Pope Francis: Open your hearts to Jesus’ mercy

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday evening celebrated Mass at the parish of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore in the Roman suburb of Tor Bella Monaca.
In his homily, the Holy Father said we cannot fool Jesus, acting like saints when we’re around the church, but living our daily lives like pagans. Jesus knows what is in the heart of man. “We all know the name Jesus gives to those who show a ‘double face’: hypocrites!” The Pope said we would do well “to enter into our hearts and to look upon Jesus.”  The Lord, he said, knows that we are sinners – but if we acknowledge that we are sinners, we have no need to be afraid.
Pope Francis also considered Jesus’ action in cleansing the Temple. When we look into our own hearts, he said, we find so many sins: sins of selfishness, pride, envy jealousy. We must open our hearts to Jesus, and ask Him to cleanse our hearts. Jesus, though, does not cleanse our hearts with a whip, as He cleansed the Temple; rather, He purifies our hearts with the “whip” of mercy.
“Open your hearts to the mercy of Jesus!” the Pope said. “And if we open our hearts to the mercy of Jesus, so that He might cleanse our hearts, our souls, Jesus will trust us.”
Before arriving at the church, the Pope visited the church of Santa Giovanna Antida, within the parish boundaries, where he met with members of the community who are sick or poor, and who are cared for by the Missionaries of Charity.
At the parish church, the Holy Father met with children studying catechism at the parish, and with children who attend the parish daycare. He also met with members of the parish council, and heard Confessions of several people ahead of the Mass.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope Francis: Let us allow Jesus to cleanse our hearts

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday based his Angelus address on the Gospel account of Jesus cleansing the Temple. Jesus’ prophetic words and actions, the Pope said, which refer to His death and resurrection, “are fully understood in the light of His Pasch.” Jesus Christ Himself, in His Resurrection, becomes the meeting place between God and man.
During Lent, the Pope continued, we prepare for Easter, when we will renew our baptismal promises. The Holy Father called on each of us to follow Jesus, so that people might encounter God in us and in our witness. But this leads us to ask ourselves if we allow the Lord “to ‘cleanse’ our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of cupidity, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, those habits of gossiping and tearing down others.” Jesus, the Pope said, cleanses our hearts not with a whip, as He cleansed the Temple, but with tenderness, mercy, and love.
“Every Eucharist that we celebrate with faith makes us grow as a living temple of the Lord,” the Pope said, “thanks to the communion with His crucified and risen Body… Let us allow Him to enter into our lives, into our families, into our hearts.”
Below, please find the complete text of the Pope’s Angelus address for Sunday, 8 March 2015:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today’s Gospel presents the episode of the of the expulsion of the merchants from the temple (Jn 2:13-25). Jesus “made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen” (Jn 2:15), the money, everything. Such a gesture gave rise to strong impressions in the people and in the disciples. It clearly appeared as a prophetic gesture, so much so that some of those present asked Jesus: “[But] what sign can you show us for doing this?” (v. 18), who are you to do these things? Show us a sign that you have authority to do them. They are seeking a divine sign, a prodigy that would certify Jesus as being sent by God. And He responded: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). They replied: “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” (v. 20). They had not understood that the Lord was referring to the living temple of His body, that would be destroyed in the death on the Cross, but would be raised on the third day. For this, in “three days.” “When He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken” (v. 22).
In effect, this gesture of Jesus and His prophetic message are fully understood in the light of His Pasch. We have here, according to the evangelist John, the first proclamation of the death and resurrection of Christ: His body, destroyed on the Cross by the violence of sin, will become in the Resurrection the universal meeting place between God and men. And the Risen Christ is Himself the universal meeting place – for everyone! – between God and men. For this reason, His humanity is the true temple where God is revealed, speaks, is encountered; and the true worshippers, the true worshippers of God are not only the guardians of the material temple, the keepers of power and of religious knowledge, [but] they are those who worship God “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23).
In this time of Lent we are preparing for the celebration of Easter, when we will renew the promises of our Baptism. Let us travel in the world as Jesus did, and let us make our whole existence a sign of our love for our brothers, especially the weakest and poorest, let us build for God a temple of our lives. And so we make it “encounterable” for those who we find along our journey. If we are witnesses of this living Christ, so many people will encounter Jesus in us, in our witness. But, we ask – and each one of us can ask ourselves – does the Lord feel at home in my life? Do we allow Him to “cleanse” our hearts and to drive out the idols, those attitudes of cupidity, jealousy, worldliness, envy, hatred, those habits of gossiping and tearing down others. Do I allow Him to cleanse all the behaviours that are against God, against our neighbour, and against ourselves, as we heard today in the first Reading? Each one can answer for himself, in the silence of his heart: “Do I allow Jesus to make my heart a little cleaner?” “Oh Father, I fear the rod!” But Jesus never strikes. Jesus cleanses with tenderness, with mercy, with love. Mercy is the His way of cleansing. Let us, each of us, let us allow the Lord to enter with His mercy – not with the whip, no, with His mercy – to cleanse our hearts. The whip of Jesus with us is His mercy. Let us open to Him the gates so that He would make us a little cleaner.
Every Eucharist that we celebrate with faith makes us grow as a living temple of the Lord, thanks to the communion with His crucified and risen Body. Jesus recognizes that which is in each of us, and knows well our most ardent desires: that of being inhabited by Him, only by Him. Let us allow Him to enter into our lives, into our families, into our hearts. May Mary most holy, the privileged dwelling place of the Son of God, accompany us and sustain us on the Lenten journey, so that we might be able to rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ, the only One Who frees us and saves us.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Voices of Faith brings women to Vatican on International Women’s Day

(Vatican Radio)  The second annual Voices of Faith storytelling event takes place in  the Vatican Sunday, as women from ten countries and four  continents gather in the Casina Pio IV to celebrate International Women’s Day. 
The initiative was launched last year by Catholic philanthropist Chantal Goetz “to enhance the dignity, participation and leadership of women and girls through persistent and good storytelling.”
Voices of Faith is jointly supported by the Fidel Goetz Foundation and Caritas Internationalis .  Two projects that highlight women in leadership roles and whose work benefits women and their communities have been selected to receive the “Women: Sowers of Development” Prize to be awarded at the event on Sunday.
Caritas Internationalis’ policy and advocacy officer, Martina Liebsch says of the two €10,000 prizes, one will be awarded to Caritas Nicaragua for its program helping women set up vegetable gardens which allow them to feed their families and also to sell their produce to their local communities.
Listen to Tracey McClure’s interview with Caritas’ Martina Liebsch:

The other prize winner, Reem Alhaswani, is a Syrian refugee who helped create “Basmeh Zeitooneh” (Smile and Olives), an association which gives dignity and hope to hundreds of desperate Syrian and Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon.
The association runs an embroidery programme and other projects that help refugee women in Lebanon support their families. It provides relief services and emergency items, psychological support for victims of domestic violence and organizes workshops on human rights.
Wide range of speakers putting their faith into action
Speakers at the Voices of Faith event in the Vatican Sunday include prize winners Alhaswani and Juana Bertha Duarte Somoza on behalf of Caritas Nicaragua and Nicaraguan farmer and Alba Marina Rosales Ruiz.
Somali refugee Suad Mohamed will speak about her experiences living for 17 years in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya after her family fled civil war in her country.  She will tell the story of how her life changed and she was able to give back to her community when she was given the opportunity to study through a ground-breaking higher education program offered by Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins.
International Director of the program, Dr. Mary McFarland will explain how Jesuit Commons:HEM works with Jesuit Refugee Service and other on-site university partners to provide scalable, sustainable and transferrable higher education programs for more than 1400 students in camps in Kenya, Malawi, Syria, Jordan, Chad, Thailand and Afghanistan as well as students in rural Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Other speakers include Mukti Bosco , co-founder and secretary general of the India-based Healing Fields foundation, who will share insights into what it takes to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible to the poor and marginalized in India.
Syriac Orthodox Sr. Hatune Dogan , Founder of Hatune Foundation International will recount her harrowing tales braving danger to help persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Sr. Marta Pellon i, Founder of Infacia Robada (National Stolen Childhood Network) will tell of her experiences fighting the trafficking of women and children in Argentina.
A priest is also among the speakers Sunday.  Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J . is a Jesuit priest from Nigeria and the provincial of the East Africa Province of the Society of Jesus who will talk about the Boko Haram kidnapping of the Nigerian girl students and the importance of educating women.
Swedish Ambassador to the Holy See Ulla Gudmundson, Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala who helped India’s Catholic Bishops Conference develop its current gender policy, and Vatican Radio German journalist Gudrun Sailer will also take part in a panel discussion as part of the programme.
The event will be streamed live on the web:  www.voicesoffaith.org  starting at 15:00 Central European Time (1400 UTC) on Sunday 8 March.
(from Vatican Radio)…

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Pope greets women on International Women’s Day

(Vatican Radio)  In his remarks following the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis had a special greeting for “all the women throughout the world who are seeking, every day, to build a more human and welcoming society.” Pope Francis continued with a “a fraternal ‘thank you’ for all those women who, in a thousand ways, bear witness to the Gospel and work in the Church.”
March 8th, celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day, is an occasion, he said, “to repeat the importance of women, and the necessity of their presence in life.” Pope Francis said, “A world where women are marginalized is a sterile world, because women don’t just bear life but transmit to us the ability to see otherwise, they see things differently. They transmit to us the ability to understand the world with different eyes, to understand things with hearts that are more creative, more patient, more tender.” The Pope then offered “a prayer, and a special blessing, for all the women present here in the Square, and for all women.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

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