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Posts Tagged ‘Daily Prayer’

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Pope Francis

PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

 

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis urged the world in his Easter message on Sunday to use the “weapons of love” to combat the evil of “blind and brutal violence”, following the attacks in Brussels.

After a week of sombre religious events commemorating Jesus’ death, Francis said an Easter Sunday Mass under tight security for tens of thousands of people in a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square.

Afterwards, in his traditional, twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, he spoke of violence, injustice and threats to peace in many parts of the world.

“May he (the risen Jesus) draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world,” he said, speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

He mentioned recent attacks in Belgium, where at least 31 people were killed by Islamist militants, as well as those in Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Iraq.

“With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death,” the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic said from the same balcony from where he first appeared to the world on the night of his election on March 13, 2013.

The 79-year-old Argentine pontiff urged people to channel the hope of Easter in order to defeat “the evil that seems to have the upper hand in the life of so many people”.

The pope condemned the Brussels attacks several times during the past week, including at a Good Friday service where he said followers of religions who carried out acts of fundamentalism or terrorism were profaning God’s name..

The former king and queen of Belgium, Albert II and Paola, who is Italian, attended the Mass and the pope greeted them afterwards.

In other parts of his address, Francis expressed the hope that recent talks could resolve the conflict in Syria in order to end the “sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord”.

He urged Europe “not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.”

The European Union and Turkey have agreed to stop the flow of migrants to Europe in return for political and financial concessions for Ankara. Turkey and The Aegean islands have been the main route for migrants and refugees pouring into Europe in the past year.

Francis called for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, and resolutions to conflicts and political tensions in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Burundi, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Ukraine.

Security was very tight around the square, which was bedecked with more than 35,000 flowers and plants donated by the Netherlands.

Police checked people several times at various points along the approach the square and subjected those with entry tickets to body and bag searches even before they passed through metal detectors. Security sources said police reinforcements had arrived in Rome from other Italian cities.

Islamic State militants have made threats against Catholic targets in Rome. Last year, a website used by militants ran a photo montage showing the movement’s black flag flying from the obelisk at the centre of St Peter’s Square.

 

This handout picture released by the Vatican press office shows Pope Francis waving to the crowd from the central loggia of St Peters' basilica during the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing for Rome and the world following the Easter Sunday mass on March 27, 2016 at St Peter's square in Vatican. Christians around the world are marking the Holy Week, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading up to his resurrection on Easter.      AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO/HO  RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / OSSERVATORE ROMANO / HO

 

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(Photo via Reuters)

PHILADELPHIA – Pope Francis on Saturday highlighted the need for ordinary Catholics, especially women, to help fortify the Church in the future, as he embarked on the final leg of his triumphal US tour in Philadelphia.

The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics landed in the City of Brotherly Love after a short flight from New York, where he spent a whirlwind 36 hours that included an emotional visit to Ground Zero and mass at Madison Square Garden.

The 78-year-old Argentine pontiff is ending a historic visit to Cuba and the United States this weekend with a packed schedule in Philadelphia, including two appearances at the Festival of Families, an international gathering of Catholics.

The city is under a security lockdown, with traffic banned downtown for the entire weekend and thousands of National Guardsmen in the streets.

At the airport in Philadelphia, he walked down the steps of the jet and onto the red carpet, embracing members of the clergy and greet local dignitaries with a beaming smile.

He got out of his modest Fiat at the sight of a child in a wheelchair close to the security barrier, and walked over to bless the child.

Francis then headed straight to mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, where people slept in the street overnight in the hopes of seeing him.

The pope singled out the role women have played in the Church, telling the story of an American heiress, St Katharine Drexel, who heard her call to found an order of nuns when asked by another pope: “What about you?”

“It is significant that those words of the elderly Pope were also addressed to a lay woman,” Francis said.

“We know that the future of the Church in a rapidly changing society will call, and even now calls, for a much more active engagement on the part of the laity,” he said, noting the “immense contribution” of women to Catholic communities.

Keeping parishioners involved is an important issue in America’s Catholic Church: the number of new priests only covers one-third of the need, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

Later Saturday, Francis, the first pope from Latin America, is due to address immigrants at the city’s historic Independence Hall before greeting huge crowds at the Festival of Families, a Catholic event that takes place every three years.

“I wanted to be part of this family celebration,” said 42-year-old Luis Ortiz, who slept outside with his 11 children near the cathedral.

PRISON VISIT

On Sunday, Francis will meet with American bishops, visit a prison and lead a farewell mass on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the city’s grandest avenue, before leaving the United States.

The pope has received a rapturous reception in America — he was welcomed personally by President Barack Obama when he arrived on Tuesday and by giant crowds in both Washington and the Big Apple.

His reform-minded approach to social issues, humility and focus on the most vulnerable has struck a chord across the country’s racial and socioeconomic divide.

New York treated the pontiff to a rock-star welcome.

A sea of 80,000 people screamed out in joy as he proceeded through Central Park in his popemobile before celebrating mass at Madison Square Garden, New York’s premier concert venue, before about 20,000 people.

Once again, the pope focused on society’s poorest, in a message voiced time and again in America’s financial capital, a city of staggering wealth but also need.

He called on worshippers not to forget “the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens.”

“They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly,” the pope said.

SONGS IN HARLEM

At the city’s somber September 11 Memorial, he laid a white rose and led a gathering of 700 in multi-faith prayers for world peace and paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims killed in the 2001 attacks.

Francis was welcomed in song and laughter on a heartwarming visit to a Catholic school in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood.

It was a stark contrast to the austere surroundings of the UN General Assembly, where he touched on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, drug trafficking — “silently killing millions” — and the rights of girls to an education.

As he did at the US Congress, the pope gave a passionate plea to protect the environment, voicing confidence that a looming UN summit on climate change would reach “effective” agreement in Paris.

Francis also offered a strong endorsement of Iran’s agreement with the United States and five other world powers to limit its nuclear program.

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

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Key Takeaway In This Sunday’s (September 27, 2015) Gospel: Temptations To Sin, Mk 9:38-43, 45 47-48

The word of God this Sunday is focused on the 10423349_1155514751131698_5245816457681358538_nopenness and respect for those who are different.

Pope Francis’ speech yesterday before Philadelphia’s iconic Independence Hall echoed that thought, when he gave a ringing endorsement of RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

According to a CNN report, he urged his American hosts to avoid a “superficial quest for unity.”Addressing a predominantly immigrant crowd, he said, “In this witness, which frequently encounters powerful resistance you remind American democracy of the ideals for which it was founded, and that society is weakened whenever and wherever injustice prevails.”

Drawing cheers from the large crowd, where many of the faithful waved flags from countries such as Costa Rica and Mexico, the Argentine-born Francis encouraged his diverse flock to “never be ashamed of your traditions.”

“Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders,” he stated, “which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land.

“Pope Francis made his remarks from the same lectern Abraham Lincoln used to give the Gettysburg Address, a fitting setting for a speech stressing freedom. He declared, however, that the rights of the faithful should extend well beyond the sanctuary door.”Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate,” he averred.

“But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.”Pope Francis was most animated and drew the loudest response when he addressed the immigrants, greeting them with “particular affection.”

“Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face,” he said, to loud cheers. “I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation.”

OUR PRAYER:

O God our Creator, we ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Key Takeaway In This Sunday’s (September 13, 2015) Gospel:

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Peter’s Confession About Jesus – Mk 8:27-35

“Who do you say that I am?” — Mark 8.29

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the hugely successful 1971 Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak rock opera GODSPELL based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, which deals with the last days of Jesus, and includes dramatized versions of several well-known parables.

And yet it is something more – a religious experience, a demonstration of joy, and a celebration of the family of man. This immensely successful rock opera needs little introduction, but when it was first produced on Broadway in 1971 it broke new ground in its stage treatment of the historical Jesus Christ.

The third song in the musical, “Day by Day” — a prayer ascribed to the 13th English Bishop Saint Richard of Chichester — particularly captures people’s imagination. It summarizes our plea to see, love and follow God more openly. The lyrics of the haunting melodic number reads:

“Day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day
Day by day, day by day
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day.

”The song spent 14 weeks on the “Billboard Hot 100,” peaking at the number 13 position on July 29, 1972. “Billboard “ ranked it as the No. 90 song for 1972.

But more than its enormous commercial success it becomes a great “aide memoire” for people to be more generous, to give food to those who are hungry, to provide home for the homeless or the refugees (a very relevant concern today given the Syrian refugees seeking a safer haven), to die so others may live, and “to lose good things, to get better.”

A tough call indeed, but the only way we can share in this life is by seeing, loving and following Jesus and taking up our own cross so that death leads to life. The challenge of this Sunday’s Gospel is the challenge of the cross: to see that glory in our everyday lives. As the “Living Liturgy” states, “Good surrounds all of us; the cross invites us to see that good—out of pain and poverty can come a new life that has value, meaning, and purpose for self and others.”

OUR PRAYER:

Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.

(St. Ignatius de Loyola)

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Key Takeaway In This Sunday’s (September 6, 2015) Gospel

“He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (Mark 7.37)

This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us to take some time to listen to sounds of silence. It is not about being deaf to the sounds of life, or the absence of sound, but the ability to hear and listen to life going around us and in us.

Pope Benedict XVI said, “Many now assume that effective modern communication implies being able to make the greatest noise amidst the bustle and confusion that is the world’s 24-hour rolling, new circus. But silence, as the Holy Father reminds us, is an extremely important part of communication, for without it, who could listen properly to what is being said?”

The principle is a revival of the song popularized in the 1960s by Simon and Garfunkel. In the third stanza of the song it says, “And in the naked light I saw, 10,000 people, maybe more, people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.

”Silence is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. Silence is the most beautiful doorway into prayer, peace, contemplation and true wisdom. Silence is also a discipline that leads to humility and to a love that does not seek to possess. Only the people who are truly silent can hear the whisperings of God’s love deep within their heart. Without silence we who claim to believe in him would never know God or be able to discern his will for us.

Our best move in certain situations is to keep our mouth shut and simply stay out of the way of people. We get into a spiral of bad communication tactics, and wind up outsmarting ourselves — perhaps making a position and then rejecting our own stance because we think we won’t agree with it.

Imagine a complainant who opens a conversation by saying that he understands us but will not budge from his stand before asking for some smaller compromise — and then maybe even convincing himself that even that is too much to ask for.

“We can observe a lot by watching and we can also learn a lot by listening.” That’s baseball legend Yogi Berra talking and reminding us of situations wherein we are asking a question and before we even finish our question, some people cut us and offer their own perspective. They don’t bother waiting and instead try to hurry us up with verbal prompts — “Uh-huh, uh-huh, right, right, right…” And when they ask for advice, what they really mean is, “Let’s fast-forward to the part where I tell you what I think, instead.”

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OUR PRAYER:

Dear Lord, “listen” has the same letters as “silent.” May we always listen to the silence of our heart so we will know what to do. Amen

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Key Takeaway In This Sunday’s (August 23, 2015) Gospel: The Words Of Eternal Life – Jn 6:60-6

Many of his disciples were listening to Jesus’ teaching. They said, ‘This teaching is difficult. How can anyone take it seriously’”? (John 6.60)

This Sunday’s Gospel is all about choices. Our life is challenged with many choices — big, small, personal, professional, emotional, rational, spiritual and religious.

Responding to Christ’s difficult teachings, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. It’s a decisive moment indeed, but a very sad one.

Peter stayed because he has enough affection for Christ inside him to make this choice. It was not easy for Peter to leave, and his choice answered Jesus’ question – do you love me?

Truly, the most important choice we can make in life is our decision to follow and love Jesus. And this choice, like every other, also has impacts in, and consequences for the way we live our lives.

To choose to believe in Jesus and his teachings—including our belief that he is truly our Bread of Life—means to follow him in every aspect of our lives. There is no part of our life that can be compartmentalized or kept separate from the grace he offers or the demands that discipleship places upon us.

CHOICES IN OUR LIVES

Choice is a powerful idea. Its definition has become polluted in recent years, wrapped up in contentious battles over issues that make one choose between two extremes, where all things are argued in stark black and white. We have learned, and most of us have discovered, that almost everything in life is painted in shades of gray.

We have experienced doses of right and wrong choices. It feels wonderful whenever we make a difference in the choices we carry out. And we get overwhelmed when the choices lead to crisis. But when these wrong choices start to wear us down, we just remember one thing — there is God to trust.

We continuously face the most staggering array of choices. And we realize that we should not underestimate their range. The unhappiest people we meet have become the way they are, because they have imposed artificial limits on their lives.

We must always tell ourselves—take every choice that is offered to us. Have as much fun as we can, when we can. Dare to dream. Dare to fail. Dare to make a few mistakes along the way. Dare to reach out our hands into the darkness, to pull other hands into the light.

We must not shrink from the dreams. We must not shrink from the choices. We must not recoil from life.

OUR PRAYER: Dear Lord, let us not fear to love Jesus — to heed his words and follow his actions. May we receive the strength we need from Jesus, the bread of life to pursue a life according to your will. Amen.

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Sunday’s (June 21, 2015) Gospel: The Calming Of A Storm At Sea – Mk 4:35-41

“WHO THEN IS THIS WHOM EVEN THE WIND AND SEA OBEY?”

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus established that He is the Master of all Creation; that He is the Almighty One, and only the Almighty One can demand creation to follow His every command.

QUIET! BE STILL!

These three small but powerful words clearly bring to our attention that even if we may think that God is asleep or lacking in concentration to our predicament, all we need do is holler and He will be there. Our call should not be one of skepticism or fright: As He asked His disciples, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Our tonality, as we “shout out” should always have the confidence and the belief that He is there to help us and bring us to a state of calm.

WHAT? WE WORRY?

Setting up conditional happiness, success or other outcomes leads to ever-increasing negative feelings. But setting up dual happiness — happiness for both now and later — allows for good moments at any time. Dr. Spencer Johnson, best-selling co-author of “The One Minute Manager,” has advised people to live in the present without allowing negative attitudes to fester.

A setback is only one moment in time. It ends. The next moment is up to you. “Make that next moment one of learning and the growth will happen by and of itself. Before we know it, we will be where we wanted to be from the start,” Johnson emphasized.

Living, especially during these days, involves two areas: the things we can control and the things we can’t. Don’t worry about what we can’t control.

WORRYING IS A TOTAL WASTE OF ENERGY.

Train our focus on the future. It is something we can have power over. But don’t fret about it either. Move it. Manage it. What about the present? It’s in our hands. Live it the way we want to live it. Bring it to where we will be happiest even in challenging times such as today. Stay focused on what we want to happen, and we will attract exactly what we want.

Goals can be set. Positive experiences can be sought. Good news can be created. We just have to focus unfailingly on the picture, and to have trust in God. Happiness, after all, consists in getting what we desire and desiring what we have.

Let us avoid spending so much time worrying about the future, and learn to “be still” — to WAIT ON THE FATHER, OUR LORD. Why be terrified when we believe that God is by our side. As we weather the storms of our lives we must patiently and graciously wait for the Lord, and find the markers of the direction that He wants us to take — the path that can bring stillness and serenity to our souls.

OUR PRAYER:

Dear Lord, be with us in our journey, teach us to how to be quiet and to be still. Hold our hands when we are fearful; Fortify our trust in Your care. May You reinforce us with the wisdom to make the right decisions every time. Thank you for your unending presence and undying love. Amen.

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