Saturday, May 04, 2013

Retired Pope Benedict Welcomed Back to Vatican

For the first time in history, the Vatican is hosting a current pope (Pope Francis) and a retired pope (Benedict XIV), as the latter has returned now that his new home has been remodeled.

From Catholic News Service:
Pope Francis welcomed his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI, to the Vatican May 2 outside the convent remodeled for the 86-year-old retired pontiff and five aides. Pope Francis and Pope Benedict entered the convent's chapel together "for a brief moment of prayer," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
Read more: Catholic News Service

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pope Francis Delivers Easter Sunday Urbi et Orbi

What follows is the official English translation of Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi message delivered on Easter Sunday 2013. Happy Easter to all from your friends at The Pope Blog!
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter! 
What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons … 
Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs! 
We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this! 
This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell - to the abyss of separation from God - this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope. 
This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory: the living man (cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4,20,5-7). 
Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14). 
So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish. 
And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world. 
Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found? 
Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. 
Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear. 
Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow. 
Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century; human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation. 
Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let Israel say: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’” (Ps 117:1-2). 
Dear Brothers and Sisters, to you who have come from all over the world to this Square at the heart of Christianity, and to you linked by modern technology, I repeat my greeting: Happy Easter! 
Bear in your families and in your countries the message of joy, hope and peace which every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed. 
May the risen Lord, the conqueror of sin and death, be a support to you all, especially to the weakest and neediest. Thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith. A thought and a special thank-you for the beautiful flowers, which come from the Netherlands. To all of you I affectionately say again: may the risen Christ guide all of you and the whole of humanity on the paths of justice, love and peace.
Source: The Vatican

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis' Inauguration Mass Homily

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Pope Francis celebrated his inauguration Mass as Bishop of Rome. In his homily, he called upon world leaders and others in positions of power to be "protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment." Below is the official English translation of his full address.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude. 
I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps. 
In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1). 
How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus. 
How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation! 
The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts! 
Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women. 
Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness! 
Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness! 
Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect! 
In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God. 
To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us! 
I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.
Source: The Vatican

Watch Live: Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis

A live video stream of the Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate of Francis is now available. The Pope is expected to make his way through the crowd and into St. Peter's Basilica starting at approximately 8:45 AM CET (3:45 AM EDT). The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM CET (4:30 AM EDT) and should last approximately 2 hours.

PBS Feed:


CBC Feed:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Inauguration Mass Tomorrow

The Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate of Francis is schedule for tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM CET (Rome Time), which is 4:30 AM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has just published the official booklet for the inauguration, so you can follow along at home. The Vatican Information Service has also given this special release:
Vatican City, 18 March 2013 (VIS) – In the press conference held today, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Press Office of the Holy See, focused on two themes: Pope Francis' first audiences and details of the Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome.
First, Fr. Lombardi relayed the information that the Holy Father was, at the moment, having lunch with the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, whom he received at the Domus Sanctae Marthae “in a private meeting that lasted around 20 minutes, afterwards greeting the other members of the Argentine delegation”. Also this morning, at 10:00am, Francis received in audience Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. Yesterday afternoon he had two very cordial audiences, one with the Bishop of Albano, Italy, and the other with the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon. 
The main part of the press conference was dedicated to how the Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome will be celebrated. “The correct term for the ceremony,” Fr. Lombardi clarified, “is not enthronement but inauguration. As successor of Peter, the Pope is Bishop of Rome and the Church of Rome 'presides in love' over the others. Also, it is a celebration rich with symbols that recall the Pope's tie to St. Peter, beginning with the place where, according to tradition, Peter was martyred.” 
The Press Office Director also explained where those participating in and attending the Mass will be located. “On the left-hand side of the 'Sagrato' (porch of the Basilica) will be seated bishops and archbishops (around 250 are expected), ecclesiastics, and delegations from other Churches and Christian confessions. On the right-hand side of the 'Sagrato' will be delegations from various countries lead by heads of state, ministers, etc. On the St. Peter’s statue side of the piazza will be seated Jews, Muslims, and members of other religions, then around 1200 priests and seminarians. On the St. Paul’s statue side of the piazza will be seated the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See and other civil authorities. The rest of the piazza will be standing-room for all those without tickets. A large number is expected to attend.” 
Between 8:45 and 8:50am the Pope will depart the Domus Sanctae Marthae and start to move through the crowd in the various sections of the piazza—either in the Jeep or the Popemobile—and greet those gathered. He will return to the Sacristy, via the Pietà side, around 9:15am. Mass is planned to begin at 9:30am. 
Regarding the beginning of the ceremony, the Pope, once having entered the Basilica, will head to the Confession (St. Peter’s tomb under the high altar) while trumpets will announce the “Tu es Petrus”. The Pope will venerate the tomb of St. Peter, together with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches (ten in number, four of whom are cardinals). He will then be presented with the Pallium, Ring, and Book of the Gospels that were placed at St. Peter’s tomb the night before. 
The Holy Father will then come back up from the Confession to the main floor of the Basilica, from which the procession continues. The “Laudes Regiae” (Christ is King) will be chanted, with some invocations taken from the Vatican II document on the Church, “Lumen Gentium”. In the Litany of Saints are particularly to be noted, after the Apostles, the Holy Roman Pontiffs who have been canonized up to the most recent: St. Pius X. Fr. Lombardi clarified that these are only the pontiffs who have been named as saints, not those who have been beatified. The procession will then make its entrance into the square. 
Fr. Lombardi listed who will be concelebrating the Mass with Francis: all the cardinals present in Rome, joined by the Patriarchs and Major Eastern Rite Archbishops (6); the Secretary of the College of Cardinals; and two Superior Generals (that of the Order of Friars Minor, Jose Rodriguez Carballo and that of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, respectively President and Vice-President of the Union of Superior Generals). In total about 180 are expected to concelebrate and they will be seated at the left (that is, in front of the ecclesiastics, not the national delegations). 
Before the Mass begins there are the rites specific to the beginning of the Bishop of Rome's Petrine Ministry. These include:
The Imposition of the Pallium: Made of lamb’s wool and sheep’s wool, the Pallium is placed on the Pope's shoulders recalling the Good Shepherd who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders. The Pope’s Pallium has five red crosses while the Metropolitans’ Palliums have five black crosses. The one used by Francis is the same one that Benedict XVI used. It is placed on the Pope’s shoulders by Cardinal proto-deacon Tauran and, after the imposition, there is a prayer recited by Cardinal proto-presbyter Daneels. 
The Fisherman’s Ring: Peter is the fisherman Apostle, called to be a “fisher of men”. The ring is presented to the Pope by Cardinal Deacon Sodano (first of the Order of Bishops). It bears the image of St. Peter with the keys. It was designed by Enrico Manfrini The ring was in the possession of Archbishop Macchi, Pope Paul VI's personal secretary, and then Msgr. Malnati, who proposed it to Pope Francis through Cardinal Re. It is made of silver and gold. 
The “Obedience”: Six cardinals, two from each order, among the first of those present approach the Pope to make an act of obedience. Note that all the Cardinal electors already made an act of obedience in the Sistine Chapel at the end of the Conclave and that all the cardinals were able to meet the Pope in the following day’s audience in the Clementine Hall. Also, at the moment of “taking possession” of the Cathedral of Rome—St. John Lateran—it is expected that the act of obedience will be made by representatives of the various members of the People of God. 
The Mass will be that of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which has its own readings (therefore they are not directly related to the rite of the Inauguration of the Pontificate). The Gospel will be proclaimed in Greek, as at the highest solemnities, to show that the universal Church is made up of the great traditions of the East and the West. “Latin,” Fr. Lombardi said, “is already abundantly present in the other prayers and Mass parts.” 
The Pope will give his homily in Italian and, as is his style, it probably will not follow the written text strictly, but will contain improvisations. 
Fr. Lombardi said that the Master of Celebrations expects that the ceremony will not last much more than two hours and, always with the intention of simplification and not making the rite overly long, there will not be an Offertory procession. The Eucharistic gifts will be brought to the altar by the ministers who prepare the altar. Also, the Pope will not distribute Communion, which will be done by the deacons on the “Sagrato” and, in the various areas of the piazza, by priests. 
Regarding the music for the ceremony, several moments are notable. When the Pope enters the Basilica silver trumpets will ring out the “Tu es Petrus”. The Laudes Regiae will be chanted during the procession from St. Peter’s tomb to the “Sagrato”. A 14 piece brass ensemble will play at various moments of the celebration. During the Offertory the “Tu es pastor ovium” (You Are the Shepherd of the Sheep) motet composed by Pierluigi da Palestrina precisely for the Inauguration of the Pontificate will be sung. At the conclusion, the “Te Deum” will be sung with verses alternating between Gregorian chant and a melody by Tomas Luis de Victoria. As it will not be held on a Sunday, there will be no Angelus after the Mass. 
At the end of the celebration, and after removing the Liturgical vestments, the Pope will go to the Basilica’s high altar, before which he will greet the heads of the official delegations from various countries who will pass before him. He will then go to the Domus Sanctae Marthae for lunch. 
Other delegations staying in Rome can meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State of His Holiness, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States the following day, Wednesday (for example, the President of Brazil in light of the upcoming World Youth Day). As is known, the Pope will receive delegations of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of other religions in audience on Wednesday. 
At the present moment, the main delegations that are expected to attend are:
- 33 delegations representing Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities (14 Oriental; 10 Western; 3 Christian organizations; others). Among these will be present: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I; Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II; Metropolitan Hilarion of the Patriarchate of Moscow; many metropolitans; Anglican Archbishop Sentamu; Secretary of the World Council of Churches Fykse Tveit; etc. 
- 16 members of important Jewish delegations including: the Jewish community of Rome; international Jewish committees; the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; the World Jewish Congress; the Anti-Defamation League, etc.
- As well as delegations of Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jainists, etc. To date, delegations of various sizes and levels from 132 countries have confirmed their attendance. 
“The delegations,” Fr. Lombardi emphasized, “are coming to Rome following information of the event made public by the Secretary of State. There were no 'invitations' sent out. All who wish to come are warmly welcomed. It must be made clear that no one has privileged status or will be refused. The order will depend on protocol and the level of the delegation.” 
Naturally, the most important delegations will be those from Argentina, led by President Cristina Kirchner and Italy, led by President Napolitano and Prime Minister Monti with presidents of the Italian Senate, House, and Constitutional Court. 
Also expected are six reigning sovereigns (Belgium, Monaco…); 31 heads of state (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Poland, Portugal, European Union…); three crown princes (Spain, Holland, Bahrain); 11 heads of government (Germany, France, the Vice President of the United States, …); and delegations led by: first ladies, vice presidents, vice prime ministers, parliament presidents, ministers, ambassadors, and other dignitaries.
Papal Coat of Arms: The last topic that Fr. Lombardi covered was the now pontiff's papal coat of arms and motto. These are the same that he used as bishop. The shield has a bright blue background, at the centre top of which is a yellow radiant sun with the IHS christogram on it representing Jesus (it is also the Jesuit logo). The IHS monogram, as well as a cross that pierces the H, are in red with three black nails directly under them. Under that, to the left, is a star representing Mary, Mother of Christ and the Church. To the right of the star is a nard flower representing Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. With these symbols the Pope demonstrates his love for the Holy Family. 
What distinguishes his coat of arms as pontiff is that, instead of the wide-brimmed, red cardinal's hat atop the shield, it is now crowned by the papal tiara and crossed keys. 
His motto—“miserando atque eligendo” (because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him)—is taken from the Venerable Bede's homily on the Gospel account of the call of Matthew. It holds special meaning for the Pope because—when he was only 17-years-old, after going to confession on the Feast of St. Matthew in 1953—he perceived God's mercy in his life and felt the call to the priesthood, following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Pope Francis' Coat of Arms

On the eve of the inauguration Mass, the Vatican released the official coat of arms of the new Pontiff.

Pope Francis' Coat of Arms

On Pope Francis' coat of arms are three symbols: At the top is the "IHS" on the backdrop of a fiery sun, with the cross surmounting the "H". This is the symbol of the Society of Jesus, Pope Francis' religious order. Below the Jesuit symbol are the star, which represents the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the spikenard, which represents St. Joseph.

The motto: "miserando atque eligendo" means "lowly but chosen". This motto is based on the Gospel account of the calling of St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the tax collector, "Follow me." Read more at Vatican Radio.