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WYD 2016: A public enactment of much needed mercy

YouthsHappy

The recent displays of merciless violence in France and the United States have increased social and political tensions and struck fear into ordinary citizens. Despite the flood of energy and resources into public security measures, unpredictable attacks are becoming more common. Is this the world we now live in?

Against this backdrop World Youth Day Krakow is set to begin next week. It’s difficult to ignore at least the possibility of a security breach as more than a million people gather to celebrate with Pope Francis. But there is an even greater risk for the Church to ponder: the absence of such a global witness to unity and fraternity.

This World Youth Day is infused with the theme of mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy,” from the Gospel of Matthew. Krakow is the city of mercy, the home of Saint Faustina, the “prophet of mercy”, and Saint John Paul II, the “apostle of mercy.” The city will welcome Pope Francis, now considered the “pope of mercy” for his closeness to those on the margins and his relentless insistence on the absolute and unconditional mercy of God toward all people.

In preparing for our coverage of World Youth Day Krakow, I spent some time reading about mercy in the Gospels and in the Church’s long tradition. And I found that mercy has a singular, foundational significance for Christianity. I realized that what Francis, John Paul and Faustina have said about mercy, each in their own way, is essentially the same thing. In John Paul’s words, mercy is, “the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer.”

That statement comes from his 1980 encyclical dedicated entirely to the topic of mercy, Dives in Misericordia. Devotees of now-Saint John Paul have pointed out that this encyclical resembles theologically Saint Faustina’s famous diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. In fact, it was John Paul who, as pope, promoted Faustina’s cause and devotion to the Divine Mercy, eventually canonizing Poland’s most beloved nun in 2000. Since then Divine Mercy has become the fastest growing devotion in the Catholic Church.

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When Pope Francis burst onto the scene in 2013, we all wondered what the leitmotif of his pontificate would be. The immediate signs pointed to something new for the modern papacy, something revolutionary. Clearly he wanted to bring the poor and those on the peripheries back into the center of the Church’s life. He spoke about the “globalization of indifference” and the need for structural and spiritual reform in the Vatican’s bureaucracy. But more than three years later, if we were to ask what the central theme of Francis’ pontificate is, who could refute the argument for mercy, “the greatest of all the virtues,” as Francis calls it?

What is somewhat perplexing about this whole development is the paradox at the center of it. It has to do with this lingering question of continuity and discontinuity around Francis. How is it that we have a Pope who, on the one hand, is often labelled a deviant from the pontifical path of his predecessors—especially John Paul and Benedict—and on the other hand, is preaching precisely the same foundational message of mercy that was at the heart of John Paul’s life and pontificate?

It’s not as if mercy were some peripheral theme of John Paul’s and Francis’ ministries. On the contrary, mercy is at the core of both of them. There must be something missing in that analysis. And, as is often the case, a biblical precedence can shed some light on the matter.

Both John Paul (in Dives in Misericordia) and Francis (in Misericordiae Vultus) astutely pointed out that the concept of mercy is integral to the relationship between God and the Jewish people articulated in the Old Testament. And in that historical framework Jesus arrived, “on ground already prepared,” as John Paul put it (DM, 4). But, the Pope continued, Christ’s mercy is simultaneously “simpler and more profound.” (DM, 5) After a penetrating exegesis of the parable of the Prodigal Son, John Paul concluded that:

“The true and proper meaning of mercy does not consist only in looking, however penetratingly and compassionately, at moral, physical or material evil: mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man.” (DM, 6)

This “more profound” articulation of mercy experienced in Jesus is not only difficult to grasp, but can be unsettling. It subverts our human conception of justice, often understood in a legalistic sense based on the OT law and image of God as “judge”. Both John Paul and Francis address this issue directly. Francis writes:

“For his part, Jesus speaks several times of the importance of faith over and above the observance of the law. It is in this sense that we must understand his words when, reclining at table with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners, he says to the Pharisees raising objections to him, “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’. I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:13). Faced with a vision of justice as the mere observance of the law that judges people simply by dividing them into two groups—the just and sinners—Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation. One can see why, on the basis of such a liberating vision of mercy as a source of new life, Jesus was rejected by the Pharisees and the other teachers of the law.” (MV, 20)

Though John Paul did not write so candidly on the subject, he drew the same conclusion, namely that, “The primacy and superiority of love vis-à-vis justice—this is the mark of the whole of revelation—are revealed precisely through mercy.” (DM, 4)

WYDMosaic

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were people of the law; they were religiously formed and considered among the guardians of the tradition. From that tradition they knew God as “merciful.” Still, the “liberating vision of mercy” that Jesus embodied was deemed unorthodox, even heretical. Such was the primacy and potency of mercy revealed in Jesus’ life and teaching. His public displays of mercy changed individual lives and eventually the whole world. Think of the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15)—a favorite of John Paul II—or the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Think of the story of the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus in Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7). Think of Jesus’ instantaneous promise of eternal salvation to the criminal crucified next to him (Luke 23). Jesus never tempered his mercy in public for fear of confusion or undermining God’s established laws.  His mercy was the fulfillment of the whole of the law.

I remember one of the press briefings during the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family when Mark Coleridge, a very astute, pastoral bishop from Brisbane, Australia, spoke about practicing mercy in the Church. He made the argument that the old distinction of speaking the truth in public but practicing mercy in private no longer works:

“I think what we need now—and this is what I’d like to see emerge from this synod—are public enactments of mercy, not just doing mercy in private behind closed doors or in a confessional. And it’s the sort of public enactment of mercy that we see I think in Pope Francis, who in a sense is modelling what the whole church has to ponder. But when you’ve been used to centuries of thinking about “mercy in private, truth in public,” it’s not always easy to even imagine what the public enactment of mercy might look like. And when you do see it, it can even be unsettling.”

Ahead of World Youth Day Krakow, where mercy will be discussed, prayed for, reflected upon, and put into practice, it’s worth recalling the “simple yet profound” development in our understanding of mercy that Jesus embodied.  In his day, the old understanding of mercy was not enough.  In our time, what’s needed are public enactments that unequivocally communicate the absolute mercy of God for people in their particular circumstances, whatever they may be.

For his part, Pope Francis promised to do one public act of mercy every month during the Year of Mercy, and he’s encouraged all Catholics to do the same. The World Youth Day in Krakow is poised to be the grandest of these public acts of mercy. It’s not so much what will be done as what will be seen: “a mosaic of different faces, from many races, languages, peoples and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy,” as Francis called it. In light of all the division, hatred and violence manifesting itself around the globe, such an authentic mosaic is sorely needed. In spite of everything, the young people at World Youth Day will take a stand for humanity and proclaim that the name of God is mercy.

SebbyJeun

In the run-up to World Youth Day Krakow, Sebastian has been working on a story on mercy in the modern papacy entitled, “Mercy in Continuity.” You can watch it as part of S+L’s daily show World Youth Day Central, airing July 25-30 at 7:00pm ET. 


Photos courtesy of Bill Wittman and Catholic News Service

The New Evangelization Today: Kerygma

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Cardinal Wuerl talks about the pressing task of our time: the New Evangelization. What is #kerygma? Telling of the story of salvation and redemption in a simple, yet profound way.

Watch below:

For more information, visit http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2016/06/…

http://adw.org/

#NewEvangelization
#BeingCatholicToday

Pope Francis’ Video Message to Poland

Several days before his Apostolic Journey to Poland on the occasion of the XXXI World Youth Day, Pope Francis has sent a video in Italian to young people of Poland that was broadcast this evening at 8:00 p.m. across the Polish nation. Below is the English translation of the Holy Father’s Message that was sent from the Vatican to Poland.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The 31st World Youth Day is fast approaching. I look forward to meeting the young people from throughout the world gathered in Kraków and having the opportunity to meet the beloved Polish nation. My entire visit will be inspired by Mercy during this Jubilee Year, and by the grateful and blessed memory of Saint John Paul II, who instituted the World Youth Days and was the guide of the Polish people in its recent historic journey towards freedom.

Dear young people of Poland, I know that for some time now you have been preparing, especially with your prayers, for this great encounter in Kraków. I thank you heartily for everything that you have done, and for the love with which you have done it. Even now I embrace you and I bless you.

Dear young people from throughout Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Oceania! I also bless your countries, your hopes and your journey to Kraków, praying that it will be a pilgrimage of faith and fraternity. May the Lord Jesus grant you the grace to experience personally his words: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7).

I am very anxious to meet you and to offer the world a new sign of harmony, from many races, languages, peoples and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy. 

I now turn to you, dear sons and daughters of the Polish nation! For me, it is a great gift of the Lord to visit you. You are a nation that throughout its history has experienced so many trials, some particularly difficult, and has persevered through the power of faith, upheld by the maternal hands of the Virgin Mary. I am certain that my pilgrimage to the shrine of Czestochowa will immerse me in this proven faith and do me so much good. I thank you for your prayers in preparation for my visit. I thank the bishops and priests, the men and women religious, and the lay faithful, especially families, to whom I will symbolically bring the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The moral and spiritual “health” of a nation is seen in its families. That is why Saint John Paul II showed such great concern for engaged couples, young married couples and families. Continue along this road!

Dear brothers and sisters, I send you this message as a pledge of my affection. Let us keep close to one another in prayer. I look forward to seeing you in Poland!

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St. Faustina Kowalska and St. John Paul II: Patron Saints of World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow

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Pope John Paul II’s interest in Divine Mercy goes back to the days of his youth in Krakow when Karol Wojtyla was an eyewitness to so much evil and suffering during World War II in occupied Poland. He witnessed the round ups of many people who were sent to concentration camps and slave labor. In his hometown of Wadowice, he had many Jewish friends who would later die in the Holocaust. During that time of terror and fear, Karol Wojtyla decided to enter Cardinal Sapieha’s clandestine seminary in Krakow. He experienced the need for God’s mercy and humanity’s need to be merciful to one another. While in the seminary, he met another seminarian, Andrew Deskur (who would later become Cardinal), who introduced Karol to the message of the Divine Mercy, as revealed to the Polish mystic nun, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, who died at the age of 33 in 1938.

The Pope of Divine Mercy

At the beginning of his pontificate in 1981, Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical dedicated to Divine Mercy – “Dives in Misericordia” (Rich in Mercy) illustrating that the heart of the mission of Jesus Christ was to reveal the merciful love of the Father. In 1993 when Pope John Paul II beatified Sr. Faustina Kowalska, he stated in the homily for her beatification mass: “Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world, and gaining so many human hearts!”

Four years later in 1997, the Holy Father visited Blessed Faustina’s tomb in Lagiewniki, Poland, and preached powerful words: “There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy…. From here went out the message of Mercy that Christ Himself chose to pass on to our generation through Blessed Faustina.”

In the Jubilee year 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina – making her the first canonized saint of the new millennium – and established “Divine Mercy Sunday” as a special title for the Second Sunday of Easter for the universal Church. Pope John Paul II spoke these words in the homily: “Jesus shows His hands and His side [to the Apostles]. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in His Heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity.”

One year later, in his homily for Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001, the Pope called the message of mercy entrusted to St. Faustina: “The appropriate and incisive answer that God wanted to offer to the questions and expectations of human beings in our time, marked by terrible tragedies…. Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity at the dawn of the third millennium.”

Again in Lagiewniki, Poland in 2002, at the dedication of the new Shrine of Divine Mercy, the Holy Father consecrated the whole world to Divine Mercy, saying: “I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through St. Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth, and fill their hearts with hope.”

In his Regina Caeli address of April 23, 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “The mystery of God’s merciful love was at the centre of the pontificate of my venerated predecessor.” Now that same Providence has desired that this year, on Divine Mercy Sunday, three years after he was beatified on this same feast, Pope John Paul II, the great apostle and ambassador of Divine Mercy, will be proclaimed a saint.

Mercy is our hallmark

We must ask ourselves: what is new about this message of Divine Mercy? Why did Pope John Paul II insist so much on this aspect of God’s love in our time? Is this not the same devotion as that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Mercy is an important Christian virtue, much different from justice and retribution. While recognizing the real pain of injury and the rationale for the justification of punishment, mercy takes a different approach in redressing the injury. Mercy strives to radically change the condition and the soul of the perpetrator to resist doing evil, often by revealing love and one’s true beauty. If any punishment is enforced, it must be for salvation, not for vengeance or retribution. This is very messy business in our day and a very complex message… but it is the only way if we wish to go forward and be leaven for the world today; if we truly wish to be salt and light in a culture that has lost the flavor of the Gospel and the light of Christ.

Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate, where war brings suffering and death to the innocent, abuse has destroyed countless innocent lives, the grace of mercy is needed in order to settle human minds and hearts and to bring about healing and peace. Wherever respect for human life and dignity are lacking, there is need of God’s merciful love, in whose light we see the inexpressible value of every human being. Mercy is needed to insure that every injustice in the world will come to an end. The message of mercy is that God loves us – all of us – no matter how great our sins. God’s mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Essentially, mercy means the understanding of weakness, the capacity to forgive.

Apostle of Divine Mercy

Throughout his priestly and Episcopal ministry, and especially during his entire Pontificate, Pope John Paul II preached God’s mercy, wrote about it, and most of all lived it. He offered forgiveness to the man who was destined to kill him in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope who witnessed the scandal of divisions among Christians and the atrocities against the Jewish people as he grew up did everything in his power to heal the wounds caused by the historic conflicts between Catholics and other Christian churches, and especially with the Jewish people.

I shall never forget the stirring words of St. John Paul II spoke at the concluding mass of World Youth Day at Downsview Park in Toronto on July 28, 2002. These words keep us focused on the importance and necessity of mercy in the Church today.

“…At difficult moments in the Church’s life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit…”

“…Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

Let us pray with joy and gratitude:

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that Saint John Paul II
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever. Amen.


 

Photo WYD Krakow

When I First Saw Pope Francis

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Story and Photos by James Ramos

I really couldn’t feel my legs anymore.

My knees lean against the concrete bench that won’t move in front of my group, almost like a church pew kneeler. The crowd behind me presses against my back and 10 a.m., the supposed time of Pope Francis’ arrival to Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, ticks closer and closer.

Emotions and discomfort runs high. To my left, a claustrophobic lady asks for room to breathe. To my right, an even older lady tries to sit on the bench. There isn’t much room, but I tell her to take all the space you need.

My group that surrounds me — a team of social media journalists — doesn’t talk much. Our photographers grapple with a metal fence that corrals us, my other teammates behind me work the crowd handing out Pope Francis #PopeEmoji fans. I look down, triple-checking my own test shots then a roar of noise erupts down the street.

When my heart exploded

“He’s here! He’s here!” I hear a girl scream. Cassie is shaking. The entire crowd around me vibrates with the most energy I’ve ever felt in my life.

I lift my camera to my eye — I’m a journalist after all. I raise my iPhone higher above my camera, finger on Snapchat’s trigger — I’m a millennial after all.

The Fiat rolls up — I don’t have time to breathe — a man dressed in white steps out. He’s taller than I expect. I see his skull cap. He turns slightly. My heart explodes. It’s really him! It’s the pope!

The humble Fiat pulls away and Pope Francis greets those around him. Then he turns around and looks at us and the crowd is deafening.

My camera shutter is firing off a million times, I’m Snapchatting this whole thing, my heart is still exploding and I forget to breathe. He turns towards the church, walking up the steps into the Cathedral Basilica to celebrate Mass with the men and women religious of Philadelphia. And suddenly, he’s gone. The Holy Doors are closed, and then I remember to breathe. My chest feels tight and my eyes feel dry. Did I even blink? He was so close to me, I could have (badly) thrown a football to him.

I turn to those around me, “Wasn’t that amazing? Did you see his smile? He waved at us! He looked at us!”

When I heard “He looked at us!” I had just scrolled to a picture where Pope Francis seems to be looking directly at me. His eyes are dead into the center of my camera. They pierce the lens and, still leaning against the bench, they pierced my heart. He saw me. I’m sure he was looking at the hundreds around me, also in a chaos, but that photo captured a silent gaze of love.

When I finally sit down

Mass starts, and it’s the Gospel. I realize I’m not actually attending this Mass, just listening, and also remember that I can’t feel my legs. I tap my knees, still pushed against the bench, good, they’re still there. I need to sit down, but the crowds aren’t moving. They’re expecting him to exit the church the same way he came in, but I doubt that and wade through people to find a place to sit.

All the benches are taken, but there are several shady trees, and the grass looks soft. I find a big tree with a small older lady sits beneath it, reading a book. She looks friendly, and with a deep sigh of relief, plant myself under the green canopy. She looks over at me and smiles. “You were up at the front, weren’t you?” she asks.

I simply nod and show her the photo of the Argentine pontiff looking at me.

Her eyes and smile are as big as mine. “He’s looking at you! He’s making eye contact with you. That’s such an intensely personal experience, and so special,” she explains, reaching over and squeezing my shoulder. “You should feel very special.”

Before I can do anything, my eyes well up and tears start to fall. Seeing this, she lovingly pats my hands in a motherly way. They’re joyful tears, tears of thanksgiving.

When I look ahead, I also look back

I attended World Youth Day in Madrid, but never got to see the pope up close like in Philadelphia. As I prepare my heart and soul to once again encounter the Universal Catholic Church, just as I did in Philadelphia at the World Meeting of Families, I am setting no expectation. I ask for your prayers, and will bring you with me on this pilgrim journey with the pope.

Now with just days before I see the Holy Father again in Krakow, I think back to my time under that tree with my friend in Philadelphia. Dozens of families finally make their way to the park, setting up picnics around our tree.

To my right, a father rolls a small orange ball to his young child. The little boy can’t seem to pick up the rubber ball and seems content with just pushing it. His dad takes his hand, placing it under the ball and lifts it so it will drop. His little face lights up when he sees the ball fall and bounce on the grass. The ball keeps rolling, and he chases after it.

Under the shade of a towering leafy tree, I can feel my legs again. My new friend leans back over: “Peace be with you.”


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James Ramos is a storyteller and designer with the Texas Catholic Herald in Houston. Follow his #Krakow16 journey on Twitter, Instagram, and his blog. He’s also great at high fives, loves group selfies and is terrible at #PokemonGo.

Let us storm heaven with our prayers

Pray for Nice

The barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack this past Thursday evening on the iconic Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France on Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, leaves us all deeply shaken. As French President Hollande addressed the nation on French television late Thursday evening, he said “Bastille Day day is a symbol of liberty, and human rights are denied by fanatics and France is quite clearly their target.”

According to French prosecutor Francois Molins, 10 children and teenagers are among the 84 dead after a man drove a truck through a Bastille Day event on the crowded Promenade des Anglais. Many remain in critical condition, hovering between life and death.

The attack comes only eight months and a day after gunmen and suicide bombers from the so-called Islamic State struck Paris on November 13, 2015, killing 130 people. Four months ago, Belgian Islamists linked to the Paris attackers killed 32 people at a Brussels airport. ISIS has now claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, claming that the perpetrator was one of its “soldiers.”

In a telegram sent on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis has condemned the terror attack in Nice and expressed his profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people. Addressed to the Bishop of Nice André Marceau, the telegram noted that whilst France was celebrating its national day “blind violence has once again hit the nation” in the city of Nice whose victims include many children. It said the Pope once again “condemned such acts” and expressed his “profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.”

The telegram continued by saying that Pope Francis “entrusts to the Mercy of God those who have lost their lives” and he shares “the pain of the bereaved families” and also expressed his sympathy to those wounded. The Pope concluded by imploring from God the gift of “peace and harmony” and invoking divine blessings on the families affected by this tragedy and all the people of France.

Heart France

Terrorist attacks are always regarded as unconscionable violations of human life, but they seem especially heinous when children are involved. To kill in the name of religion is not only an offense to God, but it is also a defeat for humanity. No situation can justify such criminal activity, which covers the perpetrators with infamy, and it is all the more deplorable when it hides behind religion, thereby bringing the pure truth of God down to the level of the terrorists’ own blindness and moral perversion.

ISIS and any form of terrorism in the name of God is an aberration of religion. ISIS’ manipulation and distortion of the massive refugee crisis to infiltrate terrorists into other countries is criminal and evil. We must distinguish between true religion and the twisted religion used to justify hatred and violence. True religion leads people to healing, peace, solidarity and desires to make the world a better place. True religion respects the sacredness and dignity of the human person. True religion invites people to respond to crises with mercy, charity and hospitality.

In Pope Francis’ Message for the 49th World Day of Peace (January 1, 2016) entitled “Overcome Indifference and Win Peace”, the Bishop of Rome writes:

2. Sadly, war and terrorism, accompanied by kidnapping, ethnic or religious persecution and the misuse of power, marked the past year from start to finish. In many parts of the world, these have became so common as to constitute a real “third world war fought piecemeal”. Yet some events of the year now ending inspire me, in looking ahead to the New Year, to encourage everyone not to lose hope in our human ability to conquer evil and to combat resignation and indifference. They demonstrate our capacity to show solidarity and to rise above self-interest, apathy and indifference in the face of critical situations.

5. This then is why “it is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father. The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.

We too, then, are called to make compassion, love, mercy and solidarity a true way of life, a rule of conduct in our relationships with one another. This requires the conversion of our hearts: the grace of God has to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, open to others in authentic solidarity. For solidarity is much more than a “feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far”. Solidarity is “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”, because compassion flows from fraternity.”

Let us pray for all those who lost their lives tragically on Thursday night in Nice. Let us remember families that have been decimated and all those who mourn the loss of life of loved ones and friends. Let us storm heaven and beg the Lord to rain down justice, mercy and peace on France and on all countries that have been terribly afflicted with this reign of terror and violence.

The New Evangelization Today: Prayer

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Cardinal Wuerl talks about the pressing task of our time: the New Evangelization. He discusses how prayer opens our mind and heart to God.

Watch below:

For more information, visit http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2016/06/…

http://adw.org/

#NewEvangelization
#BeingCatholicToday

World Youth Days: The Moments of Catechesis

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During his Angelus address on July 28, 2002 at the conclusion of the 17th World Youth Day in Toronto, Pope John Paul II said: “This World Youth Day must mark a re-awakening of pastoral attention to the young in Canada. May the enthusiasm of this moment be the spark that is needed to launch a new era of powerful witness to the gospel!… My wish for all of you who are here is that the commitments you have made during these days of faith and celebration will bring forth abundant fruits of dedication and witness. May you always treasure the memory of Toronto!”

The experiences of young people during World Youth Days leave a deep and lasting impression upon them and also serve as a catalyst and impulse for new commitments and initiatives. What do young people experience during World Youth Days? Who do they encounter? The principal elements of World Youth Days contribute greatly to an effective pastoral ministry with young people and with them. These elements – Christ, Sacred Scripture, catechesis, the sacraments (especially Reconciliation and Eucharist), piety, devotion, the World Youth Day Cross, the saints, together with the moments of pilgrimage, the Youth Festival, social service projects, vocations – hopefully find a central place in our pastoral efforts with young people.

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A very positive fruit of World Youth Days is the Scriptural theme assigned to each event. The theme of 31st World Youth Day, Krakow 2016 is “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt 5:7).

During the major international World Youth Days in various countries of the world, hundreds of Bishops and Cardinals also attend as catechists. Each day during the World Youth Day week, thousands of young people gather around their bishops and cardinals to hear teachings, “catecheses”, reflections based on the Word of God. This novel invention has taken on a life of its own, and become an intrinsic part of the international celebrations of faith and youth culture.

Here is a look at how this year’s theme of this year’s international celebration in Krakow as well as how that theme will be developed through the daily catecheses or teachings of the bishops of the world chosen to be bishop catechists. Catechesis will generally be given in the bishop’s first language. Each of the three catecheses will be held in a different venue.

On July 27, 28 and 29 July catechesis will be given in different languages for the young people present in Krakow. About three hundred bishops from around the world will serve as catechists. Each bishop catechist will give three catecheses on the topics below. I share them here not only for those attending World Youth Day in Krakow but for the many groups who are unable to travel to Poland and will celebrate World Youth Days at home, gathered around their bishops and pastors.

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Wednesday 27 July – 1st catechesis
Topic: Now is the time of mercy!

References:
“Many question in their hearts: why a Jubilee of Mercy today? Simply because the Church, in this time of great historical change, is called to offer more evident signs of God’s presence and closeness. This is a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy (cf. Jn 20:21-23). A year in which to be touched by the Lord Jesus and to be transformed by his mercy, so that we may become witnesses to mercy” (Pope Francis, Homily during First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, 11 April 2015).
Scripture: Lk 4:1-21?

Thursday 28 July – 2nd catechesis ?
Topic: Let us allow ourselves to be touched by Christ’s mercy

References:
“You, dear young man, dear young woman, have you ever felt the gaze of everlasting love upon you, a gaze that looks beyond your sins, limitations and failings, and continues to have faith in you and to look upon your life with hope? Do you realize how precious you are to God, who has given you everything out of love?” (Pope Francis, WYD Message 2016).
Scripture: Lk 15: 1-10?

Friday 29 July – 3rd catechesis ?
Topic: Lord, make me an instrument of your mercy!

References:
“Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbours’ souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbours’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbour, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbour, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbour” (St. Faustina Kowalska Diary, 163).
Scripture – Mt 25: 31-46

Bishops are encouraged to give extemporaneous teachings that offer examples and significant anecdotes. Young people appreciate simple authoritative replies to their questions. That is why bishops are strongly encouraged to bring their own stories and witness into the catechesis, and to present the young people with examples of positive role-models (lives of saints; young “heroes” like Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and Blessed Chiara Luce Badano; the patrons of WYD 2016 St. John Paul II and St. Faustina).

Bishop catechists are asked to develop the day’s topic in a talk of around 20 minutes. This is followed by adequate time for questions by the young people and answers by the bishop. Each day, catechesis will conclude with Holy Mass presided by the bishop catechist who will give a short homily. The Mass readings are as follows:

Wednesday 27 July
Catechesis topic: Now is the time of mercy!
Votive Mass of the Divine Mercy – Eucharistic prayer V/C
Eph 2: 4-10
Ps 135 (136) ?(R/ His mercy endures forever) ?
Jn 8:1-11

Thursday 28 July ?
Catechesis topic: Let us allow ourselves to be touched by Christ’s mercy ?
Mass for reconciliation – Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I
2Cor 5:17-21
Ps 50 (51) ?(R/ Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness) ?
Lk 15:1-3.11-32

Friday 29 July ?
Catechesis topic: Lord, make me an instrument of your mercy! ?
Votive Mass Mary, Queen & Mother of Mercy – Preface of Blessed Virgin Mary II
Col 3:12-17
Ps 102 (103) ?(R/ The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting) ?
Lk 1: 39-55

During the three days of catechesis, all the groups of young people will be invited, in turn, to take part in the Pilgrimage of Mercy that will go from the John Paul II Shrine to the Divine Mercy Shrine.

Bishop catechists, pastors and youth leaders are invited to use Pope Francis’ Message to the Youth of the World for the 31st World Youth Day for their catechesis preparation. It is available in various languages on the Vatican website.


Photos: World Youth Day Archives

New Archbishop appointed for Regina

Bolen

His Holiness Pope Francis today named the Most Reverend Donald Bolen Archbishop of Regina. At the time of his appointment, he was Bishop of Saskatoon. He succeeds the Most Reverend Daniel J. Bohan who died in office January 15, 2016, at the age of 74. Since then, the Reverend Lorne Dale Crozon, the former Vicar General, has been Diocesan Administrator of the Archdiocese of Regina.

Archbishop-elect Bolen was born in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, on February 7, 1961. He holds an Honours B.A. in religious studies from the University of Regina, together with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology as well as a licentiate from Saint Paul University, Ottawa. After being ordained priest on October 12, 1991, for the Archdiocese of Regina, he did post-graduate studies in theology at the University of Oxford, in addition to serving as priest moderator in several parishes in the Archdiocese and teaching at Campion College, University of Regina. From 2001 to 2008, he worked with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity where he served on its staff for relations with the Anglican Communion and with the World Methodist Council.

Upon returning in 2009 to the Archdiocese of Regina, he held the Nash Chair in Religion at Campion College and served as Vicar General and pastor of several parishes before being named Bishop of Saskatoon on December 21 that year. As a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Archbishop-elect Bolen has served on its Commission for Justice and Peace, of which he has been Chairman since 2014, and also as Co-Chair of the Canadian Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Dialogue.

Since June 2012, Archbishop-elect Bolen has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in addition to which he serves in the following capacities: since 2009, member of the International Consultation between the World Evangelical Alliance and the Catholic Church; since 2011, Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission; and since 2013, Co-Chair of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Catholic Church. In November 2008, he was awarded the Cross of St Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his service to relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

According to the CCCB 2016 Directory, the Archdiocese of Regina has 145 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 126,980, served by 79 diocesan priests, 19 priests who are members of institutes of consecrated life, three permanent deacons and 67 Religious Sisters and Brothers.


Photo: Diocese of Saskatoon

*This was originally published on the CCCB.

Grazie Padre Federico Lombardi, SJ: “vir bonus dicendi peritus”

Lombardi Sala Stampa logo copy

Tribute from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Thank you, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ for all that you have taught us these past years from Rome through Vatican Television, Vatican Radio and the Holy See Press Office. You have worked in the world of Catholic journalism and communications for over 30 years. I have had the privelege and pleasure, since 1999, to work with you on various Vatican events and projects, beginning with the Great Jubilee in 2000 and then World Youth Day 2002. We have collaborated on Synods, Papal Transitions, and a Jesuit papacy! It has been a close, warm, great collaboration up to this day. I have learned so much from your gentle, quiet ways, your sensus ecclesiae, your humor and your ability to multi-task with such serenity. We have shared together some deeply moving Church experiences these past years.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, left, meets the media at the Vatican, Friday, March 8, 2013. The Vatican says the conclave to elect a new pope will likely start in the first few days of next week. The Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters that cardinals will vote Friday afternoon on the start date of the conclave but said it was "likely" they would choose Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The cardinals have been attending pre-conclave meetings to discuss the problems of the church and decide who among them is best suited to fix them as pope. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) ** Usable by LA and DC Only **

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the participants in a congress promoted by Archbishop Claudio Celli and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on the identity and mission of communications faculties in Catholic universities. The Pope’s significant message to that gathering in Rome finds an echo today with your departure from the Holy See Press Office. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI said:

“A communicator can attempt to inform, to educate, to entertain, to convince, to comfort; but the final worth of any communication lies in its truthfulness. In one of the earliest reflections on the nature of communication, Plato highlighted the dangers of any type of communication that seeks to promote the aims and purposes of the communicator or those by whom he or she is employed without consideration for the truth of what is communicated. No less worth recalling is Cato the Elder’s sober definition of the orator; vir bonus dicendi peritus – “a good or honest man skilled in communicating.”

The art of communication is by its nature linked to an ethical value, to the virtues that are the foundation of morality. These words call to mind Fr. Federico Lombardi: “vir bonus dicendi peritus”, a good and honest man skilled in communicating. In fact that is exactly what he has been doing for over thirty years in the business of Catholic journalism and communications. You taught us how to wear the many hats of ecclesial service with humility, joy, dignity and conviction. Grazie mille!

TomLombardi