Vatican City, May 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Catholic world will be united with Pope Francis on the Feast of Corpus Christi as he leads a “historic” hour of simultaneous Eucharistic Adoration.
“Even some islands in the middle of the ocean … at two in the morning – they don’t have electricity – but even with that they will be in communion with us and Pope Francis for one hour,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella said as he explained the intense reaction he is seeing to the June 2 event.
“I am proud to say that this is a historical moment for the history of the Church because for one hour all the churches in the world will be united. … We are united because the Eucharist makes us all one body and one spirit, so we enter into the deepest meaning of the Eucharist,” the archbishop told CNA in a May 28 interview.
Archbishop Fisichella, who leads the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said that the strong response to the event did not surprise him because he has seen “an increasing number of people engaged in adoration” in recent years.
The gathering will be an hour of simultaneous adoration for the Feast of Corpus Christi, which Pope Francis will begin in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5:00 p.m. Rome time.
Archbishop Fisichella announced May 28 that there are two intentions for the Holy Hour.
The first is for the “Church throughout the world united today in Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist,” that the Lord makes her ever obedient to his word so that she appears before the world as “beautiful, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish.”
The second intention is dedicated to people around the world who are suffering from violence, drug or human trafficking, economic insecurity, and those who have been pushed to the margins of society.
As of May 28, the New Evangelization council had received responses from hundreds of dioceses worldwide, including all of those in Vietnam and South Korea.
The list is a virtual tour of the globe, stretching from Reykjavik, Iceland in the north, to dioceses in South Africa, Chile and New Zealand in the south.
Christ will also be adored in the Eucharist in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Honolulu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Guam.
Other countries with a large number of parishes or dioceses participating are: the United States with 243, India with 163, Brazil with 56, and Italy with 50.
While Pope Francis will pray in Italian and Latin, the local Holy Hours will be conducted in the local language.
The New Evangelization council has posted the program that will be used in Rome on its website and will soon make it available there in six languages.
The Year of Faith will be celebrated with another weekend event on dedicated to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (The Gospel of Life), which take place in Rome June 15-16.
Pilgrims will be coming from all over the world and will be able to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb, take part in a teaching session with different cardinals or archbishops depending on their language, hold a silent candlelight march to St. Peter’s Square and attend Mass with Pope Francis.
English-speaking participants will receive catechesis from Cardinal Raymond Burke at the Pontifical Urban College, and attend a panel discussion with Professor Francis Beckwith from Baylor University and Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute.
For further information on the Year of Faith events and to register for them, visit: www.annusfidei.va.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer team celebrated the feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24 by unveiling a plaque honoring one of their most famous “fans,” Pope Francis.
The feast is marked each year by a special Mass. Two years ago, that Mass was celebrated by then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who is now Pope Francis.
At the end of this year’s Mass, the club’s secretary Marcelo Vasquez joined manager Alejandro Maccio in presenting the plaque in honor of the Holy Father.
The plaque features an image of the Pope and the San Lorenzo team banner with an inscription underneath that reads, “Thank You Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. May 24, 2011. We are praying for you, Pope Francis. May 24, 2013.”
The Catholic faith has deep connections to the San Lorenzo team, which got its colors from its founder, Lorenzo Massa, who was inspired by the red and blue mantle of Mary Help of Christians. The jersey Massa designed in her honor was first used by the team in 1908.
During the Mass he celebrated with the team in 2011, the future Pope asked the players to “never kick Mary Help of Christians off the team, because she is your mother and San Lorenzo was founded at (the oratory) of St. Anthony under the protection of the Virgin Mary.”
Vatican City, May 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Faithful Christians will always face difficulties, said Pope Francis on Tuesday, warning that a worldly, career-based approach to faith avoids the suffering and persecution inherent in following Christ.
“Many Christians, tempted by the spirit of the world, think that following Jesus is good because it can become a career, they can get ahead,” the Pope said.
“When a Christian has no difficulties in life – when everything is fine, everything is beautiful – something is wrong.”
He suggested this temptation is common for a Christian who is “a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness.”
“You cannot remove the cross from the path of Jesus, it is always there,” he added.
Pope Francis delivered his homily at morning Mass at the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence. Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Monsignor José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, respectively the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, concelebrated Mass.
“Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? ‘Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others.’ The spirit of the world never says that the Blessed Teresa spent, every day, many hours in adoration ... Never!” the Pope said.
He explained that the worldly spirit “reduces Christian activity to doing social good.”
“As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity,” he said. “The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and changes us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution.”
Just as Pope Francis criticized career-based Christianity, he also warned about a solely culture-based approach to the faith.
He criticized the attitude of following Jesus because one was born in a Christian culture. He said this ignores “the necessity of true discipleship of Jesus, the necessity to travel his road.”
“If you follow Jesus as a cultural proposal, then you are using this road to get higher up, to have more power. And the history of the Church is full of this, starting with some emperors and then many rulers and many people, no?” the Pope observed.
The Holy Father said that this attitude is present even among some priests and bishops.
He concluded with an exhortation to follow Jesus Christ truly.
“Following Jesus is just that: going with him out of love, behind him: on the same journey, the same path. And the spirit of the world will not tolerate this and what will make us suffer, but suffering as Jesus did,” he said.
“Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus in the way that he has revealed to us and that he has taught us. This is beautiful, because he never leaves us alone. Never! He is always with us. So be it.”
Washington D.C., May 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The pastor of a Pentecostal church in Iran was arrested last week during a religious service, and the church has now been closed by government officials, according to news reports.
“These incidents appear to be an attempt to stop worship services from being conducted in Farsi, the language of the majority of Iranians,” said George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the United States.
He explained to to BosNewsLife, a Central European Christian news service, that such worship services “are allowed in Armenian, a minority language that most Iranians do not speak or even understand.”
The Central Assemblies of God church in Tehran was closed on May 27 following the arrest of Pastor Robert Asserian during a service held at the church six days earlier. Members of his congregation said they do not know where he is being held.
“Before going to the church, authorities raided Pastor Asserian’s home, where they confiscated a computer and several books,” Wood said.
“Then, they found Pastor Asserian at the church leading the prayer service, immediately arrested him and announced the church’s imminent closure.”
Asserian is the latest in a series of Christian pastors to be arrested and detained in Iran. While Iranian law offers some protections for Chaldean Catholic and Armenian Christians, it does not recognize or protect members of Protestant Christian groups or other kinds of Catholic Christians.
Pastor Saeed Abedini, a United States citizen, was arrested in September 2012 and received an eight-year sentence in Iran’s Evin prison. According to family members, he has been brutally beaten and denied medical care.
In addition, Pastor Behnam Irani is being held in Ghezel Hesar Prison near the capital of Iran, where recent reports indicate that health is deteriorating.
Another Christian pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani, was imprisoned in Iran for converting away from Islam. He spent three years in prison and received a death sentence before being released amid mounting international pressure.
Religious freedom and human rights groups are now seeking to raise similar awareness and pressure on behalf of the other imprisoned pastors. A petition to the White House has been launched on behalf of Irani, while a social media campaign is underway to support Abedini.