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Peter Flanigan Obituary
Jul 31st, 2013 by Father Chris
FLANIGANMr. Peter M. Flanigan
 
The obituary below was published in the New York Times this morning July 31, 2013:
 
FLANIGAN–Peter M. June 21, 1923 – July 29, 2013. Mr. Flanigan was a Navy carrier pilot in World War II. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University in 1947 and joined Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. in the fall of that year. His tenure at Dillon Read was interrupted in 1949 to serve as an economic analyst for the Economic Reconstruction Administration in Britain for two years, returning thereafter to Dillon Read.
 
In 1960 Mr. Flanigan served as Executive Director of Volunteers for the Nixon-Lodge Presidential campaign and in 1968 as Deputy Campaign Manager of the Nixon campaign. In 1969 Mr. Flanigan left Dillon Read upon his appointment as Assistant to the President of the United States under President Nixon, with White House responsibility for domestic commercial and economic matters. In 1972 he was also appointed Director of the Council of International Economic Policy, with responsibility for development and coordination of the Administration’s international economic policy. Mr. Flanigan returned to Dillon Read as Managing Director at the beginning of 1975 and continued in that capacity until December 1992.
 
In 1984, Peter Flanigan and his wife adopted the second class in the “I Have a Dream” Program, subsequently becoming a Board Member of that program. In 1985, Mr. Flanigan founded The Student Sponsor Partners, a private voucher program which combines tuition support with one-on-one mentoring. S/SP has helped over 5,000 inner-city high school students. Based on comparative graduation rates and college attendance rates, this program has been a dramatic success. In 1987, he started the Patrons Program to encourage individuals to take responsibility for inner-city Catholic grammar schools which were in danger of being closed for financial reasons. Mr. Flanigan was a Board member of St. Ann’s School in Harlem, a small grammar school with 315 students. Upon his death, Mr. Flanigan was Board Member of American Federation for Children – Alliance for School Choice, a nation-wide organization to promote legislation to give parents the ability to send their children to the schools, public or private, of their choice. To research and implement new programs to improve education, Mr. Flanigan founded the Center for Education Innovation of The Manhattan Institute.
 
He was a Board member of the Catholic University of America, and previous Chairman of the Board of Portsmouth Abbey School. Mr. Flanigan was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc. and a member of the Board of the Richard M. Nixon Library & Birthplace. In 1954, Mr. Flanigan married Brigid Snow, daughter of the legendary Carmel Snow who was founding editor of Harpers Bazaar, a position she held for 23 years, and grand niece of the equally legendary Bishop McQuade of Dublin, known to his flock as the Holy Terror.
 
His wife, Brigid, passed away in 2006. Brigid and Peter’s five children include Sister Louise Marie of the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word. His other children, Brigid, Tim, Megan and Bob are the parents of Peter’s 16 grandchildren. Five years ago, Peter was blessed by his marriage to Dorothea von Oswald. He lived half of the year in Austria with Dorothea and her five daughters Maido, Theresa, Mariella, Sophie and Nina. The von Oswald family warmly embraced their new father and grandfather. Peter’s great loves in life were his family, his Roman Catholic faith, and his country.
 
Friends may visit at 220 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY, from 4:30pm to 8pm on Sunday, August 4. A Mass of Christian Burial will be said at the Church of the Resurrection, 910 Boston Post Rd, Rye, NY, at 10am on Monday, August 5. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Student Sponsor Partners at www.SSPNYC.org.

 
 
 
   
 
   
 
 
Peter Flanigan – Rest in Peace
Jul 30th, 2013 by Father Chris

peterflanMr. Peter M. Flanigan

I was deeply saddened yesterday to learn of the death of Mr. Peter Flanigan.  Mr. Flanigan and his wife Thea had become good friends to me over the last several years.  Frequently they attended Mass here at Saint Anthony’s on weekday mornings and sometimes on Sunday as well.  This morning when I shared the news with our parishioners at the 8am Mass they were all equally saddened by his passing.  To the entire Flanigan family we offer our deepest condolences and prayers.

 I was very fortunate to be a guest in the Flanigan home in Purchase, New York for dinner and for visits many times.  Peter and Thea were always such gracious and generous hosts.  It was a privilege to spend conversation and time with Peter.  One of my happiest memories was this past Christmas.  I was invited to have dinner at the house and after dinner Peter asked me to come into the living room.  There was a beautiful large Christmas Tree in the room and under it a train set which Peter was so proud of.  He turned the train set on and then began to describe what each car meant and the entire history of the train set.  He was like a young boy celebrating Christmas for the first time.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.

peterf1This photo with Peter and Thea Flanigan was taken at the Vatican in Rome last year on the occassion of the Consistory of Cardinals elevating Cardinal Dolan.

It was a pure grace that Peter, Thea and the entire family were able to spend his final birthday, his 90th, in June in the Holy Land on a pilgrimage which was his wish.  God gave him the strength to be able to do it even though he had been quite weakened by that point.  That visit, I believe, was a grace in more ways than we can imagine as it was, for him, a foretaste of what he now enjoys – the presence of God in the new and eternal Jerusalem. 

Over the next several days much will be written about Mr. Peter Flanigan.  Much will be said about his accomplishments, his philanthropy, his honors and positions of prominence  he held during his life.  I will leave all of those remembrences to others.  Today, I am happy simply to remember Peter Flanigan as a good friend.  His passing saddens me and I will miss  him very much. 

When flowers are sent on the occasion of a funeral generally on the card is written: “With deepest sympathy” or “In Loving Memory.”  I always have written: “In thanksgiving to God for the gift of the life of …”.  That is the way I feel today and I am sure many more join me in those feelings.  We thank God for the gift of the life of Mr. Peter Flanigan! 

May he rest in peace.   

World Youth Day “Grand Finale”
Jul 30th, 2013 by Father Chris

“Go. Don’t Fear. Serve” – On “Popacabana,” The Grand Finale

 
 

Four and a half months in, we’ve just seen the most significant day of the new Franciscan Rule – yesterday, the Pope gave what’s been termed the “most important” message of his Petrine ministry to date and presided over the largest crowd a Roman pontiff has seen since the Jubilee Year on his home-turf.

On the last day of his first overseas trip, then, how’s he gonna top it? 

Again, English translations of the liturgical texts can be found in the WYD Prayerbook… and, of course, the Vatican’s official rendering of the final Papal address of this visit to Rio for World Youth Day:

Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Young Friends,

“Go and make disciples of all nations.” With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderfulexperience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission whenhe was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!

2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, a young man like you, when he was called by God to be a prophet. We have just heard his words: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid… for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us! “Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.

And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go,” but “All ofyou go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! But it is a stage on the journey. Continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service. In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving bybending down to wash the feetof our brethren, as Jesus did. Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world.

Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you withher tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Amen.

* * * 

Following a lunch with and freshly-slated address to the executive of the CELAM – the South’s regional mega-conference of bishops – then the customary thank-you meeting with the volunteers who’ve pulled off the week’s events, Francis is slated to depart for Rome just after 6pm Rio time, the most dramatic and successful papal journey in nearly two decades securely under his still-unarmed sash.

Special thanks to Rocco Palmo of the blog Whispers in the Loggia for covering all of these events of World Youth Day and for making all of the information so easily and so quickly available to us here. 
Pope Francis on “Warming Hearts”
Jul 30th, 2013 by Father Chris

Pope to Bishops: “Are We Still A Church Capable of Warming Hearts? Do We Walk With People in Their Night?”

Below is included the address of Pope Francis to the Bishops during his Would Youth Day visit to Brazil last week.  It is truly a masterful work on the role of a bishop and his words here give us insight into his vision for the church in the present and the future.  The address is lengthy but well worth a read. 

Again, I offer a special word of thanks to Rocco Palmo of the blog Whispers in the Loggia for compling much of this information and making it so easy for us to access.  His work depends on the support of all of us so please do support his good work in spreading all of the good news of the church’s work throughout the world. 

 (Ed. Note: It’s long been the case that papal remarks to bishops tend to find a Pope speaking in his strongest terms. Accordingly, the following doesn’t merely do that – it’s the most extensive word Francis has offered since his election… and is already being spoken of as one of, if not the, most important messages of his pontificate.)

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
TO THE BISHOPS OF BRAZIL
THE ARCHBISHOPRIC
RIO DE JANIERO
27 JULY 2013

Dear Brothers,

How good it is to be here with you, the Bishops of Brazil!

Thank you for coming, and please allow me to speak with you as one among friends. That’s why I prefer to speak to you in Spanish, so as to express better what I carry in my heart. I ask you to forgive me.

We are meeting somewhat apart, in this place prepared by our brother, Archbishop Orani Tempesta, so that we can be alone and speak to one another from the heart, as pastors to whom God has entrusted his flock. On the streets of Rio, young people from all over the world and countless others await us, needing to be reached by the merciful gaze of Christ the Good Shepherd, whom we are called to make present. So let us enjoy this moment of repose, exchange of ideas and authentic fraternity.

Beginning with the President of the Episcopal Conference and the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, I want to embrace each and every one of you, and in a particular way the Emeritus Bishops.

More than a formal address, I would like to share some reflections with you.

The first came to mind when I visited the shrine of Aparecida. There, at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception, I prayed for you, your Churches, your priests, men and women religious, seminarians, laity and their families and, in a particular way, the young people and the elderly: these last are the hope of a nation; the young, because they bring strength, idealism and hope for the future; the elderly because they represent the memory, the wisdom of the people.

In Aparecida God gave Brazil his own Mother. But in Aparecida God also offered a lesson about himself, about his way of being and acting. A lesson about the humility which is one of God’s essential features, part of God’s DNA. Aparecida offers us a perennial teaching about God and about the Church; a teaching which neither the Church in Brazil nor the nation itself must forget.

At the beginning of the Aparecida event, there were poor fishermen looking for food. So much hunger and so few resources. People always need bread. People always start with their needs, even today. 

They have a dilapidated, ill-fitted boat; their nets are old and perhaps torn, insufficient. 

First comes the effort, perhaps the weariness, of the catch, yet the results are negligible: a failure, time wasted. For all their work, the nets are empty. Then, when God wills it, he mysteriously enters the scene. The waters are deep and yet they always conceal the possibility of a revelation of God. He appeared out of the blue, perhaps when he was no longer expected. The patience of those who await him is always tested. And God arrived in a novel fashion, since he can always reinvent himself: as a fragile clay statue, darkened by the waters of the river and aged by the passage of time. God always enters clothed in poverty, littleness.

Then there is the statue itself of the Immaculate Conception. First, the body appeared, then the head, then the head was joined to the body: unity. What had been broken is restored and becomes one. Colonial Brazil had been divided by the shameful wall of slavery. Our Lady of Aparecida appears with a black face, first separated, and then united in the hands of the fishermen.

Here there is an enduring message which God wants to teach us. His own beauty, reflected in his Mother conceived without original sin, emerges from the darkness of the river. In Aparecida, from the beginning, God’s message was one of restoring what was broken, reuniting what had been divided. Walls, chasms, differences which still exist today are destined to disappear. The Church cannot neglect this lesson: she is called to be a means of reconciliation.

Fishermen do not dismiss the mystery encountered in the river, even if it is a mystery which seems incomplete. They do not throw away the pieces of the mystery. They await its completion. And this does not take long to come. There is a wisdom here that we need to learn. There are pieces of the mystery, like the stones of a mosaic, which we encounter,
which we see. We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church also has to learn how to wait.

Then the fishermen bring the mystery home. Ordinary people always have room to take in the mystery. Perhaps we have reduced our way of speaking about mystery to rational explanations; but for ordinary people the mystery enters through the heart. In the homes of the poor, God always finds a place.

The fishermen “bundle up” the mystery, they clothe the Virgin drawn from the waters as if she were cold and needed to be warmed. God asks for shelter in the warmest part of ourselves: our heart. God himself releases the heat we need, but first he enters like a shrewd beggar. The fishermen wrap the mystery of the Virgin with the lowly mantle of their faith. They call their neighbours to see its rediscovered beauty; they all gather around and relate their troubles in its presence and they entrust their causes to it. In this way they enable God’s plan to be accomplished: first comes one grace, then another; one grace leads to another; one grace prepares for another. God gradually unfolds the mysterious humility of his power.

There is much we can learn from the approach of the fishermen. About a Church which makes room for God’s mystery; a Church which harbours that mystery in such a way that it can entice people, attract them. Only the beauty of God can attract. God’s way is through enticement, allure. God lets himself be brought home. He awakens in us a desire to keep him and his life in our homes, in our hearts. He reawakens in us a desire to call our neighbours in order to make known his beauty. Mission is born precisely from this divine allure, by this amazement born of encounter. We speak about mission, about a missionary Church. I think of those fishermen calling their neighbours to see the mystery of the Virgin. Without the simplicity of their approach, our mission is doomed to failure.

The Church needs constantly to relearn the lesson of Aparecida; she must not lose sight of it. The Church’s nets are weak, perhaps patched; the Church’s barque is not as powerful as the great transatlantic liners which cross the ocean. And yet God wants to be seen precisely through our resources, scanty resources, because he is always the one who acts.

Dear brothers, the results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love. To be sure, perseverance, effort, hard work, planning and organization all have their place, but first and foremost we need to realize that the Church’s power does not reside in herself; it is hidden in the deep waters of God, into which she is called to cast her nets.

Another lesson which the Church must constantly recall is that she cannot leave simplicity behind; otherwise she forgets how to speak the language of Mystery. Not only does she herself remain outside the door of the mystery, but she proves incapable of approaching those who look to the Church for something which they themselves cannot provide, namely, God himself. At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people. Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible “to fish” for God in the deep waters of his Mystery.

A final thought: Aparecida took place at a crossroads. The road which linked Rio, the capital, with São Paulo, the resourceful province then being born, and Minas Gerais, the mines coveted by the courts of Europe, was a major intersection in colonial Brazil. God appears at the crossroads. The Church in Brazil cannot forget this calling which was present from the moment of her birth: to be a beating heart, to gather and to spread.

The Bishops of Rome have always had a special place in their heart for Brazil and its Church. A marvellous journey has been accomplished. From twelve dioceses during the First Vatican Council, it now numbers 275 circumscriptions. This was not the expansion of an organization or a business enterprise, but rather the dynamism of the Gospel story of the “five loaves and two fish” which, through the bounty of the Father and through tireless labour, bore abundant fruit.

Today I would like to acknowledge your unsparing work as pastors in your local Churches. I think of Bishops in the forests, travelling up and down rivers, in semiarid places, in the Pantanal, in the pampas, in the urban jungles of your sprawling cities. Always love your flock with complete devotion! I also think of all those names and faces which have indelibly marked the journey of the Church in Brazil, making palpable the Lord’s immense bounty towards this Church.

The Bishops of Rome were never distant; they followed, encouraged and supported this journey. In recent decades, Blessed John XXIII urged the Brazilian Bishops to draw up their first pastoral plan and, from that beginning a genuine pastoral tradition arose in Brazil, one which prevented the Church from drifting and provided it with a sure compass.

The Servant of God Paul VI encouraged the reception of the Second Vatican Council not only in fidelity but also in creativity (cf. the CELAM General Assembly in Medellin), and decisively influenced the self-identity of the Church in Brazil through the Synod on evangelization and that basic point of reference which is the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Blessed John Paul II visited Brazil three times, going up and down the country, from north to south, emphasizing the Church’s pastoral mission, communion and participation, preparation for the Great Jubilee and the new evangelization. Benedict XVI chose Aparecida as the site of the Fifth CELAM General Assembly and this left a profound mark on the Church of the whole continent.

The Church in Brazil welcomed and creatively applied the Second Vatican Council, and the course it has taken, though needing to overcome some teething problems, has led to a Church gradually more mature, open, generous and missionary.

Today, times have changed. As the Aparecida document nicely put it: ours is not an age of change, but a change of age. So today we urgently need to keep putting the question: what is it that God is asking of us? I would now like to sketch a few ideas by way of a response.

The icon of Emmaus as a key for interpreting the present and the future
Before all else, we must not yield to the fear once expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman: “… the Christian world is gradually becoming barren and effete, as land which has been worked out and is become sand”. We must not yield to disillusionment, discouragement and complaint. We have laboured greatly and, at times, we see what appear to be failures. We feel like those who must tally up a losing season as we consider those who have left us or no longer consider us credible or relevant.

Let us read once again, in this light, the story of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-15). The two disciples have left Jerusalem. They are leaving behind the “nakedness” of God. They are scandalized by the failure of the Messiah in whom they had hoped and who now appeared utterly vanquished, humiliated, even after the third day (vv. 17-21). Here we have to face the difficult mystery of those people who leave the Church, who, under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church – their Jerusalem – can no longer offer them anything meaningful and important. So they set off on the road alone, with their disappointment. Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions; perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age. It is a fact that nowadays there are many people like the two disciples of Emmaus; not only those looking for answers in the new religious groups that are sprouting up, but also those who already seem godless, both in theory and in practice.

Faced with this situation, what are we to do?

We need a Church unafraid of going forth into their night. We need a Church capable of meeting them on their way. We need a Church capable of entering into their conversation. We need a Church able to dialogue with those disciples who, having left Jerusalem behind, are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.

A relentless process of globalization, an often uncontrolled process of urbanization, have promised great things. Many people have been captivated by the potential of globalization, which of course does contain positive elements. But many also completely overlook its darker side: the loss of a sense of life’s meaning, personal dissolution, a loss of the experience of belonging to any “nest” whatsoever, subtle but relentless violence, the inner fragmentation and breakup of families, loneliness and abandonment, divisions, and the inability to love, to forgive, to understand, the inner poison which makes life a hell, the need for affection because of feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness, the failed attempt to find an answer in drugs, alcohol, and sex, which only become further prisons.

Many, too, have sought shortcuts, for the standards set by Mother Church seem to be asking too much. Many people think: “the Church’s idea of man is too lofty for me, the ideal of life which she proposes is beyond my abilities, the goal she sets is unattainable, beyond my reach. Nonetheless – they continue – I cannot live without having at least something, even a poor imitation, of what is too lofty for me, what I cannot afford. With disappointed hearts, they then go off in search of someone who will lead them even further astray.

The great sense of abandonment and solitude, of not even belonging to oneself, which often results from this situation, is too painful to hide. Some kind of release is necessary. There is always the option of complaining: however did we get to this point? But even complaint acts like a boomerang; it comes back and ends up increasing one’s unhappiness. Few people are still capable of hearing the voice of pain; the best we can do is to anaesthetize it.

Today, we need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey; a Church able to make sense of the “night” contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem; a Church which realizes that the reasons why people leave also contain
reasons why they can eventually return. But we need to know how to interpret, with courage, the larger picture.

I would like all of us to ask ourselves today: are we still a Church capable of warming hearts? A Church capable of leading people back to Jerusalem? Of bringing them home? Jerusalem is where our roots are: Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles… Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?

Many people have left because they were promised something more lofty, more powerful, and faster. But what is more lofty than the love revealed in Jerusalem? Nothing is more lofty than the abasement of the Cross, since there we truly approach the height of love! Are we still capable of demonstrating this truth to those who think that the apex of life is to be found elsewhere? Do we know anything more powerful than the strength hidden within the weakness of love, goodness, truth and beauty?

People today are attracted by things that are faster and faster: rapid Internet connections, speedy cars and planes, instant relationships. But at the same time we see a desperate need for calmness, I would even say slowness. Is the Church still able to move slowly: to take the time to listen, to have the patience to mend and reassemble? Or is the Church herself caught up in the frantic pursuit of efficiency? Dear brothers, let us recover the calm to be able to walk at the same pace as our pilgrims, keeping alongside them, remaining close to them, enabling them to speak of the disappointments present in their hearts and to let us address them. They want to forget Jerusalem, where they have their sources, but eventually they will experience thirst. We need a Church capable of accompanying them on the road back to Jerusalem! A Church capable of helping them to rediscover the glorious and joyful things that are spoken of Jerusalem, and to understand that she is my Mother, our Mother, and that we are not orphans! We were born in her.

Where is our Jerusalem, where were we born? In Baptism, in the first encounter of love, in our calling, in vocation.

We need a Church capable of restoring citizenship to her many children who are journeying, as it were, in an exodus.

In the light of what I have said above, I would like to emphasize several challenges facing the beloved Church in Brazil.

Dear brothers, unless we train ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their heart, as was the case with the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:32).

That is why it is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity. What is needed is a solid human, cultural, effective, spiritual and doctrinal formation.

Dear brother Bishops, courage is needed to undertake a profound review of the structures in place for the formation and preparation of the clergy and the laity of the Church in Brazil. It is not enough that formation be considered a vague priority, either in documents or at meetings. What is needed is the practical wisdom to set up lasting educational structures on the local, regional and national levels and to take them to heart as Bishops, without sparing energy, concern and personal interest. The present situation calls for quality formation at every level. Bishops may not delegate this task. You cannot delegate this task, but must embrace it as something fundamental for the journey of your Churches.

The Church in Brazil needs more than a national leader; it needs a network of regional “testimonies” which speak the same language and in every place ensure not unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity.

Communion is a fabric to be woven with patience and perseverance, one which gradually “draws together the stitches” to make a more extensive and thick cover. A threadbare cover will not provide warmth.

It is important to remember Aparecida, the method of gathering diversity together. Not so much a diversity of ideas in order to produce a document, but a variety of experiences of God, in order to set a vital process in motion.

The disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem, recounting their experience of meeting the risen Christ. There they came to know other manifestations of the Lord and the experiences of their brothers and sisters. The Episcopal Conference is precisely a vital space for enabling such an exchange of testimonies about encounters with the Risen One, in the north, in the south, in the west… There is need, then, for a greater appreciation of local and regional elements. Central bureaucracy is not sufficient; there is also a need for increased collegiality and solidarity. This will be a source of true
enrichment for all.

Aparecida spoke about a permanent state of mission and of the need for pastoral conversion. These are two important results of that Assembly for the entire Church in the area, and the progress made in Brazil on these two points has been significant.

Concerning mission, we need to remember that its urgency derives from its inner motivation; in other words, it is about handing on a legacy. As for method, it is essential to realize that a legacy is about witness, it is like the baton in a relay race: you don’t throw it up in the air for whoever is able to catch it, so that anyone who doesn’t catch it has to manage without. In order to transmit a legacy, one needs to hand it over personally, to touch the one to whom one wants to give, to relay, this inheritance.

Concerning pastoral conversion, I would like to recall that “pastoral care” is nothing other than the exercise of the Church’s motherhood. She gives birth, suckles, gives growth, corrects, nourishes and leads by the hand … So we need a Church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy. Without mercy we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of “wounded” persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love.

In mission, also on a continental level, it is very important to reaffirm the family, which remains the essential cell of society and the Church; young people, who are the face of the Church’s future; women, who play a fundamental role in passing on the faith. Let us not reduce the involvement of women in the Church, but instead promote their active role in the ecclesial community. By losing women, the Church risks becoming sterile.

In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide. In so doing, she defends treasures of which she is merely the custodian, and values which she does not create but rather receives, to which she must remain faithful.

The Church claims the right to serve man in his wholeness, and to speak of what God has revealed about human beings and their fulfilment. The Church wants to make present that spiritual patrimony without which society falls apart and cities are overwhelmed by their own walls, pits, barriers. The Church has the right and the duty to keep alive the flame of human freedom and unity.

Education, health, social harmony are pressing concerns in Brazil. The Church has a word to say on these issues, because any adequate response to these challenges calls for more than merely technical solutions; there has to be an underlying view of man, his freedom, his value, his openness to the transcendent. Dear brother Bishops, do not be afraid to offer this contribution of the Church, which benefits society as a whole.

There is one final point on which I would like to dwell, which I consider relevant for the present and future journey not only of the Brazilian Church but of the whole society, namely, the Amazon Basin. The Church’s presence in the Amazon Basin is not that of someone with bags packed and ready to leave after having exploited everything possible. The Church has been present in the Amazon Basin from the beginning, in her missionaries and religious congregations, and she is still present and critical to the area’s future. I think of the welcome which the Church in the Amazon Basin is offering even today to Haitian immigrants following the terrible earthquake which shook their country.

I would like to invite everyone to reflect on what Aparecida said about the Amazon Basin, its forceful appeal for respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden. In considering the pastoral challenge represented by the Amazon Basin, I have to express my thanks for all that the Church in Brazil is doing: the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon Basin established in 1997 has already proved its effectiveness and many dioceses have responded readily and generously to the appeal for solidarity by sending lay and priestly missionaries. I think Archbishop Jaime Chemelo, a pioneer in this effort, and Cardinal Hummes, the current President of the Commission. But I would add that the Church’s work needs to be further encouraged and launched afresh. There is a need for quality formators, especially professors of theology, for consolidating the results achieved in the area of training a native clergy and providing priests suited to local conditions and committed to consolidating, as it were, the Church’s “Amazonian face”.

Dear brother Bishops, I have attempted to offer you in a fraternal spirit some reflections and approaches for a Church like that of Brazil, which is a great mosaic made up of different pieces, images, forms, problems and challenges, but which for this very reason is an enormous treasure. The Church is never uniformity, but diversities harmonized in unity, and this is true for every ecclesial reality.

May the Virgin of Aparecida be the star which illumines your task and your journey of bringing Christ, as she did, to all the men and women of your immense country. Just as he did for the two lost and disillusioned disciples of Emmaus, he will warm your hearts and give you new and certain hope.

Pope Francis’ Lesson to Bishops, Priests, Religious and Seminarians
Jul 30th, 2013 by Father Chris

Below I include for you the homily Pope Francis gave at his address to Bishops, Priests, Religious and Seminarians on Satruday at the Cathedral in Rio as part of his World Youth Day visit.

“Those Who Are Farthest Away… Are the VIPs at the Lord’s Table”

 
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
MASS WITH CLERGY, RELIGIOUS AND SEMINARIANS
CATHEDRAL OF SAO SEBASTIAO
RIO DE JANIERO
27 JULY 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Seeing this Cathedral full of Bishops, priests, seminarians, and men and women religious from the whole world, I think of the Psalmist’s words from today’s Mass: “Let the peoples praise you, O God” (Ps 66). We are indeed here to praise the Lord, and we do so reaffirming our desire to be his instruments so that not only some peoples may praise God, but all. With the same parrhesia of Paul and Barnabas, we proclaim the Gospel to our young people, so that they may encounter Christ, the light for our path, and build a more fraternal world. I wish to reflect with you on three aspects of our vocation: we are called by God, called to proclaim the Gospel, and called to promote the culture of encounter.

1. Called by God – It is important to rekindle an awareness of our divine vocation, which we often take for granted in the midst of our many daily responsibilities: as Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn 15:16). This means returning to the source of our calling. At the beginning of our vocational journey, there is a divine election. For this reason, a bishop, a priest, a consecrated man or woman, a seminarian cannot have a bad memory. He or she must safeguard that grace and never forget his or her first calling. We were called by God and we were called to be with Jesus (cf. Mk 3:14), united with him in a way so profound that we are able to say with Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). This living in Christ, in fact, marks all that we are and all that we do. And this “life in Christ” is precisely what ensures the effectiveness of our apostolate, that our service is fruitful: “I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16). It is not pastoral creativity, or meetings or planning that ensure our fruitfulness, but our being faithful to Jesus, who says insistently: “Abide in me and I in you” (Jn 15:4). And we know well what that means: to contemplate him, to worship him, to embrace him, especially through our faithfulness to a life of prayer, and in our daily encounter with him, present in the Eucharist and in those most in need. “Being with” Christ does not isolate us from others. Rather, it is a “being with” in order to go forth and encounter others. This brings to mind some words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We must be very proud of our vocation because it gives us the opportunity to serve Christ in the poor. It is in the favelas, in the cantegriles, in the villas miseria, that one must go to seek and to serve Christ. We must go to them as the priest presents himself at the altar, with joy” (Mother’s Instructions, I, p. 80). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is our true treasure. Let us try to unite our hearts ever more closely to his (cf. Lk 12:34).

2. Called to proclaim the Gospel – dear Bishops and priests, many of you, if not all, have accompanied your young people to World Youth Day. They too have heard the mandate of Jesus: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Mt 28:19). It is our responsibility to help kindle within their hearts the desire to be missionary disciples of Jesus. Certainly, this invitation could cause many to feel somewhat afraid, thinking that to be missionaries requires leaving their own homes and countries, family and friends. God asks us to be missionaries wherewe are, where He puts us! Let us help our young people to realize that the call to be missionary disciples flows from our baptism and is an essential part of what it means to be a Christian. We must also help them to realize that we are called first to evangelize in our own homes and our places of study and work, to evangelize our family and friends. Let us help our young people, let us open our ears to their questions, they need to be listened to when in difficulty; of course patience is needed to listen, in confession and in spiritual direction. We need to know how best to spend time with them.

Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people! Saint Paul uses a beautiful expression that he embodied in his own life, when he addressed the Christian community: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Let us embody this also in our own ministry! Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who gave his Son Jesus for our salvation. Let us form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with his own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They are the V.I.P.s invited to the table of the Lord… go and look for them in the nooks and crannies of the streets.

3. Called to promote the culture of encounter – Unfortunately, in many places, generally in this economic humanism that prevails in the world, the culture of exclusion, of rejection, is spreading. There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person on the edge of the street. At times, it seems that for some people, human relations are regulated by two modern “dogmas”: efficiency and pragmatism. Dear Bishops, priests, religious and you, seminarians who are preparing for ministry: have the courage to go against the tide. Let us not reject this gift of God which is the one family of his children. Encountering and welcoming everyone, solidarity… this is a word that in this culture is being hidden away, as if it was a swear word… solidarity and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human.

Be servants of communion and of the culture of encounter! Permit me to say that we must be almost obsessive in this matter. We do not want to be presumptuous, imposing “our truths”. What must guide us is the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed (cf. Lk 24:13-35).

Dear brothers and sisters, we are called by God, called to proclaim the Gospel and called to promote with courage the culture of encounter. May the Virgin Mary be our exemplar. In her life she was “a model of that motherly love with which all who join in the Church’s apostolic mission for the regeneration of humanity should be animated” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 65). Let us ask her to teach us to meet Jesus every day, let us ask her to encourage us to go out to meet our many brothers and sisters who are on the edges and are thirsty for God but do not have anyone to announce Him; let us ask her not to throw us out of home, but to encourage us to leave home; in this way we will be disciples of the Lord.

For Francis and the World – The Way of the Cross
Jul 27th, 2013 by Father Chris

Held before a crowd estimated at 1.5 million on “Popeacabana” beach, here’s the English translation of the Pope’s concluding reflection at this WYD Friday’s traditional Way of the Cross (ritual text), the talk given as “three questions” from Francis in lieu of his customary “three words”:

Dear Young Friends,

We have come here today to accompany Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love, the Way of the Cross, which is one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day. At the end of the Holy Year of Redemption, Blessed John Paul II chose to entrust the Cross to you, young people, asking you “to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption” (Address to Young People, 22 April 1984). Since then, the World Youth Day Cross has travelled to every continent and through a variety of human situations. It is, as it were, almost “steeped” in the life experiences of the countless young people who have seen it and carried it. No one can approach and touch the Cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there, and without bringing something of the Cross of Jesus into his or her own life. I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus: What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country? What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you? Finally, what does this Cross teach us?

1. According to an ancient Roman tradition, while fleeing the city during the persecutions of Nero, Saint Peter saw Jesus who was travelling in the opposite direction, that is, toward the city, and asked him in amazement: “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus’ response was: “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” At that moment, Peter understood that he had to follow the Lord with courage, to the very end. But he also realized that he would never be alone on the journey; Jesus, who had loved him even unto death on the Cross, would always be with him. Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful. With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, those who mourn the loss of their children, or who suffer when they see them fall victim to false paradises, such as that offered by drugs. On the Cross, Jesus is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day; on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with those young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel. The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: “Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life” (cf. Jn 3:16).

2. And so we can answer the second question: What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it or touched it? What has it left in each one of us? It gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the unshakable love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our sin and forgives it, enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God, his immeasurable mercy.

This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe. Dear young people, let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over entirely to him (cf. Lumen Fidei, 16)! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption. With him, evil, suffering, and death do not have the last word, because he gives us hope and life: he has transformed the Cross from an instrument of hate, defeat and death into a sign of love, victory and life.

The first name given to Brazil was “The Land of the Holy Cross”. The Cross of Christ was planted five centuries ago not only on the shores of this country, but also in the history, the hearts and the lives of the people of Brazil and elsewhere. The suffering Christ is keenly felt here, as one of us who shares our journey even to the end. There is no cross, big or small, in our life which the Lord does not share with us.

3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. How many people were with Jesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women…. Sometimes we can be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands. Dear friends, the Cross of Christ teaches us to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood; it teaches us to be like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness. And you? Who are you like? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary?

Dear friends, let us bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures. There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love. Amen

In Rio – A Visit and a Prayer for Grandparents
Jul 27th, 2013 by Father Chris
 
Pope Francis visits a simple family of parents and grandparents in Rio on Friday
 
Yesterday the pope led a noontime Angelus on the balcony of the Archbishop’s Residence in Rio on this feast of the patrons of grandparents, Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, before yet another massive crowd gathered for World Youth Day.  Below is the text of his address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Friends,

I give thanks to Divine Providence for bringing me here to the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. I offer heartfelt thanks to Archbishop Orani Tempesta and to each of you for your warm welcome, which demonstrates your affection for the Successor of Peter. I would be happy if my visit to this city were to renew, in each one of you, your love for Christ and his Church and your joy in being one with him, belonging to the Church and being committed to offering a living witness to the faith.

The Angelus prayer is a beautiful popular expression of the faith. It is a simple prayer, recited at three specific times during the day. It thus punctuates the rhythm of our daily activities: in the morning, at midday, and at sunset. But it is an important prayer. I encourage each of you to recite it, along with the Hail Mary. It reminds us of a luminous event which transformed history: the Incarnation, the moment when the Son of God became man in Jesus of Nazareth.

Today the Church celebrates the parents of the Virgin Mary, the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne. In their home, Mary came into the world, accompanied by the extraordinary mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Mary grew up in the home of Joachim and Anne; she was surrounded by their love and faith: in their home she learned to listen to the Lord and to follow his will. Saints Joachim and Anne were part of a long chain of people who had transmitted their love for God, expressed in the warmth and love of family life, down to Mary, who received the Son of God in her womb and who gave him to the world, to us. How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, “Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives” (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened! In this World Youth Day, young people wish to acknowledge and honour their grandparents. They salute them with great affection and they thank them for the ongoing witness of their wisdom.

And now, in this Square, in all the surrounding streets, and in those homes that are experiencing this moment of prayer with us, we feel like one big family, and we turn to Mary, that she may protect our families and make them places of faith and love in which the presence of Jesus, her Son, is felt.

World Youth Day – Rio – Continued
Jul 26th, 2013 by Father Chris

Amid the Rain, “Put On Faith” – On “Popeacabana,” The Day Begins

 

For the second World Youth Day running, difficult weather has become a key element of the storyline. Even the ongoing rain, however, couldn’t wash out the electricity on Copacabana Beach as a crowd estimated at a million welcomed Pope Francis not only to his first encounter with the pilgrims at the church’s “Olympic event,” but the first WYD he’s ever attended.

That said, the unusual deluge over Rio has spurred a major change to the agenda – earlier today, organizers announced that “Campus Fidei,” as the planned site for Saturday’s vigil and Sunday’s closing Mass on the city’s outskirts had been dubbed, was rendered unusable by the rain, requiring the events’ transfer to what some have taken to calling “Popeacabana.” In the same vein, the WYD tradition of pilgrims spending the night at the vigil/Mass venue has been scrapped.

As the now-ditched mega-field was several times the size of the Cuatro Vientos airbase that saw 1.5 million congregate for B16′s final liturgy at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid – whose own Saturday vigil was plagued by a memorable thunder and wind-storm – the switch to a city-center locale (albeit a less sprawling one) for the climactic rites could well end up as a further boost to the Sunday crowd, the higher estimates of which have already been running in the range of 3 million. 

For purposes of context, the largest WYD throng of all was the 5 million who converged for John Paul II’s closing liturgy in Manila in 1995. It was the largest mass ever drawn by the Polish Pope – one of the greatest crowd-magnets in human history – in life, though a similar turnout came for his funeral in April 2005.

Even if the site has been changed, one major thing will stay the same – at the close of Sunday’s Mass, in keeping with tradition, Francis will announce the host city of the next WYD… and indications are that – the canonization of the event’s founder now officially in the bag – the choice will go to the soon-to-be Saint John Paul II’s hometown of Krakow, with the event most likely to take place in 2016.

*   *   *

Below is the english translation of the Pope’s Address last evening:

Dear Young Friends,

Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).

Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.

This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends.

The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith!

I greet you with great affection. To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all young people of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!

I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dear and tireless Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer my affectionate embrace in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!

…and, amid the wind and rain, the Pope’s homily at the welcome:

Dear Friends,

“It is good for us to be here!”, Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).

But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!

But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.

Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.

Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.

You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.

“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.

Again, special thanks to Rocco Palmo of the Blog “Whispers in the Loggia” for his compilation of the events of World Youth Day.  The above information has been taken from his blog.

World Youth Day Homily at Aparecida
Jul 24th, 2013 by Father Chris

Below is the Vatican’s English translation of the Pope’s Homily at Aparecida, delivered in the format of his usual “three words”:

My Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What joy I feel as I come to the house of the Mother of every Brazilian, the Shrine of our Lady of Aparecida! The day after my election as Bishop of Rome, I visited the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, in order to entrust my ministry as the Successor of Peter to Our Lady. Today I have come here to ask Mary our Mother for the success of World Youth Day and to place at her feet the life of the people of Latin America.

There is something that I would like to say first of all. Six years ago the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean was held in this Shrine. Something beautiful took place here, which I witnessed at first hand. I saw how the Bishops – who were discussing the theme of encountering Christ, discipleship and mission – felt encouraged, supported and in some way inspired by the thousands of pilgrims who came here day after day to entrust their lives to Our Lady. That Conference was a great moment of Church. It can truly be said that the Aparecida Document was born of this interplay between the labours of the Bishops and the simple faith of the pilgrims, under Mary’s maternal protection. When the Church looks for Jesus, she always knocks at his Mother’s door and asks: “Show us Jesus”. It is from Mary that the Church learns true discipleship. That is why the Church always goes out on mission in the footsteps of Mary.

Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary – who loved and raised Jesus – that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.

1. Hopefulness. The second reading of the Mass presents a dramatic scene: a woman – an image of Mary and the Church – is being pursued by a Dragon – the devil – who wants to devour her child. But the scene is not one of death but of life, because God intervenes and saves the child (cf. Rev 12:13a, 15-16a). How many difficulties are present in the life of every individual, among our people, in our communities; yet as great as these may seem, God never allows us to be overwhelmed by them. In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts! The “dragon”, evil, is present in our history, but it does not have the upper hand. The one with the upper hand is God, and God is our hope! It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure. Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be lights of hope! Let us maintain a positive outlook on reality. Let us encourage the generosity which is typical of the young and help them to work actively in building a better world. Young people are a powerful engine for the Church and for society. They do not need material things alone; also and above all, they need to have held up to them those non-material values which are the spiritual heart of a people, the memory of a people. In this Shrine, which is part of the memory of Brazil, we can almost read those values: spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy; they are values whose deepest root is in the Christian faith.

2. The second attitude: openness to being surprised by God. Anyone who is a man or a woman of hope – the great hope which faith gives us – knows that even in the midst of difficulties God acts and he surprises us. The history of this Shrine is a good example: three fishermen, after a day of catching no fish, found something unexpected in the waters of the Parnaíba River: an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Whoever would have thought that the site of a fruitless fishing expedition would become the place where all Brazilians can feel that they are children of one Mother? God always surprises us, like the new wine in the Gospel we have just heard. God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God! Cut off from him, the wine of joy, the wine of hope, runs out. If we draw near to him, if we stay with him, what seems to be cold water, difficulty, sin, is changed into the new wine of friendship with him.

3. The third attitude: living in joy. Dear friends, if we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us, as Queen Esther did in the first reading (cf Est 5:3). Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will “light up” with a joy that spreads to everyone around us. As Benedict XVI said: “the disciple knows that without Christ, there is no light, no hope, no love, no future” (Inaugural Address, Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, Aparecida, 13 May 2007, 3).

Dear friends, we have come to knock at the door of Mary’s house. She has opened it for us, she has let us in and she shows us her Son. Now she asks us to “do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Yes, dear Mother, we are committed to doing whatever Jesus tells us! And we will do it with hope, trusting in God’s surprises and full of joy. Amen.

World Youth Day – Rio
Jul 24th, 2013 by Father Chris

Special thanks to Rocco Palmo of the Blog “Whispers in the Loggia” for compiling the following information about World Youth Day which I re-present to you here:

“Flying Down… Heading “Home”

 

…and carrying his own bag – a pilgrim like all the rest – he’s off.

Having departed Rome at midmorning, the Pope arrives in Rio de Janiero at 4pm local time (3pm ET, 2100 Vatican). While the voyage to the latest edition of World Youth Day would’ve been significant under any circumstance given its place as global Catholicism’s “Olympic event,” thanks to the Conclave, the week’s storyline has now become dominated by the triumphant homecoming of the first Latin American pontiff, who – like his predecessor at Cologne in 2005 – is making his first foreign trip to a long-planned WYD which just so happens to be on especially familiar and friendly turf.

Given the “Francis-mania” that’s taken hold over these last months, the media contingent covering the trip is said to number some 5,000 – in other words, almost as many as were accredited for the transition in February and March. The even bigger swell, however, is in the projected crowd-size for Saturday’s climactic vigil and Sunday’s closing Mass – while a throng of some 1.5 million was initially expected to converge on the site dubbed Campus Fidei (“Faith Field”), the higher estimates now are running double that. In any event, with over 300,000 pilgrims registered and even more just showing up or joining in along the way, the first of three major global events coming to Rio over the next three years – a roster rounded out by next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics – will be the largest.

While Papa Bergoglio has already made his imprint on the week by adding several events to his schedule – a first afternoon spin around the host-city just after his arrival, replacing a planned “rest day” tomorrow with a pilgrimage to Brazil’s patronal shrine at Aparecida, followed by a stop to visit the sick at a hospital, and then (in what’s likely to make for this trip’s most resonant moment) a lengthy journey to one of the city’s most volatile slums on Wednesday – at least one agita-inducing thing for the Vatican crowd (one which would’ve been all the more feared these days) was struck from the agenda as Francis decided not to hold the customary papal press conference aboard the Alitalia flight, opting instead to greet the media reps in coach one by one. And, of course, even if the bulletproof glass-encased Mercedes Popemobile already arrived in Rio last week, its use has been nixed by the pontiff in favor of the open jeep Francis has invariably taken to using in Rome, rain or shine.

More to come as the days ensue, both here and in the Page Three feed (located, as ever, just to your right). For now, the 150-page English edition of this WYD’s official worship-aid might be worth leafing through in advance… and as this week yet again shines a spotlight on it at Francis’ insistence, some could seemingly use a re-introduction to the 2007 Aparecida Charter of the Latin American bishops – a text whose drafting then-Cardinal Bergoglio oversaw, and one which, as Pope, he’s placed on an equal footing of import with Vatican II.

And lastly, given all the attention (and even more confusion) it’s made for of late, as these pages will be running livestreams and texts of the WYD events, those who aren’t in Rio and follow things here “with the proper devotion” will be able to receive the plenary indulgence – one per day, through the 28th – attached to participation in these days via social media. As always, though, it can only be obtained under the usual conditions: that is, upon receiving the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope, all within a week of said participation. All things to the contrary notwithstanding, however widely they’ve been circulated elsewhere.

All that said, away we go.

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