The Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced that Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.
Archbishop Romero was assassinated on March 24th, 1980, while celebrating Mass at a local chapel. The Salvadoran prelate was an outspoken voice against the Revolutionary Government Junta and their persecution of the Catholic Church and repression of basic human rights.
His cause for canonization began in 1990 and was formally accepted by John Paul II in 1997, when the martyred archbishop was given the title "Servant of God." Although Romero's cause passed a theological audit by the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith in 2005, the process was slowed down due to the death of John Paul II. Following Benedict XVI's election, several liturgical changes to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints further delayed the cause.
During his return flight from South Korea in August 2015, Pope Francis explained to journalists that the Salvadoran archbishop's cause was initially blocked "for prudence".
"What I would like is to have clarified when there is martyrdom in ‘odium fidei’ (out of hatred for the faith), whether it is for confessing the credo or for performing the works that Jesus commands us to do for our neighbor," the Pope said.
"For me, Romero is a man of God. He was a man of God but there has to be the process, and the Lord will have to give his sign (of approval). But if He wishes, He will do so! The postulators must move now because there are no impediments."
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi informed journalists that Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Postulator of Archbishop Romero's Cause for Beatification, will hold a press conference tomorrow to speak further on the Pope's recognition of the Salvadoran prelate's martyrdom.
Taking a few moments in contemplative prayer and keeping one's gazed fixed on Christ will "make hope grow."
This was the reflection given by Pope Francis this morning during his homily at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father reflected on today's reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, which calls on Christians to "persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith."
Referring also the Gospel from St. Mark, the Holy Father reflected on the importance of contemplating Jesus' life and works in order to find peace and hope.
"How should I contemplate with the Gospel today?" he asked. "I see that Jesus was in the midst of a crowd, around him there was a large crowd. This passage says the word 'crowd'" five times. But did Jesus rest? I could think: 'He's always with the crowd.'"
"But a great part of Jesus life," he continued, "was passed on the road, with the crowd. But did he rest? Yes, one time, the Gospel says, he slept on the boat but a storm came and the disciples woke him up. Jesus was continuously among the people. And if I look at Jesus this way, I contemplate Jesus that way, I imagine Jesus that way. And I tell Jesus what comes to my mind."
The Holy Father went on to recall the Gospel, in which Jesus healed the daughter of a synagogue official, imagining how Jesus was in the midst of those who doubted the girl's healing. This imagining, the Pope said, is a prayer of contemplation, to read and imagine the scene in which Christ found himself in. He then invited the faithful to do the same.
"Make this prayer of contemplation.'But I have so much to do!' 'But in your home, 15 minutes, take the Gospel, a small passage, imagine what happened and speak with Jesus about it. Thus your gaze will be fixed on Jesus and not on soap operas, for example. Your ears will be fixed on the words of Jesus and not so much on the gossip of the neighbors," he said.
By praying with the Gospel, as well as prayers like the Rosary, the Pope went on to say, one's Christian life can move toward memory and hope.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis once again invited the faithful to make this prayer of contemplation in their daily lives.
"Today, for example, look for 10 minutes -15, no more – read the Gospel, imagine and say something to Jesus. Nothing more; and in that way your knowledge of Jesus will be greater and your hope will grow. Do not forget, to have your gaze fixed on Jesus. And this is what the prayer of contemplation is for."
Last November, the Holy See announced that they would be opening three showers under the colonnades of St. Peter's Basilica for the homeless. Now they will also open a barber shop and offer haircuts and shaves free of charge for homeless people.
According to the Italian news agency, ANSA, haircuts and shaves will be available to those less fortunate on Mondays. In Italy, barbershops are traditionally closed on Mondays, allowing for volunteer barbers to donate their time.
The initiative, which is run by the Office of Papal Charities, has also received a number of donations from barbers across Rome who have donated, razors, brushes, scissors, a mirror and a barber's chair.
The idea for the showers and bathrooms came from the Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski. The Archbishop had dinner with a homeless man on his birthday despite the man's embarrassment because of his appearance.
During the meal, the man explained to him that although homeless people in Rome could manage to find something to eat, what they really needed was a place to wash. Upon hearing this, Archbishop Krajewski suggested the idea to the Pope, who immediately approved the idea.
The barber shop for the homeless, located in the same area where the showers and toilets are, will be officially opened on February 16th.
In his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis called on the faithful to never forget the memory of their first love, Christ, in order to not become lukewarm Christians.
The first reading of today continued from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews, in which he invites Christians to "remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering."
The Pope noted that this memory of the first encounter with Christ is an important moment for Christians to remember. "Memory is so important, to remember the grace received, because if we drive away this enthusiasm that comes from the memory of the first love […], that great danger for so many Christians comes: to be lukewarm."
The Holy Father said that in becoming "lukewarm", many Christians have lost not only enthusiasm, but also patience and the will to "tolerate" difficulties in life with the same spirit of Christ.
"The lukewarm Christians, poor things, are in grave danger," he said.
Memory and hope, he went on to say, are the two parameters that Christians have. For a Christian to recall the memory of that first encounter with Christ, "feeds hope."
"These two parameters are precisely the framework in which we can preserve this salvation of the just that comes from the Lord," the Holy Father said.Referring to today's Gospel, the Pope said that salvation that is guarded and protected allows "that mustard seed to grow and give fruit"
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray "for the grace to preserve this gift, the gift of salvation."
Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family during his weekly General Audience, reflecting on the important role of fathers. The Holy Father was in good spirits as he entered the Paul VI Audience Hall, even taking a moment to pose for a picture with a group of pilgrims.
The Pope began his address by noting that the word father is important for Christians because "it is the name in which Jesus taught us to call God."
"The meaning of this name has received a new depth just from the way in which Jesus used it to address God and manifest his special relationship with Him," he said. "The blessed mystery of the intimacy of God, Father, Son and Spirit, revealed by Jesus, is the heart of our Christian faith."
Reflecting on the symbolic role of the father, the Holy Father lamented the its decreasing role in today's society. This absence, he explained, is perceived in Western culture as the emancipation from an obstacle to happiness. While there are cases where fathers have been overly authoritative or treat children as servants, the Pope said that the situation can go to the opposite extreme: where the presence of the father is completely absent.
"Even as bishop of Buenos Aires," the Pope recalled, "I warned of this sense of orphan-hood that children live today. And I regularly asked fathers if they played with their children; if they had the courage to have the love to waste time with their children. The answer wasn't good, eh! The majority would say: 'But, I can't because I have so much work to do…' And the father was absent from that child that was growing up and didn't play with him, he didn't waste time with him."
The 78 year old Pontiff called on the Christian community to be more attentive to their children, saying that the absence of the father causes gaps and wounds that, over time, can become very serious.
'Orphaned within the Family'
Continuing his catechesis, Pope Francis continued to explain detrimental effects that a father's absence can have on children. Due to this absence, children at times are like "orphans but within the family." He also warned that because of this, fathers risk having a relationship on the same level of the children instead of a role as "educator".
"At times, it seems that fathers do not know well which place to occupy within the family and how to educate the children," he explained. "So, when in doubt they abstain, they withdraw and neglect their responsibilities, perhaps taking refuge in an unlikely relationship 'on par' with the children."
"It is true that you should be a companion for your child but without forgetting that you are the father. If you act as a companion equal to your child, it will not do him well."
Concluding his address, Pope Francis said that while his catechesis may have seemed to have taken a serious or negative tone regarding the role of fathers, it is for good reason.
"I wanted to emphasize this because next Wednesday, I will continue this catechesis by highlighting the beauty of fatherhood," he said. "For this reason I chose to begin from the darkness to arrive to the light. May the Lord help us to understand well these things."
In his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis stressed the importance of mothers and grandmothers in transmitting the faith to future generations.
The first reading of today's Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus recounts Paul's letter to Timothy, in which he recalls the faith of the latter's mother and grandmother.
"I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that I am confident lives also in you," St. Paul writes.
The Holy Father said that mothers and grandmothers are the ones who first transmit faith.
"It is one thing to pass on the faith, and another to teach the matters of faith. Faith is a gift: it is not possible to study Faith. We study the things of faith, yes, to understand it better, but with study [alone] one never comes to Faith. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, which surpasses all [“academic”] formation," the Pope said.
Reflecting on why it is mainly women who pass on the faith, the Holy Father noted that Jesus was brought into the world by a woman.
"It is the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother: the gift of faith comes to us through women, as Jesus came to us through Mary." The Jesuit Pope went on to ask whether women today are aware of their duty to transmit the faith. He also stressed Paul's exhortation to guard the Faith so that it may remain strong.
“We have – all of us – received the gift of faith: we have to keep it, at least in order that it not become watered down, so that it remains strong, with the power of the Holy Spirit who gave it to us," he said.
If this faith becomes diluted, he warned, it becomes a "specialized kind of knowledge" and turns faith from something that is lived to something that is learned.
The Holy Father also said that being timid and ashamed is what dilutes faith and that it instead must be nourished with power, love and prudence.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for the grace of sincere Faith.
"A Faith that is not negotiable depending on the opportunities that come, a Faith that every day I try to revive or at least ask the Holy Spirit to revive it, and make it bear much fruit," he said.
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