(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican of the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) in a traditional new year meeting on Friday. Although Vatican City State has its own police force – the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps – this force cooperates closely with its Italian counterparts, and the Italian police help patrol St. Peter’s Square.
In his address, Francis expressed his gratitude to all of them for their generous service, not without difficulties and risks. “I know that you run risks”, he said. “You are, in a certain sense, the ‘guardian angels’ of St. Peter’s Square. Indeed, every day you keep watch over this peculiar centre of Christianity, and other relevant areas of the Vatican, with great care, professionalism and a sense of duty. And especially in these recent times, you have shown competence and courage in facing the many challenges and various dangers, working with generosity in the prevention of crimes. In this way you have ensured safe access for pilgrims to the Basilica and to meetings with Peter’s Successor. For all this I thank you. I thank you: they are not merely words, these, they come from the heart. Thank you! I know the hardships of your work and the sacrifices that you must make every day. Know that I appreciate you greatly and often think with sincere gratitude of you and your valuable work”.
“The extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, an event of unique spiritual significance, has seen many pilgrims flock to Rome from all over the world in recent months. You too have been required to make greater efforts in your work, to ensure that the celebrations and events connected with the Jubilee were able to take place in safety and serenity. The external order over which you kept watch with great diligence, thoughtful care and constant willingness, thus contributed to fostering inner calm in pilgrims in search of peace in their encounter with the Lord’s mercy”.
The Pope recalled that the Christmas celebrations came to an end just a short while ago, in which “we turned our gaze to Bethlehem, to that land and that family who became Jesus’ dwelling. Christmas urges us to measure ourselves, once again, with the lowering of the Son of God, Who wished to make Himself similar to us in everything other than sin, to make us understand the love with which He loved, and loves, us. This immeasurable love is a constant invitation to turn to acceptance, solidarity and forgiveness of our brothers. In this way we will be able to experience within ourselves that peace that the angels in Bethlehem proclaimed to men of good will”.
The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord to protect those present and commending them to the Virgin Mary, and reiterating his gratitude for the tenacity and fidelity with which they perform their work. “I ask you to pray for me, and impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing”.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) During his homily on Friday morning in the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that authentic faith must be ready to take risks and that real hope is the reward.
Listen to our report:
Commenting on the Gospel account of the paralytic who is lowered from the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching, the Pope said people follow Jesus out of self interest or because they are looking for a comforting word. Even if no intention is totally pure or perfect, he said, the important thing is to follow Jesus. People were drawn to Him because of the “things He said and the way he said them. They understood Him. He healed them and many people followed Him to be healed”. There were times, said Pope Francis, when Jesus admonished people who were more interested in their own well-being than in the Word of God.
Don’t be Christians to look at life from the balcony and judge others
There were other times, continued the Pope, when people wanted to make Jesus King, thinking He was “the perfect politician!”. But they were wrong and Jesus “went away and hid”. Even so, the Lord let anyone follow Him because He knew that we are all sinners. The bigger problem, confirmed the Pope, “was not with those who followed Jesus”, but with those who stayed where they were.
“Those who didn’t move…and watched. They were sitting down…watching from the balcony. Their life was not a journey: their life was a balcony! From there they never took risks. They just judged. They were pure and wouldn’t get involved. But their judgements were severe. In their hearts they said: What ignorant people! What superstitious people! How often, when we see the piety of simple people, are we too subject to that clericalism that hurts the Church so much”.
Reflecting on those who don’t move in their lives, Pope Francis referenced the man who “sat beside the pool for 38 years, without moving, embittered by life, without hope…someone else who failed to follow Jesus and had no hope”.
Encountering Jesus means taking risks
But those who did follow Jesus, continued the Pope, were ready to risk in order to meet Him, in order to “find what they wanted”. Going back to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis said “the men who made a hole in the roof took a risk”. They risked the owner of the house suing them and taking them to court to pay for the damages. They were ready to risk because “they wanted to go to Jesus”. The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked: because she wanted to be cured, “she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman: women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that”.
Following Jesus, the Pope went on, “isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! And it’s always a risk”. There are times, he said, when we risk “being ridiculous”. But we achieve what counts: “our sins are forgiven”. Beneath whatever request we are making, whether it be for good health or for a solution to a problem, “there’s the desire to be healed in spirit, to be forgiven”. All of us know we are sinners, said Pope Francis, “and that’s why we follow Jesus: to meet Him. So we take risks”.
Beware of a soul that is static, closed and without hope
Let’s ask ourselves, concluded Pope Francis: “Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?” Because “that’s not the way to follow Jesus. That way you don’t move, like those who judge”.
Do we follow Jesus because we need something, or do we follow Him because we are ready to risk? “This is faith: trusting in Jesus, having faith in Jesus. And with this faith in Him, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher down in front of Jesus so he could cure the sick man”. “Do I put my faith in Jesus?”, asked the Pope. “Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?” Am I watching life with a soul that is static, “with a soul that is closed with bitterness and lack of hope? We should each be asking ourselves these questions today”.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter to young people as the Church prepares for a Synod of Bishops on the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”.
The Pope’s letter was published on Friday ahead of a press conference at the Holy See Press Office to present the preparatory document for the Synod which will take place in October 2018.
Please find below the text of the letter :
My Dear Young People,
I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.
I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.
When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?
But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).
I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.
In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).
A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).
Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).
With paternal affection,
(from Vatican Radio)…