10 Feb 2016

A Papal roundup for Ash Wednesday

In a break with papal tradition, Pope Francis celebrated Mass and received the imposition of the ashes for Ash Wednesday in St Peter's Basilica in Rome today. Rather than going to Santa Sabina to celebrate Mass, Pope Francis commissioned hundreds of “Missionaries of Mercy” during Mass on Ash Wednesday at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In his Bull announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father said the Missionaries of Mercy “would be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith.” Priests chosen to be Missionaries of Mercy have also been given the authority to pardon “even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” Above all, the Pope said, they will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”

During Ash Wednesday Mass, the Pope focused on the theme of mercy as we begin the season of Lent.

Vatican Radio report of the Mass including the Pope's homily is available here



 
 

“If the Jubilee does not touch the pocket, it is not a true jubilee”. At the General Audience on Ash Wednesday morning, the Holy Father stated, without mincing words, that the Holy Year must serve “to combat poverty”. To the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on 10 February, Francis offered a historical reflection on the biblical roots of the Jubilee as an occasion for fostering justice and sharing. Vatican Radio has a translation of the Pope’s catechesis, which he delivered in Italian here.



Lent Round up for Ash Wednesday




Lent in the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Ashes as Paradox

WCCM - Lent Reflections 2016: Ash Wednesday

“No Matter What You Do, You’re Gonna Die …” The Ash Wednesday Sermon I’d Give
... if I were a priest

10 tips for living a holy Lent- in the words of Pope Francis

Fasting from what? The Lenten journey begins!

iBenedictines - Ash Wednesday 2016

Ashes to Ashes...

10 Things to Fast From This Lent Instead of Chocolate - Changing up your usual practice may bear new spiritual fruit

Resources for Lent:

From the US Bishops, a daily calendar is HERE and some questions and answers about Lent: HERE
  • From Pope Francis: How to Live Lent! HERE
  • Resources for reflection and prayer from the Irish Bishops HERE
  • If you use Facebook, sign up for this page LENT, to recieve daily reflections. 
  • Here are 25 simple offerings you can make for Lent HERE
  • Lots of beautiful paper and downloadable resources at the Iona Communities bookshop HERE
  • Finally, a Jesuit prayer site for daily prayer. Click  on the tabs above the scripture to reveal reflection and prayers for each day. HERE
  • 9 Feb 2016

    Ash Wednesday - Awake my soul, awake harp and lyre, I will awake the dawn

     
    Awake my soul, awake lyre and harp, I will awake the dawn!

    The words of the psalmist call us to celebrate the joyful season of Lent. It is generally viewed penitential season which is true, but it is also a season of hope as we reflect on the great mercy of God. It seems appropriate that here in the northern hemisphere, Lent always falls during Spring with the promise of new life which echoes the liturgical season as we prepare for the Passion, Death but ultimately the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like the way the season of Winter death gives way to the new life of Spring, we are called to die to our old selves and embrace the newness of life in Gods mercy. 
     
    So to help you along your Lenten journey we have a couple of short videos below and if you look to the side bar on the left hand side we have listed a number of sites with online resources for the Lenten season.

    But the basics of Lent - making time for prayer and dialogue with God, fasting from food or behaviours in our daily lives to create space for God and to remind us of those who do without and alms giving - response to the needs of others to whom we owe assistance in justice and mercy to the best of our abilities. None of these require internet or social media, just an open heart and willingness to do all for God.


     
    Lenten Lessons: Preparing to Meet Christ - cross linked from Pray Tell - As the Christian West prepares to begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, the writer publishes a brief personal account on the meaning of Lent. Lent begins on Monday, March 14 for the Eastern Orthodox Church. Ash Wednesday does not belong to their liturgical tradition; they begin with Vespers and the rite of Forgiveness).
    The Virtue of Asceticism - Giving up chocolate? Deleting your Facebook account? We all choose to mark Lent in different ways and more often than not focus on abstaining from something we enjoy, but is this always good for us? Nicholas Austin SJ explores how our attempts at an ascetic way of life for forty days each year can go wrong if our motivations are not rooted in the wisdom of the Christian tradition. How can we rediscover the virtue of asceticism?Poetry for Lent & Easter
    Lent FAQ - From Mardi Gras to Holy Week, everything you need to know about the season of Lent.
    Seven Common Misconceptions About Lent
    iBenedictine - Preparing for Lent 2016: the Poverty Bill
    iBenedictine - Preparing for Lent
    iBenedictine- A Few Resources for Lent
     

     
    



     
     
    Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2016
     

     
     
    Marked by Ashes

    Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .This day — a gift from you.
    This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
    This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
    This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
         halfway back to committees and memos,
         halfway back to calls and appointments,
         halfway on to next Sunday,
         halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
         half turned toward you, half rather not.

    This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
       but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
         we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
           of failed hope and broken promises,
           of forgotten children and frightened women,
         we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
         we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

    We are able to ponder our ashness with
       some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
       anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

    On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
       you Easter parade of newness.
       Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
         Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
         Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
       Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
         mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
    We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

    - Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)




    TG4 - Duiche visits Glenstal Abbey

    TG4 visits Glenstal and the replay of the programme is available for limited few days on their player.


    Pope Francis reflects on the role of priests during Confession and on the Missionaries of Mercy


     


    The Pope made a surprise visit to pray at the relics of Padre Pio and Saint Leopold Mandic - Rome Reports


    Pope Francis Message for Lent 2016 - “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee

     
    “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13).
    The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee
     
    1. Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelized
    In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord”, I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand. For this reason, during the season of Lent I will send out Missionaries of Mercy as a concrete sign to everyone of God’s closeness and forgiveness.
     
    After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. In the prophetic tradition, mercy is strictly related – even on the etymological level – to the maternal womb (rahamim) and to a generous, faithful and compassionate goodness (hesed) shown within marriage and family relationships.

    2. God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy
    The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth. Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images – as in the case of Hosea (cf. Hos 1-2) – show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people.

    This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him “mercy incarnate” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). As a man, Jesus of Nazareth is a true son of Israel; he embodies that perfect hearing required of every Jew by the Shema, which today too is the heart of God’s covenant with Israel: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt 6:4-5). As the Son of God, he is the Bridegroom who does everything to win over the love of his bride, to whom he is bound by an unconditional love which becomes visible in the eternal wedding feast.

    This is the very heart of the apostolic kerygma, in which divine mercy holds a central and fundamental place. It is “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (Evangelii Gaudium, 36), that first proclamation which “we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment” (ibid., 164). Mercy “expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (Misericordiae Vultus, 21), thus restoring his relationship with him. In Jesus crucified, God shows his desire to draw near to sinners, however far they may have strayed from him. In this way he hopes to soften the hardened heart of his Bride.

    3. The works of mercy
    God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged. For this reason, I expressed my hope that “the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy” (ibid., 15). For in the poor, the flesh of Christ “becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled… to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us” (ibid.). It is the unprecedented and scandalous mystery of the extension in time of the suffering of the Innocent Lamb, the burning bush of gratuitous love. Before this love, we can, like Moses, take off our sandals (cf. Ex 3:5), especially when the poor are our brothers or sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith.

    In the light of this love, which is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6), the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars. The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow. It can even reach the point of being blind to Lazarus begging at their doorstep (cf. Lk 16:20-21). Lazarus, the poor man, is a figure of Christ, who through the poor pleads for our conversion. As such, he represents the possibility of conversion which God offers us and which we may well fail to see. Such blindness is often accompanied by the proud illusion of our own omnipotence, which reflects in a sinister way the diabolical “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5) which is the root of all sin. This illusion can likewise take social and political forms, as shown by the totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, and, in our own day, by the ideologies of monopolizing thought and technoscience, which would make God irrelevant and reduce man to raw material to be exploited. This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor.

    For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practising the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. By taking this path, the “proud”, the “powerful” and the “wealthy” spoken of in the Magnificat can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them. This love alone is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with the idols of knowledge, power and riches. Yet the danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is Hell. The pointed words of Abraham apply to them and to all of us: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Lk 16:29). Such attentive listening will best prepare us to celebrate the final victory over sin and death of the Bridegroom, now risen, who desires to purify his Betrothed in expectation of his coming.

    Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favourable a time for conversion! We ask this through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, encountering the greatness of God’s mercy freely bestowed upon her, was the first to acknowledge her lowliness (cf. Lk 1:48) and to call herself the Lord’s humble servant (cf. Lk 1:38).

    From the Vatican, 4 October 2015
    Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

    FRANCIS

    7 Feb 2016

    Lenten Resources with Loyola Press - A Jesuit Ministry


    Loyola Press is a ministry of the Jesuits and this year their Lenten resources is an excellent resource for your preparation and journey through Lent.

    Click through HERE to their homepage to see the wide and varied resources available online or for which you can sign up this Lent with articles, prayers, reflections, short videos and other resources.

    Prayer and Liturgy for our Diocesan Synod

    Prayer is a central part of our Diocesan Synod.  During the week of the Synod, liturgies will be celebrated in parishes, pastoral areas and diocese. We have offered parishes information on the music for these liturgies so that choir members and others can prepare and fully participate – particularly in the opening and closing liturgies for Synod2016!

     
    Opening Liturgy: Celebration of the Eucharist, chief celebrant Bishop Brendan Leahy.
    Sunday 3rd April 2016 at 19:00 in St Johns Cathedral. 
      
    Days of Prayer in Parishes:Parishes are asked to set aside specific times of public prayer for the success of our diocesan Synod on Monday April 4th and Tuesday April 5th .   This might be a normal time of prayer in the parish – before or after morning Mass, or a special event at a time suitable for all parishioners. A resource pack for this time will be sent out well in advance to parishes.

    On Wednesday April 6th, there will be a Prayer Service in each Pastoral Area to which all parishioners are invited. This is being planned together with Pastoral Area teams, and PA secretaries have been asked for support in selecting a venue and time for these celebrations. Information will be circulated in advance.
      
    Closing Liturgy:Celebration of the Eucharist, chief celebrant Bishop Brendan Leahy.
    Sunday 10th April 2016 at 19:00 in St Johns Cathedral. 
     
     All are welcome to all these liturgies
     – we need your prayers and support as we all journey together this year!

    More information about the liturgies and especially the music to be used including the Mass of St Ita with sheet music and downloadable audio clips are all available at the Synod website.

    6 Feb 2016

    7th February 2016 - Interview with the Nashville Dominicans - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    On this weeks programme the SS102fm team are joined by a special guest all the way from Nashville, Tennessee - Sr Mara Grace Gore who introduces us to the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as some liturgical odds and ends and notices.

    The podcast of this weeks programme available HERE.

    Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia (Nashville Dominicans)

    (left to right): Sr. Rose Miriam, Sr. Mara Grace, Sr. Beatrice, Sr. Caitriona,
    Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia who are coming to Limerick in Aug 2016
    Sr Mara Grace joins us on this weeks programme to introduce us to the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia.

    The Nashville Dominicans are establishing a community in Limerick diocese from August 2016 with the plan being for them to take up residence in the Dominican Friary on Glentworth St as the Dominican Friars will be withdrawing after over a 750 year association with Limerick.

    Sr Mara Grace tells us about their order, the work that they do and reflects also on the meaning of consecrated life in the world today.

    Our interview with Sr Mara Grace was recorded on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord which is also the World Day for Religious Life and this year also marked the end of the Year for Consecrated Life.

    Previous post from SS102fm including a couple of YouTube videos about the Nashville Dominicans.

    The interview with Sr Mara Grace is excerpted from the main programme and is available here.


     
     

    Gospel - Luke 5:1-11


    From Limerick Diocesan Weekly Newsletter:

    This Sundays gospel account sees Simon and ther fishermen listening to Jesus. They must have been impressed, for when he asked to go out in their boats they willingly let him. From Simons boat, Jesus taught the crowd and then afterwards he encouraged the disciples to put down their nets for a catch.

    We have been on a special Synod journey in this diocese. Maybe you have watched from the shoreline, maybe you were in the boat or maybe you were encouraging others to listen .... no matter where you were up to now, now you are invited to put down your nets. 
    • Have you an opinion on what we should vote on in this Synod? If so speak to your delegates this week (not next week)
    • Did you intend to pray for this Synod, but forgot. Start again this week
    • Are you struggling to think of proposals for the Synod? Ask for help and ideas, this week not next week! 
    Let no one say next Autumn that 'someone should have ...' or 'where is the thing I thought was important'. Simon was not invited to lower everyones nets for them - every fisherman was called to work. And every Limerick parishioner, staff member, cleric or religious is called on this Synod jounney now.  
    ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch’. ‘Master,’ Simon replied ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets for a catch.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.
    If we are willing to step our of our comfort zone in prayer, word and deed - we know that God will bless our work, a thousand fold.
    So let us be brave and reckless and confident this month.
    Let us engage and discuss and propose and listen. 
    Let us be disciples not observers on this Synod journey.
    *****
    Reflections on this weeks gospel:

    Word on Fire
    English Dominicans
    Sunday Reflections
    Centre for Liturgy

    Liturgical odds & ends

    Liturgy of the Hours -  Psalter - Sunday - Tuesday - week 1
                                                       Wed - Sat - Week 4

    Saints of the Week
    February 8th - St Josephine Bakhita
    February 9th - St Ronan of Lismore
    February 10th - Ash Wednesday - Day of Fast & Abstinence
    February 11th - Our Lady of Lourdes  also St Gobnait
    February 12th - St Ethelward of Lindisfarne
    February 13th - St Catherine del Ricci also Bl Jordan of Saxony

    5 Feb 2016

    Fall in love




    Pedro Arrupe SJ died ‪on this day in 1991. He was the first Basque since St Ignatius to be superior General of the Jesuits. He trained as a doctor before entering the Society and became a member of the Japanese Province. When the atomic bomb was dropped in August 1945 he was novice master at the community on the edge of Hiroshima and he organised for the care of many of the victims in the city. He became Provincial in Japan, and was elected General of the Jesuits in 1965. He was a inspirational leader and was widely respected as a ‘re-founder’ of the Society of Jesus in the light of Vatican II. He became a vocal advocate of peace and justice being an integral part of the preaching of the Good News in the modern world. Just before he was incapacitated by a stroke in 1981, he established the Jesuit Refugee Service, now at work today in more than 50 countries worldwide.


    Over at Ignatian Solidarity they have a page dedicated to Pedro Arrupe SJ with many links and resources.

    Have a look at the UK Jesuit's calendar which features Pedro Arrupe SJ for the month of February including an audio reflection HERE.
     
    You can read more about Arrupe HERE.
    In the Hands of God 
    More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
    This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.
    But now there is a difference;
    the initiative is entirely with God.
    It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
    to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.
    Pedro Arrupe composed this prayer after he suffered a debilitating stroke, the effects of which he patiently endured for the final ten years of his life. 

    Pope Francis prayer intentions for February 2016


    Jubilee of Mercy - Updates from Rome - Arrival of relics of Padre Pio and Leopoldo Madic





    (Vatican Radio) The relics of St. Pius of Pietralcina – Padre Pio, as he is popularly known around the world – and St. Leopold Mandic, made their way on Friday afternoon from the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
     
    The relics of the two great saints – both of whom were Capuchin Franciscan friars and priests who were renowned as confessors – have come to Rome by the desire of Pope Francis in connection with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as part of efforts to renew, rekindle and strengthen interest in and love for the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. Click hear to hear Vatican Radio's report


     
    Moyross Jesuit ‘mercy envoy’ for Pope - Moyross Parish Priest Tony O’Riordan SJ is among a group of priests from around the world chosen by Pope Francis to play a special role in the Holy Year of Mercy which began on 8 December. He has been invited to come to Rome on Monday 8 February to receive the special mandate in person during an Ash Wednesday ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica on 10 February.

    Some web browsing.............



    Vocations crisis needs prayer, not despair or lax admissions, pope says

    What Do Anti-Abortion Demonstrators Want (Besides An End To Abortion)?

    Dispatch from Sundance: 'Agnus Dei' - A must-see film that quietly suggests a surprising answer to the problem of evil. - Agnus Dei is set in 1945, amid the ruins of World War II. Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) is a young French doctor working with the Red Cross in Poland. Through an unusual set of circumstances, she comes into contact with a convent of Polish nuns who, she discovers, are in advanced stages of pregnancy. Months earlier, a group of Russian soldiers had broken into the convent and raped the women repeatedly, staying for several days. The horror haunts them still, even while they have tried to regain their faith and practice their vocation. Full of shame, they’re convinced of the need to conceal their condition, lest they be shut down by their superiors. And yet the reminders linger in their own bodies and, nine months later, are about to arrive. [Trailer to the film here]

    This Japanese Shrine Has Been Torn Down And Rebuilt Every 20 Years for the Past Millennium

    Making Room for the Holy Spirit

    Does Europe Have a Future? It’s both a continent and an idea, with an alternately heroic and ignominious past and, until recently, an enviable present. Can the heart of the West survive the 21st century?

    Boston HS Students Bury the Dead When No One Else Is There To - "Dear Lord, thank you for opening our hearts and minds to this corporal work of mercy," a student prays

    On the Great Council of the Orthodox Church - First Things

    Why bother about Christian Unity? - Fr Martin Browne OSB

    Pray as you go - Refreshing Traditional Prayers

    Gay cake row family faith ‘strengthened’ by court case - McArthurs prepare for appeal hearing

    CNA - This LGBT advocate changed his mind about Christian bakers

    Deep inside Congo's killer mines lies a story tech companies don't want you to hear

    LMFM - Mother Mary - This is the story of Marie Martin Foundress of the Medical Missionaries of Mary who was one of the most extraordinary Irish women of the 20th Century. Born into a wealthy Dublin family on April 25th 1892 the second eldest of twelve children she went on to lead a remarkable life in which she overcame many obstacles to achieve so much. Have a listen to the story of Mother Mary Martin here

    China commands that even retired officials shun religion

    Byzantine Catholic Nuns Provide Place of Encounter With Christ - Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Ohio is part of trend in Eastern monasticism in U.S.

    Historic! First meeting scheduled between Pope Francis and Patriach Kirill of Moscow


    (Vatican Radio) It was announced on Friday that Pope Francis will hold a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Cuba on February 12th. It marks the first ever such meeting between a Roman Pontiff and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
     
    (NCR) After years of speculation, for the first time in history the Successor of Peter and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet on February 12, the Vatican announced today. 

    The meeting will take place in Cuba where Patriarch Kirill will be making an official visit. Pope Francis will make a brief stop in Havana on his way to Mexico. 
     
    The Vatican said the historic meeting "will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches." 
     
    Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the meeting, expected to last two hours in total, will consist of spontaneous speeches from the Pope and the Patriarch who will also issue a joint declaration.  He added that the meeting, which was always to take place on neutral ground, is the fruit of two years of talks.
    Update:
    • Rocco adds his analysis and commentary here.
    • Fr Kirill Gorbunov on meeting between Pope and Patriarch - Father Kirill Gorbunov, Press Secretary for the Catholic Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, said on Friday that he believes the upcoming meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, will help take relations “to a new level” between the two Churches. He spoke to Susy Hodges shortly after the announcement that this historic meeting between the two spiritual leaders will take place in Cuba on February 12th.