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Day: September 14, 2017

Pope Francis urges new Bishops to cultivate discernment

 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday urged Bishops to cultivate what he called an “attitude of listening” and to avoid being “imprisoned by nostalgia.”
Addressing Catholic Bishops from across the globe who have been appointed during the past year, the Pope focused on the need for discernment.     
The Bishops have just completed an annual training programme organized by the Congregation for Bishops.
 “Authentic discernment,” the Pope said, “although definitive at every step, is always an open and necessary process, and can be completed and enriched”.
Insisting that discernment “can’t be reduced to repeating formulas” Francis  pointed out that it is, in fact, an “antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions aren’t valid everywhere.” 
You must  have the courage  to ask yourself whether yesterday’s proposals are still evangelically valid, the Pope said to the new Bishops, highlighting the importance for all pastors to not be stuck in the margins but to have the capacity of “evaluating God’s times.”
Saying that the gift of discernment cannot be taken for granted, he described it as the primary condition upon which to draw as the Bishops strive to “discern the paths of God” for the salvation of those entrusted to them.
The practice recommended by the Pope for achieving the right kind of balance in personal and ecclesiastical behavior is that of deep and regular prayer.
He also pointed out that discernment is not a private exercise by an individual priest, but an activity that unfolds in a community.
“The Bishop is not the ‘self-sufficient father-patron’ and still less the frightened and isolated ‘solitary pastor” he said.
Those to be consulted in the attempt to reach the right decisions, he continued, are the bishops’ own brother Bishops, their priests and the lay faithful.
Real people in concrete situations, he explained, wish to “draw from the treasure of the Church what’s most useful for the ‘today’ of their salvation”.
And insisting on the need for all clergy to always keep contact with ordinary people he warned that without such an exchange “the faith of the most cultivated can degenerate into indifference, and that of the humblest into superstition.”
Pope Francis also called on bishops to be attentive to the “the culture of religiosity of the people” noting that popular piety is often the “foundation of a people’s self-understanding,” and that discernment has to enter into dialogue with it.
“Remember that God was already present in your diocese before you got there” he told the new Bishops, “and he’ll still be there when you leave”.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope at Mass: ‘Cross of Christ is mystery of love’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated his first daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday following the summer break, reflecting on the Cross of Christ as the mystery of love.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Pope Francis during his homily at daily Mass preached on the “mystery of love” that is the Cross of Christ and warned against two spiritual temptations related to it.
The first temptation, he said, is to think of Christ without a cross or to reduce him a “spiritual teacher”. The second, he said, is to think of a cross without Christ or to remove all hope in a type of “spiritual masochism”.
Pope Francis said the Liturgy speaks of the Cross as a noble and faithful tree, pointing out that it is not always easy to understand the Cross. “We advance in the mystery of love only through contemplation,” he said.
Mystery of the Cross
In the day’s Gospel, Jesus explains the Cross to Nicodemus with the verbs “to go up” and “to come down”.
“Jesus comes down from Heaven to raise all of us up to Heaven. This is the mystery of the Cross,” he said.
In the First Reading, St. Paul says that Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
“Jesus’ descent is to the lowest point, even unto humiliation. He emptied himself for love, and because of this God exalted him and made him go up. Only if we succeed in understanding this complete descent can we understand the salvation which this mystery of love offers us.”
Two temptations
Pope Francis pointed out that true understanding is not easy, because there is always the temptation to aim for one goal instead of the other.
St. Paul rebukes the Galatians for “giving in to the temptation not to enter the mystery of love but to explain it”. As the serpent had bewitched Eve and had poisoned the Israelites in the desert, Pope Francis said the Galatians were bewitched “by the illusion of a Christ without a cross and a cross without Christ.”
“A Christ without a cross is not the Lord: he is a teacher, nothing else. This is perhaps what Nicodemus, without realizing it, was seeking. It is one of the temptations. Yes, Jesus: ‘What a good teacher’, but… without the cross, [only] Jesus. Who bewitched you with this image? Paul is angry. Jesus Christ is presented but not as crucified. The other temptation is a cross without Christ, that is, the anguish of remaining down, depressed by the weight of sin and without hope. This is a type of spiritual masochism: only the cross, without hope and without Christ.”
Mystery of love
Pope Francis said the Cross without a Christ would be a “mystery of tragedy”, like a pagan tragedy.
“The Cross is a mystery of love; the Cross is faithful; the Cross is noble. Today we should take a minute to ask ourselves these questions. Is Christ crucified a mystery of love? Do I follow Jesus without a cross: a spiritual teacher who fills me with consolation and good counsel? Do I follow a cross without Jesus, without complaining, with this masochism of the spirit? Do I let myself be carried by this mystery of lowering, that is, of total emptying and lifting up of the Lord?”
Pope Francis concluded with the wish that the Lord grant His grace, not just to understand, but to enter into this mystery of love “with the heart, mind, and body. Totally.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope moved meeting rescued Indian priest

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met privately in the Vatican Indian Catholic priest who was freed on Tuesday after his abduction abducted by gunmen in Yemen last year, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported.  The Holy Father met Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil at the papal residence of Santa Marta, after his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.  After being rescued, the 57-year old missionary was flown to the Omani capital, Muscat, from where he was flown to Rome, where he is recuperating in a Salesian community before heading home to India later.
Visibly moved 
On first meeting the Pope, Fr. Uzhunnalil went down on his knees kissing the feet of the Holy Father in profound reverence.  The Pope reciprocated lifting Father Tom to his feet and kissing his hands.  He embraced and encouraged the Indian missionary assuring him he would continue praying for him as he had been doing during his captivity.  L’Osservatore Roman said the Pope, “visibly moved, blessed him.”  Among several photos circulating on the social media, one showed Pope Francis kissing the hand of Fr. Uzhunnalil.
Born in Ramapuram, in southern India’s Kerala state, Father Uzhunnalil belongs to the Bangalore Salesian province.  He ‎was abducted on March ‎‎4, 2016 when four unidentified gunmen attacked a care home in Yemen’s ‎southern port city of Aden, ‎killing 16 people including 4 Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother ‎Teresa. The 57-year old priest had been working for more than four years as a chaplain at the care home. ‎
Interior prayer
Fr. Uzhunnallil thanked the Pontiff saying he “prayed for him every day, offering his suffering for his mission and for the good of the Church.”   The Pope was touched by his words, the L’Osservatore Romano reported.  The Salesian priest also said he was “unable to celebrate the Eucharist, ” but would recite “inside me and in my heart all the prayers of the Mass.” 
The Indian priest assured he would continue praying for all who had been close to him spiritually.  He particularly recalled the four Missionaries of Charity sisters of Mother Teresa and twelve people killed during the attack last year. 
Fr. Uzhunnallil was particularly grateful to the government of Oman for obtaining his release.  The Holy See, in a communique, has already expressed its gratitude to all those in obtaining his release, especially Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos and competent authorities of the sultanate. 
Jesus is great and loves us
Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias , Archbishop of Bombay, who is in the Vatican for the ‘C9’ Council of Cardinals meeting, accompanied the Salesian priest to the Pope. “After this terrible experience, the essential message that Fr. Tom gives is that Jesus is great and loves us,”  the cardinal told L’Osservatore Romano.  Fr. Uzhunnalil agreed with him saying, “Really, every day, I felt Jesus close to me .  I always knew and felt in my heart that I was not alone .” 
L’Osservatore Romano said that Fr. Uzhunnalil will be in Rome in a Salesian community for some time and undergo some medical check-ups .  Cardinal Gracias said that the priest was keeping “good” health, adding that during his 18-month captivity he did not have any particular problem and was treated well.  
Fr. Uzhunnalil was born and brought up in a devout Catholic family. His uncle Matthew, who died in 2015, was also a Salesian priest, and founded the mission in Yemen, where he served. 
(from Vatican Radio)…