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Pope Angelus: look to the light of Christ

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday during the Angelus in a sunny St Peter’s Square took inspiration from the Gospel reading in which Jesus restores the sight of the blind man.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report:

With this miracle the Holy Father explained, “Jesus reveals himself as light of the world”. Each of us, the Pope said, is blind from birth, in that, “we were created to know God, but because of sin we are like the blind, we need a new light, that of faith, that Jesus has given us.”

In fact, Pope Francis went on to say, “the blind man of the Gospel regaining his vision is opened up to the mystery of Christ.”

This man represents us when we do not realize that Jesus is "the light of the world" and when we look elsewhere when we prefer to rely on small lights when fumbling in the dark,” the Pope said.

We too, he continued, have been "enlightened" to Christ in baptism, and then we are called to behave as children of light.”

Posing the question, “What does it mean to have true light and to walk in the light?, the Holy Father answered by saying, “it means first of all to abandon false lights.” Another false light, Pope Francis noted, is self-interest: “if we evaluate people and things based on the criterion of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we are not being truthful in relationships and situations.”

Following the recitation of the Marian prayer the Pope remembered José Álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre, and one hundred and fourteen companion martyrs who were beatified on Saturday in Spain. He said, “these priests, religious and lay people have been heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of peace and fraternal reconciliation. Their example and their intercession sustain the Church's involvement in building a civilization of love.”

Pope Francis also recalled his one day pastoral visit to Milan on Saturday expressing his thanks to the organisers and those who took part, both believers and non-believers, adding, it felt home.

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope wraps up day in Milan meeting newly confirmed youngsters

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis wrapped up his one-day pastoral journey to the northern Italian city of Milan with an encounter with newly confirmed youngsters.

At the end of his busy day in the city, the Pope travelled to the football stadium of San Siro where he was welcomed by almost 80,000 people, including parents, god-parents, catechists, teachers and volunteers.

The Pope took questions from some of those present and in his off-cuff answers he focused on the importance of education and formation.

A good teacher he said knows how to enhance and promote the qualities of his pupils without neglecting the person as a whole.
“Education is “head-hands-heart” he said.

He reminded teachers and trainers that “children also need to play, to have fun, to rest.”

The Pope concluded the encounter with a strong appeal to defeat ‘bullying’: “Please be careful, be on the look-out for the phenomenon of bullying” he said and invited the tens of thousands of boys and girls to reflect in silence and ask themselves whether there is someone in their school or in their community that teases them for whatever reason or whether they themselves are mean and even aggressive towards others. “This is bullying” he said and asked them to promise the Lord never to be bullies or to allow others to be victims of bullies.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s Mass in Monza: ‘A people at the peripheries’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in Monza Park for the people of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy on Saturday during a pastoral visit, reflecting on the annunciation of Jesus as a message of joy at the peripheries of society.

The Holy Father invited them to be joyful members of God’s people and to avoid “speculating” on the future of others.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

 

Two were the questions Pope Francis put to the people gathered for Mass in Monza Park: “How can we live the joy of the Gospel today within our cities? Is Christian hope possible in this situation, here and now?”

The Holy Father said these two questions “touch our identities” and “require of us a new way of seeing our place in history”.

He was reflecting on the difference between the two annunciation stories in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: that of John the Baptist (Lc 1,26-38), which took place in the inner sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, and that of Jesus (Lc 1,5-10).

He said the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary by the Angel Gabriel took place in Galilee: “a peripheral city with a less-than-excellent reputation (Jn 1,46)”.

The Pope said the contrast indicates that “God’s new encounter with His people will take place in places we would not normally expect: on the margins and peripheries”.

He said, “It is God Himself who takes the initiative and chooses to enter – as Mary did – in our houses and daily struggles, full of anxiety and desires.”

Pope Francis said finding joy in our daily lives can be a challenge due to the speculation or taking advantage of others.

“Some people speculate on life, on work, and on the family. They speculate on the poor and migrants, on young people and their future. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers, on the other hand leaving the daily life of families to be discolored by precariousness and insecurity.”

The keys to finding joy in our mission, the Pope said, are “memory, belonging, and seeing the possible in the impossible”.

“The first thing the Angel [Gabriel] does is evoke her memory, in this way opening Mary’s present to the whole of Salvation History. He evokes the promises made to David as a fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.”

This memory, the Holy Father said, allows Mary to recognize her belonging to the People of God.

He said the Archdiocese of Milan is inhabited by “a people called to welcome differences and integrate them with respect and creativity, celebrating the newness offered by others. It is a people unafraid of embracing borders.”

Third, Pope Francis reminded Milan’s pilgrims that “Nothing is impossible for God” (Lc 1,37).

“When we open to allowing ourselves to be helped or counseled and when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become reality.”

In conclusion, the Pope said, “As before, God continues to seek allies and men and women capable of believing and capable of remembering, recognizing themselves as belonging to His people in order to cooperate with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis spends time with prison inmates in Milan

(Vatican Radio) One of the highlights of Pope Francis’ 1-day pastoral journey to the Italian city of Milan is his visit to the city’s main detention center, the San Vittore Prison.

Shortly after midday and the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope travelled to the prison where he was welcomed by the director,Gloria Manzelli, and by the prison chaplain, don Marco Recalcati.

San Vittore currently hosts over 900 inmates – both men and women – as well as a number of infants who live with their detained mothers in a special unit. The Pope met briefly with them before exchanging greetings with a large group of the San Vittore staff and volunteers.

The building, designed by the engineer Francesco Lucca, takes inspiration from the 18th century Panopticon with 6 wings with three floors each. Moving through these wings, the Pope was given the opportunity to shake hands with some 80 people representing all the different categories of inmates, before going on to meet those who are detained in a “protected” environment.

In the third wing, Pope Francis sat down for lunch with some 100 prisoners and treated to a typically Milanese cuisine, including rice with saffron and steaks “alla Milanese” prepared by some of  the inmates themselves.

The visit concluded with an exchange of gifts and the blessing of cards with the prisoners’ names on them to be taken away by the Pope.

Throughout his pontificate Pope Francis has highlighted the predicament of prisoners and urged political leaders across the world to respect the dignity of inmates and offer them amnesty whenever possible. In many occasions he has called for a criminal justice system that is not exclusively punitive, but is open to the hope and the possibility of re-inserting the offender into society. Pope Francis has also called for a world-wide abolition of the death penalty and said he opposes life in prison without parole.

Underlining his deep concern for prisoners the Pope concluded the Holy Year of Mercy with a special Jubilee Mass for some 1,000 prisoners from 12 countries and their families, as well as prison chaplains and volunteers in St. Peter's Basilica.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope speaks to Milan's religious, prays Angelus at Duomo

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday is making a one day pastoral visit to Milan. This morning he paid a call on Milan’s Duomo and traveled to the peripheries of the city to meet with immigrant families.

Listen to our report:

 

For the curious pilgrim or tourist a trip to Milan is not complete without a visit the “Duomo” or Cathedral Church. And it was here in front of this iconic building that Pope Francis recited the Angelus on Saturday greeted by thousands of well- wishers.

A short time earlier inside this magnificent building, the Pope met with priests and consecrated persons, listening to their questions and offering words of advice. During the question and answer session the Holy Father said that in a world that is multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic,  the Church, over its entire history, has had much to teach us and to help us towards a culture of diversity. The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis noted “is the master of diversity.” The Pope also underlined the importance of prayer and of service in the church; service by priests, religious and consecrated to the poor and to the Word of God.

Responding to a question from a religious mother who asked how it was possible to continue to be a significant presence today despite being fewer and older, the Pope said, that it was most important not to become resigned to one’s fate. He said that realities today were a challenge, but religious orders who were in the minority were being invited to rise again like yeast with the help of the Holy Spirit, who also inspired the hearts of their founders.

This one day pastoral visit began on Saturday morning with the Holy Father’s going out to Milan’s peripheries to meet with Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of the city. Greeting the crowds of people that had gathered to see him, he told them that the Church “always needs to be restored” because he added, it is made by us, who are sinners.” Let us be restored, he said by God’s mercy.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis greets immigrant families in Milan

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Saturday greeted the Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of Milan at the beginning of his one-day pastoral visit to the city.

Upon his arrival, residents gave the Holy Father two gifts: a priestly stole and a picture of a statuette of the Madonna.

Pope Francis thanked them for their gifts and said it was important for him to be welcomed to Milan by a community of families.

He said the stole was a reminder that he comes “as a priest: I come to Milan as a priest”.

He also recognized that it had been handmade by several residents of the Forlanini quarter: “It’s a reminder that the Christian priest is chosen from among the people and at the service of the people. My priesthood…is a gift from Christ, but it is ‘woven’ by you, by our people with their faith, labours, prayers, and tears.”

Pope Francis then said the statuette of Our Lady is a sign of his being welcomed to Milan by the Madonna.

“It reminds me of Mary’s care, who ran to meet Elizabeth. This is the care and concern of the Church, which does not remain in the city centre waiting but comes to meet all at the peripheries; she goes also to meet non-Christians and non-believers…; and she brings Jesus to all, he who is the love of God made flesh and gives meaning to our lives and saves us from evil.”

Afterwards, the Holy Father made his way to Milan’s Duomo Cathedral to meet with priests and consecrated men and women.

(from Vatican Radio)