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Archive of July 5, 2013

Release of Pope Francis' first encyclical stresses beauty of faith

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The first encyclical of Pope Francis – which had been started by the former Pope, Benedict XVI – has been released today to help strengthen the faith of Catholics worldwide.

“We welcome with great joy and gratitude this integral profession of faith, in the form of catechesis written by four hands of the successors of Peter,” said Cardinal Marc Ouellet at the Vatican's press office on July 5.

“Together they show forth the Church's faith in its beauty, the faith that is confessed within the body of Christ as the concrete communion of believers,” he added.

The encyclical – called “Lumen Fidei” or “The Light of Faith” – was presented at a Holy See press conference with the participation of Cardinal Ouellet, Archbishop Gerhard L. Mueller and Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

During its release in a room packed with journalists, Archbishop Mueller pointed out that the document bears only the signature of Pope Francis and not of the former Pope because “the Church has just one Pope.”

“The Successor of Peter, yesterday, today and tomorrow is always called to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the priceless treasure of that faith which God has given as a light for humanity’s path,” Pope Francis says in the encyclical's introduction.

In it, he stresses that he is “deeply grateful” to his predecessor for having almost completed the first draft of the encyclical, which he says is “meant to supplement what Benedict XVI had written in his encyclical letters on charity and hope.”

“As his brother in Christ I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own,” Pope Francis adds in the introduction.

Prior to the release of the encyclical written “by four hands,” Pope Francis went to the Vatican Gardens to bless a new statue of Saint Michael the Archangel alongside Benedict XVI. The statue was blessed “by four hands” to consecrate the Vatican to the Archangel's protection.

The release of the faith encyclical – divided into four chapters, an introduction and a conclusion – coincides with the Church's Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

The first chapter is entitled “We have believed in love” and explains faith as “listening” to the Word of God, particularly his call to see him as a father, not a stranger.

It also highlights Jesus as a “trustworthy witness” and calls us to participate “in his way of seeing” and to open ourselves to a love that transforms us from within.

“Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion,” the Pope adds in the first chapter.

The second chapter, entitled “Unless you believe you will not understand,” shows the links between faith and truth and between faith and love.

“One who believes may not be presumptuous, on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us,” says the Pontiff.

“I delivered to you what I also received” is the title of the third chapter, which focuses solely on the importance of evangelization.

“It is impossible to believe on our own,” says Pope Francis. “Faith is not simply an individual decision.”

The chapter explains that faith is not a private relationship between the divine “thou” and the “I,” but rather between the “we.”

The Pope also writes of the importance of the Sacraments when transmitting the faith, especially baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.

The final chapter is entitled “God prepares a city for them,” and tells of the link between faith and the common good.

The encyclical reveals that the purpose of faith is not merely to build the afterlife, but to help in edifying society.

The fourth chapter also stresses the importance of marriage, understood between man and woman.

“The 'we' of the family (is) the place par excellence of the transmission of the faith,” said Cardinal Ouellet during the press conference.  

The encyclical can be accessed in CNA’s resource section, found here.
 

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Former Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to be canonized

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis has approved the cause for canonization of two previous Popes, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII.

The announcement was made on July 5, the same day as Pope Francis’ first encyclical, “The Light of Faith,” was released.

The previous steps towards Bl. John Paul II’s canonization had been completed in recent months.

In the case of Bl. John XXIII, however, only one miracle has been formally approved by the Vatican. Normally, two miracles must be approved before a person can be canonized.

Although such a decision is unusual, Vatican press office director Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., explained that it is within the authority of the Pope to waive the second miracle for a canonization cause.

Since there was already one approved miracle that allowed Pope John XXIII to be beatified, the canonization will still be valid, even without a second miracle, he explained.

He also referenced talks among theologians about whether separate miracles for beatification and canonization are necessary.

Bl. John XXII is known for his encyclical, “Pacem in Terris,” and for calling the historic Second Vatican Council. The Church is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the council during the Year of Faith.

Bl. John Paul II became famous throughout the world during his 27-year papacy for his charismatic nature, his love of youth and his world travels, along with his role in the fall of communism in Europe. The beloved Polish Pope died in 2005, making his 2011 beatification one of the quickest in recent Church history.

Pope Francis is calling for a special Consistory of Cardinals so that the canonization of Bl. John Paul II may be discussed.

The date for the canonizations has not yet been determined and will be discussed during the Consistory, although Fr. Lombardi said he believes they will occur before the end of the year.

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New encyclical is a spiritual 'light,' says Vatican publisher

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At its title suggests, “Lumen Fidei,” – the first encyclical by Pope Francis, released July 5 – is truly a “light,” said Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House.

In a July 5 interview with CNA, he described the new encyclical as “really beautiful and spiritually exciting.”

“It well portrays the spirit of a spiritual renewal. It really is a light.”

Fr. Costa observed that “Lumen Fidei,” which translates as “The Light of Faith,” contains a style that is “part Benedict’s and part Francis,’ especially the introduction where Pope Francis makes the encyclical his own.”

However, unlike other commentators, he said that he would not describe the encyclical as being “written by four hands.”

“Pope Francis presents the encyclical as his,” the priest explained. “This was a gesture of spiritual fraternity between his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis himself. This is why I would not say that the encyclical has been written by four hands.”

In the document’s introduction, Pope Francis notes that the Benedict XVI had worked before his resignation to nearly finish a first draft of the encyclical. Pope Francis explains that “as his brother in Christ I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own.”

During the document’s release, Archbishop Gerhard L. Mueller pointed out that the document bears only the signature of Pope Francis and not of the former Pope because “the Church has just one Pope.”

Discussing his work at the publishing house, Fr. Costa told CNA that “serving Pope Francis is no different from serving Benedict XVI. We are simply at the service of the Pope.”

The only difference lies in the approach, he explained, saying that “Benedict XVI’s audience was of a high cultural level and connected with a cultural stimulus that could be gained from Ratzinger’s writings.”

He said that Pope Francis also offers writings that are “full of stimuli” but described him as having “a straight-forward approach based on the observation of reality.”

Fr. Costa maintains that “behind Pope Francis’ simplicity there is a great understanding of the human being and a considerable ability to think critically.”

The Vatican Publishing House owns all of the Pope’s copyrights since the moment of his election, and has already published several collections of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s writings and homilies, as well as the first speeches and homilies that he delivered as Pope.

Fr. Costa said that “books of and on Pope Francis are having an amazing reception. I can say that a message of hope is spreading.”

The Vatican Publishing House will distribute 400,000 copies of the Italian version of the encyclical. It has also authorized four Catholic publishing houses in Italy to produce a customized edition of the encyclical.

The distribution of the encyclical in foreign countries is being taken care of by nuncios and bishops’ conferences throughout the world, Fr. Costa said.

The encyclical can be accessed in CNA’s resource section, found here.

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Vatican archbishop: encyclical offers insight into Francis' style

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Vatican archbishop believes that the first encyclical issued by Pope Francis provides an “introduction” to the Pontiff’s teaching and pastoral style.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, described “The Light of Faith” as “Pope Francis’ own contribution that he wants to offer to the new evangelization.”

He said that the encyclical – which is titled “Lumen Fidei” in Latin – is “distinctive” to Pope Francis, although much of its initial draft was written by the former Pope, Benedict XVI.

“Lumen Fidei, while recovering some insights and some content of the teaching of Benedict XVI, is totally a text of Pope Francis,” the archbishop said at the Holy See’s press office during the encyclical’s release on July 5.

“Here we find his style, and the peculiarity of the content to which we have become accustomed in the first months of his pontificate, especially with his daily homilies,” he added.

Archbishop Fisichella stressed that “the usage of expressions, the wealth of images to which he makes reference and the peculiarity of some quotations from ancient and modern authors make this text a true introduction to his teaching and allow a better understanding of the pastoral style that makes him unique.”

As an example, he pointed to the Pope’s usage of three verbs in the encyclical – walking, building, confessing – which he used in his first homily to the Cardinals the day after his election as pontiff.

“In some ways, it can be said that the encyclical is structured on these three verbs and specifies the content,” said the president of the Vatican’s New Evangelization department.

“Benedict XVI was asked repeatedly to write an encyclical on faith that would somehow conclude the triad that he had started on love with ‘Deus Caritas Est’ and on hope with ‘Spe Salvi,’” he stated.

Eventually, “insistence prevailed and Pope Benedict decided that he would write it to offer it at the end of the Year of Faith,” he said. However, “(h)istory wanted something else.”

The archbishop believes that the new document offers insight into the Year of Faith currently being celebrated by the Church.

The release of the encyclical on faith, divided into four chapters, an introduction and a conclusion, coincides with the Church's Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

Archbishop Fisichella described Pope Francis’ encyclical as “a program on how to continue to live the experience that the whole Church has lived during a whole year with so many highly significant experiences.”

The encyclical can be accessed in CNA’s resource section, found here

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In encyclical, Pope says 'light of faith' must transform lives

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” or “The Light of Faith,” Pope Francis highlighted the need to let Christ’s love transform and renew our lives, so that we may transmit our faith to the world.

“Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives,” the Pope said in the document, released July 5.

“Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.”

Noting the modern tendency to see faith as an outdated illusion, contradicting the truth found through reason, Pope Francis stressed the urgency of returning to an understanding of faith as a light, “for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.”

Faith does not divorce us from reality, he explained, but rather, it “enables us to grasp reality’s deepest meaning and to see how much God loves this world and is constantly guiding it towards himself.”

Pointing to the example of Abraham, who heard God calling his name, the Holy Father explained that faith is deeply personal and “is linked to hearing” the voice of God, who offers “both a call and a promise.”

Modern culture “has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world,” instead thinking of God as a removed and distant being, he lamented. But in reality, faith requires us to embrace Christ in a personal and complete way.

“Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing.”

In this way, faith will only lead us to salvation if we are “radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us,” he said, explaining that we must allow Jesus into our lives without reservation, realizing that his life, death and resurrection show him to be “the trustworthy witness, deserving of faith,” utterly reliable in his love.

The connection between faith and truth was a key concept in the encyclical.

“Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing,” the Pope said. “It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves.”

This reality is important to remember in a world that equates truth with science and technology, falling into a relativism that disregards the fullness of truth, which requires faith.

At the same time, this truth must be connected to love, Pope Francis continued. “Without love, truth becomes cold, impersonal and oppressive for people’s day-to-day lives.”

“Love and truth are inseparable,” he said, explaining that “(f)aith transforms the whole person precisely to the extent that he or she becomes open to love.”

In the contemporary world, love is seen as an emotion unrelated to truth, he observed. But in reality, “love is an experience of truth,” which allows us “to see reality in a new way, in union with the beloved.”

“Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey. If love is not tied to truth, it falls prey to fickle emotions and cannot stand the test of time.”

“The light of love proper to faith can illumine the questions of our own time about truth,” Pope Francis said, noting that truth is viewed subjectively by the modern world, and objective truth is seen as a threat.

“But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good,” he said. “As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth that stifles the individual.”

Because it is grounded in truth, faith can also benefit science, the Pope said, because it “encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness,” recognizing that “nature is always greater.”

The importance of the Church was also a focus of the document. While the Holy Father stated that any person “who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already drawing near to God,” he also noted that it is “impossible to believe on our own.”

“Faith is not simply an individual decision which takes place in the depths of the believer’s heart, nor a completely private relationship,” he said. Instead, faith by its very nature “is open to the ‘We’ of the Church; it always takes place within her communion.”

“We can respond in the singular – ‘I believe’ – only because we are part of a greater fellowship, only because we also say ‘We believe.’”

It is the gift of apostolic succession that protects and ensures the unity of the faith, transmitted from generation to generation, he continued, stressing the importance of prayer, the profession of faith, the Ten Commandments and especially the sacraments in the Church’s transmission of the faith.

He also noted the key role of family as a critical setting for the growth of faith, specifically referencing “the stable union of man and woman in marriage,” which creates the good of new life.

Faith is also a common good for society, the Holy Father observed. “Its light does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope.”

Because it is linked to trustworthy love, the light of faith can serve justice and peace, he explained. It unites men and women, allows them to respect nature, in which they see the hand of God, and gives light and hope to their suffering.

“To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything,” the Pontiff remarked, “rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence,” seen in Christ who chose to walk the path of suffering with us and illuminate it with his light.

Pope Francis also emphasized that our faith must not remain interior, but should naturally and necessarily result in evangelization.

“Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed,” he stated.

If we truly allow faith to touch our lives, he explained, we will be continually renewed and transformed in a way that will reach out to those around us.

“Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard his voice and received his light, cannot keep this gift to themselves.”

The encyclical can be accessed in CNA’s resource section, found here.

 

 

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September 30, 2014

Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

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Lk 9:51-56

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Gospel:: Lk 9: 51-56

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Lk 9:51-56

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