On Friday morning, Pope Francis surprised the faithful in St. Peter’s Square when he showed up at the Altar of St. Pius X to pray. It was the saint’s feast day. According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father came to pray at the altar and participated in the 7 a.m. Mass that was celebrated there by Monsignor Lucio Bonora, an official of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, who was unaware the Pope planned on being there. “When [Pope Francis] saw me, he told me he came to pray because he had already said Mass earlier in the Casa Santa Marta, and he wanted to pay his respects to St. Pius X,” Msgr. Bonora told Vatican Radio. Msgr. Bonora said Pope Francis greeted the faithful during the sign of peace. “It was very moving for me, and for the faithful, to see the Pope as a humble member of the faithful, going to pray at the tomb of St. Pius X,” the priest said. Msgr. Bonora said Pope Francis told him he has a strong devotion to Pius X, and that he prayed especially for catechists, since in Buenos Aires the feast serves as the Day of Catechists. St. Pius X (June 2, 1835 - Aug. 20, 1914) was Pope from Aug. 4, 1903, to his death in 1914. He was canonized in 1954.
I just read a very interesting article online about a student questionnaire prepared by some German students and adapting the language of the "official" questionnaire on the Synod on Marriage and Family in order to be a bit more clear and inviting. What I found to be uplifting and hopeful was the enthusiasm and upbeat nature of the participation and the fascinating insights of the thousand of respondents. Perhaps you'd like to read it in its entirety - click on the link:
'Who is Jesus to you?' This is the question Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask themselves during his weekly Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father recalled the day's reading from the Gospel of John in which Jesus, one day after His miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, proclaims His discourse on the "Bread of Life," in which He had said He was the Bread which came down from Heaven and very clearly alluded to the sacrifice of His own life. Those words, the Pope noted, provoked disappointment in the people, "who considered them unworthy of the Messiah, not 'winning.'" Francis noted how people wanted to hear about a mission that Jesus would accomplish right away and how, in this sense, they failed to understand the Messiah's mission. "The words of Jesus always make us uncomfortable. They make us uncomfortable, for example, with regard to the spirit of the world, of worldliness," Francis said, noting that Jesus' divine origin, the action of the Holy Spirit, and faith are the three elements of the 'key' Jesus offers us to be able to understand Him and His mission. Despite lack of belief and some disciples deserting him, Francis observed, Jesus does not take back or soften His words. "In fact," Francis said, "He forces us to make a clear choice: either to be with Him or separated from Him." Loyalty to God, the Pontiff stressed, is a matter of loyalty to a person: Jesus. "All that we have in the world does not satisfy our hunger for the infinite. We need Jesus: to be with Him, to nourish ourselves at His table, His words of eternal life! Believing in Jesus means to make Him the center, the meaning of our life." Christ, the Pope said, "is not an 'accessory element': He is the 'living bread,' the indispensable nourishment. Attaching ourselves to Him, in a real relationship of faith and love, does not mean being chained, but being profoundly free, always on a journey." Pope Francis continued, calling on all faithful to ask themselves certain questions: “Who is Jesus for me?” A name? An idea? Only some historic person, or ... Someone who loves me, who gave His life for me, and walks with me?" "Who is Jesus for you? Do you try to get to know Him? Do you remain with His word? … Do you bring your pocket-Gospel with you to read it in whatever place you are in?" Francis underscored how the more time we spend with the Lord, the greater our desire is to be with Him.
Following his Angelus address, the Holy Father renewed his appeal for peace in Ukraine. "With deep concern, I follow the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which accelerated again in recent weeks," he said. "I renew my heartfelt appeal for the commitments undertaken to achieve peace might be respected; and that, with the help of organizations and persons of good will, there might be a response to the humanitarian emergency in the country.”
“May the Lord grant peace to Ukraine," the Pope prayed, noting the nation is preparing to celebrate its Independence Day tomorrow. "May the Virgin Mary intercede for us!" he said.
In his subsequent greetings to Roman pilgrims and those from various countries, Francis gave a special shout out to the new seminarians of the Pontifical North American College in Rome as they embark upon their theological studies.
Pope Francis concluded, wishing all those gathered a good Sunday, lunch and telling them to pray for him as well as stop for a little bit each day to ask themselves the question: 'Who is Jesus for me?'
Our Holy Father, Francis, offered these thoughts today: In these Sundays, the Liturgy proposes to us, from the Gospel of John, Jesus' discourse on the Bread of Life, that is He Himself and that is also the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Today's passage (Jn. 6, 51-58) presents the last part of that discourse, and refers to some of those among the people who are scandalized because Jesus said: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day" (Jn. 6,54). The astonishment of those listening is understandable; in fact, Jesus uses the typical style of the prophets to provoke in the people – and also in us – questions and, in the end, to make a decision. The first of the questions is: What does "eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood" mean? Is it only an image, a way of saying, a symbol, or does it indicate something real? To answer this, one needs to guess what is happening in Jesus' heart while he breaks the bread for the hungry crowd. Knowing that He must die on the cross for us, Jesus identifies Himself with that broken and shared bread, and that becomes for Him the "sign" of the Sacrifice that awaits Him. This process culminates in the Last Supper, where the bread and wine truly become His Body and His Blood.
It is the Eucharist where Jesus leaves us a precise purpose: that we can become one with Him. In fact, he says: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (v.56). To remain: Jesus in us and us in Him. Communion is assimilation: eating Him, we become Him. But this requires our "yes", our adherence to the faith.
At times, during the Holy Mass, it may happen to feel this objection: "What is the purpose of the Mass? I go in Church when I feel like it, and I pray better alone." But the Eucharist is not a private prayer or a beautiful spiritual experience, it is not a simple commemoration of what Jesus has done in the Last Supper: we say, to understand well, that the Eucharist is a "memorial", that is, an act that actualizes and makes present the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus: the bread is truly His Body given to us; the wine is truly His Blood that has been shed.
The Eucharist is Jesus who gives Himself entirely to us. By nourishing ourselves from Him and remaining in Him through the Eucharistic Communion, if we do it with faith, it transforms our life; it transforms it into a gift to God and a gift to our brothers. To nourish ourselves from that "bread of life" means being in tune with the heart of Christ, to assimilate His choices, His thoughts, His behavior. It means entering into a dynamic of sacrificial love and become a person of peace, of forgiveness, of reconciliation of sharing in solidarity. It is the same as Jesus has done.
Jesus concludes his discourse with these words; "Whoever eats this bread will live forever" (Jn. 6,58). Yes, living in a concrete, real communion with Jesus on this earth makes us pass from death to life. The heavens begin precisely in this communion with Jesus.
In Heaven, Mary our Mother awaits us – yesterday we celebrated this mystery. May She obtain for us the grace of nourishing ourselves always with faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Pope Francis has warned the faithful against being slaves to work and has exhorted them to celebrate and spend time with God. He made this exhortation this morning, at his second General Audience since the summer break. Francis began a new series of catecheses, reflecting on three facets of family life: celebration, work and prayer. In the story of Creation, the 78-year-old Pontiff recalled, we see that celebrations are the invention of God who rested from his labors on the seventh day. “It is God himself who teaches us the importance of dedicating time to contemplating and enjoying the fruits of our labors, not only in our employment or profession, but through every action by which we as men and women cooperate in God’s creative work, even in times of difficulty,” he said. “I speak of work, of course, not only in the sense of the job or profession, but in a more broad sense of every action with which we men and women can collaborate in the creative action of God.” Even at the workplace too, for birthdays, a new baby, a marriage, the Holy Father underscored, we celebrate. When we take a break from our work for these important occasions it reminds us we are made in the image and likeness of God, “who is not a slave to work, but the Lord of work!” “And so we must never be slaves to work but rather its master!” he said. Francis lamented how millions of people around the world, even children, are slaves to work and how human life is often put at risk for abuses of “economic profit” and “technical efficiency.” "In this time, there are slaves, they are exploited, slaves of work and this is against God and against the dignity of the human person!" the Pope said. The Pontiff also highlighted the sacredness of prayer and quiet moments with God. During our moments of rest on a Sunday, we find God. The Eucharist brings all of Jesus’ graces to our celebrations, Francis noted, such as His presence, love and sacrifice. In this way, in this way of being with us, the Lord forms us into a community, he said. “Everything is transfigured by his grace: work, family, the joys and trials of each day, even our sufferings and death,” the Pontiff said. The Argentine Pontiff prayed, “May we always recognize the family as the privileged place to understand, guide and sustain the gifts which arise from our celebrations, especially the Sunday Eucharist.” "The family is equipped with an extraordinary competence for understanding, addressing, and sustaining the authentic value of the time of the celebration," Pope Francis underscored, before adding off the cuff: “And how beautiful are these celebrations in the family. They are beautiful!"
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John