The Catholic Men's Society

 Prayer for Pope Francis

                                                                    

Lord God, with great joy we give thanks for your faithful servant, Pope Francis.

Bless our Holy Father with wisdom, zeal and the gift of governance as he guides your Church in peace and unity.

May his humility, simplicity, and love inspire your people to share the Good News of Jesus Christ as a light for the poor, the

marginalized and all the world.

Amen.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

That child, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, came not only for the people of Israel, represented by the shepherds of Bethlehem, but also for all humanity, represented today by the wise men from the East. It is on the Magi and their journey in search of the Messiah that the Church today invites us to meditate and pray.

These wise men from the East were the first in that great procession of which the prophet Isaiah spoke in today’s first reading (cf. 60:1-6): a procession which from that time on has continued uninterrupted; in every age it hears the message of the star and finds the Child who reveals the tenderness of God. New persons are always being enlightened by that star; they find the way and come into his presence.

According to tradition, the wise men were sages, watchers of the constellations, observers of the heavens, in a cultural and religious context which saw the stars as having significance and power over human affairs. The wise men represent men and woman who seek God in the world’s religions and philosophies: an unending quest. Men and women who seek God.

The wise men point out to us the path of our journey through life. They sought the true Light. As a liturgical hymn of Epiphany which speaks of their experience puts it: “Lumen requirunt lumine”; by following a light, they sought the light, “Lumen requirunt lumine”. They set out in search of God. Having seen the sign of the star, they grasped its message and set off on a long journey.

It is the Holy Spirit who called them and prompted them to set out; during their journey they were also to have a personal encounter with the true God.

Along the way, the wise men encountered many difficulties. Once they reached Jerusalem, they went to the palace of the king, for they thought it obvious that the new king would be born in the royal palace. There they lost sight of the star. How often sight of the star is lost! And, having lost sight of the star, they met with a temptation, placed there by the devil: it was the deception of Herod. King Herod was interested in the child, not to worship him but to eliminate him. Herod is the powerful man who sees others only as rivals. Deep down, he also considers God a rival, indeed the most dangerous rival of all. In the palace the wise men experience a moment of obscurity, of desolation, which they manage to overcome thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who speaks through the prophecies of sacred Scripture. These indicate that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David.

At that point they resume their journey, and once more they see the star; the evangelist says that they “rejoiced exceedingly” (Mt 2:10). Coming to Bethlehem, they found “the child with Mary his mother” (Mt 2:11). After that of Jerusalem, this was their second great temptation: to reject this smallness. But instead, “they fell down and worshiped him”, offering him their precious symbolic gifts. Again, it is the grace of the Holy Spirit which assists them. That grace, which through the star had called them and led them along the way, now lets them enter into the mystery. The star which led them on the journey allows them to enter into the mystery. Led by the Spirit, they come to realize that God’s criteria are quite different from those of men, that God does not manifest himself in the power of this world, but speaks to us in the humbleness of his love. God’s love is great. God’s love is powerful. But the love of God is humble, yes, very humble. The wise men are thus models of conversion to the true faith, since they believed more in the goodness of God than in the apparent splendour of power.

And so we can ask ourselves: what is the mystery in which God is hidden? Where can I find him? All around us we see wars, the exploitation of children, torture, trafficking in arms, trafficking in persons… In all these realities, in these, the least of our brothers and sisters who are enduring these difficult situations, there is Jesus (cf. Mt 25:40,45). The crib points us to a different path from the one cherished by the thinking of this world: it is the path of God’s self-abasement, that humility of God’s love by which he abases himself, he completely lowers himself, his glory concealed in the manger of Bethlehem, on the cross upon Calvary, in each of our suffering brothers and sisters.

The wise men entered into the mystery. They passed from human calculations to the mystery: this was their conversion. And our own? Let us ask the Lord to let us undergo that same journey of conversion experienced by the wise men. Let us ask him to protect us and to set us free from the temptations which hide the star. To let us always feel the troubling question: “Where is the star?”, whenever – amid the deceptions of this world – we lose sight of it. To let us know ever anew God’s mystery, and not to be scandalized by the “sign”, that sign spoken of by the angels, which points to “a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12), and to have the humility to ask the Mother, our Mother, to show him to us. To find the courage to be liberated from our illusions, our presumptions, our “lights”, and to seek this courage in the humility of faith and in this way to encounter the Light, Lumen, like the holy wise men. May we enter into the mystery. So may it be. Amen.         



Evangelli Gaudium


Pope Francis' recent exhortation on evangelisation should be given serious 

consideration by all within the Church. His exhortation takes us from Christ's instruction

to go forth and teach all nations ....... into the apostolate of the 21st century. It can be 

downloaded in English from the vatican website www.vatican.va and makes very 

challenging reading. He emphasises the primacy of love over rules and regulations.

What this means for our behaviour towards others really demands our attention.



Pope Francis recently met a group of Belgian youngsters. Here's a report on this rather special meeting.

(Vatican Radio) An interview showing Pope Francis answering questions from a group of Belgian young

people has been broadcast on the nation’s public Flemish TV station, VRT. The young people, who were

accompanied by Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Ghent, put their questions to the Pope in English and he

replied in Italian. Their meeting was filmed on March 31st inside the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

Link to the original interview: http://www.een.be/programmas/koppen/habemus-papam

The group of Belgian young people included a non-believer who said she was inspired by the words of

Pope Francis. When they began by asking the Pope why he accepted this interview, he replied that he

considered it highly valuable to speak about the worries of the young. The Pope was then asked : “Are you

happy? And why?”

“Absolutely, absolutely (laughing) I’m happy! And it’s a tranquil happiness because at this age one

no longer has the same happiness of a young person, there’s a difference. There’s a certain interior

peace, a strong sense of peace, of happiness, that comes with age. But it’s a road that has always

had problems. Even now there are problems but this happiness doesn’t go away because of the

problems. No, it sees the problems, suffers because of them and then goes forward, it does

something to resolve them and goes ahead. But in the depth of my heart there is this peace and

happiness. It’s truly a grace from God, for me. It’s a grace and it’s not through my own merit.”


The young people next asked the pope what was the reason for his great love for the poor. “Because it’s

the heart of the Gospel,” he replied.

“For me, the heart of the Gospel is about the poor. Two months ago, I heard a person who said (on

hearing this): ‘But this Pope is a communist!’ But no! This is the banner of the Gospel, not of

communism: of the Gospel! But it’s poverty without ideology…. And it’s for this reason that I

believe that the poor are at the centre of Jesus’ message. All you have to do is read it. The problem

is that this attitude towards the poor has sometimes during history been made the subject of

ideology.”

The girl among the group who is a non-believer asked Pope Francis what message he has for all young

people:

“We’re all brothers and sisters. Believers, non-believers or whether belonging to this or that

religious confession, Jews, Moslems… we’re all brothers and sisters! Human beings are at the

centre of history and this for me is really important: humans are at the centre (of society). In this

moment of history, humans have been pushed away from the centre, they have slid towards the

margins and at the centre --- at least right now --- there’s power, money and we must work on behalf

of human beings, for men and women who are the image of God.”


Today, the Pope went on, “we’ve become part of a throw-away culture”: Children are discarded, people

don’t want children, or less of them, small families: Old people are also discarded: many elderly people die

because of a hidden euthanasia, because nobody takes care of them and they die. And now young people

are being discarded.” The Pope noted that the unemployment rate among people below the age of 25 is

almost 50 percent but said his meetings with some young Argentine politicians gave him hope and trust.

“And I’m pleased because these young politicians, be they of the left or of the right, they’re

speaking a new language, with a new music, a new political style. And this gives me reason to

hope. And I believe that nowadays young people must take the lamp and go ahead. They must be

courageous! This gives me hope.”

Asked about the search for God, the Pope replied:

“When a person searches for his or herself, they find God. Maybe, they don’t succeed in finding

him but they are going along the path of honesty, searching for the truth, for a road of goodness

and a road of beauty… they’re on the right road and it’s certain they’ll find God! Sooner or later,

they will find him. But the road is a long one and some people don’t find him in their lives. They

don’t find him consciously. But they are very true and honest with themselves, very good and

lovers of beauty, so that in the end they have a very mature personality, capable of an encounter

with God, which is always a grace. Because an encounter with God is a grace.”


A young man asked the Pope what he learnt from his own mistakes. The Pope replied describing mistakes

as “great teachers of life”:

"They’re great teachers, they teach you so much. They also humiliate you because somebody may

feel a superman, a superwomen … but then you make a mistake and this humiliates you and puts

you in your place. I would not say that I have learnt from all my mistakes: No, I believe I haven’t

learnt from some of them because I’m stubborn (laughing) and it’s not easy to learn. But I have

learnt from many mistakes and that’s been good for me. It’s also a case of recognizing our

mistakes. I make a mistake here, I made a mistake there…. And also being careful not to go back

and make the same mistake."

A young women asked him: “Do you have a concrete example of how you learnt from a mistake?”

“One example, in the conducting of the Church’s life: I was named Superior (of the Jesuits in

Argentina) when very young and I made so many mistakes because of my authoritarianism, for

example. I was too authoritarian: at the age of 36… and then, I learnt that one must dialogue, one

must listen to how others think…. But I didn’t learn this for ever after! It’s a long road.”

The next question for the Pope is straight to the point: “What frightens you?”

“Well, of myself (laughing) Fear…. But look in the Gospel, ‘Jesus repeats it so often: “Don’t be

afraid! Don’t be afraid!’ And he says it many times, doesn’t he? And why’s that? Because he knows

that fear is a rather ‘normal’ feeling. We’re afraid of life, we’re afraid when faced with challenges,

we’re afraid in front of God. We’re all afraid, all of us. You mustn’t worry about being afraid. You

must feel that but not be afraid and then ask yourselves: ‘Why am I afraid?’ And in front of God and

in front of yourselves, try to shed light on the situation or ask help from another person. But fear is

not a good advisor because it gives you bad advice.”


The pope then goes on to explain that there is “bad fear and good fear.” Good fear is like caution: It helps

us not to fall down. And then there is bad fear: This blocks you and doesn’t let you do anything. And you

must reject it.

The final question from the young people to the Pope was an unusual one: “Do you have a question for

us?”

“The question that I want to ask you is not an original one. I’m taking it from the Gospel. Where is

your treasure? That’s my question. Where do you keep your treasure? On what treasure does your

heart rest? Because your life will be where your treasure is kept…. This is the question that I’m

asking you but you’ll need to reply to it yourselves, on your own (laughing) at home.”

 

 

Pope Francis' first Encyclical published last year

                                                            

                              

The encyclical is called Lumen Fedei, the Light of Faith.

The encyclical is the most authoritative teaching issued by a pontiff and was produced from a draft begun by The Pope's predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

It is the first encyclical produced by Pope Francis and the first to have effectively been drafted by two popes who are living at the same time.

The introduction to the text, which is divided into four chapters, reiterates the importance of having faith in a man's life, it said.

Francis writes that it is faith that helps man "distinguish from good and evil" and that he "who believes, sees."

He stresses that in modern times, faith has become more important than in the past.

In the first chapter, he refers to the biblical figure Abraham and explains faith as "listening to the Word of God, the call to come from the isolated self in order to open up oneself to a new life and the promise of the future."

Subsequent chapters talk about the connection between "faith and truth," evangelization and how faith is connected to the common good.

"The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family," Pope Francis says. "I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage.

"This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God's own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh."

Copies can be obtained at good bookshops.

A PDF version can be downloaded at  http://direct.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=1074

 

 

 


 

Pope Francis in Assisi

Pope Francis in Assisi.

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