(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Holy Thursday washed the feet of inmates at Paliano prison, south of Rome, during the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper.
The Pope traveled to the penitentiary for a private visit and the celebration of Mass marking Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on the day before his Crucifixion.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :
In his off-the-cuff homily Pope Francis invited those present – and all Christians – to serve the other.
“The disciples, the Pope said, used to argue about who was the most important amongst them”.
“He who feels or thinks he is important, he continued, must become small and be a servant to the others. That is what God – who loves us as we are – does every day”.
The center hosts some 70 inmates, and amongst those whose feet the Pope washed, there are 10 Italians, 1 Argentinean and 1 Albanian. Amongst them 3 are women and 1 is a Muslim who will receive the Sacrament of Baptism in the coming month of June.
The Paliano detention center is the only such institute in Italy reserved in particular for former members of criminal gangs who collaborate with police and the judiciary.
Vocational training is part of the programmes in place for the inmates at Paliano and courses include pottery, bakery, carpentry, farming and bee-keeping. That’s why the inmates gifts for Pope Francis include baskets of fresh farm produce, eggs, honey and a wooden crucifix.
Pope Francis began the tradition of travelling to a prison for the traditional Last Supper Mass in March 2013, just a few days after the inauguration of his pontificate. On that occasion he travelled to Rome’s Casal del Marmo youth detention centre where he included, for the first time, women and Muslims among the inmates whose feet he washed.
The following year, he celebrated the Last Supper Mass at Rome’s Don Gnocchi centre for the disabled, again including women among those who had their feet washed in memory of Jesus’ gesture of humility and service.
In 2015 Pope Francis travelled to Rome’s Rebibbia prison for the Holy Thursday celebration, while last year he washed the feet of refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Coptic Orthodox men and women at a centre for asylum seekers in Castelnuovo di Porto, just north of Rome.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Chrism Mass of the Rome diocese on the morning of Holy Thursday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The liturgy is held every year in every diocese, and is typically celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday, with the clergy gathered around the bishop in a sign of unity.
It is called the “Chrism Mass” because it is during the liturgy that the sacred oils to be used in the Sacraments are blessed: the Oil of the Infirm, the Oil of the Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism – which is used to anoint the newly baptized and in conferring Confirmation, and to consecrate priests and bishops to their special and peculiar divine service.
Click below to hear our report
In his homily , Pope Francis spoke of the truth, mercy, and joy of the Gospel, which each priest is called to witness with his whole life: embodying and personifying each of the three characteristics.
“The truth of the good news can never be merely abstract, incapable of taking concrete shape in people’s lives because they feel more comfortable seeing it printed in books,” Pope Francis said.
“The mercy of the good news can never be a false commiseration, one that leaves sinners in their misery without holding out a hand to lift them up and help them take a step in the direction of change,” he continued.
“This message,” the Holy Father went on to say, “can never be gloomy or indifferent, for it expresses a joy that is completely personal – it is ‘the joy of the Father, who desires that none of his little ones be lost’,” and “the joy of Jesus, who sees that the poor have the good news preached to them, and that the little ones go out to preach the message in turn.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday presided over the Chrism Mass, during which the sacred oils used for the Sacraments and Ordinations were blessed.
In his homily for the Mass, the Holy Father spoke about the “joy of the Gospel”.
He explored three “icons” of the good news: the stone water jars at the wedding feast of Cana, the jug with its wooden ladle that the Samaritan woman carried on her head in the midday sun, and the fathomless vessel of the Lord’s pierced Heart.
Please find below the official English translation of the Pope’s homily:
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Thursday Chrism Mass
13 April 2017
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18). Jesus, anointed by the Spirit, brings good news to the poor. Everything he proclaims, and we priests too proclaim, is good news. News full of the joy of the Gospel – the joy of those anointed in their sins with the oil of forgiveness and anointed in their charism with the oil of mission, in order to anoint others in turn.
Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible! –, he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer. Like every other missionary disciple, the priest makes the message joyful by his whole being. For as we all know, it is in the little things that joy is best seen and shared: when by taking one small step, we make God’s mercy overflow in situations of desolation; when we decide to pick up the phone and arrange to see someone; when we patiently allow others to take up our time…
The phrase “good news” might appear as just another way of saying “the Gospel”. Yet those words point to something essential: the joy of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news because it is, in essence, a message of joy.
The good news is the precious pearl of which we read in the Gospel. It is not a thing but a mission. This is evident to anyone who has experienced the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Evangelii Gaudium, 10).
The good news is born of Anointing. Jesus’ first “great priestly anointing” took place, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of Mary. The good news of the Annunciation inspired the Virgin Mother to sing her Magnificat. It filled the heart of Joseph, her spouse, with sacred silence, and it made John leap for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, his mother.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to Nazareth and the joy of the Spirit renews that Anointing in the little synagogue of that town: the Spirit descends and is poured out upon him, “anointing him with the oil of gladness” (cf. Ps 45:8).
Good news. A single word – Gospel – that, even as it is spoken, becomes truth, brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone.
The truth of the good news can never be merely abstract, incapable of taking concrete shape in people’s lives because they feel more comfortable seeing it printed in books.
The mercy of the good news can never be a false commiseration, one that leaves sinners in their misery without holding out a hand to lift them up and help them take a step in the direction of change.
This message can never be gloomy or indifferent, for it expresses a joy that is completely personal. It is “the joy of the Father, who desires that none of his little ones be lost” (Evangelii Gaudium, 237). It is the joy of Jesus, who sees that the poor have the good news preached to them, and that the little ones go out to preach the message in turn (ibid., 5) The joys of the Gospel are special joys. I say “joys” in the plural, for they are many and varied, depending on how the Spirit chooses to communicate them, in every age, to every person and in every culture. They need to be poured into new wineskins, the ones the Lord speaks of in expressing the newness of his message. I would like to share with you, dear priests, dear brothers, three images or icons of those new wineskins in which the good news is kept fresh, without turning sour but being poured out in abundance.
A first icon of the good news would be the stone water jars at the wedding feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:6). In one way, they clearly reflect that perfect vessel which is Our Lady herself, the Virgin Mary. The Gospel tells us that the servants “filled them up to the brim” (Jn 2:7). I can imagine one of those servants looking to Mary to see if that was enough, and Mary signaling to add one more pailful. Mary is the new wineskin brimming with contagious joy. She is “the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286), Our Lady of Prompt Succour, who, after conceiving in her immaculate womb the Word of life, goes out to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth. Her “contagious fullness” helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy. This cannot be, for “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (ibid., 1)
A second icon of the good news is the jug with its wooden ladle that the Samaritan woman carried on her head in the midday sun (cf. Jn 4:5-30). It speaks to us of something crucial: the importance of concrete situations. The Lord, the Source of Living Water, had no means of drawing the water to quench his thirst. So the Samaritan woman drew the water with her jug, and with her ladle she sated the Lord’s thirst. She sated it even more by concretely confessing her sins. By mercifully shaking the vessel of that Samaritan women’s soul, the Holy Spirit overflowed upon all the people of that small town, who asked the Lord to stay with them.
The Lord gave us another new vessel or wineskin full of this “inclusive concreteness” in that Samaritan soul who was Mother Teresa. He called to her and told her: “I am thirsty”. He said: “My child, come, take me to the hovels of the poor. Come, be my light. I cannot do this alone. They do not know me, and that is why they do not love me. Bring me to them”. Mother Teresa, starting with one concrete person, thanks to her smile and her way of touching their wounds, brought the good news to all.
The third icon of the good news is the fathomless vessel of the Lord’s pierced Heart: his utter meekness, humility and poverty which draw all people to himself. From him we have to learn that announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way. Evangelization cannot be presumptuous. The integrity of the truth cannot be rigid. The Spirit proclaims and teaches “the whole truth” (cf. Jn 16:3), and he is not afraid to do this one sip at a time. The Spirit tells us in every situation what we need to say to our enemies (cf. Mt 10:19), and at those times he illumines our every small step forward. This meekness and integrity gives joy to the poor, revives sinners, and grants relief to those oppressed by the devil.
Dear priests, as we contemplate and drink from these three new wineskins, may the good news find in us that “contagious fullness” which Our Lady radiates with her whole being, the “inclusive concreteness” of the story of the Samaritan woman, and the “utter meekness” whereby the Holy Spirit ceaselessly wells up and flows forth from the pierced heart of Jesus our Lord.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis granted an interview with the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, published Thursday morning, in which he spoke about why he always celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with prisoners and about the current “terrible world war being fought piecemeal”.
This year, the Holy Father celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at the Paliano Detention Centre, near Rome, where he will once again wash the feet of prisoners on the margins of society.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:
The Pope said his decision to continue to celebrate the In Coena Domini Mass with prisoners “is a duty which comes from my heart.”
“The Gospel passage of the last judgment says, ‘I was a prisoner and you visited me’. This is Jesus’ task for each of us, but especially for the bishop who is the father of all.”
Example of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli
When asked who had taught him this lesson, Pope Francis cited the example of the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli.
He said that even when he was Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli continued to carry out his pastoral activity at Rome’s youth detention facility, Casal del Marmo, unbeknownst to those to whom he was ministering.
“Every Saturday evening he would disappear: ‘He’s resting’, they would say. He would take the bus, with his work briefcase, and would stay to confess young people and play with them. They called him ‘Don Agostino’; they didn’t really know who he was. When John XXIII received him after his first visit to Eastern Europe during his diplomatic mission at the height of the Cold War, he asked him at the end of their meeting: ‘Tell me, do you still visit those young people?’ ‘Yes, Holy Father.’ ‘I ask you this favor, never abandon them.’”
The Holy Father went on to say, “At times, a certain hypocrisy pushes us to see prisoners only as people who have messed up, for whom the only path is prison. But, we all have the possibility to make mistakes.”
World must stop lords of war
Turning to the theme of war and violence, Pope Francis said, “I think today sin is manifested with all its destructive force in war, in different forms of violence and mistreatment, and in the rejection of the most fragile.”
He said the last century “was devastated by two deadly world wars and knew the threat of nuclear war and a large number of other conflicts, while today, unfortunately, we are experiencing a terrible world war fought piecemeal.”
The Holy Father told his interviewer, “The world must stop the lords of war, because those who suffer most are the last and the helpless.”
“I always ask myself,” he said, “Does violence allow us to obtain long-lasting objectives? Are not the results only a further escalation of reprisals and a spiral of lethal conflicts, which benefit only ‘a few lords of war?’”
Pope Francis said, “Responding to violence with violence leads – in the best of cases – to forced migration and inhuman suffering… In the worst of cases, in can bring the physical and spiritual death of many people, if not of all.”
Prejudices close one to truth and freedom
In conclusion, the Pope returned to his evening visit to prisoners at the Paliano Detention Centre.
“When we remain closed in our own prejudices, when we are slaves to idols of a false well-being, when we move within ideological frames, or when we absolutize economic laws which crush people, in reality we are doing nothing other than remaining within the cramped cell walls of individualism and self-sufficiency, deprived of truth which generates freedom. And to point the finger against someone who has messed up cannot become an alibi for hiding one’s own contradictions.”
(from Vatican Radio)…