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(Vatican Radio) Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 219 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Holy See on Saturday released a prayer guide, inviting particular Churches, parishes, religious houses, associations and movements to pray for the success of the Synod assembly in the days leading to the Synod and during the Synod itself. The guide includes a prayer composed by Pope Francis for the occasion, as well as a series of intentions that may be offered the Prayers of the Faithful. Please find the full text of the guide, including the prayer composed by the Holy Father, below.

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Day of Prayer

for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the

 Synod of Bishops

Sunday, 28 September 2014

            Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 219 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.

            Particular churches, parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, associations and movements are invited to pray for this intention during Mass and at other liturgical celebrations, in the days leading to the synod and during the synod itself. In Rome, in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, prayers will be recited each day in the chapel of the icon, Salus Populi Romani. The faithful, individually  but above all in families, are invited to join in these prayers.

            The suggested prayers include the Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod, composed by Pope Francis, and the following proposed intentions during the Prayers of the Faithful which can be adapted at Sunday Mass on 28 September and during the synod. These intentions can also be included in the petitions at Lauds and Vespers. The recitation of the Holy Rosary is also recommended for the duration of the synodal assembly.

 

I - Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendour of true love,

to you we turn with trust.

 

Holy Family of Nazareth,

grant that our families too

may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and small domestic Churches.

 

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may families never again

experience violence, rejection and division:

may all who have been hurt or scandalized

find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the approaching Synod of Bishops

make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan.

 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

graciously hear our prayer.

 

Amen.

 

II - Prayer of the Faithful

 

Brothers and Sisters,

gathered together as God’s family and inspired by our faith, we raise our minds and hearts to the Father, that our families, sustained by the grace of Christ, might become true domestic churches where all live and bear witness to God’s love.

 

Together we pray:

Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

 

For Pope Francis: the Lord has called him to preside over the Church in charity; sustain him in his ministry of service to the communion of the episcopal college and the entire People of God, we pray:

For the synod fathers and the other participants at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: may the Spirit of the Lord enlighten their minds so that the Church might respond, in faithfulness to God’s plan, to the challenges facing the family, we pray:

For those who have the responsibility of governing nations: that the Holy Spirit might inspire programmes which acknowledge the value of the family as the basic unit of society in God’s plan and which offer support to families in difficulty,  we pray:

For Christian families: may the Lord who has sealed the union of husband and wife with his presence, make our families cenacles of prayer and ardent communities of life and love, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we pray:

For couples undergoing difficulties: may the Lord, rich in mercy, be present to them through the Church’s motherly care and concern in showing understanding and patience in their journey towards pardon and reconciliation, we pray:

For families who, for the sake of the Gospel, are forced leave their fatherland: may the Lord who endured exile with Mary and Joseph, comfort them with his grace and open for them paths of fraternal charity and human solidarity, we pray:

For grandparents: may the Lord who was received in the Temple by the elders Simeon and Anna, make them wise collaborators with parents in transmitting the faith and the raising their children, we pray:

For children: may the Lord of life, w...

(Vatican Radio) What is the role grandparents play in keeping prayer at the heart of the family in the 21st century and how important are they in passing down the faith to a new generation?

That is what grandparent and founder of the Catholic Grandparents Association, Catherine Wiley will be highlighting when she gives her testimony on the vocation of grandparents to Pope Francis on Sunday.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Catherine Wiley

Catherine will be among forty thousand grandparents and elderly people who will meet the Pope in an event entitled “The blessing of a long life” which will take place in St Peter’s Square.

The event organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, will also see Pope Francis celebrate Holy Mass which will be concelebrated by more than fifty elderly priests from around the world.

Speaking to Vatican Radio about her testimony on Sunday, Catherine Wiley says she wants the focus of her words to the Holy Father to be about the unique role grandparents have in guiding grandchildren in their faith. “They (grandparents) really have a unique opportunity to pass on the faith to their grandchildren when they’re small”.

Pope Francis has spoken often during his pontificate about the importance of grandparents and Catherine says “that everybody thinks of the Pope as a grandfather figure and in fact my grandson will be asking the Pope a question and he will be telling him that the children of the world love him like a grandfather” 

The Catholic Grandparents Association, which has offices in both England and Ireland was started by Catherine in 2009 after she successfully organised the first National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham in England and the first Irish National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage to the Knock Shrine in September 2007. The pilgrimages are now held annually.

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated a special liturgy of thanksgiving in the Church of the Gesù in Rome on Saturday, to mark the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus. Please find, below, Vatican Radio's English translation of the prepared text of the Holy Father's homily for the occasion.

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Dear brothers and friends in the Lord,

The Society under the name of Jesus has lived difficult times of persecution. During the leadership of Fr Lorenzo Ricci, “enemies of the Church succeeded in obtaining the suppression of the Society” (John Paul II, Message to Fr Kolvenbach, July 31, 1990) by my predecessor Clement XIV. Today, remembering its restoration, we are called to recover our memory, calling to mind the benefits received and the particular gifts (cf. Spiritual Exercises, 234). Today, I want to do that here with you.

In times of trial and tribulation, dust clouds of doubt and suffering are always raised and it is not easy to move forward, to continue the journey. Many temptations come, especially in difficult times and in crises: to stop to discuss ideas, to allow oneself to be carried away by the desolation, to focus on the fact of being persecuted, and not to see the other. Reading the letters of Fr Ricci, one thing struck me: his ability to avoid being harnessed by these temptations and to propose to the Jesuits, in a time of trouble, a vision of the things that rooted them even more in the spirituality of the Society.

Father General Ricci, who wrote to the Jesuits at the time, watching the clouds thickening on the horizon, strengthened them in their membership in the body of the Society and its mission. Here it is: in a time of confusion and turmoil he discerned. He did not waste time discussing ideas and complaining, but he took on the charge of the vocation of the Society.

And this attitude led the Jesuits to experience the death and resurrection of the Lord. Faced with the loss of everything, even of their public identity, they did not resist the will of God, they did not resist the conflict, trying to save themselves. The Society – and this is beautiful – lived the conflict to the end, without minimizing it. It lived humiliation along with the  humiliated Christ; it obeyed. You never save yourself from conflict with cunning and with strategies of resistance. In the confusion and humiliation, the Society preferred to live the discernment of God's will, without seeking a way out of the conflict in a seemingly quiet manner.

It is never apparent tranquility that satisfies our hearts, but true peace that is a gift from God. One should never seek the easy "compromise" nor practice facile “irenicism.” Only discernment saves us from real uprooting, from true "suppression" of the heart, which is selfishness, worldliness, the loss of our horizon. Our hope, is Jesus; it is only Jesus. Thus Fr Ricci and the Society during the suppression privileged history rather than a gray “little tale”, knowing that love judges history and that hope - even in darkness - is greater than our expectations.

Discernment must be done with right intention, with a simple eye. For this reason, Fr Ricci comes, precisely in this time of confusion and bewilderment, to speak about the sins of the Jesuits. He does not defend himself, feeling like a victim of history, but he recognizes himself as a sinner. Looking at oneself and recognizing oneself as a sinner avoids being in a position of considering oneself a victim before an executioner. Recognizing oneself as a sinner, really recognizing oneself as a sinner, means putting oneself in the correct attitude to receive consolation.

We can review briefly this process of discernment and service that this Father General indicated to the Society. When in 1759, the decrees of Pombal destroyed the Portuguese provinces of the Society, Fr Ricci lived the conflict, not complaining and letting himself fall into desolation, but inviting prayers to ask for the good spirit, the true supernatural spirit of vocation, the perfect docility to God's grace. When in 1761, the storm advanced in France, the Father General asked that all trust be placed in God. He wanted that they take advantage of the hardships toward a greater inner purification; they lead us to God and can serve for his greater glory. Then, he recommended prayer, holiness of life, humility and the spirit of obedience. In 1760, after the expulsion of the Spanish Jesuits, he continued to call for prayer. And finally, on February 21, 1773, just six months before the signing of the Brief Dominus ac Redemptor, with the utter lack of human help, he sees the hand of God's mercy, which invites those, who submit to the test, not to confide in anyone but God. Trust must grow precisely when circumstances throw us to the ground. Of importance for Fr Ricci is that the Society, until the last, is true to the spirit of its vocation, which is for the greater glory of God...

(Vatican Radio) A Christian cannot understand Christ the Redeemer without the Cross, without being ready to bear the Cross with Jesus. That was Pope Francis’ message at Friday’s morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

To be a Christian means to be a “Cyrene” [like Simon of Cyrene - ed.]. Having the faith consists in this: You belong to Jesus if you bear the weight of the Cross with Him. Otherwise you are going along a path that seems “good” – but is not “true.” The basis for the Pope’s reflections was the day’s Gospel, in which Christ asks His disciples what the people are saying about Him, and receives the most disparate answers. This episode, the Pope noted, takes place in the context of the Gospel that sees Jesus guarding “in a special manner His true identity.” On several occasions, when someone came close to divulging His identity, “He stopped them,” just as many times He prevented the demons from revealing His nature as the “Son of God,” Who had come for the salvation of the world. This, the Poe explained, was because the people misunderstood and thought of the Messiah as a military leader who would expel the Romans. It was only privately, to the Twelve, that Jesus “began to do the catechesis on His true identity”:

“‘The Son of Man, that is, the Messiah, the Anointed must suffer greatly, must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.’ This is the path of your liberation. This is the path of the Messiah, of the Just One: the Passion, the Cross. And He explains His identity to them. They don’t want to understand; and in the passage from Matthew, one sees how Peter refuses this: ‘No! No, Lord…’ But He begins to open up the mystery of His true identity: ‘Yes, I am the Son of God. But this is my path: I must go along this path of suffering.’”

This, Pope Francis said, is the “pedagogy” that Jesus uses “to prepare the hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people, to understand this mystery of God”:

“Sin is so ugly, but God’s love is so great that He saves us in this way: with this identity in the Cross. You can’t understand Jesus Christ the Redeemer without the Cross: you can’t understand! We can come to believe that he is a great prophet, he does good things, he’s a saint. But without the Cross you can’t understand Christ the Redeemer. The hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people were not prepared to understand it. They didn’t understand the Prophecies, they didn’t understand that He Himself was the Lamb for the sacrifice. They were not prepared.”

It is only on Palm Sunday, the Pope noted, that Christ allowed the crowds to proclaim, “more or less,” His identity, when they cried out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” And this, Pope Francis said, was because “if the people did not cry out, the stones would have cried out.” On the other hand, it is only after His death that the identity of Jesus appears in its fullness; the “first confession” came from the Roman centurion, the Pope noted. He concluded: “Step by step [Jesus] prepares us so that we can understand better. He prepares us to accompany Him with our crosses, along His path to Redemption”:

“He prepares us to be ‘Cyrenes’ to help Him bear the Cross. And our Christian life without this is not Christian. It is a spiritual life, good… ‘Jesus is the great prophet, and He has saved us. But He and I, no… No, you with Him! Taking the same path. Still our identity as Christians must be guarded, not believing that being Christian is a merit; it is a spiritual path of perfection. It is not a merit, it is pure grace.”

 

(from Vatican Radio)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged the new generations of Albania to  reject the idolatry of money, the false freedom of individualism, to addiction and violence, and he has encouraged them to cultivate a culture of encounter and of solidarity.

The Pope's words to the young came during his Angelus address after the celebration of Holy Mass in Tirana's Mother Teresa Square. Commenting off-the-cuff that he has been told that Albania is the youngest country in Europe, Pope Francis invited the youth to build a better future for their country without forgetting the lessons of the past.

Please find below the full text of the Pope's Angelus address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I wish to greet each of you who have come from all over Albania and from nearby countries.  I thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith.

In a particular way, I wish to greet the young! They tell me that Albania is the youngest country in Europe, so it is to you that I turn!  I invite you to build your lives on Jesus Christ: the one who builds on Christ builds on rock, because he is always faithful, even if we sometimes lack faith (cf. 2 Tim. 2:13).  Jesus knows us better than anyone else; when we sin, he does not condemn us but rather says to us, “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).  Dear young people, you are the new generation of Albania, the future of the nation. With the power of the Gospel and the example of the martyrs, you know how to say “No” to the idolatry of money, “No” to the false freedom of individualism, “No” to addiction and to violence; you also know how to say “Yes” to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, “Yes” to the beauty that is inseparable from the good and the true; “Yes” to a life lived with great enthusiasm and at the same time faithful in little things.  In this way, you will build a better Albania and a better world in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate above all under her title of “Our Lady of Good Counsel”.  I stand before her, spiritually, at her Shrine in Scutari, so dear to you, and to her I entrust the entire Church in Albania and all the people of this country, especially families, children and the elderly who are the living memory of the people.  May Our Lady guide you to walk “together with God towards the hope that does not delude.”

 

(from Vatican Radio)
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