The Holy Father Speaks
The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord's mercy motivates us to do better. In life we all make many mistakes. Let us learn to recognize our errors and ask for forgiveness. Jesus is never far from us sinners. He wants to pour out on us, without limit, all of his mercy. Only trust in God can transform doubts into certainty, evil into good, night into radiant dawn.
A lot of people, even Catholics, think that talking about the devil is completely old-fashioned, but anyone who wants to follow Jesus needs to know that Satan exists and will keep putting up obstacles to faith. The prince of this world — the devil — doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. The devil exists even in the 21st century. And we shouldn’t be naïve, should we? The devil tempted Jesus and he will tempt those who try to follow Jesus. We, too, are objects of the demon’s attacks because the evil spirit doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want Christian witness, he doesn’t want us to be disciples of Jesus. Temptation begins small but it grows. Then it infects another, it is transmitted to another, and finally, it includes self-justification so the person who gives in to temptation and sin doesn’t feel so bad about it.
We find that the Lord has so much enthusiasm: He speaks of joy and says “I will exult in my people”. The Lord thinks of what He will do and of how He will rejoice with His people. It’s almost as if He has a dream. His dream is about us. “Oh, how beautiful it will be when we are all together, when this and that person will walk with Me...I will exult in that moment!” God thinks of each of us and loves each of us. He dreams about us. He dreams of how He will rejoice with us. That’s why the Lord wants to re-create us, He wants to renew our hearts so that joy can triumph: Have you thought about it? The Lord dreams of me! He thinks of me! I am in the Lord’s mind and in His heart! The Lord can change my life! We can only think about it, we can feel, we can cry with joy. The Lord can change us. And what must I do? Believe. I must believe that the Lord can change me, that He has the power to do so. To have faith is to make space for God’s love, to make space for His power, for God’s power. This is faith. This is believing: making space for the Lord so that He can come and change me.
No one can be excluded from God’s mercy. I frequently have thought about how the church can make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy.
God never ceases to demonstrate the richness of His mercy over the course of the centuries. God touches people’s hearts with His grace, filling them with repentance and a desire to experience His love.
Being touched by the tenderness of His hand, one has the certainty of being welcomed in the name of God and understood, despite our misery. The doors of the church are wide open so that all those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness.
Pope Francis has set aside December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016 to be celebrated as the HOLY YEAR OF MERCY.
The biblical theme will be: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”.
The Holy Father Speaks During Easter Season
The Fourth Sunday of Easter offers us the figure of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep: he calls them, he feeds them and he guides them. For over fifty years the universal Church has celebrated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this way she reminds us of our need to pray, as Jesus himself told his disciples, so that “the Lord of the harvest may send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk 10:2). Jesus’ command came in the context of his sending out missionaries. He called not only the twelve Apostles, but another seventy-two disciples whom he then sent out, two by two, for the mission (cf. Lk 10:1-6). Since the Church “is by her very nature missionary” (Ad Gentes, 2), the Christian vocation is necessarily born of the experience of mission. Hearing and following the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd, means letting ourselves be attracted and guided by him, in consecration to him; it means allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us into this missionary dynamism, awakening within us the desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God. To offer one’s life in mission is possible only if we are able to leave ourselves behind. On this 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like reflect on that particular “exodus” which is the heart of vocation, or better yet, of our response to the vocation God gives us. When we hear the word “exodus”, we immediately think of the origins of the amazing love story between God and his people, a history which passes through the dramatic period of slavery in Egypt, the calling of Moses, the experience of liberation and the journey toward the Promised Land. The Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, which recounts these events is a parable of the entire history of salvation, but also of the inner workings of Christian faith. Passing from the slavery of the old Adam to new life in Christ is a event of redemption which takes place through faith (Eph 4:22-24). This passover is a genuine “exodus”; it is the journey of each Christian soul and the entire Church, the decisive turning of our lives towards the Father.
At the root of every Christian vocation we find this basic movement, which is part of the experience of faith. Belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to centre our life in Jesus Christ. It means leaving, like Abraham, our native place and going forward with trust, knowing that God will show us the way to a new land. This “going forward” is not to be viewed as a sign of contempt for one’s life, one’s feelings, one’s own humanity. On the contrary, those who set out to follow Christ find life in abundance by putting themselves completely at the service of God and his kingdom. Jesus says: “Everyone who has left home or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). All of this is profoundly rooted in love. The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, and triggering “an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God” (Deus Caritas Est, 6).
The exodus experience is paradigmatic of the Christian life, particularly in the case of those who have embraced a vocation of special dedication to the Gospel. This calls for a constantly renewed attitude of conversion and transformation, an incessant moving forward, a passage from death to life like that celebrated in every liturgy, an experience of passover. From the call of Abraham to that of Moses, from Israel’s pilgrim journey through the desert to the conversion preached by the prophets, up to the missionary journey of Jesus which culminates in his death and resurrection, vocation is always a work of God.
He leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters. Responding to God’s call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.
This exodus process does not regard individuals alone, but the missionary and evangelizing activity of the whole Church. The Church is faithful to her Master to the extent that she is a Church which “goes forth”, a Church which is less concerned about herself, her structures and successes, and more about her ability to go out and meet God’s children wherever they are, to feel compassion for their hurt and pain. God goes forth from himself in a Trinitarian dynamic of love: he hears the cry of his people and he intervenes to set them free (Ex 3:7). The Church is called to follow this way of being and acting. She is meant to be a Church which evangelizes, goes out to encounter humanity, proclaims the liberating word of the Gospel, heals people’s spiritual and physical wounds with the grace of God, and offers relief to the poor and the suffering.
Dear brothers and sisters, being the Church, to be the People of God, in accordance with the Father’s great design of love, means to be the leaven of God in this humanity of ours. It means to proclaim and to bring God’s salvation to this world of ours, so often led astray, in need of answers that give courage, hope and new vigor for the journey. May the Church be a place of God’s mercy and hope, where all feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live according to the good life of the Gospel. And to make others feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged, the Church must be with doors wide open so that all may enter. And we must go out through these doors and proclaim the Gospel.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today we continue our reflection on children, the greatest blessing which God has bestowed on man and woman. I wish to focus our attention on the suffering which many children are experiencing. From the first moments of their lives, some are rejected, abandoned, and robbed of their infancy and future. There are those who say it is a mistake to bring these children into the world, due to their fragility, and the hunger and poverty they suffer. But children are never a mistake, and their sufferings are only reasons for us to love them even more.
How did Jesus respond to the children and their parents who brought them to him: “Let the children come to me… for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:14). How beautiful the trust of these parents, and the response of Jesus!  And there are many extraordinary parents who daily make sacrifices for their children.
The Church offers her maternal care to all children and their families, and she brings them the blessing of Jesus. May we always care for our children, not counting the cost, so that they may never believe themselves to be mistakes, but always know their infinite worth. 
The globalized world in which we live demands of us a common witness to the God-given dignity of every human being and the effective promotion of the cultural, social and legal conditions which enable individuals and communities to grow in freedom, and which support the mission of the family as the fundamental building-block of society, ensure a sound and integral education for the young, and guarantee for all the untrammeled exercise of religious liberty. In fidelity to the Gospel, and in response to the urgent needs of the present time, we are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the disabled, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment.
Although Christians are still persecuted and killed in the name of God, the Holy Spirit gives them the strength to face martyrdom as they bear witness to their faith.
The life of the Church is a journey that is guided by the Holy Spirit who reminds us of Jesus’ words and teaches us things that Jesus wasn’t able to tell us.
Today we are seeing those who kill Christians in the name of God because they think they are not believers. This is Christ’s Cross: They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. This happened to me – Jesus says – it will happen to you too – the persecutions, the tribulations – but do not be scandalized: the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us understand.
I was remembering the faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church who were slain on the beach because they were Christians. Thanks to the strength given them by the Holy Spirit they were not scandalized. They died with the name of Jesus on their lips. This is the strength of the Spirit. The testimony. Martyrdom is the supreme testimony.
But there is also the testimony we give every day, the testimony of rendering present the life-giving message of Easter which guides us towards the truth and reminds us of Jesus’ words:
A Christian who does not take the dimension of martyrdom seriously in life does not understand the road that Jesus has indicated: a road that invites us to bear witness every day, defending the rights of others; defending our children; mothers and fathers who defend their family; so many sick people who bear witness and suffer for the love of Jesus. All of us have the possibility of bringing forward this life-giving Easter message, bearing witness, without being scandalized.
Let us ask the Lord for the grace to receive the Holy Spirit who will remind us of Jesus’ words, who will guide us in truth throughout our lives and prepare us to bear witness in our lives, with small every day martyrdoms, or with a great martyrdom, according to God’s will.
I believe in God - not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God. There is God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator.
The Spirit is what brings newness, moves situations forward, creates new spaces, brings the wisdom that Jesus promised. The Spirit, therefore, moves but in the end creates harmony among all people.
In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfillment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters.
Today I would like to continue our catechesis on the family by reflecting on three phrases: “May I?”, “Thank you”, and “Pardon me”.  These simple phrases are not so easy to say or to put into practice.  But when they are ignored, their absence can cause cracks in the foundation of the family, which can lead to its collapse.  If these words are part of our daily lives, not just as a formal expression of good manners, but as a sign of deep love for one another, they strengthen a happy family life. 
“May I?” – even if we think we have the right to something, when we speak to our spouse or family member with kindness we create space for a true spirit of marital and familial common life.  We renew trust and respect, revealing our love for others, and we allow them to open the door of their hearts to us.  
“Thank you” – our society has great need for gratitude, which makes us more sensitive to the dignity of the human person and the demands of social justice.  Thankfulness is also the language of God, to whom above all we must express our gratitude. 
“Pardon me” – Without these words, hurt can develop in our relationships, and weaken our life as a family.  But when we ask forgiveness, we show our desire to restore what was lost – respect, honesty, love – and healing between family members is made possible. 
“May I?”, “Thank you”, “Pardon me” – Let us ask the Lord to keep these three phrases in our hearts, our homes and our communities.
Continuing our catechesis on the family, we recall God’s creation of man from the ground. He is placed in the garden, where he is to care for creation. Yet God sees that man is alone, and so he creates woman, someone complementary with whom man can share his life. Man and woman are created to live a life of reciprocity, to enter into a covenant together. Yet sin introduces discord into their relationship, lack of trust and suspicion. We see throughout history the fruit of this sin, especially towards women – oppression, violence and exploitation. Most recently, this mistrust and skepticism has led our culture to disregard the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, that covenant which deepens communion and safeguards the dignity of their uniqueness. When the stable and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman is devalued by society, it is a loss for everyone, especially the young. For all our sins and weaknesses, our vocation is to care for the covenant of marriage. It is a vital and energizing vocation, through which we cooperate with our heavenly Father, who himself always cares for and protects this great gift.
With respect to Marriage: do not be afraid of building a permanent and loving relationship in a culture where everything is disposable and fleeting. The secrets to a loving and lasting union include treating each other with respect, kindness and gratitude and never letting daily struggles and squabbles sabotage making peace and saying “I’m sorry”. The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife. It’s just us sinners. But if we learn to say we’re sorry and ask forgiveness, the marriage will last.
Living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and amazing journey that doesn’t end when you’ve won over each others’ hearts, that’s exactly when it begins! Love isn’t tough or aggressive, it’s courteous and kind, and in a world that is often violent and aggressive, we need much more courtesy. Obviously, couples will make mistakes and fight, but never, never end the day without making peace. Love is a relationship, it’s something that grows. The relationship needs to be nurtured every day entrusting yourselves to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual journey, made step by step toward greater maturity and spiritual growth. A Christian marriage is a celebration, but it must highlight what’s really important, the true reason for your joy: the blessing of your love by the Lord.
Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.
The challenge for Christian spouses: remaining together, knowing how to love one another always, and doing so in a way that their love grows.
How to live a good marriage? United to the Lord, who always renews our love and strengthens it to overcome every difficulty.
May the Lord bless families and strengthen them during this crisis when the devil wants to destroy them. The family is the domestic church.
This is why the enemy attacks the family so hard; the devil doesn’t like it, and tries to destroy it.
Real religious liberty includes the freedom to live according to the values taught by one’s faith. Religious freedom is not just about devotions and practices but it is the freedom to live — both privately and publicly — according to the ethical principles that are a consequence of the truth found.
If you follow Jesus and his Gospel, your freedom will blossom like a plant in bloom and will bring good and abundant fruit. You will find authentic joy, because he wants us to be men and women who are happy and fulfilled.
I want to pay homage to the courageous early Christians who evangelized fearlessly in a pagan culture, they are models for Christians today and a powerful call to prayer, to faith, and to witness.
It is through prayer that believers express their faith and trust in God and directly experience His closeness, especially when he sends angels of hope. How many angels he places on our path to offer comfort, aid and enlightenment; yet fear and skepticism and distractions keep people from recognizing them or letting them into their life.
How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful.
Only God remains, while everything else; like empires, cultures, ideologies and nations, passes.
The Church does not belong to popes, bishops, priests or the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ and that is how despite the many storms in time and sins of its members, the Church is able to remain ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service.
It is by acting only in the name of Christ, not one’s own behalf, that Christians have shown that no power can defeat those who have the power of faith.
The call to be firm witnesses is key because without witness the Church and its members are sterile and dead — like a dried up tree that produces no fruit, an empty well that offers no water.
Evil is overcome by the courageous, concrete and humble witness. A Church rooted in prayer is strong, solid, and moves forward, while Christians who pray are protected and never alone.
Let us pray that the Church be holier and more humble, loving God by serving the poor, the lonely and the sick. Sickness is awful, but hands are powerful. Through people’s hands, the caress from God’s hands touches the depths of one’s being. Sometimes we cast the elderly aside, but they are a precious treasure: to cast them aside is an injustice and an irreparable loss. Christians knows how to give. Their lives are filled with generous acts – often hidden – towards their neighbor.
It is by God’s mercy that we are saved. May we never tire of spreading this joyful message to the world.
What exactly is our Christian identity? Think of it as a long journey from ambiguity to a strong faith that we can bear witness to in our daily lives.
It is true that we are sinners and that we fall down, but with God’s strength we can get up again and continue our journey. Sin is part of our identity but we are sinners with faith in God who has anointed us, put his seal upon us and given us the Holy Spirit as a pledge in our hearts.
Christians are not people who follow a particular philosophy, but rather those who remain faithful to this God-given identity as the anointed ones who let the Spirit into their hearts.
The beauty of this identity can be seen through the way we bear witness to the world. But there are several ways in which this witness can be weakened or watered down: firstly, by moving from our concrete faith in Christ to a kind of insipid religion of just prayers and ideas, along the lines of the Gnostics in the ancient world. These “modern Gnostics” are tempted to avoid the scandal of the Cross and are content to seek God through their rather ethereal Christian spirituality.
Secondly, there are those who forget they have been anointed and given the guarantee of the Spirit, so they are always searching for some “novelty” in their Christian identity. They say “Where are the visionaries who can tell us exactly what message Our Lady will be sending at 4’o’clock this afternoon?”
Finally, there are those whose identity is weakened by moral and human “worldliness” and the desire to broaden the boundaries of their Christian conscience. They are like salt that loses its flavor yet throughout the history of Salvation, God has patiently led us from ambiguity to the concrete certainties of the Incarnation and of our Redemption through the death of his Son. “This is our identity” and we must ask the Lord for the gift of grace to bear witness to this truth.
The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord's mercy motivates us to do better. In life we all make many mistakes. Let us learn to recognize our errors and ask forgiveness. Jesus is never far from us sinners. He wants to pour out on us, without limit, all of his mercy.
The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.
I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.
May we learn to say “thank you” to God and to one another.
We teach children to do it, and then we forget to do it ourselves.
Let us pray that the Church be holier and more humble, loving God by serving the poor, the lonely and the sick. It is by God’s mercy that we are saved.
May we never tire of spreading this joyful message to the world.
How I wish everyone had decent work! It is essential for human dignity. Every Christian can witness to God in the workplace, not only with words, but above all with an honest life. In the difficult moments of life, Christians can turn to the Mother of God and find protection and care.
Trust in the power of Christ’s Cross! Receive His reconciling grace and share it! Let us ask the Lord for this grace: that our hearts become free and filled with light, so that we can rejoice as children of God!
For me it is very important to meet with all of you, the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sadness, your problems, like everyone else. That’s why this trip is important, for me to draw close to you, in your path, your history. I’m praying for you all and I ask you to please pray for me.
World Meeting of Families Prayer
God and Father of us all, in Jesus, your Son and our Savior, You have made us Your sons and daughters in the family of the Church.
May Your grace and love help our families in every part of the world be united to one another in fidelity to the Gospel.
May the example of the Holy Family, with the aid of Your Holy Spirit, guide all families, especially those most troubled, to be homes of communion and prayer and to always seek Your truth and live in Your love.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us!
It was my first visit. I’d never been here before. What surprised me was the warmth, the warmth of the people, so lovable. It was a beautiful thing and also different: in Washington the welcome was warm but more formal; New York was a bit exuberant. Philadelphia very expressive. Three different kinds of welcome. I was very struck by this kindness and welcome but also by the religious ceremonies and also by the piety, the religiosity of the people... you could see the people pray and this struck me a lot. Beautiful. 
We must continue to work with the faithful like we have always done, until now. Accompanying people in their growth - through the good times but also through the difficult ones - accompanying people in their joy and in their bad moments, in their difficulties when there is no work, ill health. The challenge of the Church… now I understand: the Church’s challenge is staying close to the people. Close to the United States… not being a Church which is detached from the people but close to them, close, close and this is something that the Church in America has understood, and understood well. 
With my heartfelt thanks. May the love of Christ always guide the American people!
I don’t know if I had success, no. But I am afraid of myself. Why am I afraid of myself? I feel always – I don’t know – weak in the sense of not having power and also power is a fleeting thing, here today, gone tomorrow. It’s important if you can do good with power. And Jesus defined power, the true power is to serve, to do service, to do the most humble services, and I must still make progress on this path of service because I feel that I don’t do everything I should do. That’s the sense I have of power.
If it is assumed that we all belong to human nature, prejudices and falsehoods can be overcome and an understanding of the other according to a new perspective can begin.
Progress has been made in interreligious dialogue. We must listen to one another as not only a condition but a duty in acknowledging the values of others and in shedding a light on shared beliefs.
At the heart of everything is the need for an adequate formation so that, steadfast in one’s own identity, we can grow in mutual knowledge.
Perhaps now more than ever such a need is felt, because the most effective antidote against all forms of violence is education towards the discovery and acceptance of differences.
Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children, by brothers and sisters. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to grow in faith.
We know how much violence has resulted in recent times from the attempt to eliminate God and the divine from the horizon of humanity, and we are aware of the importance of witnessing in our societies to that primordial openness to transcendence which lies deep within the human heart. In this, we also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for the truth, goodness and beauty of God. They are our valued allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in safeguarding and caring for creation.
Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and he continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of his presence in our world, for “love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that he loved us” first (1 Jn 4:10). That love gives us the profound certainty that we are sought by God; he waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all his children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, “Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!” To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us”, is a dangerous temptation. Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world.
Living in a big city is not always easy. A multicultural context presents many complex challenges. Yet big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world: in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences. In the variety of its languages, costumes and cuisine. Big cities bring together all the different ways which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be.
Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope. A hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city. A hope which frees us from empty “connections”, from abstract analyses, or sensationalist routines. A hope which is unafraid of involvement, which acts as a leaven wherever we happen to live and work. A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city. Because God is in the city.
Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness, and brings us to the school of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters.
God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities.
Let us help one another to make it possible to “stake everything on love”. Let us help one another at times of difficulty and lighten each other’s burdens. Let us support one another. Let us be families which are a support for other families.
Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is “forged” by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows. Love can flourish in men and women who try not to make conflict the last word, but rather a new opportunity. An opportunity to seek help, an opportunity to question how we need to improve, an opportunity to discover the God who is with us and never abandons us. This is a great legacy that we can give to our children, a very good lesson: we make mistakes, yes; we have problems, yes. But we know that that is not really what counts. We know that mistakes, problems and conflicts are an opportunity to draw closer to others, to draw closer to God.
The Everlasting Father. No one or anything can separate us from his Love. Go out and proclaim, go out and show that God is in your midst as a merciful Father who himself goes out, morning and evening, to see if his son has returned home and, as soon as he sees him coming, runs out to embrace him. This is beautiful. An embrace which wants to take up, purify and elevate the dignity of his children. A Father who, in his embrace, is “glad tidings to the poor, healing to the afflicted, liberty to captives, comfort to those who mourn” (Is 61:1-2).
The jubilee is a favorable time for all of us, so that in contemplating divine mercy, which surpasses every human limitation and shines in the darkness of sin, we may become more convinced and effective witnesses.
In short, this jubilee is a privileged moment so that the church may learn to choose only that which pleases God most: forgiveness and mercy.
This is a beautiful prayer and it’s very easy to say every day: Lord I am a sinner. Come with your mercy.
"For you, for you, for me. A real and active love. A love which heals, forgives, re-awakens, cares. When Jesus enters our lives, one does not remain imprisoned in his past, but begins to look at the present in another way, with another kind of hope. One begins to look at himself with different eyes. He does not remain tied to what already happened. And if at some moment we feel sad, or ill or oppressed, we can all find a place in his loving arms."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“Prayer works miracles; it works miracles for Christians, whether they be faithful laypeople, priests, bishops who have lost compassion. The prayers of the faithful change the Church: it’s not us popes, bishops, priests or nuns who carry the Church forward, but Saints. Saints are those who dare to believe that God is the Lord and that He can do everything” .
“How easily do we judge people and lack the respect to say: 'I wonder what he has in his heart? I do not know, but I will say nothing...’ When the heart lacks compassion one always thinks evil" and does not understand those who pray “with pain and anguish” and “entrust that pain and anguish to the Lord”.
“Jesus knows this kind of prayer. When he was in Gethsemane and was so anguished and hurt he sweated blood, He did not accuse the Father: ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done’”. Jesus responded with meekness. Sometimes, we pray, we ask things of God, but often we do not know how to engage with the Lord, to ask for grace”.
When we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we can overcome all obstacles that we encounter on the way.
“We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favored a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. … To stop investing in people, in order to gain short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.” (No. 128, pp. 85-86) from Laudato Si
“The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year should also be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy.”
“In the parables devoted to mercy, Jesus reveals the nature of God as that of a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy. In these parables, God is always presented as full of joy, especially when he pardons. In them we find the core of the Gospel and of our faith, because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything, filling the heart with love and bringing consolation through pardon.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us through the experience of faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy—counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer—we touch more directly our own sinfulness.”
“It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel. To live mercy, we must rediscover both the spiritual works of mercy and the corporal works of mercy.”
“Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy. We follow Jesus’ example when we open ourselves to the Father’s mercy by looking sincerely into the eyes of our brothers and sisters.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~There is a danger that threatens everyone in the church, all of us. The danger of worldliness. It leads us to vanity, arrogance and pride.
This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
Entering through the Holy Door means discovering the depth of the Father’s mercy, who seek each of us personally. Lent is a time for reconsidering our feelings, for letting our eyes be opened to injustice, to open our hearts to those suffering.
Jesus is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that tears us down. He is the God who has a name: Mercy. The meaning of Jesus embraces everyone in every part of the world: open your hearts!
Trust in the power of Christ’s Cross! Receive his reconciling grace and share it!
Let us ask the Lord for this grace: that our hearts become free and filled with light, so that we can rejoice as children of God.
“He who entrusts himself to the Lord our Shepherd, shall lack nothing”.
The suffering that led Jesus to ask the Father: “Father, please, if it be possible I would not drink this cup”. Here his anguish is seen, but accompanied by the words: “but your will be done”.
This is “the history of our redemption”, this is “the history of God’s love”. This is why, “if we want to know the love of God, we look at the Crucifix”. There we meet “a man who is tortured, died, who is God, ‘emptied of divinity’, tarnished, who ‘became sin’”. Then came the final prayer: “May the Lord grant us the grace to understand this mystery a little better”.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~On Holy Thursday, Jesus gives himself to us as food and, in the washing of feet, teaches us the need to serve others. On Good Friday, in the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross, we contemplate that undying divine love which embraces all mankind and summons us in turn to love one another in the power of the Spirit. Holy Saturday, the day of God’s silence, invites us not only to solidarity with all who are abandoned and alone, but also to trust in that faithful love which turns death into life.
Let us come to Him and let us not be afraid! Let us come to Him and say from the depths of our hearts: “Jesus, I trust in You!”
The risen Jesus makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence.
Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish, the lack of hope which imprisons us within ourselves. May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the center of our lives.
Easter is a feast of hope, a celebration of God’s mercy and a call to pray for and assist all who suffer.
It is my great hope that, during the course of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, all the baptized may experience the joy of belonging to the Church and rediscover that the Christian vocation, just like every particular vocation, is born from within the People of God, and is a gift of divine mercy. The Church is the house of mercy, and it is the “soil” where vocations take root, mature and bear fruit.
The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, he bestows on us a specific vocation. The vocational journey is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to us: it is a con-vocation. The ecclesial dynamism of the call is an antidote to indifference and to individualism. It establishes the communion in which indifference is vanquished by love, because it demands that we go beyond ourselves and place our lives at the service of God’s plan, embracing the historical circumstances of his holy people.
Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: 'Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?' If you don't ask those questions, your governance will not be good.
Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.
“We pray for the earthquake victims in Ecuador and Japan.
May God and all our brothers and sisters give them help and support.”
The Lord is alive and wants to be sought among the living. After having found him, each person is sent out by him to announce the Easter message, to awaken and resurrect hope in hearts burdened by sadness, in those who struggle to find meaning in life. This is so necessary today.
Christians cannot discover life by being bereft of hope and imprisoned within ourselves but, instead, must allow Christ to bring life and break open their tombs, sealed by the stones of our rancor and the boulders of our past.
While problems will always remain, resurrection is a sure foundation of Christian hope and not mere optimism, nor a psychological attitude or desire to be courageous.
In the difficult moments of life, Christians can turn to the Mother of God and find protection and care. May each family rediscover family prayer, which helps to bring about mutual understanding and forgiveness. May we enter into true friendship with Jesus, so that following him clearly we may live with and for him. All are called to love and cherish family life, for families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity.
A Christian who does not pray for those who govern is not a good Christian.
A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.
But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern? Prayer!
Open your heart to mercy! Divine mercy is stronger than the sins of men. Jesus Christ, with his closeness and tenderness, leads sinners into the place of grace and pardon. This is the mercy of God. May the Lord free us from all temptation that separates us from what is essential in our mission and help rediscover the beauty of faith.
Jesus conquered evil at the root: he is the Door of Salvation, open wide so that each person may find mercy.
Christian love is loving without counting the cost. This is the lesson of the Good Samaritan; this is the lesson of Jesus.
The Lord loves a cheerful giver. May we learn to be generous in giving, free from the love of material possessions.
There is so much indifference in the face of suffering. May we overcome indifference with concrete acts of charity.
May we learn to say “thank you” to God and to one another. We teach children to do it, and then we forget to do it ourselves!
All are called to love and cherish family life, for families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity.
We have often reflected on God’s fatherly love and forgiveness. The Prophets present this love also as involving correction, a summons to conversion and the renewal of the Covenant. Every parent knows the challenge of helping children to grow in freedom and responsibility.
May all of us be open, during this year of grace, to our heavenly Father’s merciful invitation to come back to him and to experience this miracle of his love and forgiveness.
The family is part of God’s dream and the church’s for the salvation of humanity.
In the Scriptures, God expresses his dismay at the rejection of his love, as seen in the disobedience and sin of his children. If he chastises his people, it is to move them to repentance and conversion. In his mercy, he asks them to turn back to him with all their hearts and to receive a righteousness that is itself his gift. God is pleased, Isaiah tells us, not by ritual sacrifice but by rejecting evil and practicing justice. Though our sins be like scarlet, he will make them white as snow.
"To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning, to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: 'See, I am making all things new… To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life' (Rev 21:5-6)." "May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters."
This is the way of the Holy Spirit, this is the work of the Holy Spirit. For it is he who moves the waters, who stirs a little disorder, who seems to throw us into a storm, to torment — think of Pentecost — and then he brings harmony, unity: he has these two characteristics.
Indeed, the Spirit is what brings newness, moves situations forward, creates new spaces, brings the wisdom that Jesus promised: ‘He will teach you’. The Spirit, therefore, moves but in the end creates harmony among all people. Lord Jesus, who is always present among us, send always the Holy Spirit among us, to each one of us; send Him to the Church and enable the Church to be faithful to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
"When Jesus says to Martha: 'You are worried and troubled about many things, but you only need one thing. Mary has chosen the better part. 'What does he mean? [He means] Listening to the Lord and remembering. You cannot pray every day as if we did not have a story. Each of us has his or her own. And with this story in our heart we approach prayer, like Mary. Often we are distracted, like Martha, by work, by the day’s events, by those things that we have to do, and we forget this story".
"Remembering that we were chosen, chosen by God. Remembering our journey of covenant. Have we respected this covenant, or not? No, we are sinners and we remember this, and we remember God’s promise to us which never disappoints, which is our hope. This is the true prayer”.
"Today we are so busy and in such a hurry, with so many problems, some of which are not important, that we lack the capacity to listen", warned the Holy Father. "We are constantly busy and so we do not have the time to listen. I would like to ask each one of you to answer in your heart: You, husband, do you have time to listen to your wife? You, wife, do you have time to listen to your husband? You, parents, do you have time, time to spend to listen to your children, or your grandparents, the elderly? … Listen. I ask you to learn to listen and dedicate more time to this. In the capacity to listen is the root of peace".

Remembering the loss of innocent lives in Nice, the Pope said, “the pain of the massacre is alive in our hearts. I am close to each family and the entire French nation which is in mourning. May God, the good Father, welcome all the victims into his peace, support the injured and comfort their families. May he dissolve every project of terror and death, so that man no longer attempts to spill his brother's blood.”
The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed in abundance so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity.
If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God’s own power.
Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist, offering himself as spiritual food that sustains our life. With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all. God can fill our hearts with his love and help us continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.
In a broken world, to communicate with mercy means to help create closeness between the children of God. Loving and forgiving are tangible and visible signs that faith has transformed our hearts.
“Today we are seeing those who kill Christians in the name of God because they think they are not believers.
This is Christ’s Cross: ‘They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me’. This happened to me – Jesus says – it will happen to you too – the persecutions, the tribulations – but do not be scandalized: the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us understand”.
“Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.”
“Here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.”
Mercy does not just mean being a “good person” nor is it mere sentimentality. It is the measure of our authenticity as disciples of Jesus.
Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness.
Never abandon prayer, even when it seems pointless to pray.
Through the cross we can touch God’s mercy and be touched by that mercy!
When we do not adore God, we adore something else. Money and power are false idols which often take the place of God.
When one lives attached to money, pride or power, it is impossible to be truly happy.
The martyrs teach us that wealth, prestige and honor have little importance: Christ is the only true treasure.
Pride bloats Christians and prevents them from entering God’s merciful embrace. Christians must seize the opportunities of salvation and not waste time on trivial things. Our life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.
Let us thank all those who teach in Catholic schools. Educating is an act of love; it is like giving life.
Dear parents, teach your children to pray. Pray with them.
Dear young people, Jesus gives us life, life in abundance. If we are close to him we will have joy in our hearts and a smile on our face.
Let us carry Mother Teresa’s smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey.
Let us imitate Mother Teresa who made works of mercy the guide of her life and the path towards holiness.
Mercy does not just mean being a “good person” nor is it mere sentimentality. It is the measure of our authenticity as disciples of Jesus.
What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all.
Christ is our greatest joy; he is always at our side and will never let us down. The Lord consoles us. We are all called to comfort our brothers and sisters, to testify that God alone can eliminate the causes of tragedies.
The one who builds on God builds on rock, because he is always faithful, even if we sometimes lack faith.
No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once again into your redeeming embrace”.
Don’t respond to grief or anguish with pills, alcohol or avoidance. Figure out what is going on inside your heart, then turn to God and beg him for help. Everyone has experienced some degree of despair that makes us feel as if our soul were crushed, unable to breathe and perhaps even eager for death. We have to understand when our spirit is in this state of extended sadness, where there is almost no air, this happens to all of us to some degree. In times of hopeless, spiritual despair, the answer is to pray hard, just like Job, who cried out day and night for God to listen.
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.”
A poor person, a person lacking material possessions, always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God.
In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector (cf. Lk 18:9-14), Jesus holds the tax-collector up as a model because of his humility and his acknowledgment that he is a sinner.
“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and that also unites us in fond affection with Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother River and Mother Earth.”
A Christian who does not pray for those who govern is not a good Christian. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern. But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern? Prayer!
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Throughout this Jubilee Year, we have reflected on God’s mercy and our own responsibility, as followers of Jesus, to be “merciful like the Father”.  Through dialogue, in fact, we come to know and respect others; we come to see each individual as a gift of God.  How much we need to encourage dialogue in our families, our schools and our workplaces!  For only through dialogue can we truly understand others and their needs, and work together for the good of society and the care of our common home.  Dialogue between the religions can make a real contribution to the building of a world of peace and solidarity.  God has placed a seed of goodness in each of us and he asks us to use it in the service of his creation.  Through dialogue, mutual acceptance and fraternal cooperation, may we make God’s merciful love ever more evident in our world.
Mercy can truly contribute to the building up of a more humane world.
The saints have found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God.
The Father watches over us, and his gaze of love inspires us to purify our past and to journey towards unity.
Let us ask the Lord that his word, source of light and life, may help Christians be ever more united.
“New situations require new energy and a new commitment,” [and then he offered a new list of beatitudes for modern Christians]

– “Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.”
– “Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized and show them their closeness.”
– “Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover Him.”
– “Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.”
– “Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.”
– “Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.”

“All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, surely they will receive from Him their merited reward.”
Advent is a time to prepare our hearts to receive Christ, our Saviour and hope.
Advent is a time when we journey towards Jesus and his Kingdom of justice and peace.
By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness. With this newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness, it will never grow old.
Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good.
What Jesus did was not only change things from ugly to beautiful, from wicked to good: Jesus made a transformation. He changed everything from the inside! He made a change that was a re-creation: God had created the world; man fell into sin; Jesus came to re-create the world.
If every one of us, every day, does a work of mercy, there will be a revolution in the world!
We don’t have to go far or come up with grand projects to be charitable. Often the people closest to us could use our help.
God changes the world by transforming our hearts. When God finds an open and trusting heart, he can work wonders there.
God is not known through grand ideas and extensive study, but rather through the littleness of a humble and trusting heart.
The concrete sign that we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy that we show in communicating it to others.
Today, before the little Child of Bethlehem, we should acknowledge that we need the Lord to enlighten us, because all too often we end up being narrow-minded or prisoners of all-or-nothing attitude that would force others to conform to our own ideas.  We need this light, which helps us learn from our mistakes and failed attempts in order to improve and surpass ourselves; this light born of the humble and courageous awareness of those who find the strength, time and time again, to rise up and start anew.
As another year draws to an end, let us pause before the manger and express our gratitude to God for all the signs of his generosity in our life and our history, seen in countless ways through the witness of those people who quietly took a risk.  A gratitude that is no sterile nostalgia or empty recollection of an idealized and disembodied past, but a living memory, one that helps to generate personal and communal creativity because we know that God is with us.
Like the Magi, may we also journey and be attentive, untiring and courageous on the path to find the invisible God who was born among us.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us follow Christ on the way of faith and charity, the path set out by our Baptism.
May nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions.
To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.
There can be no true peace if everyone claims always and exclusively his or her own rights, without caring for the good of others.
My hope is that our countries and their peoples may find increased opportunities to work together in building true peace.
Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
The priesthood of Christ takes place in three stages, the Pope said. The first is the redemption: while the priests of the Old Covenant had to offer sacrifices every year, “Christ offered Himself, once for all, for the forgiveness of sins.” With this marvel, “He has brought us to the Father… He has re-created the harmony of creation,” the Pope noted. The second wonder is what the Lord is doing now – that is, praying for us. “While we pray here, He is praying for us” “for each one of us,” Pope Francis emphasized: “now, living, before the Father, He intercedes,” so that the faith might not falter. How often, in fact, are priests asked to pray, the Pope said, because “we know that the prayer of the priest has a certain force, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass.” The third wonder will be when Christ returns; but this third time will not be in relation to sin, but rather, it will be “to establish the definitive Kingdom,” when He will bring all of us to the Father.
God never stops wanting our good, even when we sin. No one is a stranger in the Christian community.
To live joyfully we must let go of anger, wrath, violence, and revenge.
Only those who humble themselves before the Lord can experience the greatness of his mercy. The Lord presents himself each day and knocks at the door of our heart.
Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, guide our steps in the way of peace. Mary, our Mother, pray for us.
Love is a patient effort by persons who dedicate themselves to listening and drawing closer to others.
Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who encounter discrimination and pay a personal price for their fidelity to the Gospel.
Christian unity is a priority, because we realize that much more unites us than separates us.
We are disciples, but also missionaries, bringing Christ wherever he asks us to be present.
Holiness is to live by being loving and offering our Christian witness in our everyday lives.
God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven.
With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will.
Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts”, to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive.
We want to return to the merciful heart of the Father. In this season of grace we once again turn our eyes to his mercy. Lent is a path: it leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God’s children. Lent is the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life. The mark of the ashes with which we set out reminds us of our origin: we were taken from the earth, we are made of dust.  True, yet we are dust in the loving hands of God, who has breathed his spirit of life upon each one of us, and still wants to do so. He wants to keep giving us that breath of life that saves us from every other type of breath: the stifling asphyxia brought on by our selfishness, the stifling asphyxia generated by petty ambition and silent indifference – an asphyxia that smothers the spirit, narrows our horizons and slows the beating of our hearts. The breath of God’s life saves us from this asphyxia that dampens our faith, cools our charity and strangles every hope. To experience Lent is to yearn for this breath of life that our Father unceasingly offers us amid the mire of our history.
Lent is a time for remembering. It is the time to reflect and ask ourselves what we would be if God had closed his doors to us. What would we be without his mercy that never tires of forgiving us and always gives us the chance to begin anew? Lent is the time to ask ourselves where we would be without the help of so many people who in a thousand quiet ways have stretched out their hands and in very concrete ways given us hope and enabled us to make a new beginning?
Lent is the time to start breathing again. It is the time to open our hearts to the breath of the One capable of turning our dust into humanity. It is not the time to rend our garments before the evil all around us, but instead to make room in our life for all the good we are able to do. It is a time to set aside everything that isolates us, encloses us and paralyzes us.
The Paschal Mystery of Jesus is his exodus, by which He has opened the way for us to reach full, eternal and blessed life. To open this path, this passage, Jesus had to strip himself of his glory, humble himself, be obedient unto death and unto death on the cross. Opening the path to eternal life for us cost all his blood, and thanks to Him we are saved from the slavery of sin. But this does not mean to say that He has done everything and that we do not have to do anything, that He has passed through the cross and we “go to heaven in a carriage”. It is not like that. Our salvation is surely his gift, but as it is a love story, he asks for our ‘yes’ and our participation in his love, as Our Mother Mary shows us, and after her, all the Saints.
We can imagine the Risen Lord who calls us to come out of our darkness, and so we set ourselves on the path toward the One who is Light. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.
“Let us go back to proclaim, to share, to reveal that it is true: the Lord is alive! He is living and he wants to rise again in all those faces that have buried hope, buried dreams, buried dignity. If we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians. Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give. May we allow his tenderness and his love to guide our steps. May we allow the beating of his heart to quicken our faintness of heart.”
For Christ is the firstfruits of the future resurrection. Before the mystery of death, and the loss of our loved ones, we Christians are challenged to hope more firmly in the Lord’s promise of eternal life. Because Christ is risen, the object of our hope is certain. Christian hope, then, is a way of life; we live daily in expectation of the resurrection. In that same hope, and in the communion of the Church, we pray too that those who have gone before us will live for ever in Christ.
Now, on this 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like to reflect on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling. Those who drawn by God’s voice and determined to follow Jesus soon discover within themselves an irrepressible desire to bring the Good News to their brothers and sisters through proclamation and the service of charity. All Christians are called to be missionaries of the Gospel! As disciples, we do not receive the gift of God’s love for our personal consolation, nor are we called to promote ourselves, or a business concern. We are simply men and women touched and transformed by the joy of God’s love, who cannot keep this experience just to ourselves.
I extend my greetings to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. At the start of May, we call on the heavenly intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Dear young people, learn to pray to her with the simple and effective prayer of the Rosary; dear sick people, may Our Lady be your support in the trial of pain; dear newlyweds, imitate her love for God and for brothers and sisters. I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!
Hail, Mother of Mercy,
Lady robed in white! In this place where, a hundred years ago you made known to all the purposes of God’s mercy, I gaze at your robe of light and, as a bishop robed in white, I call to mind all those who, robed in the splendor of their baptism, desire to live in God and tell the mysteries of Christ in order to obtain peace.”
True peace is not man-made but a gift of the Holy Spirit. A peace without a cross is not the peace of Jesus, for it is only the Lord who can give us peace amidst tribulations. The peace that the world offers us is an artificial peace reduced to tranquility. It is a peace that is only concerned about one’s affairs and one’s security, lacking in nothing.
God’s peace is real peace, that enters the reality of life, that does not deny life; that is life. There is suffering, there are the sick people, there are many bad things, there are wars...but that peace within, which is a gift, is not lost, but goes ahead bearing the Cross and suffering. Let us ask for the grace of inner peace, a gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:22).
"'Do this'. Jesus on a previous occasion asked His disciples to 'do' what was so clear to Him, in obedience to the will of the Father. In the Gospel, Jesus says to the disciples in front of the tired and hungry crowds: 'Give them something to eat yourselves'. Indeed, it is Jesus Who blesses and breaks the loaves and provides sufficient food to satisfy the whole crowd, but it is the disciples who offer the five loaves and two fish. Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at His disposal what little they had. And there is another gesture: the pieces of bread, broken by the holy and venerable hands of Our Lord, pass into the poor hands of the disciples, who distribute these to the people. This too is the disciples 'doing' with Jesus; with Him they are able to 'give them something to eat'. Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving His own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish which we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all."
Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy”. I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.
Commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a kind of decoration, but is instead an essential element of faith itself. A relationship with the Lord entails being sent out into the world as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love. Even if at times we are conscience of our weaknesses and tempted to discouragement, we need to turn to God with confidence. We must overcome a sense of our own inadequacy and not yield to pessimism, which merely turns us into passive spectators of a dreary and monotonous life. There is no room for fear! God himself comes to cleanse our “unclean lips” and equip us for the mission: “Your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And I said, ‘Here am I, send me.’” [Is 6:6-8]
Certainly many questions arise when we speak of the Christian mission. What does it mean to be a missionary of the Gospel? Who gives us the strength and courage to preach? What is the evangelical basis and inspiration of mission? We can respond to these questions by meditating on three scenes from the Gospels: the inauguration of Jesus’ mission in the synagogue at Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-30); the journey that, after his resurrection, he makes in the company of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35) and, finally, the parable of the sower and the seed (cf. Mt 4:26-27).
Dear brothers and sisters, today too, we can regain fervor in preaching the Gospel and we can encourage young people in particular to take up the path of Christian discipleship. Despite a widespread sense that the faith is listless or reduced to mere “duties to discharge” our young people desire to discover the perennial attraction to Jesus, to be challenged by his words and actions, and to cherish the ideal that he holds out of a life that is fully human, happy to spend itself in love.
Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Our Savior, placed her youth and her enthusiasm in God’s hands. Through her intercession, may we be granted that same openness of heart, that same readiness to respond, “Here I am” to the Lord’s call, and that same joy in setting out (cf. Lk 1:39), like her, to proclaim him to the whole world.
Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves. Hand in hand with the Virgin Mother, and under her watchful gaze, may we come to sing with joy the mercies of the Lord, and cry out: “My soul sings to you Lord!”
The Gospel tells us to reject the idolatry of power and success, undue concern for structures, and a kind of anxiety that has more to do with the spirit of conquest than that of service. The seed of the Kingdom, however tiny, unseen and at times insignificant, silently continues to grow, thanks to God’s tireless activity.
With this confidence born of the Gospel, we become open to the silent working of the Spirit, which is the basis of mission. There can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer. The Christian life needs to be nourished by attentive listening to God’s word and, above all, by the cultivation of a personal relationship with the Lord in Eucharistic adoration, the privileged “place” for our encounter with God.