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How to pray the Rosary more deeply

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2017 / 12:29 am (CNA).- It is interesting that in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and other locations, the Mother of God repeatedly recommends praying the Rosary. She does not invite us to pray the Divine Office, or to do spiritual reading, or Eucharistic Adoration, or practice interior prayer or mental prayer. All the mentioned forms of prayer are good, recognized by the Church and practiced by many saints. Why does Mary “only” place the Rosary in our hearts?

We can find a possible answer by looking at the visionaries of Lourdes and Fatima. Mary revealed herself to children of little instruction, who could not even read or write correctly. The Rosary was for them the appropriate school to learn how to pray well, since bead after bead, it leads us from vocal prayer, to meditation, and eventually to contemplation. With the Rosary, everyone who allows himself to be led by Mary can arrive at interior prayer without any kind of special technique or complicated practices.

This does not mean – and I want to emphasize this point – that praying the Rosary is for “dummies” or for simple minded people. Even great intellectuals must come before God as children, who in their prayers are always simple and sincere, always full of confidence, praying from within.

All Christians are called to the kind of interior prayer that allows an experience of closeness with God and recognition of his action in our lives. We can compare the Rosary to playing the guitar. The vocal prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be – are the central prayers of Christianity, rooted in Scripture. These are like the rhythm in a song.  

But simply strumming a guitar is not a song. And mindless repetition of words is not interior prayer. In addition to rhythm, keys are needed. The Mysteries of the Rosary are like the chords on the guitar. The vocal prayers form the framework for meditation on the Mysteries.

There are always these five chords to the rhythm of the repetition of the prayers, which make the lives of Jesus and Mary pass before our eyes. With meditation, we go on reflecting on what happens in each Mystery and what it means for our lives: At Nazareth, the Son of God is incarnated in Mary. In Holy Communion, He also comes to me. In Gethsemane, Jesus sweats blood. He suffers, is in anguish, and yet his friends remain asleep. Can I keep vigil with Him or do my eyes close with tiredness? On Easter morning, Jesus rises and breaks forth from the tomb. The first day of creation brought light. The first day of the week conquered death and gave us life. Christ can change the darkness in my life into light.

And so, our prayer begins to change into music. That is to say, it is no longer monotonous and boring, but now it is full of images and thoughts. And when the grace of God permits, it is also filled with supernatural illuminations and inspirations.

There is one more thing needed to have really great music, or to have a prayer that is even more profound and intimate: the melody that the heart sings. When playing the guitar, a voice is needed to interpret the song. When praying the Rosary, it is the song of our heart, as we place our own life before God, to the tempo of the prayers and meditations.  

It is this song of the heart that allows us to enter into the mysteries of the Rosary: For my sake you were scourged, and it was I who struck you. Forgive me! You have ascended into Heaven, Lord. I long for You, I for your kingdom, my true homeland.

In contemplation, the person praying sees the mysteries pass before his eyes, and at the same time he abides in particular affections or movements of the heart before God. The one who prays sings the song of his own life, in which naturally there can arise specific desires: You wanted to be the son of a human Mother; help my sick mother! You were crowned with thorns; help me in this financial difficulty which I can't get out of my head. You sent the Holy Spirit; without You I don't have the courage or the strength to make a good decision.

With this understanding, the following tips can help those who pray the Rosary move from vocal prayer to meditation to inner contemplation:

1) Schedule the time

Our schedule is full of appointments. More or less consciously, we also plan out the time we're going to need for each task or appointment. Sometimes it is good to set aside 20 or 30 minutes to pray the Rosary, and write it down in the schedule. This “appointment” with Jesus and Mary is then just as important as all the other ones planned. For all of us, it is possible to set aside a time to pray the Rosary, at first, once, twice or three times a week.  Over time – and this is the goal – it will be easier to find a time to pray the Rosary daily.

2) Don’t rush

We can learn a lesson about prayer by observing people in love. During a romantic candlelit dinner, no one would be constantly looking at the clock, or choking down their food, or leaving the dessert to one side to finish as quickly as possible. Rather, a romantic meal is stretched out, maybe lingering for an hour to sip a cocktail, and enjoying every moment spent together. So it is with praying the Rosary. It shouldn't be treated as sets of Hail Mary’s to be performed as if one were lifting weights. I can spend time lingering on a thought. I can also break away from it. I can, principally at the beginning, simply be peaceful. If I keep this peaceful attitude and an awareness of how important this 20-minute “appointment” is, then I will have prayed well. It will have been a good prayer, because my will is focused on pleasing the Beloved and not myself.

3) Savor the experience

Saint Ignatius recommends what's called the “third form of prayer,” which consists in adjusting the words to the rhythm of one's own breathing. Often it is sufficient in praying the Rosary to briefly pause between the mysteries, and to remember that Jesus and Mary are looking at me full of joy and love, recognizing with gratitude that I am like a little child babbling words every so often to in some way affirm that I love God. To do this, it can be useful to pause and take a few breaths before resuming vocal prayer.

4) A gaze of love

The vocal prayers of the Rosary only provide the rhythm of the prayer. With my thoughts, I can and should go out from the rhythm to encounter the Mystery which is being contemplated. This is more clear in German, where the mystery is announced not only at the beginning of each decade, but before each Hail Mary. It’s a time to look your Beloved in the eyes and let Him look back, with eyes full of love. 

5) Allow yourself to be amazed

One of the first and most important steps for inner prayer is to go from thinking and speculation to looking upon and being amazed. Think of lovers who meet, not to plan out what they're going to give each other or what they might do on the next vacation, but to enjoy the time together and to rejoice in each other. Looking at a family photo album is very different from looking at a history book. In the photo album, we see people who are important to us, whom we love – and even more – who love us! That's how our gaze at Jesus and Mary ought to be in the Rosary.

6) Allow your “inner cameraman” to notice details

Some people close their eyes while praying in order to concentrate. Others find it useful to focus their eyes on a certain point (such as a crucifix). Either way, what is important is for the eyes of the heart to be open. Praying the Rosary is like going to the movies. It's about seeing images. It's useful to ask yourself: Who, What, Where am I looking at when I contemplate the birth of Jesus, or his crucifixion, or his ascension into Heaven? And on some occasions, like a good cameraman does, come in for a close-up image of some detail: contemplate the warm breath of the ox that's warming the Child, the pierced hand of Jesus that spread so much love, the tears in John's eyes as he gazes at Jesus rising up to Heaven.

7) Pray in words, mind, and heart

The words accompany, the mind opens, but it is the heart that has the leading role in prayer. All the great spiritual authors agree that inner prayer is about dwelling in the affections, that is, the inner sentiments and movements. Teresa of Avila says very simply: “Don't think a lot, love a lot!” An elderly lady was ruefully complaining to me that she could not reflect while praying her daily Rosary, and that in that situation she could barely say “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” I congratulated the lady. That is exactly what praying the Rosary ought to lead us to.

 

Pope Francis at audience: our faith an anchor in heaven

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, during which he continued his catechetical reflections on the theme of Christian hope, focusing specifically on the final words of comfort and consolation the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew records Our Lord speaking to the  disciples immediately before ascending into heaven and taking His place at the right hand of the Father.

“‘I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Mt 28:20)’” began Pope Francis in his main catechesis, quoting the very last words of Matthew’s Gospel. “These last words of the Gospel of Matthew,” he went on to say, “recall the prophetic proclamation we find at its beginning: ‘[T]hey shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us, (Mt 1:23; cf. Is. 7:14)’”

Then, departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said, “God will be with us, every day, until the end of the world.”

Click below to hear our report

Returning to his prepared remarks, the Holy Father explained, “Jesus will walk with us every day until the end of the world. “The whole gospel is encapsulated in these two quotations, words that convey the mystery of God, whose name, whose identity is being-with: He is not an isolated God, He is God-with-us, especially with us, that is, with the human creature.”

Again departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said, “[T]he closeness of God, the love of God, the journey of God with us, is also called the ‘Providence of God’: He provides for our lives.”

In a final major departure from his prepared text, Pope Francis reflected on a suggestive nautical image: that of the anchor.

“[T]he anchor,” said Pope Francis, “is the instrument that navigators throw on the beach – and then they grab onto the anchor line to pull the ship to shore. Our faith is the anchor [we have] in heaven: we have our lives anchored in heaven. What must we do? Grab hold of the line – it’s always there – and let us go forward, for we are certain our life has something like an anchor in heaven, on that shore to which we’ll come one day.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis gives TED talk: 'We build future together'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has broken new ground in the way he communicates his message when the first-ever papal TED Talk went on line.

TED is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of short talks. What began in 1984 as a conference covering Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), today provides talks from a wide range of different speakers – except popes. Until today.

Listen to Seàn-Patrick Lovett's report:

Those of us following TED’s annual Conference in Vancouver had been promised a surprise “world figure” who would deliver his 18-minute message on the conference theme, “The Future You”, alongside tennis superstar, Serena Williams, entrepreneur, Elon Musk, and chess champion, Garry Kasparov.

But no one expected to see the Pope’s face appear on the screen.

“I very much like this title – ‘The Future You’”, began Pope Francis, “because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a ‘you’…The future is made of you’s…because life flows through our relations with others”.

Speaking in his typically personal and informal style, the Pope reminded us of how “everything is connected” and of how “life is about interactions”. “None of us is an autonomous and independent ‘I’”, he said. “We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”.

His second message regarded “educating people to a true solidarity” in order to overcome the “culture of waste” that puts products at the centre of techno-economic systems, instead of people. “The other has a face”, he said. “The ‘you’ is…a person to take care of”.

The Pope illustrated his point by quoting Mother Teresa and the parable of the Good Samaritan, before going on to talk about Hope – which he described as “a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree”. “A single individual is enough for hope to exist”, he said. “And that individual can be you”.

Pope Francis’ third and final message was dedicated to what he called “the revolution of tenderness”. Tenderness means “being on the same level as the other”, he said. It is not weakness, but strength: “the path of solidarity…of humility”. And through humility, even power becomes a service and a force for good.

The Pope concluded by affirming that the future of humankind is not in the hands of politicians or big companies but, most of all, in the hands of those people “who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’”.

Because: “We all need each other”.

Listen to the English-dubbed version of the Pope's TED talk:

(from Vatican Radio)

Ahead of trip, Pope Francis sends message of joy to Egypt

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2017 / 05:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis expressed his joy for his upcoming trip to Cairo in a video message, saying he hopes to bring peace and friendship to all Egyptian citizens.

“I am truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the Country that gave, more than two thousand years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod,” the Pope said an April 25 video message.

The video shows Pope Francis expressing his excitement to visit the land “where Patriarchs and Prophets lived,” and wishes to bring strength and comfort to the Christian community.

“I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region.”

On April 10, the Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed the Pope's trip to Egypt despite the recent violence from the Islamic State taking place within the country.  

Coptic Christians make up the majority of Egypt's Christian community, but suicide bombings, kidnappings, and other violent attacks from the Islamic State have affected both Christians and Muslims.

General Minister of the Franciscan Community acknowledged the present dangers and said the Pope is “very informed” of the issues occurring in Egypt.

“Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land – needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices,” Pope Francis said.

He added, “It needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity.”

The Pope hopes he may bring “a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world, in which Egypt occupies a primary position.”

Pope Francis will begin his trip by giving an address for an international conference of peace at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, an esteemed Muslim institute. He will be speaking with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, who is considered by some to be head of the Sunni Muslim branch of thought.

Afterwards, the Pope will meet with the state officials and Patriarch Tawadros II of Alexandria, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.  

Patriarch Tawadros II was nearly injured during one of the two attacks which killed 44 people and injured over 100 more. During Palm Sunday liturgy, one suicide bomber detonated at the entrance of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.

The Pope will then celebrate mass on Saturday, and have a meeting with the Coptic Catholic Bishops over lunch. Pope Francis was invited by the Coptic Catholic Patriarchy during their ad limina visit to the Vatican on Feb. 6.

Fifty years ago, Colorado became the first state to legalize abortion

Denver, Colo., Apr 25, 2017 / 03:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- April 25 marks 50 years since Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to legalize abortion. In a statement released Tuesday, the bishops of Colorado called for continued prayers and efforts to build up a culture of life in the state.

“Amid celebrating the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we pause to remember the dark shadow cast over Colorado 50 years ago,” said a statement from the Colorado Catholic Conference.

“As we reflect on the fiftieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Colorado, we express immense sympathy for the victims of this horrific assault on human dignity.”

Colorado was the first state in the nation to decriminalize abortion. The initial legislation, signed into law April 25, 1967, allowed abortion in certain limited cases: rape, incest, or a prediction of permanent mental or physical disability of either the child or mother.

Sponsored by legislator Dick Lamm, the abortion bill was signed by Governor John Love, who stressed at the time that no medical facility or professional would ever be required to participate in an abortion.

“I am certain that the operation provided for will occur only in hospitals, subject to a severe test of accreditation, which will successfully prevent anything approaching abortion clinics,” he added at the time, according to the Associated Press.

Six years later, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade would declare abortion to be a constitutional right nationwide. The Colorado ruling also paved the way for other states, such as California, Oregon and North Carolina, to follow suit.

What began as a limited law in Colorado is now a much broader legalization, which allows for abortion throughout an entire pregnancy.

While the Colorado bishops lamented the past 50 years of legalized abortion within the state, they also highlighted the numerous pro-life efforts that are aiding pregnant women.

“We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to those throughout Colorado who serve the pro-life cause in immeasurable ways,” the bishops said.

“We are encouraged and uplifted by the great number of young people that have taken up the cause of protecting and defending life with passion and enthusiasm. We honor the incredible work of pregnancy centers and agencies that provide vital counseling, pre- and post-natal care, housing and material support to those women in need of such care.”

The bishops also underscored the importance of offering support to women without condemnation, while at the same time remaining firm in the “denunciation of abortion.” They encouraged the faithful to become active supporters of life by helping pregnant women or pro-life organizations.

“During this Easter season, we are called to be men and women of the Resurrection – messengers of hope and life to a world often filled with affliction and suffering,” they said.

“May God give us strength to continue our efforts in Colorado to promote a culture that recognizes the dignity and beauty of every human life from conception to natural death.”

 

Trump administration will continue defending HHS mandate in court

Washington D.C., Apr 25, 2017 / 12:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With President Donald Trump’s administration signaling that it is not dropping the HHS mandate cases against religious non-profits, plaintiffs are concerned that the action does not reflect promises made during the presidential campaign.

“The government has a chance to do the right thing here. It got it wrong for five years in these cases, almost six years,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents many non-profits in HHS mandate cases.

“And they can do the right thing by dropping their appeals that are in favor of the mandate, and admitting that they were wrong on the issue of the contraceptive mandate, as applied to religious non-profits,” Rassbach told CNA Tuesday.

During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised Catholics relief from the HHS mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some early abortion drugs. In a letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference last October, he pointed to his opponent Hillary Clinton’s support for the mandate, and said “that is a hostility to religious liberty you will never see in a Trump Administration.”

After Trump’s election, the plaintiffs challenging the mandate widely expected that the new administration would drop the government’s appeal of the lawsuits, which federal circuit courts may re-examine in the coming months.

Instead of dropping the cases, however, the administration indicated that it intends to take the next step in the litigation process. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had asked a federal appeals court for 60 extra days to negotiate an agreement with East Texas Baptist University and several other plaintiffs challenging the mandate. The Supreme Court last year had instructed the Obama administration to negotiate with the plaintiffs as the next step in the litigation process.

The Becket Fund said that the same lawyers that litigated the cases on behalf of the Obama administration are still on the mandate cases now under the Trump administration.

The HHS mandate was formed under the Affordable Care Act, which required preventive coverage in employer health plans. Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services interpreted this to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and drugs that can cause abortions.

After a wave of criticism from religious employers to the original mandate, the Obama administration announced an “accommodation” whereby objecting non-profits would tell the government of their opposition, and their insurer or the third party administrator for the plans would be notified separately to include the coverage.

Many non-profits – including Catholic dioceses and the Little Sisters of the Poor – said that the process still forced them to cooperate in immoral behavior against their consciences. Some critics voiced concern that the cost of coverage would still end up getting passed along to the objecting employers in the form of higher premiums.

Hundreds of non-profits and other plaintiffs filed lawsuits over the mandate, even with the accommodation. Among these plaintiffs is EWTN Global Catholic Network. CNA is part of the EWTN family.

A number of those cases made their way to the Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell. Plaintiffs in the case include East Texas Baptist University, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, and other dioceses, schools, and charities.

In March of 2016, the Court asked both the plaintiffs and the government to submit briefs explaining whether a compromise could be reached that provided for cost-free contraceptive coverage for employees and yet still respected the religious freedom of the objecting non-profits.

That request, which came after oral arguments and in the middle of the case, was almost unprecedented in its timing.

After both parties outlined ways where they believed both goals could be achieved, the Supreme Court last May sent the cases back to the federal circuit court level, vacated the previous decisions of those courts, ordered the government not to enforce the fines against plaintiffs for not complying with their demands, and instructed the courts to give the parties time to find a solution they could agree on.

“Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners’ health plans ‘receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage’,” the Court stated.

“We anticipate that the Courts of Appeals will allow the parties sufficient time to resolve any outstanding issues between them.”

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, one of the plaintiffs in the cases, said in August that the federal government had “an extremely aggressive interpretation” of the Supreme Court’s instructions and was “apparently trying to take over” the diocese’s health plans.

 

Pope Francis refuses bullet-proof vehicle for Egypt trip

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2017 / 10:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will not use a bulletproof vehicle during his trip to Egypt this weekend, despite recent terror attacks against Christians in the country, according to Reuters.  

"The Pope will use a closed car to move around, but not an armoured one," Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed yesterday. "That's how he wanted it."

This is not the first time Pope Francis has done so - he typically prefers to travel in more open vehicles, or ones that are not bulletproof, because he feels that allows him to better interact with the people on the streets.

Pope Francis will be traveling to Cairo, Egypt, April 28-29 for his first international trip of the year. Interfaith dialogue with Muslims and showing solidarity with persecuted Christians will be main priorities of the trip.

His trip comes after several recent attacks on Christian in the country.

In December, a bombing at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens of others, most of them women and children.

On Palm Sunday, the bombing of two Coptic churches killed 43 and injured more than 100 others.

Last week, gunmen attacked security forces near the famous St Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai desert, killing a police officer and injuring three others. This attack and the church bombings were all claimed by ISIS.

Egypt’s president has declared a three-month state of emergency in the country following the Palm Sunday attacks. Despite the risk, the Vatican announced earlier this month that the Pope’s trip to Egypt would continue as planned.

Pope Francis was invited to visit Egypt by Coptic Catholic bishops during their visit at the Vatican Feb. 6. The Pope had also received an invitation to visit Egypt from the country’s president and from the Grand Imam of al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, after his visit to the Vatican in the spring of 2016, marking a thaw in Vatican-Muslim relations in Egypt.  

During his trip, Pope Francis will meet with the Grand Imama state officials, leaders of Egypt’s Catholic Coptic and Orthodox Coptic churches, and Catholic priests and religious of the country.

They lost everything in Peru's floods. Now they're asking for Bibles.

Lima, Peru, Apr 25, 2017 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop José Antonio Eguren of Piura and Tumbes, Peru visited the inhabitants of one of the areas most affected by the recent floods in northern Peru, who asked him to help them get some Bibles.

According to the Archdiocese of Piura, a group of victims from the Pedregal Chico settlement in Baja Piura approached the archbishop last week and asked him for some Bibles because the ones they had were lost in the flood.

“They said that the Word of God is essential for them and for the continuity of their family catechetical programs and ongoing catechesis they have implemented in their village,” said a news brief from the archdiocese.

Archbishop Eguren promised to get the Bibles and assured the victims that “the love of God does not abandon them nor has he forgotten them.”

The archbishop, accompanied by volunteers and authorities from the charitable group Caritas, brought three tons of food supplies for the more than 300 families in this area, who were hard hit by the Piura River overflowing in recent weeks.

The river waters obliterated homes, workshops, plazas, ranches and farm fields, completely flooding the village and reaching a level of five feet.

To save their lives, the villagers had to leave everything behind and flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Much of the village has been buried under a thick layer of much. Some 80 percent of the homes have been demolished, while rice and cotton fields have been destroyed.

Today, the almost 1800 inhabitants of this village, devoted mainly to farming and handicrafts, “spend the day in makeshift and uncomfortable tents, without basic services, living together with sickness and extreme poverty,” the Archdiocese of Piura reported.

“They just ask that we don't forget about their situation and that we help them so they can recover.”

“They are people of deep faith and despite everything they have suffered they have not lost hope or the desire to go on, since they're sure that with the help of the love of God, their desire to work and our aid they will be able to again see their people better off than before,” the news brief concludes.  

 

 

Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Egypt visit

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country, saying the “world needs peace, love and mercy”.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

Pope Francis began his video message to the people of Egypt with the traditional greeting in Arabic: “As-salamu alaykum! (Peace be with you!)”

He said he is “coming as a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim to the country that, over two thousand years ago, gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod.”

The Pope thanked those who invited him, including the President, Patriarch Tawadros II, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, as well as all those people preparing for his arrival.

He said he would like his visit to “be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East”.

He called his interreligious and ecumenical visit “a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place.”

Speaking about recent “blind violence” in the country, Pope Francis said, “Our world needs peace, love and mercy. It needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.”

He went on to say “Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity.”

Finally, Pope Francis extended a warm embrace to the Egyptian people of all religions, age, and means.

Shukran wa Tahiaì Misr! (Thank you and may Egypt flourish!)”

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

Dear People of Egypt,

As-salamu alaykum!

Peace be with you!

With a heart full of joy and gratitude I will soon visit your beloved country, the cradle of civilization, the gift of the Nile, the land of sun and hospitality, the land where Patriarchs and Prophets lived, and where God, Benevolent and Merciful, the Almighty and One God, made his voice heard.

I am truly happy to be coming as a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim to the country that, over two thousand years ago, gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod (cf. Mt 2:10-16).  I am honoured to visit the land visited by the Holy Family!

I greet all of you warmly and I thank you for your invitation to visit Egypt, which you call ‘Umm il Dugna – Mother of the universe!

I offer heartfelt thanks to the President of the Republic, to His Holiness Patriarch Tawadros II, to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and to the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, all of whom invited me.  I also thank each of you for opening your hearts to me, and in particular all those who worked so hard to make this journey possible.

I would like this visit to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place.  I would also hope that my visit will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.

Our world is torn by blind violence, a violence that has also struck the heart of your beloved land.  Our world needs peace, love and mercy.  It needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.  Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity.

Dear Egyptian brothers and sisters, young and old, women and men, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor…  I embrace you warmly and I ask Almighty God to bless you and protect your country from every evil.

Please pray for me!  Shukran wa Tahiaì Misr! (Thank you and may Egypt flourish!). 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: Gospel must be proclaimed with humility

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Tuesday for the intentions of his “brother,” Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawadros II, whom he will be meeting in three days’ time as he makes an Apostolic Voyage to Egypt.

The day’s Mass commemorates Saint Mark the Evangelist, who is recognized as the founder of the patriarchate of Alexandria. “I offer this Mass for my brother, Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts,” Pope Francis said. He prayed for “the grace that the Lord might bless our two churches with the abundance of the Holy Spirit.

The Cardinal counsellors who make up the C-9 advisory group were among the faithful taking part in the Pope’s daily Mass.

In his homily during the liturgy, Pope Francis said the Gospel must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride. The Holy Father spoke about the necessity for Christians of “going out to proclaim” the Good News. A preacher, he said, must always be on a journey, and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place. 

Listen: 

Jesus gave His disciples a mission: to proclaim the Gospel, “to not remain in Jerusalem, but to go out to proclaim the Good News to all. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on passage from the Gospel of St Mark, which relates the story of the Great Commission. He said “the Gospel is always proclaimed on the journey, never seated, always on the journey.”

Going out to proclaim the Good News, never remaining stopped but always on the journey

Christians, the Pope said, need “to go out where Jesus is not known, or where Jesus is persecuted, or where Jesus is disfigured, to proclaim the true Gospel”:

“To go out in order to proclaim. And, also, in this going out there is life, the life of the preacher is played out. He is not safe; there are no life insurance policies for preachers. And if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel: He doesn’t go out, he stays in place, safe. So, first of all: Go, go out. The Gospel, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, goes forth, always; on a journey, always. On a physical journey, on a spiritual journey, on a journey of suffering: we think of the proclamation of the Gospel that leads to so many wounded people – so many wounded people! – who offer their sufferings for the Church, for the Christians. But they always go out of themselves.”

But what is “the style of this proclamation?” the Pope asked. “Saint Peter, who was St Mark’s teacher, was perfectly clear in his description of this style”: “The Gospel must be announced in humility, because the Son of God humbled Himself, annihilated Himself.” This, the Pope said, “is the style of God”; there is no other. “The proclamation of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a carnival, a party.” This is “not the proclamation of the Gospel.”

The Gospel must be announced with humility, overcoming the temptation of worldliness

The Gospel, the Pope said, “cannot be announced with human power, cannot be proclaimed with human power, cannot be proclaimed with the spirit of climbing and advancement.” “This is not the Gospel.” All of us, then, are called to vest themselves with “humility, one towards another,” because “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”:

“And why is this humility necessary? Precisely because we carry forward a proclamation of humiliation – of glory, but through humility. And the proclamation of the Gospel undergoes temptation: the temptation of power, the temptation of pride, the temptation of worldliness, of so many kinds of worldliness that they bring preaching or to speaking; because he does not preach a watered down Gospel, without strength, a Gospel without Christ crucified and risen. And for this reason St Peter says: ‘Be vigilant, be vigilant, be vigilant… Your enemy the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.’ The proclamation of the Gospel, if it is true, undergoes temptation."

Pope Francis said that if a Christian says he is proclaiming the Gospel “but is never tempted,” it means that “the devil is not worried,” because “we are preaching something useless.”

Let us ask the Lord that we might go out of ourselves in order to evangelize

For this reason, the Pope continued, “in true preaching there is always some temptation, and also some persecution.” He said that when we are suffering, the Lord is there “to restore us, to give us strength, because that is what Jesus promised when He sent the Apostles”:

“The Lord will be there to comfort us, to give us the strength to go forward, because He works with us if we are faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel, if we go out of ourselves to preach Christ crucified, a scandal and a folly, and if we do this with a style of humility, of true humility. May the Lord grant us this grace, as baptized people, all of us, to take the path of evangelization with humility, with confidence in Him, announcing the true Gospel: ‘The Word is come in the flesh.’ The Word of God is come in the flesh. And this is a folly, it is a scandal; but doing it with the understanding that the Lord is at our side, He works with us, and He confirms our work.”

(from Vatican Radio)