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Day: September 14, 2015

Pope: follow the way of the Cross against the temptation of evil

(Vatican Radio) If we want to move forward “on the path of Christian life” we must fall, just as Jesus did when he carried the Cross.
This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily on Monday morning during Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
The Mass, which took place on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, was also attended by the C9 Cardinals who are meeting in the Vatican until September 16.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : 

Pope Francis took his cue from the reading of the day which tells of the serpent in the desert and speaks of the temptations of evil that seduce and then destroy us. 
Noting that the protagonist of the parable is a snake, Pope Francis pointed out that “he is cunning and he also has the ability to charm”.
The Bible, he said, also tells us that “he is a liar and he is a jealous, and because of the devil’s envy, sin entered into the world.” This capacity to seduce us – the Pope said – ruins us.
The Pope said “He promises many things” but when time comes, his price is high.
And speaking of Paul who got angry with the Galatian Christians and said to them: “Foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Did you experience so many things in vain?” the Pope pointed out that they had been corrupted by the snake. This – he said – was nothing new; it was in the consciousness of the people of Israel.
The Pope then focused on the fact that the Lord told Moses to “make a bronze serpent” and those who looked at it would be saved. This, he explained is also “a prophecy, a promise which is not easy to understand”. That’s why Jesus says to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must be lifted up the Son of ‘Man, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
Therefore – Pope Francis said – that bronze serpent represented Jesus raised on the Cross.
“Why did the Lord choose this bad and ugly image? Simply because He came to take upon himself all our sins, and He became the greatest sinner without having committed any. Paul tells us: ‘He became sin for us’, by taking on the image ‘He became the snake. He became sin to save us’; this is the message in the Liturgy of the Word today, the path of Jesus.”
The Pope said God became man and took his sin upon himself. And Paul explains to the Philippians of whom he was so fond: “though he was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross”.
Jesus Francis continued: “emptied himself, became sin for us, He who knew no sin.” 
The mystery he is said is this:  “he became ugly like the serpent”.
“We see beautiful paintings of Jesus on the cross, but reality is different: He was torn and bloodied by our sins. This is the path that He took to defeat the serpent in his own camp. We must look at the Cross of Jesus, not the artistic, well-painted ones, but at reality. And we must look at his path and at God who annihilated himself, stooped to save us”. 
This – the Pope concluded – is the way of the Christian: “If a Christian wants to move forward on the road of Christian life he must fall, just as Jesus fell. It is the way of humility, yes, it also means he must take humiliation upon himself just as Jesus did”.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis speaks to Portugal’s Radio Renascença

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis spoke about the refugee crisis during an interview with Portugal’s Radio Renascença which aired on Monday, calling it the “tip of an iceberg.”
“These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socioeconomic system, in everything, in the world – speaking of the environmental problem –, in the socioeconomic society, in politics, the person always has to be in the centre,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father said the world must work to help people not feel the need to emigrate.
“Where the causes are hunger, we have to create work, investments. Where the cause is war, search for peace, work for peace,” he said. “Nowadays the world is at war against itself, that is, the world is at war, as I say, in instalments, bit by bit, but it is also at war against the land, because it is destroying the land, our common house, the environment.”
The Pope did, however, admit welcoming refugees is not a riskless proposition.
“I recognize that, nowadays, border safety conditions are not what they once were,” Pope Francis said. “The truth is that just 400 kilometres from Sicily there is an incredibly cruel terrorist group. So there is a danger of infiltration, this is true.”
The Pope said Rome itself would not be immune from this this threat.
“But you can take precautions, and put these people to work,” he said. “But then there is another problem, that Europe is going through a very big labour crisis.”
The Holy Father pointed out immigration is an international and timeless phenomenon, and added the low birthrate in Europe is creating “empty spaces,” which others will try to fill.
“If a country has no children, immigrants come in and take their place,” he said.
“I believe Europe’s greatest challenge is to go back to being a mother Europe,” Pope Francis said, as opposed to a “grandmother Europe.”
Later in the interview, the Pope mentioned this was also his concern for the Church – “become too much of a grandmother, instead of a mother, incapable of generating life” – and he said he hoped the Jubilee of Mercy will allow people to “experience the Church as mother.”
Pope Francis also used the interview to ask people to “pray a lot” for the upcoming Synod on the Family.
“We have high expectations because, obviously, the family is in crisis,” he said. “Young people no longer get married. They don’t get married.”
He also said the Synod would look at ways to help those families living in situations contrary to Church teaching.
“At the synod we will be speaking about all the possible ways to help these families,” Pope Francis said. “But one thing should be very clear – something Pope Benedict left quite clear: people who are in a second union are not excommunicated and should be integrated into Church life. This was made crystal clear. I also said this quite clearly: Drawing closer to the mass, to catechesis, their children’s education, charity… There are so many different options.”
Pope Francis admitted his life after becoming Pope has been an adventure, but said “I did not lose the peace.”
An English translation of the full interview can be found here .
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis laments false friendship, fundamentalism

(Vatican Radio)  In his first interview with an independent radio station with no connection to a religious organization, Pope Francis spoke about friendship, encounter, dialogue, and the defense of Creation, saying “You, an Evangelist, I, a Catholic, let us work together for Jesus”. 
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

Pope Francis granted the interview to his personal friend and journalist, Marcelo Figueroa, at the Argentinian radio station, FM Milenium 106.7 out of Buenos Aires.  It aired on Sunday afternoon, September 13th. 
The interview seems like a conversation between two friends – indeed, they have been for many years – so the theme of friendship takes a central place in the discussion. 
Pope Francis emphasized the holiness of true friendship, saying “Friendship is something very sacred.  The Bible says ‘keep one or two friends’.  Before considering someone your friend, let time test him, to see how he reacts in your regard.”
At this point, Pope Francis introduces a more painful, personal note about false friends, saying that he has been used, or instrumentalized, by some who have claimed to be his ‘friends’.  “But the utilitarian sense of friendship – to see what I can get out of being close to this person and making myself his friend – this pains me.  I have felt used by some people who have presented themselves as ‘friends’ with whom I may not have seen more than once or twice in my lifetime, and they used this for their own gain.  But this is an experience which we have all undergone:  utilitarian friendship.”
The Holy Father also went on to point out the dangers of religious fundamentalism which distances one from God, saying that fundamentalism in any religion “is a transversal darkness which robs us of an horizon, which closes us in convictions”. 
“No religion is immune from its own fundamentalisms.  In any confession there will be a small group of fundamentalists, whose work is to destroy in the interests of an idea, not of a reality.  Reality is superior to an idea.  God, whether in Judaism, in Christianity, or in Islam, in the faith of those three peoples, accompanies God’s people with His presence.  In the Bible we see it, Muslims in the Koran.  Our God is a God of nearness, which accompanies.  Fundamentalists push God away from the companionship of His people; they dis-Incarnate Him, they transform Him into an ideology.  Therefore, in the name of this ideological God, they kill, attack, destroy, and calumniate.  Practically, they transform this God into a Baal, into an idol,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father also spoke of friendship towards Creation, underlining the dangers of deforestation and the hydroelectric installations in the Amazon rainforest.
(from Vatican Radio)…

1 February is the Feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa

Pope Francis has declared 1 February as the feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa beatified 13 September 2015 in South Africa.  
Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presided over the beatification ceremony of Tshimangadzo Samuel Bendict Daswa in Tshitanini, Thohoyandou, Limpopo, South Africa.
Cardinal Amato read out the decree from Pope Francis describing Daswa as a layman, a family man and an educator who gave heroic witness of the Gospel.
“We grant that the venerable servant of God, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, a layman and family man,… a zealous Catechist, all-round educator who gave heroic witness to the gospel, even to the shedding of blood, from now on be called ‘Blessed’ read the decree from Pope Francis. The crowd applauded and blew traditional horns.
A significant announcement at the ceremony was the Church’s declaration of 1 February as the feast day of Blessed Benedict Daswa. The announcement was made at Daswa’s beatification ceremony.
The local Ordinary, Bishop of Tzaneen, Joao Rodrigues also addressed the faithful. He said that Daswa’s death “makes him a hero for all Christians in Africa and elsewhere who are struggling to break free from the enslavement of the world of witchcraft…By his courage and his fidelity to the Catholic faith, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa is a model for all the people in Africa,” Bishop Rodrigues said.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma described the beatification of Benedict Daswa as a significant moment for South Africa and the continent as a whole. President Zuma spoke through his spokesperson, Bongani Majola.
The Government of South Africa was represented at the ceremony by Vice President, Cyril Ramaphosa who told the pilgrims in Thohoyandou that this was an occasion in which all South Africans shared with deep faith and affection.
“This is the first time in the history of the Catholic Church of Southern Africa that a South African man is being recognised as a Blessed martyr of Christ,” He added, “This is, therefore, a special honour for the Church in this region. But it is also an extraordinary honour for the Daswa Family, who tragically lost a 43-year-old son and father on the 2 February 1990,” The South African Vice President said.
The beatification Mass was punctuated with a traditional flavor by attire and song.
Apart from the 30 000 people who gathered at Thohoyandou, millions of other Catholics in Africa were expected to have followed the beatification ceremony of Benedict Daswa via digital satellite television, DSTV on the SABC’s news channel 404 that is widely followed on the continent.
Daswa, born on 16 June 1946, was married with eight children. He was killed by a group of men who attacked him not far from his home because of his anti-witchcraft stance. He was praying on his knees when his executioners killed him. His fame as a martyr soon spread throughout the province and each year, on the anniversary of his death, a growing number of people would make a pilgrimage to his grave which is currently located in a small cemetery near his home.
e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va
(from Vatican Radio)…