“Newness in God’s Surprises”: Wisdom from Pope Francis at Pentecost

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Steve Driscoll/EWTN News

Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, program and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness – God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.”

Homily at the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 19, 2013, St. Peter’s Square

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New Saints!

On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 802 new saints!

Their names are:

  • Saint Laura Montoya, Colombia’s first saint, who lived in the late 19th century as a spiritual mother to the indigenous peoples of the region
  • Saint Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, known as Mother Lupita, who dedicated her life to helping the sick and also assisted Mexican Catholics in avoiding persecution during the government’s enactment of anti-clerical laws during the 1920s
  • The Martyrs of Otranto, a group of over 800 Italian laymen who, when their citadel in southern Italy was overrun by a Turkish invasion, refused to convert to Islam and killed

Saint Laura, Saint Maria, and the Holy Martyrs of Otranto, pray for us!

Viva la Madonna! Long live the Mother of God!

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Tony Gentile/Reuters

In the Catholic Church, the month of May has traditionally been a month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.  It is during this month that priests, bishops, and even the Pope himself encourage and highlight the importance of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our lives and our need of her prayers.

It is clear that Pope Francis has a particular love of the Mother of God and wishes for us to love her too. Just last weekend, he traveled to the largest basilica in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. Mary Major, to pray the rosary with the faithful.  This is his second visit to this basilica since he was elected pope – the Holy Father came to St. Mary Major the day after his election to ask Our Lady’s intercession for his new pontificate.

More From Catholic News Service:

Mary is a mother who helps Christians grow, face the difficulties of life and use their freedom to make lasting commitments, Pope Francis said. Marking Catholics’ traditional celebration of May as the month of Mary, Pope Francis led the recitation of the rosary May 4 at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. After the service, he went to the steps of the basilica to greet thousands of people who were unable to get inside, and he asked them to say three Hail Marys “for me, because I need it.” He also led the crowd in chanting “Viva la Madonna” (Long live the mother of God). At the beginning and end of the service, Pope Francis venerated the basilica’s famous icon of Mary “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people, in the above photograph). In a reflection after the recitation of the glorious mysteries of the Rosary, Pope Francis said there are three primary ways in which Mary, as a mother with “great and tender love,” promotes the healthy growth of Christians.

On Monday, May 13th, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis will consecrate his pontificate to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Why not say three Hail Mary’s today, for Pope Francis but also that your love for the Virgin Mary might increase each day?

Habemus Papam!

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

The smoke began to pour out of the Sistine Chapel chimney shortly after 1:00pm Central Daylight Time.  Just over an hour later, the announcement was made:

HABEMUS PAPAM! We have a pope!

The name that God knows him by is Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

He was the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The name the world will know him by is Pope Francis – the FIRST!

Let us pray for Pope Francis today and all days of his glorious reign!

EXTRA OMNES! Everybody out!

This morning around 11:30am local time, Msgr. Guido Marini, the master of ceremonies for the papal conclave, intoned the famous words: “Extra omnes!”, which command that everyone who is not a cardinal elector or a conclave secretary to vacate the Sistine Chapel immediately.  As soon as all those “extras” had filed out, Msgr. Marini dramatically closed the Sistine Chapel doors, and the papal conclave officially begun.

About two hours later, black smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney.  No pope……YET!

The next time to look for smoke will be between 5-6am Central Time tomorrow when the ballots from the morning votes are burned.

Sede Vacante.

As of 1:00pm Central Standard Time, the See (seat) of the Diocese of Rome is vacant, and we have no Pope.

Benedict XVI, who will now be known as Supreme Pontiff Emeritus, departed the city of Rome this morning via helicopter for the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, about 30 kilometers southeast of Vatican City.

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Once he arrived at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, he greeted the lay faithful with a few words, and said, “I am simply a pilgrim starting the final stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.  But I would like yet again, with my heart, my love, my prayers, my reflection, with all of my interior strength, to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity . . . let us go forward together with the Lord for the good of the Church and of the world.  I impart to you now my blessing with all of my heart.”

And then, at 8:00pm in Castel Gandolfo, in front of the papal villa, the Swiss Guard departed from their post and ceremonially gave the duty of protecting the pope to the Vatican police, and the Diocese of Rome became sede vacante, a “vacant see (seat)”.  You can watch this changing of the guard in this video (the event happens around minute 8:45 and continues for a few minutes after that).

Perhaps you could offer a prayer in thanksgiving for the holy and beautiful eight-year reign of Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, sometime today?

Saying goodbye: Benedict’s final Wednesday Audience

AP/Gregorio Borgia

AP/Gregorio Borgia

Today the Holy Father said an emotional, moving goodbye to tens of thousands of the faithful in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, as well as to the one billion Catholics throughout the world who call him shepherd.  The crowd was vibrant and alive, and the Holy Father said so himself, remarking early in his remarks: “La Chiesa è viva!” (“The Church is alive!”)  It was also a remarkably beautiful February morning in Rome, for which the Pope thanked God our Creator.

Some of the more beautiful passages of his audience:

I feel I [ought to] carry everyone in prayer, in a present that is God’s, where I recall every meeting, every voyage, every pastoral visit.  I gather everyone and everything in prayerful recollection, in order to entrust them to the Lord: in order that we might have full knowledge of His will, with every wisdom and spiritual understanding, and in order that we might comport ourselves in a manner that is worthy of Him, of His, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Colossians 1:9-10).

At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know – all of us know – that the Gospel’s Word of Truth is the strength of the Church: it is her life.  The Gospel purifies and renews; it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity.  This is my faith, this is my joy.

When … I agreed to take on the Petrine ministry …the words that resounded in my heart were: “Lord, what do you ask of me?  It is a great weight that you place on my shoulders, but, if You ask me, at your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me” – and the Lord has really guided me.  He has been close to me: daily I could feel his presence.  [These years] have been a stretch of the Church’s pilgrim way, which has seen moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments.  I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat in the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been – and the Lord seemed to sleep.  Nevertheless, I always knew that the Lord is in his barque, that the barque of the Church is not mine, not ours, but His – and He shall not let her sink.  It is He, who steers her: to be sure, he does so also through men of His choosing, for He destined it to be so.  This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish.  It is for this reason, that today my heart is filled with gratitude to God, for never did He leave me or the Church without His consolation, His light, His love.

I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord.  I would like that we all entrust ourselves as children to the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk everyday, even in times of struggle.  I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love.  I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian.  A beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, “I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart, I thank you for having created me, for having made me a Christian.” Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us!  Let us thank God for this everyday, with prayer and a coherent Christian life.  God love us, but He also expects that we love Him!

In recent months, I felt that my strength had decreased, and I asked God with insistence in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me take the right decision – not for my sake, but for the good of the Church.  I have taken this step in full awareness of its severity and also its novelty, but with a deep peace of mind.  Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.

The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no returning to private life.  My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry does not revoke this.  I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on.  I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord.  I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds.  St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me.  He showed me a way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.

I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and power of the Holy Spirit.

In the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love.

The Pope’s Final Angelus Address

Yesterday in St. Peter’s Square, from the window of his apartment in the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father led upwards of 200,000 people in the Angelus, a short prayer recited at noon that honors Our Lord’s Incarnation in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as he does on every Sunday that he is in Rome.  At this Angelus, the last of his pontificate, he also shared additional details about his resignation:

The Lord is calling me to “go up the mountain” to dedicate myself to prayer and meditation.  But this does not mean that I will abandon the Church, rather … it is because I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love which which I have sought to do until now, but in a way more suited to my age and my strength.

I thank you for your affection and sharing in this particular moment in my life and for the Church, especially through your prayers.  To all I wish a good day and a good week.  In prayer we are always close to each other.  Thank you all!

The Holy Father’s reign as pope will conclude at 1:00pm Central Time (8:00pm Rome Time) on Thursday, February 28th.  When the See of Peter is vacant (sede vacante), the Cardinals will gather and determine a start date for the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor.  The Church needs our prayers in this time!  Why not say an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be today for Pope Benedict, his successor, and the cardinal electors in the conclave?

The Catechismal Crusader : The Bishop of Rome

This week we find our hero tarrying deep with the paragraphs of Church hierarchy.  It seems only fitting that was we enter the last week of  Pope Benedict’s reign we pause to review those paragraphs directly tied to the institution of the “Holy Catholic Church” and her mission.  Enjoy!

874 Christ is himself the source of ministry in the Church. He instituted the Church. He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal:

In order to shepherd the People of God and to increase its numbers without cease, Christ the Lord set up in his Church a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body. The holders of office, who are invested with a sacred power, are, in fact, dedicated to promoting the interests of their brethren, so that all who belong to the People of God . . . may attain to salvation.389
880 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.”398 Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.”399
882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”402“For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”403
883 “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.”404
The governing office
896 The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and “form” of the bishop’s pastoral office. Conscious of his own weaknesses, “the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children. . . . The faithful . . . should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father”:428
Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God’s law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop.429
Please take an opportunity this week to pray for our Holy Father and the Church.  We will continue to pray a rosary in the chapel each Monday at 8:40 until the election of the next successor of Peter!  All are welcome!

Papal Resignation Roundup

Well, folks, it’s been quite the week.  Besides our annual entrance into Lent on Wednesday, Monday also saw the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – the first pope to do this in centuries.  As we look to the end of Benedict’s pontificate, the “interregnum” (literally, between reigns), the conclave, and, finally, the election of a new pope, it promises to be an exciting month for the Church and for the world.

We’ll do what we can to keep you updated on news as it develops.  To start, here are a few great articles, videos, and general quotes to consider if you’re in need of playing catch-up on resignation news:

In Benedict’s Own Words:

Reaction from bishops in the United States:

Remembering Benedict’s Legacy

What’s next?  
The Church awaits word on a conclave date, which is to be determined by the cardinals who will elect the next pope.

What should I do? 
This is a unique time in the life of the Church.  The best thing any of us can do is to pray very much for the Holy Father, the cardinal electors who will participate in the conclave, and the next man who will be Successor to St. Peter, known, at this moment, only to God.  If you are interested, join us for a rosary in the St. Paul’s Chapel at 8:40PM on Monday nights, starting on February 18th and ending upon the election of a new pope.  

Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us and pray for the Pope!