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Pope Francis' 2015 speech to US Congress: still a challenge

(Vatican Radio) Two years ago this Sunday (September 24th), Pope Francis made history by delivering the first-ever address by a reigning Pope to the U.S. Congress.

In his wide-ranging address, the Holy Father touched on issues ranging from the need for politics to serve the common good and the importance of cooperation and solidarity, to the dangers of fundamentalism, the refugee crisis, abolition of the death penalty, the need for courageous acts to avert environmental deterioration, the evils of the arms trade, and threats to the family from within and without.

Pope Francis focused especially on four great figures from US history: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton, saying that each of them helped build a better future for the people of the U.S.

Veteran Vatican reporter Cindy Wooden, who covered the historic event for Catholic News Service, told Vatican Radio that, two years on, the speech remains a challenge to lawmakers and citizens in the United States.

Click below to hear the extended conversation

“I wouldn’t say that his points were completely accepted and acted on,” Wooden told Vatican Radio, “but I think they are as much a challenge today – maybe even more so – than they were two years ago.”

Wooden also said the Pope’s speech continues to be important in the current climate of discourse in the United States.

“It’s an important reminder of the vocation of the politician,” she said. “The Pope use[d] in this speech, the same kind of vocational language that he would use for [the] priesthood or religious life: politics as a calling of service – and I think that, if politicians paid a little more attention to that right now, perhaps we’d be in a better spot.”

Click below to hear Ciny Wooden’s extended conversation with Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis at Angelus: embrace the logic of God's Kingdom

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday – the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – focusing his remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion on the Parable of the Landowner and the Wage-earners, proclaimed as the Gospel reading of the day (Mt. 20:1-16).

The Gospel at a glance

In that story, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a landowner, who hires day-labourers in the early morning, and again at successive hours of the day, at the end of which he instructs his paymaster to give the full day’s wage to all the workers, beginning with those hired at the 11th hour.

The labourers of the first hour complain of this treatment, to which the Landowner replies, “I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

Jesus then explains the lesson, “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Pope Francis reflects

Reflecting on the passage, Pope Francis said, “In reality, the ‘injustice’ of the Landowner serves to provoke, in those who hear the parable, an increase in understanding (It. salto di livello), because Jesus does not want to speak of the problem of labour and of just wages, but of the Kingdom of God.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “The message is this: in the Kingdom of God there are no idle hands, all are called to do their part; and for all, at the end, the recompense shall be what comes from divine justice – not human justice, happily – i.e. the salvation that Jesus Christ has acquired with His death and resurrection. This is a salvation that is not merited, but given, for which, ‘The last shall be first, and the first shall be last’.”

Click below to hear our report

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: Bl Stanley Rother model of heroic witness

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis praised the virtue and example of Blessed Stanley Francis Rother on Sunday, one day after the secular missionary priest originally of Oklahoma in the United States was beatified as a martyr.

Bl. Stanley was killed on July 28th, 1981, after returning to Guatemala to minister to his flock, despite several death threats and warnings his life would be in danger. “Well, a shepherd cannot run from his flock,” he is quoted as saying in explanation of his decision to return in the face of such danger.

Click below to hear our report

In remarks to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square following the traditional Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis said, “[Saturday], in Oklahoma City, the missionary priest, Stanley Francis Rother, killed in hatred of the faith for his work of evangelization and work to promote the human dignity of the poorest people in Guatemala, was proclaimed Blessed. May his heroic example help us to be courageous witnesses to the Gospel, committed to working in behalf of the dignity of man.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Is 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

R. (18a) The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

Reading 2 Phil 1:20c-24, 27a

Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me.
And I do not know which I shall choose.
I am caught between the two.
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better.
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Alleluia Cf. Acts 16:14b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 20:1-16a

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o'clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.'
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o'clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o'clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
'Why do you stand here idle all day?'
They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.'
He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.'
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
'Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.'
When those who had started about five o'clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
'These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day's burden and the heat.'
He said to one of them in reply,
'My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?'
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."


- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Pope Francis to Trappists: courageous witness to charism

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistertians of the Strict Observance – the Trappists – which is taking place in Assisi from the 6th to the 27th of September.

Click below to hear our report

The OCSO at a glance

Part of the larger Cistercian family, which traces its origin to 1098, the OCSO follow the Rule of St. Benedict, dedicating their lives to the search for union with God through Jesus Christ, in a community of sisters or brothers.

All Cistercian monasteries are dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother is the Order’s patronal feast.

The OCSO General Chapter is the supreme authority in the Order, and is prepared by a Central Commission elected by the previous Chapter and whose members are chosen by the various regions of the Order.

There are formally two separate Chapters: one for monks and one for nuns – though they meet together every three years, “to foster peace and charity among themselves and to make appropriate decisions for maintaining the patrimony and unity of the Order.”

Pope to Trappists: courageous witness to permanent truths

In remarks prepared for the occasion of the special audience with participants in the current General Chapter, and delivered Saturday morning in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said, “From the outset, the Cistercians of Strict Observance have made themselves known for their great sobriety of life, convinced that to concentrate on the essence and [thus] to reach more easily the joy of the spousal encounter with Christ, should be a valid help.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “This element of spiritual and existential simplicity preserves all its value as a [mode of] witness in today’s cultural context, which too often leads to the desire for ephemeral goods and illusory artificial paradises.”

“Throughout its history,” said Pope Francis, “your Order has known times of grace and moments of difficulty; but it has always persevered in fidelity to the sequela Christi, having as its purpose the glory of God and the good of the people.” He went on to say, “Continuing in the way of your spiritual tradition, may your read the present state of the Order in its shadows and lights, and in the novelty of the Spirit, identify with courage new possibilities and occasions to witness your charism in the present of the Church and of Society.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest

Reading 1 1 Tm 6:13-16

Beloved:
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate
for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (2) Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
For he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.

Alleluia See Lk 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generious heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
"A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold."
After saying this, he called out,
"Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
"Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

"This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance."


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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Pope Francis makes surprise visit to Rome neuro rehab centre

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday made a surprise visit to a Rome rehabilitation centre for patients with neurological diseases.

A statement from the Holy See press office said the afternoon visit was a continuation of the ‘Fridays of Mercy’ initiative that he inaugurated during the recent Jubilee Year to encourage practical gestures of solidarity with those most in need.

The Santa Lucia Foundation, located to the south of Rome’s city centre, is well known for its quality care of patients affected by physical or mental disabilities resulting from strokes, bone marrow diseases, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

Pope Francis was welcomed by the director and staff of the centre, as well as by the patients and their family members. The Holy Father spent time talking and laughing with many of the young children, watching with particular interest as he was shown some of the exercises which help them to regain their mobility.

He also met with older patients, aged between 15 and 25, many of whom suffer from severe disabilities as a result of car accidents. Before leaving the centre, the pope visited a gym providing rehabilitation for the elderly and then spent a few minutes in prayer in a chapel located on the premises.

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican to set up joint committee with Muslim World League

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has held talks with Dr. Muhammad Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, accompanied by a delegation.

The meeting came during an informal encounter on Wednesday between the World Muslim League delegation and the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

Combat fundamentalism

A statement from the Pontifical Council said that the two sides reaffirmed the following points: that religion and violence are incompatible; that religions have moral resources capable of contributing to fraternity and peace; that the phenomenon of fundamentalism, in particular when violent, is troubling and joint efforts are required to counter it.

Protect religious freedom

In addition, the statement said, situations exist where freedom of conscience and of religion are not entirely respected and protected, so there is an urgent need to remedy this, renewing “religious discourse” and reviewing school books.

In conclusion, the statement said both sides agreed to establish a joint permanent committee in the near future.

(from Vatican Radio)

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Tm 6:2c-12

Beloved:
Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20

R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Why should I fear in evil days
when my wicked ensnarers ring me round?
They trust in their wealth;
the abundance of their riches is their boast.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one's life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
"They will praise you for doing well for yourself,"
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Alleluia See Mt 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.


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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist

Reading 1 Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ's gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Alleluia — See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
He heard this and said,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."


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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.