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“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!”
Dallas, Texas, Jan 7, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ witness shows Catholics how to care for the poor and suffering while bringing the new evangelization to a world “that so desperately needs Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila says.
“Do not be afraid to love in this way, to evangelize with the strength of charity,” the archbishop said Jan. 6. “Nothing is impossible for God. He can take your love, which could be as small as a mustard seed, and turn it into something beautiful that changes the course of history and eternity.”
The archbishop spoke at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at a dinner for benefactors of the 2014 student leadership summit of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, a Colorado-based student missionary organization. The summit, held from Jan. 3-7, brought together “young people on fire for the Lord,” he said.
Archbishop Aquila explained that the new evangelization is not about new content, but rather a new approach in “ardor, methods and expression,” as Pope John Paul II said. This means reaching out to those who have not heard the message of the Catholic faith, to those who need to grow deeper in their Catholic faith, and to those who once accepted the faith but no longer do.
Pope Francis is especially advancing this evangelization effort through his “affection for the smallest, the poorest, the sickest, and the furthest away,” the archbishop added. This affection “has certainly touched everyone who has witnessed it, from those who have left the Church to those who have never heard the Gospel.”
The Denver archbishop said he believes Pope Francis’ actions draw from the spiritual conviction that the world is “profoundly wounded and deep down it wants to be healed.” He noted the Pope’s image of the Church as a “field hospital after battle” which must first “heal the wounds” before talking further.
At the same time, Pope Francis has spoken of “the joy of the gospel” that “fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Those who accept Jesus Christ’s salvation are “set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness,” the Pope wrote in his 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”
According to Pope Francis, the most foundational proclamation of evangelization is “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”
Mercy and love “come first,” Archbishop Aquila summarized. He said Catholics should adopt a “missionary orientation” that changes how they present the Gospel, how they accompany people spiritually and how they pray.
The archbishop cited Pope Francis’ emphasis that evangelization must start with personal dialogue, sharing joys, hopes, concerns and “heartfelt needs.”
“Only afterwards is it possible to bring up God’s word, perhaps by reading a Bible verse or relating a story, but always keeping in mind the fundamental message: the personal love of God who became man, who gave himself up for us, who is living and who offers us his salvation and his friendship,” the Pope said.
Archbishop Aquila then advised how to put this into practice. Catholics must “spiritually accompany people on their journey toward Christ” and “earn the right to be heard.”
“If the Church exists to evangelize, then every Catholic is called to accompany their spouse, children, coworkers, fellow parishioners, society and especially those living far from the Church,” he added.
Catholics should also know the Scriptures, the archbishop reflected.
“What are you doing to train your heart and ear to listen to God’s word?” he asked. “If you are not nourished by the Scriptures, then you will not know the source of evangelization.”
He said several practices of FOCUS are already in line with the Pope’s advice: the organization’s formation practice of “mentoring” students, its small group Bible studies, and its principle that student missionaries must love people first before attempting to share the Gospel.
Archbishop Aquila said Catholics are called to “share our love for God in a joyful way, in ways that take us to the outskirts of society where the materially poor live and to the intellectually barren and secularized places of our society where the spiritually poor live.”
“God takes something small and humble and makes it flourish,” he said.
I love the simplicity. More pictures here
Absolutely love the Pope’s homilies. The path of humiliation, self-abasement, testing the spirits, avoiding gossip, etc.
Task for this New Year: Download the Pope’s homilies and receive spiritual nourishment.
Focusing on the Apostle John’s words “remain in the Lord” from the day’s first reading, Pope Francis told those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse that this expression is a “counsel for life.”
John, the Pontiff noted, displays for us “one of the attitudes of the Christian who wants to remain in the Lord: to understand what’s happening in one’s own heart,” and for this reason he cautions us “not to trust every spirit, but test the spirits.”
Observing that there are some spirits which help us to “remain in the Lord” and others that “take us away from Him,” the Pope urged those in attendance to “test the spirits to see if they really come from God, because many false prophets have come into the world.”
This, stated the Pope, is “why vigilance is necessary. The Christian is a man or a woman who knows to keep watch over his or her heart.”
Highlighting how often times our hearts filled with “so many things that come and go,” Pope Francis explained that they can seem like “a local market: everything, you can find everything there.”
“No! We need to test things – this is from the Lord, and this is not – in order to remain in the Lord,” he continued, adding that the Apostle John gives us a “simple” criterion to determine what is from God and what is from the antichrist.
“Every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God,” the Pope noted, “this is the spirit of the antichrist.”
To fully recognize that “that the Word is come in the flesh,” Pope Francis explained, means to recognize “the path of Jesus Christ” and that Jesus, “being God, He emptied Himself, He humbled Himself” even to “death on the Cross.”
“If a thought, if a desire takes you along the road of humility and abasement, of service to others, is from Jesus,” noted the Pontiff, “but if it brings you to the road of sufficiency, of vanity, of pride, along the path of an abstract thought, it is not from Jesus.”
Recalling the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, the Pope explained that “all three proposals the demon makes to Jesus are proposals that intended to take Him away from this path, the path of service, of humility, of humiliation, of charity.”
“But the charity accomplished with His life, no? To the three temptations Jesus says no: ‘No, this is not my path!’”
Inviting those present to question themselves about what is in their own hearts, the Pontiff asked “Do I test what I think, what I want, what I desire, or do I accept it all” without discerning?
“So many times, our heart is a road, everything passes there,” he affirmed, “Put it to the test! Do I always choose the things that come from God? Do I know which are the things that come from God? Do I know the true criterion by which to discern my thoughts, my desires?”
Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis encouraged the congregation to think about these questions, and not to forget “that the criterion is the Incarnation of the Word.”
“The Word is come in the flesh: this is Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ who was made man, God made man, who lowered Himself, humbled Himself for love, in order to serve all of us.”
“May the Apostle John” he prayed, “grant us this grace to know what is happening in our hearts, and to have the wisdom to discern what is of God and what is not of God.”
Has been dispatched! Yey – should receive it tomorrow!
Before he was the world’s foremost Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce was a leader of the National Front, a British-nationalist, white-supremacist group. Before he published books highlighting and celebrating the great Catholic cultural tradition, he disseminated literature extolling the virtues of the white race, and calling for the banishment of all non-white from Britain.
Pearce and his cohorts were at the center of the racial and nationalist tensions—often violent—that swirled around London in the late-1970s and early 80s. Eventually Pearce became a top member of the National Front, and the editor of its newspaper, The Bulldog. He was a full-time revolutionary.
In 1982 he was imprisoned for six months for hate speech, but he came out with more anger, and more resolve. Several years later, he was imprisoned again, this time for a year and it spurred a sea change in his life.
In Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love, Pearce himself takes the reader through his journey from racist revolutionary to Christian, including: The youthful influences that lead him to embrace the National Front and their racist platform; his dark, angry, exhilarating but ultimately empty days as a revolutionary on the front lines; his imprisonment and subsequent dark night of the soul; the role that Catholic luminaries such as G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and C. S. Lewis played in his conversion from racist radical to joyful Christian; and his eventual reception in the Catholic Church.
Race with the Devil is one man’s incredible journey to Christ, but it also much more. It is a testament to God’s hand active among us and the infinite grace that Christ pours out on his people, showing that we can all turn—or return—to Christ and his Church.
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Monday, 6 January 2014
Monday, 6 January 2014
“Lumen requirunt lumine”. These evocative words from a liturgical hymn for the Epiphany speak of the experience of the Magi: following a light, they were searching for the Light. The star appearing in the sky kindled in their minds and in their hearts a light that moved them to seek the great Light of Christ. The Magi followed faithfully that light which filled their hearts, and they encountered the Lord.
The destiny of every person is symbolized in this journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World. Like the Magi, every person has two great “books” which provide the signs to guide this pilgrimage: the book of creation and the book of sacred Scripture. What is important is that we be attentive, alert, and listen to God who speaks to us, who always speaks to us. As the Psalm says in referring to the Law of the Lord: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). Listening to the Gospel, reading it, meditating on it and making it our spiritual nourishment especially allows us to encounter the living Jesus, to experience him and his love.