Thursday, November 28, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 27 November 2013 -



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning, and compliments on your courage in coming out to the Square in this cold. Many compliments.

I wish to complete the catechesis on the Creed delivered during the Year of Faith, which concluded last Sunday. In this catechesis and in the next, I would like to consider the subject of the resurrection of the body, by seeking to grasp a deeper understanding of two of its aspects as they are presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; i.e. our dying and our rising in Jesus Christ. Today I shall consider the first aspect, "dying in Christ".

1. Among us there is commonly a mistaken way of looking at death. Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way, especially when it touches us closely, or when it takes the little ones, the defenseless in such a way that it seems "scandalous". I have always been struck by the question: why do children suffer? why do children die? If it is understood as the end of everything, death frightens us, it terrifies us, it becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every promise, it severs every relationship and interrupts every journey. This happens when we consider our lives as a span of time between two poles: birth and death; when we fail to believe in a horizon that extends beyond that of the present life; when we live as though God did not exist. This concept of death is typical of atheistic thought, which interprets life as a random existence in the world and as a journey toward nothingness. But there is also a practical atheism, which consists in living for one's own interests alone and living only for earthly things. If we give ourselves over to this mistaken vision of death, we have no other choice than to conceal death, to deny it, or to trivialize it so that it does not make us afraid.

2. However, the "heart" of man, with its desire for the infinite, which we all have, its longing for eternity, which we all have, rebels against this false solution. And so what is the Christian meaning of death? If we look at the most painful moments of our lives, when we have lost a loved one — our parents, a brother, a sister, a spouse, a child, a friend — we realize that even amid the tragedy of loss, even when torn by separation, the conviction arises in the heart that everything cannot be over, that the good given and received has not been pointless. There is a powerful instinct within us which tells us that our lives do not end with death.

This thirst for life found its true and reliable answer in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus' Resurrection does not only give us the certainty of life after death, it also illumines the very mystery of the death of each one of us. If we live united to Jesus, faithful to him, we will also be able to face the passage of death with hope and serenity. In fact, the Church prays: "If the certainty of having to die saddens us, the promise of future immortality consoles us". This is a beautiful prayer of the Church! A person tends to die as he has lived. If my life has been a journey with the Lord, a journey of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the final moment of my earthly life as the definitive, confident abandonment into his welcoming hands, awaiting the face to face contemplation of his Face. This is the most beautiful thing that can happen to us: to contemplate face to face the marvellous countenance of the Lord, to see Him as he is, beautiful, full of light, full of love, full of tenderness. This is our point of arrival: to see the Lord.

3. Against this horizon we understand Jesus' invitation to be ever ready, watchful, knowing that life in this world is given to us also in order to prepare us for the afterlife, for life with the heavenly Father. And for this there is a sure path: preparing oneself well for death, staying close to Jesus. This is surety: I prepare myself for death by staying close to Jesus. And how do we stay close to Jesus? Through prayer, in the Sacraments and also in the exercise of charity. Let us remember that he is present in the weakest and the most needy. He identified himself with them, in the well known parable of the Last Judgment, in which he says: "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me... 'as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'" (Mt 25:35-36, 40).

Therefore, a sure path comes by recovering the meaning of Christian charity and fraternal sharing, by caring for the bodily and spiritual wounds of our neighbour. Solidarity in sharing sorrow and infusing hope is a premise and condition for receiving as an inheritance that Kingdom which has been prepared for us. The one who practices mercy does not fear death. Think well on this: the one who practices mercy does not fear death! Do you agree? Shall we say it together so as not to forget it? The one who practices mercy does not fear death. And why does he not fear it? Because he looks death in the face in the wounds of his brothers and sisters, and he overcomes it with the love of Jesus Christ.

If we will open the door of our lives and hearts to our littlest brothers and sisters, then even our own death will become a door that introduces us to heaven, to the blessed homeland, toward which we are directed, longing to dwell forever with God our Father, with Jesus, with Our Lady and with the Saints.

To special groups

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from England, the Philippines and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly, my affectionate thoughts turn to young people, the sick and newlyweds. This Sunday we will begin the liturgical season of Advent. Dear young people, prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Saviour; dear sick people, offer up your suffering that others may recognize Christmas as Christ's encounter with frail human nature; and you, dear newlyweds, live out your marriage as a reflection of God's love in your personal history.

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, November 25, 2013

Annual Holiday Sale at
Penn South Ceramics Studio

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 at 12-5 pm
Hand Crafted Pottery
by Studio Members, Teachers & Students

Penn South Ceramics Studio
276 9th Avenue @ West 26th St
Chelsea, NY 10001

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 20 November 2013 -

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Last Wednesday I spoke about the remission of sins, referred to in a special way at Baptism. Today let us continue on the theme of the remission of sins, but in reference to the "power of the keys", as it is called, which is a biblical symbol of the mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles.

First of all, we must remember that the principal agent in the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit. In his first appearance to the Apostles, in the Upper Room, the Risen Jesus made the gesture of breathing on them saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:22,23). Jesus, transfigured in his body, is already the new man who offers the Paschal gifts, the fruit of his death and resurrection. What are these gifts? Peace, joy, the forgiveness of sins, mission, but above all he gives the Spirit who is the source of all these. The breath of Jesus, accompanied by the words with which he communicates the Spirit, signifies the transmission of life, the new life reborn from forgiveness.

But before making this gesture of breathing and transmitting the Holy Spirit, Jesus reveals the wounds in his hands and side: these wounds represent the price of our salvation. The Holy Spirit brings us God's pardon "by passing through" Jesus' wounds. These wounds he wished to keep; even now in Heaven he is showing the Father the wounds by which he redeemed us. By the power of these wounds, our sins are pardoned: thus, Jesus gave his life for our peace, for our joy, for the gift of grace in our souls, for the forgiveness of our sins. It is very very beautiful to look at Jesus in this way!

And we come to the second element: Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins. It is a little difficult to understand how a man can forgive sins, but Jesus gives this power. The Church is the depository of the power of the keys, of opening or closing to forgiveness. God forgives every man in his sovereign mercy, but he himself willed that those who belong to Christ and to the Church receive forgiveness by means of the ministers of the community. Through the apostolic ministry the mercy of God reaches me, my faults are forgiven and joy is bestowed on me. In this way Jesus calls us to live out reconciliation in the ecclesial, the community, dimension as well. And this is very beautiful. The Church, who is holy and at the same time in need of penitence, accompanies us on the journey of conversion throughout our life. The Church is not mistress of the power of the keys, but a servant of the ministry of mercy and rejoices every time she can offer this divine gift.

Perhaps many do not understand the ecclesial dimension of forgiveness, because individualism, subjectivism, always dominates, and even we Christians are affected by this. Certainly, God forgives every penitent sinner, personally, but the Christian is tied to Christ, and Christ is united to the Church. For us Christians there is a further gift, there is also a further duty: to pass humbly through the ecclesial community. We have to appreciate it; it is a gift, a cure, a protection as well as the assurance that God has forgiven me. I go to my brother priest and I say: "Father, I did this...". And he responds: "But I forgive you; God forgives you". At that moment, I am sure that God has forgiven me! And this is beautiful, this is having the surety that God forgives us always, he never tires of forgiving us. And we must never tire of going to ask for forgiveness. You may feel ashamed to tell your sins, but as our mothers and our grandmothers used to say, it is better to be red once than yellow a thousand times. We blush once but then our sins are forgiven and we go forward.

Lastly, a final point: the priest is the instrument for the forgiveness of sins. God's forgiveness is given to us in the Church, it is transmitted to us by means of the ministry of our brother, the priest; and he too is a man, who, like us in need of mercy, truly becomes the instrument of mercy, bestowing on us the boundless love of God the Father. Priests and bishops too have to go to confession: we are all sinners. Even the Pope confesses every 15 days, because the Pope is also a sinner. And the confessor hears what I tell him, he counsels me and forgives me, because we are all in need of this forgiveness. Sometimes you hear someone claiming to confess directly to God... Yes, as I said before, God is always listening, but in the Sacrament of Reconciliation he sends a brother to bestow his pardon, the certainty of forgiveness, in the name of the Church.

The service that the priest assumes a ministry, on behalf of God, to forgive sins is very delicate and requires that his heart be at peace, that the priest have peace in his heart; that he not mistreat the faithful, but that he be gentle, benevolent and merciful; that he know how to plant hope in hearts and, above all, that he be aware that the brother or sister who approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation seeking forgiveness does so just as many people approached Jesus to be healed. The priest who is not of this disposition of mind had better not administer this sacrament until he has addressed it. The penitent faithful have the right, all faithful have the right, to find in priests servants of the forgiveness of God.

Dear brothers, as members of the Church are we conscious of the beauty of this gift that God himself offers us? Do we feel the joy of this cure, of this motherly attention that the Church has for us? Do we know how to appreciate it with simplicity and diligence? Let us not forget that God never tires of forgiving us; through the ministry of priests he holds us close in a new embrace and regenerates us and allows us to rise again and resume the journey. For this is our life: to rise again continuously and to resume our journey.

APPEAL

Tomorrow, 21 November, is the liturgical memorial of the Presentation of Mary Most Holy in the Temple, we will celebrate the Day pro Orantibus, dedicated to the cloistered religious communities. It is an opportune occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and in silent work. Let us give thanks to the Lord for their witness of cloistered life and let us not fail to provide spiritual and material support to these our brothers and sisters, so that they may fulfil their important mission.

On the 22 November the United Nations will inaugurate the International Year of Family Farming, meant to underline that the farming economy and rural development find in the family workers who are respectful of creation and attentive to concrete necessities. Also in work, the family is a model of brotherhood in living out the experience of unity and solidarity among all its members, with a greater sensibility for those who are most in need of care and help, by preventing the outcrop of possible social conflicts. For these reasons, as I express my satisfaction at such a timely initiative, I hope that it may contribute to a clearer appreciation of the innumerable benefits that the family brings to economic, social, cultural and moral growth of the entire human community.

* * *

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, including those from England, Wales, Korea and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke God's blessings of peace and joy!

Lastly, my affectionate thoughts turn to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. In the month of November the liturgy invites us to pray for the departed. Let us not forget our loved ones, our benefactors and all those who have preceded us in the faith: the Eucharistic Celebration is the best spiritual help that we can offer to their souls, especially those who are most abandoned. And in this moment we cannot but recall the victims of recent floods in Sardinia: Let us pray for them and for they families and let us stand in solidarity with those who have suffered damage. Let us now say a little prayer in silence and then let us pray to Our Lady that she bless and help all our Sardinian brothers and sisters. And now let us pray in silence (…) Hail Mary...


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE
Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 13 November 2013 -


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the Creed, through which we make our Profession of Faith every Sunday, we state: "I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins". It is the only explicit reference to a Sacrament contained in the Creed. Indeed, Baptism is the "door" of faith and of Christian life. The Risen Jesus left the Apostles with this charge: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk 16:15-16). The Church's mission is to evangelize and remit sins through the Sacrament of Baptism. But let us return to the words of the Creed. The expression can be divided into three points: "I confess"; "one Baptism"; "for the remission of sins".


1. "I profess". What does this mean? It is a solemn term that indicates the great importance of the object, that is, of Baptism. In fact, by pronouncing these words we affirm our true identity as children of God. Baptism is in a certain sense the identity card of the Christian, his birth certificate, and the act of his birth into the Church. All of you know the day on which you were born and you celebrate it as your birthday, don't you? We all celebrate our birthday. I ask you a question, that I have already asked several times, but I'll ask it again: who among you remembers the date of your Baptism? Raise your hands: they are few (and I am not asking the Bishops so as not to embarrass them...). Let's do something: today, when you go home, find out what day you were baptized, look for it, because this is your second birthday. The first birthday is the day you came into life and the second birthday is the one on which you came into the Church. Will you do this? This is your homework: find out the day on which you were born to the Church, and give thanks to the Lord, because at Baptism he has opened the door of his Church to us. At the same time, Baptism is tied to our faith in the remission of sins. The Sacrament of Penance or Confession is, in fact, like a "second baptism" that refers back always to the first to strengthen and renew it. In this sense, the day of our Baptism is the point of departure for this most beautiful journey, a journey towards God that lasts a lifetime, a journey of conversion that is continually sustained by the Sacrament of Penance. Think about this: when we go to confess our weaknesses, our sins, we go to ask the pardon of Jesus, but we also go to renew our Baptism through his forgiveness. And this is beautiful, it is like celebrating the day of Baptism in every Confession. Therefore, Confession is not a matter of sitting down in a torture chamber, rather it is a celebration. Confession is for the baptized! To keep clean the white garment of our Christian dignity!


2. The second element: "one Baptism". This expression refers to that of St Paul: "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:5). The word "Baptism" literally means "immersion", and in fact this Sacrament constitutes a true spiritual immersion in the death of Christ, from which one rises with Him like a new creation (cf. Rom 6:4). It is the washing of regeneration and of illumination. Regeneration because it actuates that birth by water and the Spirit without which no one may enter the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Jn 3:5). Illumination because through Baptism the human person becomes filled with the grace of Christ, "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9) and dispels the shadows of sin. That is why in the ceremony of Baptism the parents are given a lit candle, to signify this illumination; Baptism illuminates us from within with the light of Jesus. In virtue of this gift the baptized are called to become themselves "light" — the light of the faith they have received — for their brothers, especially for those who are in darkness and see no glimmer of light on the horizon of their lives.



We can ask ourselves: is Baptism, for me, a fact of the past, relegated to a date, that date which you are going to go look for today, or is it a living reality, that pertains to my present, to every moment? Do you feel strong, with the strength that Christ gave you by his death and his Resurrection? Or do you feel low, without strength? Baptism gives strength and it gives light. Do you feel enlightened, with that light that comes from Christ? Are you a man or woman of light? Or are you a dark person, without the light of Jesus? We need to take the grace of Baptism, which is a gift, and become a light for all people!

3. Lastly, a brief mention of the third element: "for the remission of sins". In the Sacrament of Baptism all sins are remitted, original sin and all of our personal sins, as well as the suffering of sin. With Baptism the door to an effectively new life is opened, one which is not burdened by the weight of a negative past, but rather already feels the beauty and the goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the powerful intervention of God's mercy in our lives, to save us. This saving intervention does not take away our human nature and its weakness — we are all weak and we are all sinners — and it does not take from us our responsibility to ask for forgiveness every time we err! I cannot be baptized many times, but I can go to Confession and by doing so renew the grace of Baptism. It is as though I were being baptized for a second time. The Lord Jesus is very very good and never tires of forgiving us. Even when the door that Baptism opens to us in order to enter the Church is a little closed, due to our weaknesses and our sins. Confession reopens it, precisely because it is a second Baptism that forgives us of everything and illuminates us to go forward with the light of the Lord. Let us go forward in this way, joyfully, because life should be lived with the joy of Jesus Christ; and this is a grace of the Lord.

To special groups

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. May Jesus Christ confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and mercy to all people. God bless you all!

APPEAL

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I learned with great sorrow that two days ago in Damascus mortar rounds killed several children returning home from school as well as the school bus driver. Other children were left wounded. Please, these tragedies must never happen, ever! Let us pray intensely! In these days we are praying and joining forces to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, struck by a typhoon. These are the true battles to fight. For life! Never for death!



© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Special Mass of Remembrance - November 2, 2013

On Saturday, November 2nd at the 5:00 pm Mass we prayed in a special way for those parishioners who have died in the past year.


Friday, November 8, 2013

November 16th Hispanic Heritage Pilgrimage and Mass

The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny will sponsor the celebration of a Solemn High Mass at the church of Our Lady of Esperanza, 624 West 156th Street, New York on Saturday, November 16 at 11 AM, as part of their second annual Hispanic Heritage Pilgrimage. Music of the Spanish renaissance will be sung by a professional schola. A visit to the magnificent museum of the Hispanic Society of America will follow. 

Please click here for additional information.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 6 November 2013 - 


Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on “the communion of saints” as a communion not only of persons but also of spiritual goods. Through our sharing in those goods, we grow in communion with Christ and with the members of his body, the Church. Today let us consider three of these spiritual treasures: the sacraments, charisms and charity. In the sacraments, we encounter Christ in all his saving power, are confirmed in the joy of faith, and sent forth to share with others the joy of salvation. Through the variety of charisms, the spiritual gifts and graces bestowed by the Holy Spirit, we help to build up the Church in unity, holiness and service. In charity, all these spiritual gifts find their fulfilment; everything is ordered to our growth in God’s love. Let us ask the Lord to increase our communion in these spiritual goods, so that we can live ever more fully our Christian vocation in union with him and as joyful signs of his saving love, present and at work in our midst.

Holy Father:

Saluto tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra e Galles, Irlanda, Danimarca, Australia, Giappone e Stati Uniti. In modo particolare saluto i sacerdoti inglesi che celebrano gli anniversari di ordinazione. Ringrazio i cori per la loro lode a Dio attraverso il canto. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore!

Speaker:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Japan and the United States. In a special way I greet the priests from England celebrating the anniversaries of their ordination. I also thank the choirs present for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!


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