Vatican City, Dec 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Poor Clares of Allariz, in western Spain, have given Pope Francis the finest hen from their farm, to be served as the main dish for his Christmas dinner.
“This is not just another hen; it is a poulard, a type of high-quality bird fed a special fodder and bred longer than normal, which gives the meat a more tender and flavorful quality,” Sister Maria Pureza, abbess of St. Clare monastery, told CNA by phone from her cloister Dec. 18.
The monastery is located on the Camino de Santiago in Galicia, about 80 miles southeast of Santiago de Compostela,
The Poor Clares at Allariz are devoted to prayer and contemplation and the sisters raise hens “with great love and care” as means of economic sustenance.
“It’s wonderful for us that the Pope has accepted this gift,”Sr. Maria Pureza said. “We are Poor Clares, daughters of St. Francis, the name the Pope bears, and we love his simplicity, his humility. Each day we are amazed at his homilies.”
The hen reserved for the Pope’s Christmas dinner was delivered to him after the General Audience on Dec. 18 by members of the cooperative Coren, which the nuns have worked with for over 50 years.
Because they are cloistered they could not be present themselves, but Sr. Maria Pureza emphasized that they “were present in prayer.”
Coren at the same time delivered another 1,600 pounds of chickens to Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, to be distributed to more than 200 needy families in Rome.
The nuns have a special admiration for the Roman Pontiff as he took his name for St. Francis of Assisi, their co-founder. For this reason, the day after Pope Francis was elected, they quickly sent a letter to the Vatican to congratulate the Holy Father and to assure him of their allegiance and admiration.
“We are very fortunate. Pope Francis is wonderful, wonderful,” Sr. Maria Pureza reflected.
Vatican City, Dec 22, 2013 (CNA) -
In his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the Christian witness of St. Joseph, who was faithful to God’s call despite impossible circumstances.
St. Joseph “was not stubborn in following his own life plans, he did not allow resentment to poison his soul, but he was prepared to make himself disposed to the news that, in a disconcerting way, was presented to him,” said the Pope on Dec. 22.
Referring to the gospel story which recounts St. Joseph’s plans to divorce Mary quietly after learning about her pregnancy, and his subsequent dream regarding the miracle of the Incarnation, Pope Francis reflected on “the greatness of St. Joseph’s soul.”
“He was following a good life plan, but God had kept a different design for him, a greater mission. Joseph was a man who always listened to the voice of God, profoundly amenable to God’s secret will, a man attentive to the messages that came from the depths of the heart and from above,” explained Pope Francis.
St. Joseph’s faithfulness did not mean that his path was easy, however. When he became aware that Mary was pregnant, “he remained disconcerted.”
“The gospel does not explain what his thoughts were, but it tells us the essentials: that he seeks to do the will of God, and he is ready for a radical renunciation,” noted the Pontiff.
The decision to then divorce Mary quietly represents for Joseph “an enormous sacrifice,” when “we think of the love that Joseph had for Mary!” Pope Francis exclaimed.
This was “a trial similar to the sacrifice of Abraham, when God asked for his son Isaac: to renounce the most precious thing, the most loved person.”
In preparation for Christmas, “we must meditate on these words (of the gospel) in order to understand the trial that Joseph had to sustain in the days preceding the birth of Jesus,” encouraged Pope Francis.
“But as in the case of Abraham, God intervened. He found the faith that he was looking for and opened a different way, a way of love and happiness.”
The Pope continued, “accepting the Lord’s plan, Joseph fully found himself, beyond himself… his full interior openness to the will of God challenges us and shows us the way.”
“Let us thus prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas contemplating Mary and Joseph: Mary, the woman full of grace who had the courage to entrust herself fully to the word of God; Joseph, the faithful and just man who preferred to believe the Lord rather than listen to the voices of doubt and human pride.”
“With them, let us journey together toward Bethlehem,” urged the Pontiff.
After praying the Angelus with the crowds filling St. Peter’s square, Pope Francis offered his greetings to various pilgrim groups.
Upon seeing one group holding a banner that said in Italian, “The Poor Cannot Wait!” Pope Francis noted the difficult life of the homeless, whose situation is not unlike that of Mary and Joseph who had to flee their home with the infant Jesus to seek safety in Egypt.
“I call on everyone,” said the Pope, “individuals, organs of society, authorities, to do everything possible to assure that every family has a place to live.”