30 Sep 2013
We now return to our regular progamme schedule - Interview with Fr Chris O'Donnell from Templeglantine
However, patience is a virtue we are told so with our sincerest apologies, please find below the link to this weeks programme.
The programme this week was an interview with Fr Chris O'Donnell from Templeglantine who is a member of the Irish branch of the Pallotine Order working in Argentina for the last 37 years. The interview was conducted back in April 2013. During his time in Argentina he worked with and knew the former archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio who is probably more well know as Pope Francis following his election in March 2013!
Podcast of the interview is available HERE.
21 Sep 2013
On this weeks programme we reflect on Pope Francis weekly general audience. We have our regular reflection on this Sundays gospel as well as a run down on our celestial guides.
This weeks programme is available to listen to as a podcast HERE.
On next week’s show we have an excellent interview that John recorded with Fr. Chris O’Donnell, a native of county Limerick, who has met and worked with our present pope.
Every Wednesday, the Holy Father gives a catechesis, a teaching on a particular aspect of the Church’s faith. This morning we’d like to share with you the catechesis given by Pope Francis last Wednesday, September 18th:
During Wednesday's general audience, the Pope compared the Church to a mother. With thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained that through the 10 commandments, the Church tries to instill values in Her children, just like any mother would. He also added that the Church is always at Her children's side, vowing to pray and protect them throughout life.
The Church as mother was again the theme chosen by Francis for today's catechesis at the Wednesday general audience. “I like this image a lot, as it seems to me that it tells us not only how the Church is, but also shows us the face the Church, this Church of ours, should increasingly show”, he explained. “I like this image a lot, as it seems to me that it tells us not only how the Church is, but also shows us the face the Church, this Church of ours, should increasingly show”, he explained.
The Pope began by considering what a mother does for her children. First of all, “she teaches us how to proceed in life … she orientates us, she always tries to show us the right path in life in order to grow and become adults. And she does this with tenderness, with affection, with love, always – even when she tries to correct our path because we lose our way a little or take routes that might lead us to a fall”.
“The Church does likewise: she orientates our lives, she offers us instruction on how to walk in the right way. Think of the ten Commandments: they show us the route to follow if we are to mature, fixing certain cardinal points in our behaviour. And these are the fruits of tenderness, of the very love that God gives us. You might say to me: but these are commandments! They are a list of negatives! I would like to invite you to read them… and then think about them positively.
You will see that they concern our way of behaving towards God, towards ourselves and towards others, just as a mother teaches us how to live well. They remind us not to make material idols for ourselves, which then turn us into slaves; to remember God; to respect our parents; to be honest; to respect others …Try to see them in this way and consider them as if they were the words and teachings a mother gives us in order to take a good path through life. A mother never teaches anything that is bad, she wants only what is best for her children, and the same is true of the Church”.
Secondly, “when a child grows and becomes an adult … and assumes his responsibilities … he does what he wants, and at times, he may happen to stray away from the path. A mother always, in every situation, has the patience to continue to accompany her children. She is animated by the strength of love … and even when [her children] make mistakes, she always finds a way of understanding them … to help them. We say that a mother 'stands up and is counted' for her own children; that is, she always seeks to defend them”.
“The Church is the same: she is a merciful mother who understands, who always tries to help, to give encouragement even when her children have made mistakes or continue to do so. She never closes the doors of her house to them: she does not judge, but rather offers God's forgiveness, she offers her love to invite her children to return to the right path and even when they have fallen into the deepest abyss, the Church is not afraid to enter into their darkest night with them in order to give them hope; the Church is not afraid to enter into our night when our soul and conscience are surrounded by darkness, to give us hope! Because the Church is our mother!
”Finally, “a mother also knows how to ask, to knock on every door for her children, without calculation but with love. And I think of how mothers know, most of all, how to knock on God's door! Mothers pray a lot for their own children, especially for those … most in need, whose lives have taken dangerous or mistaken paths. … The Church does likewise: through prayer, she places the lives of all her children in the hands of the Lord. Let us trust in the strength of prayer of the Mother Church: the Lord never remains indifferent. He always knows how to astonish us when we least expect us. The Mother Church knows this!”
“So, these are the thoughts I wanted to share with you today: we see in the Church a good mother who shows us the path to walk in life, who is always patient, merciful and understanding, and knows how to place us in God's hands”.
Gospel - Luke 16:1-13
Jesus said to his disciples, 'There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, "What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer." Then the steward said to himself, "Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes."
Then he called his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?" "One hundred measures of oil" was the reply. The steward said, "Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty". To another he said, "And you, sir, how much do you owe?" "One hundred measures of wheat" was the reply. The steward said, "Here, take your bond and write eighty".
'The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.'
'And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
'No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.'
The rich man is probably an absentee landlord. The steward, therefore, had great liberty and responsibility in managing the rich man’s land. Stewardship worked on the same basis as tax collecting at the time, i.e. the landlord set a certain amount to be taken in and if the steward could get more than this, he could keep the surplus himself. We are told that the steward is reported for wasting the rich man’s property, so the rich man decides call him to account and kick him out of his position as steward. What does the steward do? He quickly assesses that he is not strong enough to dig and is too proud to beg, so he goes to the rich man’s debtors to work out a deal so that he may have friends when his present job is gone. At the time, debtors could pay in kind, i.e. in wheat or oil, so that’s the situation we find her. The dishonest steward writes off a certain percentage of what the debtors owe so that he will find favour with them. The rich man praised the dishonest steward, not for his dishonesty, but for his astuteness. Then Jesus says: ‘For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.'
So it begs the question, how astute am I in applying myself to my spiritual growth? Do I only give 35 – 40 minutes a week to God at Sunday Mass and even that is grudgingly given?
Verses 8 to 13, a collection of six sayings of Jesus, kind of like sean-fhocals, which all bring out the main theme of the parable that God must come first in our lives. We remember that this is a recurring theme in Luke’s Gospel as we have found over the last number of weeks – we must put relationships and things in their right order in relation to God and God, as the One who created us and holds us in being, comes first. Material things, like money, can be used for good, e.g. in helping the poor, in setting up scholarship schemes/trusts, in that way we can use it to “win us friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome us into the tents of eternity”. It is similar to the saying that ‘to get into heaven you need a reference from the poor’. Do I put as much time and effort and thought into pursuing spiritual treasures as I do material treasures? If only we applied ourselves as intently to spiritual gain as to material gain, into growing in our spiritual lives, in trying to become more Christ-like, in pursuing the spiritual treasures offered to us in Mass and the Sacraments.
Let us be astute. Let us set our hearts on the higher gifts.
Other reflections on this weeks gospel:
Word on Fire
Centre for Liturgy
Liturgical odds and ends
Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 1
Saints of the Week
Monday, September 23rd – St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest
Tuesday, September 24th - Martyrs of Chalcedon
Wednesday, September 25th – St. Finbarr
Thursday, September 26th – St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs
Friday, September 27th – St. Vincent De Paul, Priest
Saturday, September 28th – St. Wenceslaus
Come, follow me: forthcoming Monastic Experience Weekend - Glencairn Cistercian Abbey
Are you looking for something deeper in your life? A way of life that is more God-centred? A way of greater simplicity and truthfulness? A way of life in a community of faith and prayer? Then you might like to consider and pray about attending our next Monastic Experience Weekend taking place from 25 to 27 October, 2013. This is an event for women aged 20-40 who would like to experience our Cistercian way of life at Glencairn. Monastic Experience Weekends have been held twice a year at St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn since 2001.
What happens on a Monastic Experience Weekend?:
The weekend begins on Friday evening with welcomes and introductions, supper and Vespers. Participants stay in the Abbey guesthouse and join the community for the Liturgy of the Hours in choir. Throughout the weekend our guests have the opportunity to experience something of the rhythm of liturgy, silence, meditation on scripture, monastic work and community life that together make up the essentials of a balanced monastic life. There will be input on the Cistercian life, together with personal testimonies from some of our sisters on their own monastic journey and an opportunity to meet the community. We also offer guidance on how to discern one’s own religious vocation and an opportunity to talk one-to-one with one of the sisters. The Monastic Experience Weekend ends on Sunday afternoon but participants are welcome to stay until Monday if they wish.
If you would like more information, please contact our Vocation Director Sr Sarah here at the Abbey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 087 1909 830. Alternatively, if you would like to make a visit to the Abbey at another time for personal prayer and retreat to discern your vocation please contact Sr Sarah or the Guestmistress Mother Agnes at 058 56168.
19 Sep 2013
It is an article worth reading slowly, even somewhat prayerfully as it will provoke and challenge and given the way it will be distorted into sound bites by secular media, it is well worth spending the time and reading the original which we have set out below. At the bottom of the article we have put some links to initial reaction and analysis for you to review and read.
UPDATE I: You can download a Kindle version of the interview HERE
UPDATE IV: - yes oddly we are putting this link before all the rest as it would be a great idea to read The Parable of the Papal interview before hand to give ourselves some perspective with the strong recommendation you read the reactions and commentary AFTER reading the interview below
UPDATE II: Reactions and commentary
John Allen - NCR
Analysis and coverage from America magazine HERE (at the bottom of the page)
Poking the Pope - Fr Dwight Longenecker raises some questions on interpretation of the Popes comments and actions
NPR in the USA interview with Fr James Martin SJ
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New Yorks response
Archbishop Diarmuid Martins response HERE and HERE
Fr Thomas Reese SJ in NCR
Whispers in the Loggia
Jimmy Akin at National Catholic Register
The Confession of a Pope who came from afar - Sandro Magister
Elizabeth Scalia asks the question - "Is the world making an idol of Pope Francis?"
Reactions from the Jesuit Post (which are being updated regularily)
David Quinn - Irish Independent
Jeffrey Tucker - New Liturgical Movement
Jesuit Editors Note: This interview with Pope Francis took place over the course of three meetings during August 2013 in Rome. The interview was conducted in person by Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal. Father Spadaro conducted the interview on behalf of La Civiltà Cattolica, Thinking Faith, America and several other major Jesuit journals around the world. The editorial teams at each of the journals prepared questions and sent them to Father Spadaro, who then consolidated and organised them. The interview was conducted in Italian. After the Italian text was officially approved, a team of five independent experts were commissioned to produce the English translation, which is also published by America.
Father Spadaro met the pope at the Vatican in the pope’s apartments in the Casa Santa Marta, where he has chosen to live since his election. Father Spadaro begins his account of the interview with a description of the pope’s living quarters.
Who Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?
17 Sep 2013
Born of a noble family in Bermersheim in 1098, Hildegard was subject to mystical religious experiences from early childhood. The youngest of ten children, at the age of eight she was entrusted to the care of Jutta, a recluse attached to the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg in the Rhineland. Hildegard became a nun at fifteen and led an uneventful, studious life for seventeen years until her visions and revelations began. On Jutta’s death in 1136 she succeeded her as abbess of the community that had gathered around Jutta.
Under the direction of her prior and confessor, Volmar, in 1141 she began to record some of her visions. Having won the approval of the archbishop of Mainz (the primate of Germany), between 1141 and 1151 she dictated her Scivias (probably an abbreviation of scito vias Domini, “know the ways of the Lord”). This work is divided into three books containing twenty-six visions, combining insights into the nature of humanity and the world with her vision of salvation history leading to the Last Judgment. At the urging of Bernard of Clairvaux, Pope Eugenius the Third in 1147/48 gave his guarded approval of sections of this work and granted Hildegard permission to continue writing.
Meanwhile, her community at Disibodenberg had grown too large for its convent, and sometime between1147 and 1152 she led them to Rupertsberg, near Bingen, where a large convent was built. From this house she undertook many journeys in the Rhineland, reformed several other convents, and made a new foundation at Eibingen.
Hildegard exerted a wide influence, and like some other visionaries she felt called upon the reprove rulers. Her correspondents included Henry the Second of England, the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Pope Eugenius the Third, and various other prelates. She showed herself remarkably gifted and insightful in a number of fields. She wrote poems, musical compositions (seventy-seven carmina), a morality play with dramatic songs (the Ordo virtutum), and works of medicine and natural history. Her Liber divinorum operum in three books contains visions of the cosmos, the earth, and created things, comprising studies on the elements, plants, minerals, fishes, birds, mammals, and reptiles. The Physica and the Causae et curae cover the circulation of the blood, headaches, giddiness, frenzy, insanity, and obsessions. Her other works include commentaries on the Gospels, on the Athanasian Creed, and on the Rule of Saint Benedict. In addition to being abbess, visionary, physician, and musician, she was also an artist, providing illustrations for the Scivias.
Toward the end of her life she and her convent were placed under interdict by the chapter of Mainz for burying an excommunicate in their graveyard, but Hildegard successfully appealed to the archbishop to have the interdict lifted. She died at the age of eighty-one. Attempts to secure her canonization in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were unsuccessful, but her name was inserted into the Roman Martyrology in the fifteenth century.
First Things - St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church
Commentary on the letter:
- John Allen
- The Guardian
- The Telegraph
- National Catholic Register - Did Pope Francis say atheists don’t need to believe in God to be saved? (9 things to know)
- Catholic Herald
- Huffington Post
Dear Dr. Scalfari,
I wish to respond, even if only in a general way, to your letter published in La Repubblica on 7 July last, in which you offered your personal reflections, further expounded upon in the 9 August edition.
First of all, I thank you for your careful reading of the Encyclical Lumen Fidei, which was conceived and in large measure prepared by my beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI. With gratitude I inherited this work, which seeks not only to confirm in faith those who already believe in Jesus Christ, but also to bring about a sincere and comprehensive dialogue with those who, like you, define themselves as “a non-believer who for many years has been interested in and fascinated by the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth”.
Therefore, it seems very positive, both for us and for the society in which we live, to pause and discuss a reality as significant as faith, which points us to the teachings and person of Jesus.
I think that there are two circumstances, in particular, which make this dialogue necessary and valuable today. As is known, one of the principle objectives of the Second Vatican Council was this dialogue, as desired by Blessed John XXIII and successive Popes, each adding his own insight and contribution, walking the path marked out by the Council.
The first circumstance – recalled at the beginning of the Encyclical – derives from the fact that, throughout the centuries of modernity, a paradox was witnessed: the Christian faith, whose newness and influence on humanity were expressed by the symbol of light, has been often characterized as the darkness of superstition in opposition to the light of reason. Thus, between the Church and Christian inspired culture on the one hand, and modern culture shaped by the Enlightenment on the other, a point was reached where there was no longer any dialogue. The time has now finally come, ushered in by the Second Vatican Council, for a dialogue that is open and free of preconceptions, and which reopens the doors to a responsible and fruitful encounter.
14 Sep 2013
You can listen to the podcast of this weeks programme HERE.
Year of Faith
As regular readers/listeners will know, SS102fm has been promoting the Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict XVI to mark the 50th anniversary of the calling of the second Vatican Council and the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The year began on October 11th 2012 and will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King on November 24th 2013. This is a special year in which we are asked as to reflect on the gift of faith as the universal Church, episcopal conferences, diocesan level, parish, community, association, movements and individually.
You can find more information on the official website of the Year of Faith. Also please check out our page on the Year of Faith for further information, links and suggestions.
Gospel - Luke 15: 1- 32
|The Return of the Prodigal Son - Rembrandt|
- Henri Nouwen - The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
- Excerpt from Nouwen's reflection on the Rembrandt painting
Liturgical Odds and Ends
Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter week 4
Saints of the Week
September 16th - Ss Cornelius (pope) and Cyprian (martyrs). Also St Hildegard of Bingen (Doctor of the Church)
September 17th - St Robert Bellarmine SJ
September 18th - St Joseph of Cupertina
September 19th - St Januarius of Naples
September 20th - The Korean Martyrs
September 21st - St Matthew (Apostle)
13 Sep 2013
Earlier in the year, listeners and readers may remember that the relics of St John Bosco were brought to Ireland and we covered the visit HERE.
The Salesian community in Ireland have put together a video of photos of the event which is available to view on the Salesian channel on iCatholic.
10 Sep 2013
9 Sep 2013
Imagine Sisters wants to make Jesus loved by introducing the world to religious sisters in love with Christ through media and personal encounters. They want to encourage and inspire a culture of vocations to women’s religious life by fostering a deep desire for holiness through the witness of religious sisters. The mission of Imagine Sisters is to inspire and support vocations to Catholic women’s religious life by helping the world meet sisters on fire for their faith. Through online resources and media, Imagine Sisters works to ignite the conversation of vocational discernment. Their team is comprised of sisters, young women, and seminarians from around the United States who want to show the world the beauty, joy, purpose, and fun of becoming a sister in the 21st century!
Now they have produced a short one hour video sharing their message about religious life. You can find out more about the film and short guides for reflection here.
7 Sep 2013
8th September 2013 - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time (Year C) - Year of Faith: Exploring Our Church's understanding of Divine Revelation (Part 4 of 4)
On this week's programme we have the final episode in our Year of Faith reflection on the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum. We have our usual reflection on the Gospel and outlining our celestial guides for the week ahead. This week's full programme is available HERE.
The book we used as the basis for our programmes on Dei Verbum is a wonderfully accessible and insightful book by Canon John Redford called Treasures of Dei Verbum. It has the text of Dei Verbum on the left hand side of the page and an explanation of the text on the right hand side of the page. It is available from Alive Publishing (www.alivepublishing.co.uk)
On our first programme we outlined what Dei Verbum was all about i.e. the bishops of the Second Vatican Council saw the need to place more emphasis on the goal of divine revelation. The whole point of divine revelation is to give us all a share in the divine life, fellowship, communion with God the Father through Jesus the Son in the Holy Spirit. This is the good news we have to give to the world.
In our second programme we looked at how Divine Revelation was handed on by the bishops as successors of the Apostles. The teaching office of the Church (Magisterium) is the authentic interpreter of the Word of God in Scripture and Tradition. The Holy Spirit gives special assistance to the Bishops of the Church united with the Pope to serve, teach, listen to, guard and explain the Word of God. We also looked at Sacred Scripture, its inspiration and divine interpretation.
In our third programme we saw that the OT and the NT are the inspired word of God and how we cannot dismiss the OT because it is divinely inspired. “God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New” (DV 16). We saw how the Old and New Testaments were not merely collections of sacred books, but witnessed to two Covenant events. The covenant event of the OT is the covenant given to Moses on the holy mountain with its laws and directions to guide the people to the promised land. The covenant event of the NT is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to be born of a virgin, preach the kingdom of God, perform miracles, manifest himself as God become Man, die on the cross for our salvation, rise again from the dead bodily and pour out his Spirit on those who believe. We also looked at how the books of the NT, the Gospels, the letters and the Book of revelation, are of course very important, the inspired word of God, but their value, as Dei Verbum tells us, is as the prime witness to the wonderful realities of the coming of Jesus our Saviour.
This week we will look at the final Chapter of Dei Verbum, Chapter 6, Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church.
You can listen to the Dei Verbum section of the programme HERE.
Resources which may be of use to you on reading and understanding Dei Verbum:
- Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) - Second Vatican Council
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church - Pontifical Biblical Commission
- SS102fm page on Lectio Divina
- The website of the 2005 Dei Verbum international conference organized jointly by the Catholic Biblical Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. The website is in various languages and has links and many articles for reference and further reading.
- One of the highly regarded series of commentaries written about the documents of Vatican II was a 1967 series written by a young German theologian named Joseph Ratzinger. The link to an extract from the commentary on Dei Verbum is here.
- Short summary of Dei Verbum here
Gospel - Luke 14: 25 - 33
This week's Gospel contains one of the greatest challenges Jesus ever offered to his disciples: "If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Here Christ is emphasizing the great spiritual principle of detachment. In order to live healthy spiritual lives we must love Christ most of all, with everything else finding its meaning in relation to God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, dissident anti-Nazi and founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity's role in the secular world have become widely influential. Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer became known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. He strongly opposed Hitler's euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was also involved in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp, just 23 days before the German surrender.
One of his most famous books is called the "Cost of Discipleship" and has a number of challenging and thought provoking quotes in line with this weeks gospel:
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price', and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
Reflections on this weeks gospel:
Word on Fire
Centre for Liturgy
Dear Working Preacher - The cost of disipleship
Liturgical odds and ends
Liturgy of Hours - Psalter Week 3, 23rd week in ordinary time
Saints of the Week
September 9th - St Kieran of Clonmacnoise
September 10th - 205 Martyrs of Japan
September 11th - Bl Dominic Dillon (Martyr)
September 12th - Holy Name of Mary also Bl Victoria Strata
September 13th - St John Chrysostom also Bl Margaret of Cashel
September 14th - The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
From Vatican Radio:
More than a hundred thousand people gathered in St- Peter's Square this evening in response to Pope Francis' appeal during last Sunday's Angelus in which he convoked for today, 7 September, a day of fasting and prayer for peace, in the light of the dramatic circumstances which have engulfed Syria.
Since then, this initiative has been welcomed and applauded not only by Catholics and other Christian confessions, but also by those belonging to other religions, from Buddhists to Jews and Muslims, and even those who do not belong to any religion. This week has seen extensive mobilisation on the part of parishes and associations, Caritas and the Community of St. Egidio, prayer groups and religious orders such as the Descalced Carmelites of the Holy Land, mayors and presidents of autonomous regions, organisations for peace, co-operation and development, unions, and so on. Many prominent figures have joined in with the initiative, such as the architect Renzo Piano, the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the Grand Mufti of Syria, spiritual leader of the Sunnis, who invoked peace this afternoon in the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus, with the nation's religious leaders. A prayer for peace was raised this afternoon in Catholic churches around the world, from Australia to Egypt.
The Square was crowded with people since the morning; among them there were many who wished to confess, from 5.45 onwards, to one of the fifty priests in the Constantine Wing and below the colonnade; Francis wanted confessors to be present on this day as “true peace is born of the human heart reconciled with God and with one's brothers”. At 18.30, the words uttered by the Pope last Sunday were repeated as an introduction to the Vigil which began at 7 p.m. with a greeting from the Pope and the singing of the “Veni Creator”, followed by the enthroning of the image of the Virgin as “Salus Populi Romani”, carried by four Swiss Guards.
The Pope began by praying the Rosary; each mystery was accompanied by the reading of a poem by St. Therese of Lisieux about the child Jesus, and at the end he invoked Maria: “Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Following the Pope's homily, a moment of silence was observed during the preparation of the altar for the exposition of the Holy Sacrament. The adoration was accompanied by a biblical reading on the theme of peace, followed by the Pope's prayer on this subject and a responsorial invocation as a plea for peace. At the end of each of those moments, five pairs of people, representing Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land, the United States and Russia, placed incense in the censer to the right of the altar. This offering was accompanied by a series of invocations on the common theme of peace, including: “Lord of life, bring to us your peace, to where the fate of nations is decided” and “Stop, with your creative power, all violence against human life”.
The adoration was followed by the reading - “in the longest form planned for the celebration of a vigil” - of the Gospel of St. John. Then, from around 10.15 to 10.40 p.m., there was a long period of silence for personal prayer.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Pope Francis imparted his Eucharistic blessing to those present. Today, the Pope wrote to his nine million followers on Twitter, “Pray for peace”.
From Rome Reports:
With a solemn expression to contrast his often cheerful personality, Pope Francis kicked off a four-hour prayer vigil before thousands of people at St. Peters Square. The event kicked off with a liturgical greeting from the Pope. It was followed by the enthronement of the Salus Populi Romani, the Byzantine icon of the Madonna venerated by Romans.
“Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter!”, asserted the Pope during this Saturday's peace vigil.
Full text of the Pope's homily (from Vatican Radio):
“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12, 18, 21, 25). The biblical account of the beginning of the history of the world and of humanity speaks to us of a God who looks at creation, in a sense contemplating it, and declares: “It is good”. This allows us to enter into God’s heart and, precisely from within him, to receive his message. We can ask ourselves: what does this message mean? What does it say to me, to you, to all of us?
It says to us simply that this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the “house of harmony and peace”, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel “at home”, because it is “good”. All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: the other person is a brother or sister to love, and our relationship with God, who is love, fidelity and goodness, mirrors every human relationship and brings harmony to the whole of creation. God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other. This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the world that I desire? Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts? Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?
But then we wonder: Is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work. But there is also “violence, division, disagreement, war”. This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness. When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict. This is precisely what the passage in the Book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked and he hides himself because he is afraid (cf. Gen 3: 10), he is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh (cf. v. 12); he breaks harmony with creation, he begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him. Can we say that from harmony he passes to “disharmony”? No, there is no such thing as “disharmony”; there is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, fear ....
It is exactly in this chaos that God asks man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill. What violence occurs at that moment, how many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history! We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. All of us! And even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!
At this point I ask myself: Is it possible to change direction? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.
This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter!
May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! ... war never again, never again war!” (Address to the United Nations, 1965). “Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love” (World Day of Peace Message, 1975). Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world! Let us pray for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace! Amen.