Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Vatican City, Apr 20, 2014 / 05:45 am (CNA).- In his Easter “urbi et orbi” Easter message “to the city and the world,” Pope Francis focused on the victory of love brought about through Christ’s death and resurrection.

“The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death,” he preached on April 20.

The Holy Father emphasized the power of God’s “unconditional and faithful love” for every human situation, praying for the many areas of the world suffering from violence or conflicts, and urging Christians to seek paths of peace and reconciliation. He then issued his blessing to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square and those throughout the world listening and watching by various types of media.

Below is the full English text of Pope Francis' “Urbi et Orbi” message:


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy and Holy Easter!

The Church thoughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!

Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

We ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future.

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!
 

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Vatican City, Apr 19, 2014 / 02:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily for the Easter Vigil Pope Francis encouraged those present to remember the moment they first felt the love of God, saying that Jesus' resurrection is a time to relive this experience anew.

“Returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him,” the pontiff said during the April 19 evening vigil, held every year the night before Easter as as a commemoration of Jesus' resurrection.

“It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.”

Beginning his reflections, Pope Francis recounted the events of the Gospel, recalling how when the women come to the tomb and found it empty an angel told them to go to Galilee and tell the disciples what they saw.

He added that on their way they met Jesus, who told them to do the same and that there, “they will see me...Don't be afraid.”

Observing how “the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died” after Jesus' death, the Pope explained that the women's message, “incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness.”

After the women's testimony “The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said,” the Pope stated, drawing attention to Jesus' command for the women to return to Galilee. He noted that they “had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: 'Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me.'”

“Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called,” he observed.

“Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him.”

Returning to Galilee, the pontiff continued, “means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory without fear.”

“To re-read everything – Jesus' preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.”

For each of us as well “there is a 'Galilee' at the origin of our journey with Jesus,” the Pope went on to say, expressing that this return is a beautiful rediscovery of our baptism which helps us to draw a new energy from the sources of our faith.

Returning to Galilee, he noted, “means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey.”

“From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters,” the Pope said, highlighting how “that flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.”

Pope Francis then explained that there is “a more existential 'Galilee'” in the life of every Christian after baptism, which is “the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission.”

Addressing those in attendance, the Roman Pontiff encouraged each to ask themselves: “What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Did it go away or I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?”

“Lord,” he prayed, “help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.”

Emphasizing how the Easter Gospel reading is “very clear,” the Pope said that “we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection.”

“This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia,” the pontiff clarified, but rather “it is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.”

“'Galilee of the Gentiles!'” he concluded, “Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter…Let us be on our way!”

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