(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will preside over a penitential service at the Vatican in anticipation of the ’24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative.
The service will take place on Friday 17th March, one week before all churches around the world are asked to offer the sacrament of Confession, a request made by the Pontifical Council for the Promoting of the New Evangelization.
The theme of the initiative this year comes from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew: ‘ I desire Mercy ’ (Mt 9:13).
On Friday 24th March, the churches of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Le Stimmate di San Francesco will remain open from 8pm for Confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. On Saturday 25th March, a service of thanksgiving will take place at 5pm in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting of the New Evangelization, will preside over First Vespers of the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
People around the world can show their support for the initiative by using the #24hoursfortheLord hashtag.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) The parable of the poor man, Lazarus, lying at the rich man’s door, was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Thursday morning. The Pope warned of the risks we run if we have the same uncaring attitude towards the poor and homeless people we see around us today.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:
Reflecting on the Gospel story of Lazarus, from St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis warned against those who place their trust in things of the flesh. Trusting in vanity, pride and riches, he said, will distance us from the Lord. He highlighted the fruitfulness of those who trust in the Lord and the sterility of those who rely only on themselves and the things they can control.
Wealth can harden our hearts
When people live in a closed environment, surrounded by wealth and vanity and trusting in their own devices, the Pope said, those people lose their sense of direction and have no idea of their limitations. Exactly as happens to the rich man in the Gospel, who spends his time at dinner parties and takes no notice of the poor man lying at his door.
Crossing the line from sin to corruption
He knew who that poor man was, he even knew his name, but he just didn’t care, the Pope said. Was he a sinner? Yes, he was, and though the Lord forgives those who repent, this man’s heart was leading him on a one-way road to death. There is a moment, Pope Francis stressed, a line that we cross when sin turns into corruption.
This man was not simply a sinner but a corrupt person because he was aware of all the suffering but he couldn’t care less. Damned are those who place their hope in themselves, the Pope said, because there is nothing more treacherous than a hardened heart. Once we are on that road, he added, it’s very hard for our hearts to be healed.
How do we feel about child beggars?
What do we feel in our hearts when we see the homeless or the children begging in the streets, Pope Francis asked? Do we say, ‘No, those are the ones who steal? What do we feel for the poor or the homeless, even if they are well dressed but they don’t have a job and can’t pay the rent? Do we say this is normal? Do we see the homeless as part of the landscape of our cities, like statues or bus stops or post offices?
Are we touched by the plight of the poor?
We must be careful, the Pope warned, because if we eat, drink and assuage our consciences by simply giving a coin and walking past, this is not the right way to go. Instead, he said, we must realise when we are on that slippery slope from sin to corruption. We must ask ourselves, what do I feel when I see on the news that a bomb has fallen on a hospital and lots of poor children have been killed? Do I just say a prayer and go on my way like before? Is my heart touched, or am I like the rich man whose heart was not touched by Lazarus but only the dogs had pity on him? If that is the case, the Pope said, we are on the road from sin to corruption.
May the Lord look into our hearts
For this reason, he concluded we must ask the Lord to look into our hearts to see if we are on that slippery slope to corruption, from which there is no return. Sinners can repent and turn back, he said, but it is very hard for those with closed and corrupt hearts, so let us pray that the Lord will show us which road we are following.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a private audience on Thursday with Mr. Michel Aoun, President of the Republic of Lebanon, and his wife, Nadia.
A communique from the Holy See Press Office said their discussions were “cordial”.
“The Parties focused on the good bilateral relations between the Holy See and Lebanon, underlining the historic and institutional role of the Church in the life of the country. Satisfaction was then expressed for the efforts on the part of all the various political parties in putting an end to the presidential vacancy, emphasising the hope for an increasingly fruitful future collaboration between the members of diverse ethnic and religious communities in favour of the common good and the development of the nation,” the communique read.
Turning to current events on the international stage, the Pope thanked President Aoun for his country’s welcome of Syrian refugees.
“The discussion then turned to Syria, with special attention to international efforts to find a political solution to the conflict. Furthermore, appreciation was expressed at the welcome that Lebanon has extended to many Syrian refugees. Finally, there was a broader exchange of views on the regional context, referring also to other ongoing conflicts and the situation of Christians in the Middle East.”
President Michel Aoun subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis ’s scheduled visit to the northern Italian town of Carpi on 2 April will include a meeting with communities struck by the 2012 earthquake and a visit to the badly damaged Cathedral of Mirandola .
A communiqué released by the Holy See Press Office provides details of the Pope’s 1-day journey to Carpi, a town counting some 70,000 inhabitants in the Modena area of the Emilia Romagna region.
Over 20 people were killed and dozens of farms, castles, churches and other buildings were destroyed or damaged in the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the region in May 2012.
The Holy Father is scheduled to celebrate Mass, pray the Angelus, give his blessing to three new diocesan buildings, talk to priests and religious, and visit sites of the earthquake such as the Duomo di Mirandola.
Pope Francis, who will be travelling by helicopter, will depart from the Vatican at 8.15 am and arrive in Carpi at 9.45am at the “Dorando Pietri” rugby field.
The Bishop of Carpi, Francesco Cavina, will welcome the Pope who is to start his day celebrating Mass in Carpi’s central Piazza Martiri. At the end of Mass, Pope Francis will bless the first stones of three new buildings of the diocese: Saint Agatha Parish in Carpi, Saint Antonio retreat house in Novi, and the “citadel of charity” in Carpi.
The Pope will have lunch at the Episcopal Seminary with bishops and elderly priests who reside there. Afterwards, he will meet with diocesan priests, religious men and women and seminarians in the seminary chapel. After leaving the chapel Pope Francis will stop briefly at the cathedral before going to the ‘Duomo di Mirandola’ which remains closed since the earthquake in 2012.
In front of the entrance of the ‘Duomo’, at about 4.30pm, he will meet and talk to people affected by the earthquake and visit a floral monument adjacent to the church in honor of the victims of the disaster.
At 5.30pm the Pope will leave Carpi from a sports field near the Church of San Giacomo Roncole, and he will arrive back at the Vatican at 7.00pm.
(from Vatican Radio)…