not hold up. Scripture and Jewish tradition records that there were specially commissioned virgins associated with the Temple. We may not know much about them, but we know that they existed.

That the most holy human girl of all time, the Mother of the Messiah, should live as a temple virgin should come as no surprise. This also accounts for the vow of virginity she had taken since she “knew not a man” even though she was already espoused to Joseph.

Now then, there is also a tradition that Mary was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. This seems absurd to us. Moses stipulated that the High Priest and only the High Priest be allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and that only once a year. It was the greatest privilege in Israel. Why was the Holy of Holies so special? It was the inner room that housed the ark of the covenant.

Yet remember that this is the Second Temple, not the original Temple of Solomon. The Ark of the Covenant was hidden by Jeremiah and it had been lost ever since. The Second Temple, therefore, had an empty Holy of Holies. It was an empty room. No Ark of the Covenant. Nothing. In a sense, the Second Temple was a sham. It was like an empty suit. The Temple was built to house the Ark of the Covenant, but Ark was not there.

So then, the Temple in Jerusalem was empty. It did not contain the ark of the covenant. And yet we Catholics know from Revelation 11:19-12:1 that the Mother of Christ is truly the Ark of the New Covenant. The wood ark of old contained the Word of God engraved in stone. The stainless womb of Mary contained the Word of God made flesh.

Perhaps by a singular inspiration, the High Priest of that time had been inspired to lead this immaculate virgin into the inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies. My heart leaps when contemplating this. The angels of heaven would rejoice to see the true Ark of the Covenant restored into the earthly Temple of Jerusalem. In fact, it would be a foretaste of the glorious assumption of Mary. The Temple represented a new Garden of Eden and, of course, Mary is the New Eve. Thus, her entry into the Temple reveals that the fullness of time has come. The New Eve will soon bring forth the New Adam to reverse the curse and lead the faithful into the presence of God.

This is speculation and I do not want it to obscure the purpose of this post, which is to defend the existence of Temple virgins in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the presence of the New Eve at or in the Temple certainly is fitting since it hearkens back to the prophecy that the virgin mother will crush the head of the serpent. This is an exciting new perspective at the meaning of Christmas.

Immaculate Mary, dutiful at the Temple, pray for us.

*It is blasphemy to say that the Blessed Virgin Mary was an “unwed mother” or that she conceived Christ “out of wedlock.” Joseph and Mary were married before the angel Gabriel came to her in the Annunciation, and thus she conceived Christ after she was married to Saint Joseph. “The angel Gabriel was sent…to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph.” Joseph and Mary were “spouses.”

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Taken from: http://taylormarshall.com/2011/12/did-jewish-temple-virgins-exist-and-was.html

Mass Appeal: Pope’s Popularity a Blessing for Media

 

Mass Appeal: Pope’s Popularity a Blessing for Media

The ‘Francis Effect’ Proves a Boom to Niche Publishers, Broadcasters

By 

Liam Moloney

Updated March 11, 2014 2:58 p.m. ET

Pope Francis is in big demand. From video broadcasts to dedicated papal magazines with centerspread pull-out posters, Liam Moloney reports on the insatiable appetite across the globe for Pope Francis. Photo: Getty Images

VATICAN CITY—Francis mania is lifting up the religious media.

As Pope Francis approaches the first anniversary of his election this week , his popularity is generating a boom for a media niche that rarely gathers much notice.

“We are just working night and day to satisfy demand,” said Monsignor Dario Vigano, head of the Vatican’s broadcaster, Vatican Television Center, or CTV, which shadows the pope and supplies papal newscasts and images for both Catholic and lay broadcasters. Revenue at CTV leaped 40% in 2013, as broadcasters as far afield as Tanzania now want the recordings of the pope’s weekly audiences. The windfall has allowed CVT to splash out on more modern cameras and a new €1.8 million ($2.45 million) control room.

Last week—on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent — Mondadori MN.MI -0.68%Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A.Italy: Milan 1.47 -0.01-0.68% March 11, 2014 5:30 pm Volume : 203,757 P/E Ratio N/AMarket Cap€363.53 Million Dividend Yield N/ARev. per Employee €356,18103/11/14 Pope Francis’s Popularity a Bl…More quote details and news »MN.MI inYour ValueYour Change Short position SpA, the publishing house controlled by the family of media magnate-turned-politician Silvio Berlusconi, launched a new weekly dedicated to the pope. The magazine, Il Mio Papa, which will initially cost 50 euro cents a copy, will include a pullout centerfold with Francis quotes and will print three million copies for its first month of publication.

A woman shows the cover of the Italian edition of Vanity Fair magazine, dedicated to Pope Francis, whom they elected Man of the Year for 2013. AP

Interest in the papacy exploded after Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation last year, and it carried through the conclave that elected Pope Francis. But Pope Francis’s heartwarmingly human—and telegenic—gestures, such as washing prisoners’ feet on Good Friday and taking selfies with fans in St. Peter’s Square, have kept interest high.

“We really have seen a ‘Francis effect,’” said Dennis Coday, editor of the National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City, Mo., whose monthly online page views have soared 44% since Pope Francis’s election.

A rise in subscriptions and newsstand sales allowed the Tablet, a British Catholic magazine, to spend more than €7,000 to send its Rome-based correspondent on the papal plane to cover World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro last July. It has also hired a stringer to cover Latin America, the home turf of the Argentine pontiff.

“We wouldn’t have normally done the Brazil trip as it is colossally expensive,” said editor Catherine Pepinster.

Pope Francis’s huge cross-over appeal also has drawn the mainstream media. He was put on the cover of Time magazine as 2013 Person of the Year, and he was the first pontiff to make the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. A Rolling Stone spokeswoman said that the pope issue, which was in January, sold above average.

The warm, grandfatherly style of the 77-year-old Pope Francis not only contrasts with the more retiring and austere profile of Pope Benedict but also plays well in an age when high-profile figures speak directly to their audiences. Pope Francis has picked up the trend started by Pope John Paul II, the charismatic, globe-trotting pontiff who was an actor in his youth and delighted reporters with punchy one-liners.

“John Paul II was someone who spoke to the media, while Benedict addressed the Church,” says Francesco Siliato, who lectures sociology of communications at Milan’s Polytechnic. “Francis goes straight to the common people.”

As a result, Vatican-owned media that enjoy special access to the pontiff have an edge.

At Avvenire, the paper owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, circulation rose 5% last year, a rare bright spot on a dire Italian media landscape. And Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana launched a new weekly called “Credere, la gioia della fede” (Belief, the joy of faith) distributed to church-goers; it now sells nearly 60,000 copies, pushed up in part by increased attendance at Mass in Italy, according to general manager Maurizio D’Adda.

La Civilta’ Cattolica, an obscure Jesuit journal, had to order extra printings of an edition last year featuring an interview with the pope. The publication usually breaks even in its annual accounts but it expects to post a profit for 2013, said Rev. Antonio Spadaro, managing editor of the Jesuit publication. He is considering opening more space to advertisers after a surge in demand, and launched the English edition of a book based on the papal interview last week.

Pope Francis’s appeal is also seen in social media. Catholic News Service, a division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says its number of Facebook followers is up tenfold in the last year. A book of Pope Francis’s November manifesto, in which he criticized economic inequality, and two volumes of compilations of his “Simple Wisdom,” which are excerpts from his weekly audience talks, are selling briskly, said Catholic News Service. The books are published by the USCCB.

Positive comments about the pope on Twitter have outnumbered negative ones by five to one so far in his papacy, according to Pew Research Center figures released last week. By contrast, 70% of tweets about Pope Benedict were negative during the year before he stepped down.

Meanwhile, the Pope’s Twitter account, including a Latin version, has 12.2 million followers.

Pope Francis’s human touch has made him popular world-wide and improved the fortunes of Vatican-owned media. filippo monteforte/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Write to Liam Moloney at liam.moloney@wsj.com

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Taken from: http://stream.wsj.com/story/latest-headlines/SS-2-63399/SS-2-478089/

Christianity in England is becoming an anachronism.

 

Christianity in England is becoming an anachronism. Nearly half of Britons have no idea where to find story of Creation or Jesus!

  • By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
  • 2/10/2014
  • Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christianity in England nearing extinction, being replaced by Islam, atheism.

Goodbye Christianity, it was nice having you around, but it looks like the atheists have won. According to a report in the Daily Mail, a dwindling fraction of British children have any specific knowledge of the Bible and the Archbishop of Canterbury warns that the Church of England is now just a generation away from extinction.
The church in England is becoming more of a relic than a vibrant institution. This is what happens when you weaken a church and replace tradition with pop theology.

The church in England is becoming more of a relic than a vibrant institution. This is what happens when you weaken a church and replace tradition with pop theology.


LONDON, ENGLAND (Catholic Online) – Christianity is on the retreat in England, being wiped out by a rising tide of secularism and atheism in that country. A new generation of children is growing up without the Bible or even the ability to cite the Bible as the source for stories they may have heard of, such as the story of creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah’s ark.
The surge of Bible illiteracy is reflected in the Daily Mail’s statistics, which shows that 54 percent of children in England have never had Bible stories read to them by adults, and one-in-three people, including adults, could not identify where the birth story of Jesus could be found.
One-in-three!
According to the paper: “This rose to 36 per cent for the tale of the Good Samaritan and 41 per cent for Samson and Delilah. Nearly two-thirds – 59 per cent – had no idea the stories of David and Goliath and Jonah and the Whale were from the Bible.”
All this is despite the fact that most Britons agree that the Bible and Christianity teaches good values and is useful for teaching good morals and values. Even atheists agree that people should be familiar with scriptures, although for less-than-honest reasons, and generally speaking, an understanding of the Bible is essential to appreciating English and European literature as well as history and culture.
The study even claims that a stunning 46 percent of British parents who were surveyed misidentified a Harry Potter plot sequence as coming from the Bible. Support Biblical literacy now!
As the Bible is removed from schools, is reshelved under “fiction” in libraries, and removed from hotel rooms, reverence for a book that has given us morals, values, laws, culture, and more, not to mention the obvious gift of a road-map to salvation (no less!), Bible literacy is plummeting. Children can recite passages from Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, and other popular books, but they have no knowledge of the scriptures.
It’s easy to see why when the parents also lack basic knowledge.
It is a shame for many reasons, even if only taken from a literary standpoint. The Bible is filled with wondrous stories, thought-provoking parables, as well as psalms and proverbs that are famous around the world and throughout history. A person who lives by the commandments of the Bible lives well, no matter where.
To withhold such knowledge from children is to unleash them upon the world wholly unprepared for the reality of life and the life to come after this. It borders on extreme neglect from many perspectives and schools should be turned to address this most glaring gap in education.
More importantly, parents have a sacred and solemn obligation to learn the scriptures for themselves and to share this with their children. Let the warning of England be a warning to the rest of the Christian world.
As Christianity in England dies, Islam and atheism continue to flourish.

Marian Conclusion to “Evangelii Gaudium”.

 

II. Mary, mother of evangelization

284. With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and thus made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost. She is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelization.

Jesus’ gift to his people

285. On the cross, when Jesus endured in his own flesh the dramatic encounter of the sin of the world and God’s mercy, he could feel at his feet the consoling presence of his mother and his friend. At that crucial moment, before fully accomplishing the work which his Father had entrusted to him, Jesus said to Mary: “Woman, here is your son”. Then he said to his beloved friend: “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). These words of the dying Jesus are not chiefly the expression of his devotion and concern for his mother; rather, they are a revelatory formula which manifests the mystery of a special saving mission. Jesus left us his mother to be our mother. Only after doing so did Jesus know that “all was now finished” (Jn 19:28). At the foot of the cross, at the supreme hour of the new creation, Christ led us to Mary. He brought us to her because he did not want us to journey without a mother, and our people read in this maternal image all the mysteries of the Gospel. The Lord did not want to leave the Church without this icon of womanhood. Mary, who brought him into the world with great faith, also accompanies “the rest of her offspring, those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (Rev 12:17). The close connection between Mary, the Church and each member of the faithful, based on the fact that each in his or her own way brings forth Christ, has been beautifully expressed by Blessed Isaac of Stella: “In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church, is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary… In a way, every Christian is also believed to be a bride of God’s word, a mother of Christ, his daughter and sister, at once virginal and fruitful… Christ dwelt for nine months in the tabernacle of Mary’s womb. He dwells until the end of the ages in the tabernacle of the Church’s faith. He will dwell forever in the knowledge and love of each faithful soul”.[212]

286. Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. She is the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises. She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who understands all our pain. As mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love. Through her many titles, often linked to her shrines, Mary shares the history of each people which has received the Gospel and she becomes a part of their historic identity. Many Christian parents ask that their children be baptized in a Marian shrine, as a sign of their faith in her motherhood which brings forth new children for God. There, in these many shrines, we can see how Mary brings together her children who with great effort come as pilgrims to see her and to be seen by her. Here they find strength from God to bear the weariness and the suffering in their lives. As she did with Juan Diego, Mary offers them maternal comfort and love, and whispers in their ear: “Let your heart not be troubled… Am I not here, who am your Mother?”[213]

Star of the new Evangelization

287. We ask the Mother of the living Gospel to intercede that this invitation to a new phase of evangelization will be accepted by the entire ecclesial community. Mary is the woman of faith, who lives and advances in faith,[214] and “her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church”.[215] Mary let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. Today we look to her and ask her to help us proclaim the message of salvation to all and to enable new disciples to become evangelizers in turn.[216] Along this journey of evangelization we will have our moments of aridity, darkness and even fatigue. Mary herself experienced these things during the years of Jesus’ childhood in Nazareth: “This is the beginning of the Gospel, the joyful good news. However, it is not difficult to see in that beginning a particular heaviness of heart, linked with a sort of night of faith – to use the words of Saint John of the Cross – a kind of ‘veil’ through which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery. And this is the way that Mary, for many years, lived in intimacy with the mystery of her Son, and went forward in her pilgrimage of faith”.[217]

288. There is a Marian “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves. Contemplating Mary, we realize that she who praised God for “bringing down the mighty from their thrones” and “sending the rich away empty” (Lk 1:52-53) is also the one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice. She is also the one who carefully keeps “all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Mary is able to recognize the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. She is the woman of prayer and work in Nazareth, and she is also Our Lady of Help, who sets out from her town “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to be of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization. We implore her maternal intercession that the Church may become a home for many peoples, a mother for all peoples, and that the way may be opened to the birth of a new world. It is the Risen Christ who tells us, with a power that fills us with confidence and unshakeable hope: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). With Mary we advance confidently towards the fulfilment of this promise, and to her we pray:

Mary, Virgin and Mother, you who, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith: as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own “yes” to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

Filled with Christ’s presence, you brought joy to John the Baptist, making him exult in the womb of his mother. Brimming over with joy, you sang of the great things done by God. Standing at the foot of the cross with unyielding faith, you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection, and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit so that the evangelizing Church might be born.

Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection, that we may bring to all the Gospel of life which triumphs over death. Give us a holy courage to seek new paths, that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman.

Virgin of listening and contemplation, Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast, pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are, that she may never be closed in on herself or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.

Star of the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us.

Amen. Alleluia!

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Taken from: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html

“Woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and around her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1).

Pope Venerates Immaculate Conception Statue

(Vatican Radio) Following a tradition laid out by his predecessors, Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by travelling to Piazza di Spagna where he venerated the statue named for the Marian Feast. The celebration began with a reading from the book of Revelation in which Mary is described as a “woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and around her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1). The Holy Father then recited a prayer to the Immaculate Conception, in which he asked Our Lady to “awaken in us a renewed desire for holiness,” and to “make present all of the Gospel’s beauty” in our lives. He went on to ask Mary’s intercession in helping us remain attentive to the Lord’s voice, and to never be indifferent to the cry of the poor, the sick, the elderly, of children, and every human life. Before taking leave of the Piazza, the Holy Father greeted the sick and disabled who had gathered in the Square for the celebrations. After the celebrations, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major where he said a private prayer before the image of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani. The statue of the Immaculate Conception, venerated by the Holy Father this Sunday, was consecrated on December 8, 1857 several years after the dogma which states that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin was adopted by the Church. It has since become a tradition for the Pope to venerate the statue each year on December 8 as part of the celebrations for the Marian feast. Listen to Ann Schneible’s full report: RealAudioMP3

Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/12/08/pope_venerates_immaculate_conception_statue/en1-753957

of the Vatican Radio website

“Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”

Pope Francis appears to criticise the Medjugorje visionaries claim to receive daily messages from Our Lady

By Deacon Nick Donnelly, on November 15th, 2013

During a recent homily at one of his daily Masses at St Martha’s Pope Francis appears to criticise the Medjugorje visionaries claim to receive daily messages from Our Lady, ‘“But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady”. And the Pope commented: “But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”

Pope Francis’ criticism was part of his more general critique of a curiosity that seeks after miracles:

‘The Kingdom of God is among us: do not seek strange things, do not seek novelties with this worldly curiosity. Let us allow the Spirit to lead us forward in that wisdom, which is like a soft breeze. This is the Spirit of the Kingdom of God, of which Jesus speaks. So be it.”

In the Gospel, the Pope underlined, “we find ourselves before another spirit, contrary to the wisdom of God: the spirit of curiosity”.

“And when we want to be the masters of the projects of God, of the future, of things, to know everything, to have everything in hand… the Pharisees asked Jesus, ‘When will the Kingdom of God come?’ Curious! They wanted to know the date, the day… The spirit of curiosity distances us from the Spirit of wisdom because all that interests us is the details, the news, the little stories of the day. Oh, how will this come about? It is the how: it is the spirit of the how! And the spirit of curiosity is not a good spirit. It is the spirit of dispersion, of distancing oneself from God, the spirit of talking too much. And Jesus also tells us something interesting: this spirit of curiosity, which is worldly, leads us to confusion.”

Curiosity, the Pope continued, impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: “But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady”. And the Pope commented: “But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day.”

Such responses to these situations, he affirmed, “distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God.”

“Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom.”

“ ‘The Kingdom of God is among you,’ said Jesus, and it is this action of the Holy Spirit, which gives us wisdom and peace. The Kingdom of God does not come in (a state of) confusion, just as God did not speak to the prophet Elijah in the wind, in the storm (but) he spoke in the soft breeze, the breeze of wisdom.”

“Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus would say that she had always to stop herself before the spirit of curiosity,” he said. “When she spoke with another sister and this sister was telling a story about the family, about people, sometimes the subject would change, and she would want to know the end of the story. But she felt that this was not the spirit of God, because it was a spirit of dispersion, of curiosity.

Protect the Pope comment: When the Holy Father’s criticism is set in the context of Archbishop Müller’s directive to the US Church via the Apostolic Nuncio that the faithful must not attend meetings that accept the authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions it appears that the Holy See is gradually preparing the faithful for the report of the special commission set up to investigate the truth, or otherwise, of the alleged Marian apparitions of Medjugorje.

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/11/14/pope:_the_spirit_of_curiosity_distances_one_from_god/en1-746498

41 comments to Pope Francis appears to criticise the Medjugorje visionaries claim to receive daily messages from Our Lady

  • Andrzej

    Yes, Medjugorje is really the main problem of the Church today…

  • Pat

    The tragedy is that even a statement from the Holy See stating that the non-supernaturality of Medjugorje has been proven won’t deter many Catholics. I remember when the CDF and Southwark Archdiocese condemned the ‘Divine Innocence’ sect, and the writings of the founder of that sect, alleged ‘seer’ Patricia de Menezes http://www.rcsouthwark.co.uk/statement_cdi_2.html the followers simply dismissed the declaration and carried on business as usual, and the nonsense still goes on to this day. False apparitions are Satan’s great method of separating people from the Church and disobeying legitimate authority. The ‘seers’ always do very nicely financially out of these scams. Read The Immaculate Deception by Jim Gallagher about the phoney Irish ‘seer’ Christina Gallagher. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Immaculate-Deception-Christine-Gallaghers/dp/1907162011 Truly, truly shocking.

    • Michael Petek

      Suppose that the Holy See issues a statement that the non-supernaturality of Medjugorje has been proven. There are only two ways in which this could be supportable in reason:

      (1) Either the apparitions clearly and certainly, and constantly, contradict the deposit of faith and morals, in which case the Holy Father should so state.

      (2) Alternatively, each and every one of the visionaries is unworthy of belief, in which case the Holy Father should so state and rely on his sovereign immunity to prevent any of them from suing him in defamation.

      • Pat

        No, once again, YOU are laying down the law as to the criteria for determining the genuineness or otherwise of these alleged apparitions, and using specific criteria which have certainly not been given by the CDF. The CDF has already laid down norms in its 1978 document to BISHOPS (not benefit advisers) on the discernment of alleged apparitions. The CDF neither consulted you, nor needed to consult you. Contrary to what you may believe about yourself, you have no legislative position in the Church, I wish you would accept that. Any other position is simply delusional.

        If the Holy See issues a statement that the non-supernaturality of Medjugorje is proven, then I am confident that it will give valid reasons in support of that statement.

        Has any genuine seer or mystic ever tried to sue the Holy Father? The mere fact that you even mention such a ridiculous scenario reveals your alarming mindset. But sadly, this is the end game of situations like this. Obedience to the sect trumps obedience to the Church.

        • Wake up England

          Pat:

          Who is your reply aimed at?

        • Michael Petek

          The criteria have indeed been laid down. Presumptiomn stands in favour of “non constat de supernaturalitate”. Either of the other two alternatives requires moral certainty, or at least high probability.

          If the Holy See issues a statement that the non-supernaturality of Medjugorje is proven, then as a matter of justice and fairness it must give a reasoned judgement in support of that statement, just as civil courts do. The Holy Father’s sovereign immunity protects him against any possibility of being successfully sued in the civil courts should he say what you seem to believe to be true, that every one of the visionaries is a liar and a chiseler.

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Michael: I doubt if any court in the world would be prepared to rule on whether a vision was true or false in an action for defamation.

        • Michael Petek

          So do I. My point is that,if the Holy Father were to brand any of the visionaries as a fraudster, he could claim sovereign immunity against a lawsuit in defamation. If he were to do so, I should expect the Bosnian police to investigate further.

  • Michael Petek

    That puts paid to Fatima for a start. Unless the Holy Father intends us to understand that private revelations, to be authentic, must conform to the wisdom of Our Lady, which is found in a Gospel, three letters and the book of Revelation, all of which could not have been written as they were save by the man who lived with her as her son for the first years of his Apostolic ministry.

  • Pat

    Mmm. Sense of deja vu here. But what the Holy Father has said doesn’t put paid to Fatima, especially since the Pope has consecrated his Papacy to Our Lady of Fatima and also recently renewed the Consecration of the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in front of the original statue from Fatima. The Fatima apparitions also occurred six times over as many months, and the messages of Our Lady were relatively brief, so I don’t see how Fatima could fit the Pope’s reference to people craving constant ‘messages’ from ‘Our Lady’. I don’t think he would be trying to undermine Fatima somehow.

    Now let me see, what other alleged apparition of Our Lady has had non-stop interminable ‘messages’ for the last 30-odd years? I wonder . . .

    Watch this story closely, readers. The ‘signs and wonders’ brigade will really start to show their true colours now, mark my words.

The Good News of ‘Evangelii Gaudium’.

A copy of the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”) by Pope Francis at a news conference at the Vatican on Tuesday. (CNS/Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)

‘Evangelii Gaudium’ amounts to Francis’

‘I Have a Dream’ speech

John L. Allen Jr. | Nov. 26, 2013

Analysis

Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action. That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis’ bold new apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change. Francis opens with a dream. “I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ ” Francis writes, “that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world, rather than for her self-preservation.” In particular, Francis calls for a church marked by a special passion for the poor and for peace.

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The theme of change permeates the document. The pope says rather than being afraid of “going astray,” what the church ought to fear instead is “remaining shut up within structures that give us a false sense of security, within rules that make us harsh judges” and “within habits that make us feel safe.”

Though Francis released an encyclical letter titled Lumen Fidei in June, that text was based largely on a draft prepared by Benedict XVI. “The Joy of the Gospel,” designed as a reflection on the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, thus represents the new pope’s real debut as an author.

Early reaction suggests it’s a tour de force.

The text comes with Francis’ now-familiar flashes of homespun language. Describing an upbeat tone as a defining Christian quality, for instance, he writes that “an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”

At another point, Francis insists that “the church is not a tollhouse.” Instead, he says, “it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone.” At another point, he quips that “the confessional must not be a torture chamber,” but rather “an encounter with the Lord’s mercy which spurs us to on to do our best.”

Francis acknowledges that realizing his dream will require “a reform of the church,” stipulating that “what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences.”

Though he doesn’t lay out a comprehensive blueprint for reform, he goes beyond mere hints to fairly blunt indications of direction:

  • He calls for a “conversion of the papacy,” saying he wants to promote “a sound decentralization” and candidly admitting that in recent years “we have made little progress” on that front.
  • He suggests that bishops’ conferences ought to be given “a juridical status … including genuine doctrinal authority.” In effect, that would amount to a reversal of a 1998 Vatican ruling under John Paul II that only individual bishops in concert with the pope, and not episcopal conferences, have such authority.
  • Francis says the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” insisting that “the doors of the sacraments” must not “be closed for simply any reason.” His language could have implications not only for divorced and remarried Catholics, but also calls for refusing the Eucharist to politicians or others who do not uphold church teaching on some matters.
  • He calls for collaborative leadership, saying bishops and pastors must use “the means of participation proposed in the Code of Canon Law and other forms of pastoral dialogue, out of a desire to listen to everyone and not simply to those who would tell him what he would like to hear.”
  • Francis criticizes forces within the church who seem to lust for “veritable witch hunts,” asking rhetorically, “Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?”
  • He cautions against “ostentatious preoccupation” for liturgy and doctrine as opposed to ensuring that the Gospel has “a real impact” on people and engages “the concrete needs of the present time.”
On two specific matters, however, Francis rules out change: the ordination of women to the priesthood, though he calls for “a more incisive female presence” in decision-making roles, and abortion.

Francis says the church’s defense of unborn life “cannot be expected to change” because it’s “closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right.”

The pope’s toughest language comes in a section of the document arguing that solidarity with the poor and the promotion of peace are constituent elements of what it means to be a missionary church.

Francis denounces what he calls a “crude and naïve trust” in the free market, saying that left to its own devices, the market too often fosters a “throw-away culture” in which certain categories of people are seen as disposable. He rejects what he describes as an “invisible and almost virtual” economic “tyranny.”

Specifically, Francis calls on the church to oppose spreading income inequality and unemployment, as well as to advocate for stronger environmental protection and against armed conflict.

In the end, “The Joy of the Gospel” amounts to a forceful call for a more missionary Catholicism in the broadest sense. The alternative, Francis warns, is not pleasant.

“We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in our own comforts,” he writes. “Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide.”

Editor’s note: Excerpts of Evangelii Gaudium will be posted to The Francis Chronicles over the next few days, and watch the NCR Today and Distinctly Catholic blogs for commentary on the apostolic exhortation.

[John L. Allen Jr. is NCR senior correspondent. His email address is jallen@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnLAllenJr.]

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Pope Francis: our strength, hope is in the mercy of God

By Elise Harris

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in remembrance of Bishops and Cardinals who died during the past year on November 4, 2013. Credit: Alberto Chincilla/CNA.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in remembrance of Bishops and Cardinals who died during the past year on November 4, 2013. Credit: Alberto Chincilla/CNA.

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2013 / 12:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At a special Mass honoring all of the bishops and cardinals who have died during the past year, Pope Francis emphasized that nothing can separate us from the love of our merciful God.

“It is not by chance that Jesus wanted to preserve the wounds on his hands to make us feel his mercy. This is our strength and our hope!” the Pope said during his homily at a Nov. 4 Mass at the Altar of the Chair inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

In the month of November, “which is marked by the memory of the faithful departed,” reflected the Pope, “we remember our brother Cardinals and Bishops from around the world who have returned to the Father’s house during the past year.”

Turning to the day’s readings, Pope Francis centered his homily on the words of St. Paul to the Romans, in which the apostle affirms that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Saint Paul, he reflected, refers to the love of God as “the deepest, most invincible motive for our trust in Christian hope,” especially in listing those things which can oppose and threaten our faith.

However, continued the pontiff, the apostle “states with confidence that even if our entire existence is surrounded by threats, nothing will ever separate us from the love that Christ himself gained for us, giving of himself completely.”

“Even evil powers that are hostile to man are powerless in the face to the intimate union of love between Jesus and those who welcome him with faith.”

The reality of God’s faithful love for each of us helps us to face our daily lives, which are often “slow and tiring,” with “serenity and strength,” the Pope stressed.

He pointed out that the only thing capable of breaking this bond is our sin, but that “even in this case God will always go in search for him to restore that union that lasts even after death.”

This certainty of God’s love, he explained, gives “a new and full meaning to earthly life and opens us to hope for life beyond death.”

Each time that we face the death of a loved one, we naturally ask what will become of their life, work and service to the Church, noted the Holy Father, emphasizing to those in attendance that Scripture assures us “that they are in God’s hands!”

These pastors, “who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and to their brothers are in the hands of God. They are well looked after and they will not be corroded by death.”

“All their days interwoven with joys and sufferings, hopes and labors, fidelity to the Gospel and passion for the spiritual and material salvation of their flocks, are in the hands of God,” observed the Pope, reflecting that our sins too are in the hands of God, “those merciful hands with their ‘wounds’ of love.”

“This reality, which is full of hope,” said the pontiff, “is the prospect of final resurrection, of eternal life, to which the ‘righteous,’ those who accept the Word of God and are obedient to His Spirit are destined.”

With this hope, the Holy Father called to mind “our brother” Bishops and Cardinals who are deceased as “men who were devoted to their vocations and to their service to the Church, which they loved as one loves a bride.”

“In prayer, we entrust them to the mercy of the Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Joseph, so they be welcomed into his kingdom of light and peace, where the just and those who have been faithful witnesses to the Gospel live eternally.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying that the Lord prepare each one of us for this encounter, stressing that “We do not know the date, but that encounter will take place!”

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Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-our-strength-hope-is-in-the-mercy-of-god/