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Pope’s message “To the City and the World”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast…”Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen,Khrystos voskres!

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace! ”Christus surrexit, venite et videte!” ["Christ is risen, come and see!"]

Dear brothers and sisters, Buona Pasqua!

Pope Francis is the Bishop of Rome and the Vicar of Christ.

Text courtesy News.Va, the Vatican news agency.

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4 hours 20 min
"Praying the Steps" has been a Good Friday tradition in Cincinnati for 150 years. Photo courtesy Laura Strietmann, click to enlarge.

“Praying the Steps” has been a Good Friday tradition in Cincinnati for 150 years. Photo courtesy Laura Strietmann, click to enlarge.

Mt. Adams/Cincinnati

1000 Words is a feature highlighting a single photo. Here, Bishop Joseph Binzer leads “praying the steps” at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church (Mt. Adams/Cincinnati) at midnight.

You can see all our 1000 Words photos at once: Click on “1000 Words” in the menu at the top of the page, or click here. To submit a photo, send it to TheCatholicBeat@gmail.com. 

Photo courtesy Laura Strietmann.

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4 hours 26 min

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated the Easter Sunday liturgy in St. Peter’s Square. In his Easter message, the Pope called for peace and stability in the world’s most conflict-ridden countries, and then bestowed his blessing Urbi et Orbi . An estimated 150,000 people were in attendance. Beginning with the words of the angels to the myrrh-bearing women—“Do not be afraid! ... for he has been raised”—Pope Francis said the culmination of the Gospel in the resurrection of Jesus is “the Good News par excellence”. Without the fact of the resurrection, he told the 150,000 people gathered to hear his Easter message, “Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew.” Speaking after the papal Easter liturgy from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope said: “The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.” This is why Christians tell everyone, he continued, to “come and see” that “love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.” The Pope then turned his message to prayers for peace and for an end to injustice, underlining current situations of distress in the world. He prayed for the hungry and the vulnerable, especially children, women, and the elderly. He prayed for migrants and for the sick, in particular for the victims of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. He asked that the Lord comfort all the kidnapped—priests religious, and lay people—who cannot spend Easter with their families. Turning his prayer to more conflict-ridden areas of the world, he prayed for peace in “beloved Syria”, Iraq and Venezuela, and for God to continue to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestinians. He begged for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, and to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria. Noting that this Easter is celebrated on the same day as Eastern Christians, he prayed for peace initiatives in Ukraine, so that all people as brothers can proclaim “Christ is risen”. RESSUREXIT ICON AND PASCHAL STICHERA The 90-minute papal liturgy, which took place under a blue and sunny sky in St. Peter’s Square, began shortly after 10 a.m., with the very symbolic rite of Peter, Witness of the Resurrection, traditionally referred to as the rite of the Icon of the Ressurexit, Christ the Redeemer. This ancient Easter tradition, which fell out of use in the 16 th century, but which was brought back into Church practice during the Jubilee Year 2000 by Pope John Paul II, is inspired by the Gospel accounts of Peter’s amazement in seeing the empty tomb and of his encounter with the resurrected Christ. When the icon is presented at the beginning of the Liturgy, the Pope, as Successor of Peter, also encounters the Risen Christ in the icon and becomes the “first witness”, before the whole Church, of the Lord’s Resurrection. In a gesture bridging both Eastern and Western Catholics, the Gospels were chanted in both Latin and Greek, after which the choir from the Pontifical Russian College sang the Paschal stichera, as is custom at the papal Easter liturgy when Easter falls on the same day for both Western and Eastern Christians. The stichera are a series of hymns from the Byzantine rite, which summarize a paschal homily of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, As well, rather than the Angelus, which reflects on Jesus’ Incarnation, the Mass closed with the Regina Ceoli, the Marian Antiphon prayed throughout the Easter season, which meditates on Jesus’ Resurrection. Following the Easter message, the Pope imparted his blessing Urbi et Orbi, that is, to the city and to the world, which is accompanied by a plenary indulgence for all the faithful taking part in the celebration, either in person or through the various communications media, under the four usual conditions. The Pope concluded thanking the 30 Dutch florists who donated more than 35,000 flowers to decorate St. Peter’s Square and the area around the altar. Part of a 29-year tradition, this year’s display included 12,000 tulips, 6,000 daffodils, 2,500 hyacinths, 15,000 narcissus, and 2,500 white roses, added to the festive Easter morning. EASTER VIGIL At the Great Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, the Pope told the faithful in his homily to draw from the hope of the Resurrection. Jesus’ instruction to his Apostles, after his Resurrection, to “return to Galilee”, is in fact a call to re-read everything in the life of Christ “on the basis of the cross and its victory.. from this supreme act of love,” said the Pope. The call to “return to Galilee” is also a call to every Christian to rediscover their baptism “as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy” from the sources of faith and Christian experience, he said. “To return to Galilee,” he said, “means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey." The Pope added that it also means renewing “the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ” who call each disciple to follow him and to share in his mission. “It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me,” the Pope said. During the Easter Vigil liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope also baptised 10 catechumens—the youngest is a seven-year-old Italian and the eldest is a 58-year-old from Vietnam. The other catechumens came from France, Belarus, Lebanon and Senegal. Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci : ... 16 hours
Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter! The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” ( Mt 28:5-6). This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death. That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love : it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!” : Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness. With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord! Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you. Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible. Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned. Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty. Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped. Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith. We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent. We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue! Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan. We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela. By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen, Khrystos voskres ! Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace! Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!... 22 hours 10 min
(Vatican Radio) Jesus’ call to his Apostles, after his Resurrection, to “return to Galilee”, is the call to re-read everything in the life of Christ “on the basis of the cross and its victory.. from this supreme act of love,” said Pope Francis in his homily during the Easter Vigil celebration on Saturday evening. It is also a call to every Christian to rediscover their baptism “as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience,” he said. “To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey." To “return to Galilee” also means renewing “the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. … It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me,” he added. During the celebration at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pope also baptised 10 catechumens, the youngest of whom is a seven-year-old Italian and the eldest is a 58-year-old from Vietnam. These 10 newly baptized Christians come from different countries, including France, Belarus, Lebanon and Senegal. Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ Easter Vigil homily : The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath. They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty. A mighty angel says to them: “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee” (v. 7). The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: “Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (v. 10). After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness. The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said. And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: “Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me”. Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22). To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory. To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love. For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus. “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy. In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me. Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy. The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth. “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)! Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter… Let us be on our way!... 1 day 1 hour
(Vatican Radio) On the evening of April 19, Pope Francis is scheduled to preside over the Easter Vigil celebration in Saint Peter's Basilica. During this celebration the Pope will baptise ten catechumens, the youngest of whom is a seven year old Italian and the eldest a fifty- eight year old from Vietnam. The catechumens come from a number of different countries including France, Bielorussia, Lebanon and Senegal. On Easter Sunday morning Pope Francis will preside over Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square at 10.15 a.m. and will then impart his traditional ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing, to the city and to the world from the central balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The mass will take place in a colourful floral setting, a yearly gift from the florists of the Netherlands and the liturgical rite will be accompanied by music from both the Eastern and Western Christian traditions.... 1 day 14 hours
(Vatican Radio) “In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy”. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ brief unscripted address Friday evening as he presided at the traditional "Via Crucis", or Way of the Cross, service at Rome’s ancient Colosseum. Emer McCarthy has this report. Listen: Immigrants, the unemployed, the sick, the elderly and prisoners: these were the focus of thousands of pilgrims prayers Friday evening as they gathered in the darkness around the ancient amphitheater, behind a simple wooden Cross. "God - Pope Francis said – placed all the weight of our sins on the Cross of Jesus, all the injustices perpetrated by every Cain against his brother, all the bitterness of the betrayal of Judas and Peter, all the vanity of tyrants, all the arrogance of false friends. It was a heavy Cross, like the night of abandoned people, as heavy as the death of loved ones, heavy because it carried all the ugliness of evil". The Cross emerged from the ruins marking the 14 stations of Christ’s final journey here on earth, borne between two burning candles by immigrants, prisoners, homeless, elderly, women, disabled, and former drug addicts. From the Palatine Hill opposite the Colosseum, Pope Francis knelt in prayer as the meditations by Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini were read. The Archbishop from the southern region of Campobasso, has been at the forefront in the fight against organised crime in southern Italy. His reflections spoke of "all of those wrongs that have created the economic crisis and its grave social consequences: job insecurity, unemployment, an economy that rules rather than serves, financial speculation, suicide among business owners, corruption and usury”. The meditations also denounced the abuse of women and children, the loneliness of old people, of prisoners who endure torture, victims of organized crime and loansharks. The Archbishop wrote: "Today, many of our brothers and sisters, like Jesus, are nailed to a bed of pain, at hospital, in homes for the elderly, in our families. It is a time of hardship, with bitter days of solitude and even despair”. As the Cross came to a standstill before the Holy Father four the 14 th station, the Pope spoke briefly in unscripted remarks to the thousands of pilgrims gathered below in flickering candle light. He spoke of the “monstrosities” that mankind is capable of when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil. But he concluded “it is also a glorious Cross, as [glorious] as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals". "However - he continued – it is also a glorious Cross, as [glorious] as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals. In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy. Before the Cross of Christ, we see, we can almost touch with our hands how much we are eternally loved; Before the Cross, we feel like 'children' and not 'things ' or objects". "Oh, our Jesus - the Pope concluded - lead us from the Cross to the Resurrection and teach us that evil will not have the last word, but love , mercy and forgiveness. O Christ, help us to once again cry : 'Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him, today I live with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him, today raised with Him '. Finally, let us all together remember the sick, remember all the abandoned people under the weight of the Cross, that in the trial of the Cross they may find the strength of Hope, the Hope of the Resurrection and the Love of God".... 1 day 20 hours
(Vatican Radio) This Holy Saturday, Pope Francis has asked people worldwide to join him in prayer for the victims of the tragic ferry disaster in South Korea. Using the global twitter network, the Holy Father tweeted: “Please join me in praying for the victims of the ferry disaster in Korea and their families”. South Korea has been plunged into mourning following the sinking of a shuttle ferry the Sewol earlier this week carrying 476 passengers on board. Many of them – over 300 - were high school students on a school trip to the holiday island of Jeju. Early reports said that the ferry turned sharply and listed, perhaps due to a shift in the cargo it was carrying and crew members said the captain, who was not initially on the bridge, had tried to right the ship but failed. Some 500 relatives of the 272 people still missing have been camped out in a nearby gymnasium in the port city of Jindo day and night since Wednesday. The official number of those missing was revised up from an earlier estimate of 269. Pope Francis is due to visit South Korea this August for Asian Youth Day, August 14-18, and the beatification of the 124 new Korean Martyrs. ... 1 day 22 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over the via crucis – the Way of the Cross – this Good Friday evening at the Colosseum in Rome. The Way of the Cross is a centuries-old and much beloved devotion, that began as a sort of spiritual pilgrimage to the places and scenes and events of Christ’s passion for those who could not make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in person, as well as for those who had made it and wished to relive their experience, and for those who were preparing for the journey. The practice of placing the “stations” of the Cross in churches, as well as the number of stations – 14 – is traceable at least to the 18 th century. Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini of Campobasso-Boiano in Italy composed the meditations accompanying this year’s via cruces devotion at the Colosseum. The faithful carrying the cross came from every age, background and state of life in the Church, all chosen to complement and illustrate the theme of suffering – often secret and in silence – that is the driving motif running through Archbishop Bregantini’s meditations. The event is always well attended, regardless of weather, though this year Rome’s civil authorities have anticipated an even larger than usual turnout. Giant television viewing screens in the nearby Circo Massimo and on the via dei fori imperiali, which runs past the Colosseum, have been put in place for participants. Listen to our report : ... 2 days 16 hours
Por que Judas traiu a Cristo? E porque, diferente dos outros, se suicidou? A traição e a idolatria do dinheiro é um pecado que condena de forma eterna? Ou a misericórdia de Deus sempre salva, mesmo os pecados mais graves? Estas e outras perguntas foram respondidas pelo Pe. Raniero Cantalamessa, durante a a pregaç... 2 days 17 hours
O Santo Padre presidirá a tradicional Via Crucis no Coliseu, hoje à noite, às 21h15. Mas desta vez ele permanecerá em oração no final da Via Crucis, sem pronunciar nenhum discurso, e, ao finalizar, abençoará os fiéis, foi o que afirmou o Pe. Federico Lombardi, diretor da Sala de Imprensa do Vaticano, em uma coletiv... 2 days 18 hours
"Estava com eles também Judas, o traidor” Pregação da sexta-feira santa de 2014, na Basílica de São Pedro Dentro da história divino-humana da paixão de Jesus existem muitas pequenas histórias de homens e de mulheres que entraram no raio da sua luz ou da sua sombra. A mais trágica delas é a de Judas Iscariotes. ... 2 days 18 hours
(Vatican Radio) Hundreds of faithful filled St Peter’s Basilica Friday evening for the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord. The liturgy, also known as the Good Friday service, recalls the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Pope Francis presided the liturgy, whose focal points included the reading of the Passion of Christ and the Adoration of the Holy Cross. Earlier in the day, Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, told a press conference that the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord is the only papal liturgy in the year when the Pope does not preach the homily. The Pope presides, but he does not speak any of his own words, said Fr Lombardi. Instead, the homily is given by the preacher of the papal household, currently Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. Following the homily, the liturgy proceeded with the 10 universal prayer intentions specific to Good Friday: for the Church, the Pope, and all orders and degrees of the faithful, for catechumens, Christian unity, and the Jewish people, for those who do not believe in Christ and for those who do not believe in God, for all in public office and for all in special need. The second part of the liturgy followed with the Adoration of the Holy Cross, during which the Cross of Christ was unveiled. The Stabat mater , a 13 th -century hymn which meditates on the suffering of Mary at the foot of the Cross, was sung, after which the Cross was placed before the altar for the entire assembly to adore in silence. The Good Friday liturgy is not a Mass, therefore the Eucharist was not consecrated. However, Communion was distributed. After the Pope prayed the blessing over the people, the liturgy concluded in silence, with no words of dismissal, as is the tradition for this second day of the Easter Triduum. Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci : ... 2 days 18 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Friday evening. The celebration of the Passion of Our Lord, also known as the Good Friday service, is the liturgy that recalls the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, preached the homily. Below is the official English translation of the full text of Fr Cantalamessa’s homily : ‘Judas was Standing with Them’ (Jn 18:5) In the divine-human history of the passion of Jesus, there are many minor stories about men and women who entered into the ray of its light or its shadow. The most tragic one is that of Judas Iscariot. It is one of the few events attested with equal emphasis by each of the four Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The early Christian community reflected a great deal on this incident and we would be remiss to do otherwise. It has much to tell us. Judas was chosen from the very beginning to be one of the Twelve. In inserting his name in the list of apostles, the gospel-writer Luke says, “Judas Iscariot, who became (egeneto) a traitor” (Lk 6:16). Judas was thus not born a traitor and was not a traitor at the time Jesus chose him; he became a traitor! We are before one of the darkest dramas of human freedom. Why did he become a traitor? Not so long ago, when the thesis of a “revolutionary Jesus” was in fashion, people tried to ascribe idealistic motivations to Judas’ action. Someone saw in his name “Iscariot” a corruption of sicariot, meaning that he belonged to a group of extremist zealots who used a kind of dagger (sica) against the Romans; others thought that Judas was disappointed in the way that Jesus was putting forward his concept of “the kingdom of God” and wanted to force his hand to act against the pagans on the political level as well. This is the Judas of the famous musical Jesus Christ Superstar and of other recent films and novels — a Judas who resembles another famous traitor to his benefactor, Brutus, who killed Julius Caesar to save the Roman Republic! These are reconstructions to be respected when they have some literary or artistic value, but they have no historical basis whatsoever. The Gospels — the only reliable sources that we have about Judas’ character — speak of a more down-to-earth motive: money. Judas was entrusted with the group’s common purse; on the occasion of Jesus’ anointing in Bethany, Judas had protested against the waste of the precious perfumed ointment that Mary poured on Jesus’ feet, not because he was interested in the poor but, as John notes, “because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (Jn 12:6). His proposal to the chief priests is explicit: “‘What will you give me if I deliver him to you?’ And they paid him thirty pieces of silver” (Mt 26:15). But why are people surprised at this explanation, finding it too banal? Has it not always been this way in history and is still this way today? Mammon, money, is not just one idol among many: it is the idol par excellence, literally “a molten god” (see Ex 34:17). And we know why that is the case. Who is objectively, if not subjectively (in fact, not in intentions), the true enemy, the rival to God, in this world? Satan? But no one decides to serve Satan without a motive. Whoever does it does so because they believe they will obtain some kind of power or temporal benefit from him. Jesus tells us clearly who the other master, the anti-God, is: “No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24). Money is the “visible god” in contrast to the true God who is invisible. Mammon is the anti-God because it creates an alternative spiritual universe; it shifts the purpose of the theological virtues. Faith, hope, and charity are no longer placed in God but in money. A sinister inversion of all values occurs. Scripture says, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23), but the world says, “All things are possible to him who has money.” And on a certain level, all the facts seem to bear that out. “The love of money,” Scripture says, “is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Behind every evil in our society is money, or at least money is also included there. It is the Molech we recall from the Bible to whom young boys and girls were sacrificed (see Jer 32:35) or the Aztec god for whom the daily sacrifice of a certain number of human hearts was required. What lies behind the drug enterprise that destroys so many human lives, behind the phenomenon of the mafia, behind political corruption, behind the manufacturing and sale of weapons, and even behind — what a horrible thing to mention — the sale of human organs removed from children? And the financial crisis that the world has gone through and that this country is still going through, is it not in large part due to the “cursed hunger for gold,” the auri sacra fames, on the part of some people? Judas began with taking money out of the common purse. Does this say anything to certain administrators of public funds? But apart from these criminal ways of acquiring money, is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice? In the 1970s and 1980s in Italy, in order to explain unexpected political reversals, hidden exercises of power, terrorism, and all kinds of mysteries that were troubling civilian life, people began to point to the quasi-mythical idea of the existence of “a big Old Man,” a shrewd and powerful figure who was pulling all the strings behind the curtain for goals known only to himself. This powerful “Old Man” really exists and is not a myth; his name is Money! Like all idols, money is deceitful and lying: it promises security and instead takes it away; it promises freedom and instead destroys it. St. Francis of Assisi, with a severity that is untypical for him, describes the end of life of a person who has lived only to increase his “capital.” Death draws near, and the priest is summoned. He asks the dying man, “Do you want forgiveness for all your sins?” and he answers, “Yes.” The priest then asks, “Are you ready to make right the wrongs you did, restoring things you have defrauded others of?” The dying man responds, “I can’t.” “Why can’t you?” “Because I have already left everything in the hands of my relatives and friends.” And so he dies without repentance, and his body is barely cold when his relatives and friends say, “Damn him! He could have earned more money to leave us, but he didn’t.” How many times these days have we had to think back again to the cry Jesus addressed to the rich man in the parable who had stored up endless riches and thought he was secure for the rest of his life: “Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Lk 12:20) Men placed in positions of responsibility who no longer knew in what bank or monetary paradise to hoard the proceeds of their corruption have found themselves on trial in court or in a prison cell just when they were about to say to themselves, “Have a good time now, my soul.” For whom did they do it? Was it worth it? Did they work for the good of their children and family, or their party, if that is really what they were seeking? Have they not instead ruined themselves and others? The betrayal of Judas continues throughout history, and the one betrayed is always Jesus. Judas sold the head, while his imitators sell body, because the poor are members of the body of Christ, whether they know it or not. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). However, Judas’ betrayal does not continue only in the high-profile kinds of cases that I have mentioned. It would be comfortable for us to think so, but that is not the case. The homily that Fr Primo Mazzolari gave on Holy Thursday 1958, about “Our Brother Judas” is still famous. “Let me,” he said to the few parishioners before him, “think about the Judas who is within me for a moment, about the Judas who perhaps is also within you.” One can betray Jesus for other kinds of compensation than 30 pieces of silver. A man who betrays his wife, or a wife her husband, betrays Christ. The minister of God who is unfaithful to his state in life, or instead of feeding the sheep entrusted to him feeds himself, betrays Jesus. Whoever betrays their conscience betrays Jesus. Even I can betray him at this very moment — and it makes me tremble — if while preaching about Judas I am more concerned about the audience’s approval than about participating in the immense sorrow of the Savior. There was a mitigating circumstance in Judas’ case that that I do not have. He did not know who Jesus was and considered him to be only “a righteous man”; he did not know, as we do, that he was the Son of God. As Easter approaches every year, I have wanted to listen to Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” again. It includes a detail that makes me flinch every time. At the announcement of Judas’ betrayal, all the apostles ask Jesus, “Is it I, Lord?” Before having us hear Christ’s answer, the composer — erasing the distance between the event and its commemoration — inserts a chorale that begins this way: “It is I; I am the traitor! I need to make amends for my sins.” Like all the chorales in this musical piece, it expresses the sentiments of the people who are listening. It is also an invitation for us to make a confession of our sin. The Gospel describes Judas’ horrendous end: “When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ And throwing down the pieces of silver, he departed; and he went and hanged himself” (Mt 27:3-5). But let us not pass a hasty judgment here. Jesus never abandoned Judas, and no one knows, after he hung himself from a tree with a rope around his neck, where he ended up: in Satan’s hands or in God’s hands. Who can say what transpired in his soul during those final moments? “Friend” was the last word that Jesus addressed to him, and he could not have forgotten it, just as he could not have forgotten Jesus’ gaze. It is true that in speaking to the Father about his disciples Jesus had said about Judas, “None of them is lost but the son of perdition” (Jn 17:12). But here, as in so many other instances, he is speaking from the perspective of time and not of eternity. The enormity of this betrayal is enough by itself alone, without needing to consider a failure that is eternal, to explain the other terrifying statement said about Judas: “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Mk 14:21). The eternal destiny of a human being is an inviolable secret kept by God. The Church assures us that a man or a woman who is proclaimed a saint is experiencing eternal blessedness, but she does not herself know for certain that any particular person is in hell. Dante Alighieri, who places Judas in the deepest part of hell in his Divine Comedy, tells of the last-minute conversion of Manfred, the son of Frederick II and the king of Sicily, whom everyone at the time considered damned because he died as an excommunicated. Having been mortally wounded in battle, he confides to the poet that in the very last moment of his life, “…weeping, I gave my soul / to Him who grants forgiveness willingly” and he sends a message from Purgatory to earth that is still relevant for us: Horrible was the nature of my sins, but boundless mercy stretches out its arms to any man who comes in search of it. Here is what the story of our brother Judas should move us to do: to surrender ourselves to the one who freely forgives, to throw ourselves likewise into the outstretched arms of the Crucified One. The most important thing in the story of Judas is not his betrayal but Jesus’ response to it. He knew well what was growing in his disciple’s heart, but he does not expose it; he wants to give Judas the opportunity right up until the last minute to turn back, and is almost shielding him. He knows why Judas came to the garden of olives, but he does not refuse his cold kiss and even calls him “friend” (see Mt 26:50). He sought out Peter after his denial to give him forgiveness, so who knows how he might have sought out Judas at some point in his way to Calvary! When Jesus prays from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34), he certainly does not exclude Judas from those for whom he prays. So what will we do? Who will we follow, Judas or Peter? Peter had remorse for what he did, but Judas was also remorseful to the point of crying out, “I have betrayed innocent blood!” and he gave back the thirty pieces of silver. Where is the difference then? Only in one thing: Peter had confidence in the mercy of Christ, and Judas did not! Judas’ greatest sin was not in having betrayed Christ but in having doubted his mercy. If we have imitated Judas in his betrayal, some of us more and some less, let us not imitate him in his lack of confidence in forgiveness. There is a sacrament through which it is possible to have a sure experience of Christ’s mercy: the sacrament of reconciliation. How wonderful this sacrament is! It is sweet to experience Jesus as Teacher, as Lord, but even sweeter to experience him as Redeemer, as the one who draws you out of the abyss, like he drew Peter out of the sea, as the one who touches you and, like he did with the leper, says to you, “ I will; be clean” (Mt 8:3). Confession allows us to experience about ourselves what the Church says of Adam’s sin on Easter night in the “Exultet”: “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!” Jesus knows how to take all our sins, once we have repented, and make them “happy faults,” faults that would no longer be remembered if it were not for the experience of mercy and divine tenderness that they occasioned. I have a wish for myself and for all of you, Venerable Fathers, brothers and sisters: on Easter morning, may we awaken and let the words of a great convert in modern times, Paul Claudel, resonate in our hearts: My God, I have been revived, and I am with You again! I was sleeping, stretched out like a dead man in the night. You said, “Let there be light!” and I awoke the way a cry is shouted out! My Father, You who have given me life before the Dawn, I place myself in Your Presence. My heart is free and my mouth is cleansed; my body and spirit are fasting. I have been absolved of all my sins, which I confessed one by one. The wedding ring is on my finger and my face is washed. I am like an innocent being in the grace that You have bestowed on me. This is what Christ’s Passover can do for us.... 2 days 22 hours

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Vatican City, Apr 20, 2014 / 06:45 am (EWTN News).- In his Easter "urbi et orbi" Easter message "to the city and the world," Pope Francis focused on the victory of love brought about through Christ's death and resurrection. 21 hours 51 min
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Vatican City, Apr 18, 2014 / 12:17 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In his homily for Good Friday's Passion liturgy, Papal Preacher Raniero Cantalamessa decried the poisonous actions of those who exploit others for financial gain, urging all to repent of their sin. 2 days 16 hours