Pope’s prayer to Mary during coronavirus pandemic

Here is a translation of the prayer Pope Francis recited by video March 11 for a special Mass and act of prayer asking Mary to protect Italy and the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Ash Wednesday – Start of Lent 2020

Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive.” (Pope Francis)

Dehonians with Pope Francis

The new general administration, together with the community of the general house in Rome, and other Dehonians who were present, met the Holy Father, Pope Francis, during the general audience on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at the Paul VI Audience Hall.

There was a desire to have an audience with the pope during the General Chapter, which was in July. However, Pope Francis was not available. It was hoped that a meeting could take place at a later date.

On Wednesday, the pope concluded with a reflection on the commandments: “In the contemplation of life described in the commandments, that is a grateful, free, authentic, blessed, mature, guardian and lover of life, faithful, generous and sincere, we, often without realizing it, find ourselves before Christ. The Decalogue is his ‘x-ray’, which he described as a photographic negative that lets his face appear –– as in the Holy Shroud.

“And so, the Holy Spirit nurtures our heart by putting in it the desires that are His gift, the desires of the Spirit, the desire according to the Spirit, and his rhythm, the desire with the music of the Spirit.”

We were also involved by that silent child who took the liberty of going to the pope and then to the Swiss Guard: “This child cannot speak, he is silent, but knows how to communicate,” said the pope. “He is free, unruly free, but free! Am I so free before Jesus?”

At the end of the catechesis, after greeting the sick and the newlyweds, the Pope came to meet us, arranged on the steps, to take a group photo with him.

Looking at Fr. General, the pope greeted us with a joke: “Is this the new superior general or the next bishop?!” recalling what happened in April.

We smiled because we knew what he meant!

Immediately Pope Francis added in Italian, and then repeated in Spanish: “Pray for me!”

We left him to continue his greeting of the pilgrims, bringing with us the invitation, repeated, to pray for him. This is what we do and will continue to do!

The community of the General House is pleased and grateful to have had a meeting with the successor of Peter, as he loved Fr. Dehon.

This was really a “walking together” after the initiatives for the “Dehonian Memorial Day”, as we continue to prepare for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Fr. Dehon, already which had been noted during the chapter with a festive concelebration in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. As a community, we will be together at the pontifical French seminary of St. Clare on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

Fr. Bruno Pilati

Superior of the community of the General House in Rome

Prayer Vigil and Closing Mass

Going to Vigil1The 31st World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland is over. In the Final Mass on July 31, 2016, at the Campus Misericordiae (Field of Mercy) in Brzegi, near Wieliczka salt mine, presided by Pope Francis participated more than 2.5 million people from 187 countries. They were accompanied by 47 cardinals, 800 bishops and 20,000 priests. The main celebration was preceded by a Prayer Vigil and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on July 30, 2016. Over a million young people  camped out here overnight. Many spent the whole night in prayer.

The final liturgy included a reflection on a reading from the Gospel of Luke on Zacchaeus’ conversion: the short and wealthy publican who was hated by everyone in the city of Jericho, climbs up onto a tree to watch Jesus passing by and to his surprise, is invited by the Nazarene to come down. Jesus invites himself to the publican’s house, which gets everyone talking, shocked as they are at his decision to visit the home of a sinner.

In his homily, Francis spoke of three obstacles Zacchaeus had to face. The first was his smallness of stature. “Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself.” Because, the Pope recalled, “we have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us”. “Not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind.” As far as Jesus is concerned, “no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important” and “God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable”.

Francis explained to young people that “God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always ‘cheering us on’; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries.”

We must not grow fond of sadness, the Pope stressed. “It will do us good to pray every morning: ‘Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!’ Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.”The second obstacle  Zacchaeus faces is “the paralysis of shame”. “He mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing.” This too, Francis said, “is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words!”

“Don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession,” the Pope urged young people, “especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him! Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.”

The third obstacle Zacchaeus had to overcome was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticised him. “How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a ‘God who is rich in mercy’! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies.”

“People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!”

The Pope encouraged young people not to give up in the face of “closed-mindedness” but to “seek goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice. Don’t stop at the surface of things; distrust the worldly cult of appearances, cosmetic attempts to improve our looks. Instead, “download” the best “link” of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary.” And he asked that “in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer,” using the Gospel as a “compass”.

God’s memory is not a “‘hard disk’ that ‘saves’ and ‘archives’ all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in “erasing” in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days.”

Full text of the homily: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document/homily-at-the-final-mass-at-campus-misericordia-in-brezgi-1082/?platform=hootsuite

Visit at Skałka and Way of the Cross

On July 29, 2016, the SCJ pilgrims as usual started the day with morning prayers and the Eucharist, which was followed by visit of the Shrine at Skałka, sharing of experiences, youth festival and Way of the Cross with the Holy Father in the afternoon.

Skałka, which means “a small rock” in Polish, is a small outcrop in Kraków where the Bishop of Kraków Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów was slain by order of Polish king Bolesław II the Bold in 1079. This action resulted in the king’s exile and the eventual canonization of the slain bishop.

Originally, a Romanesque church was built there. King Casimir III raised a new Gothic church in its place and since 1472 this shrine has been in the possession of a monastic community of Pauline Fathers. In 1733-1751 the church received a baroque decor. It is one of the most famous Polish sanctuaries.

The crypt underneath the church serves as a “National Pantheon”, a burial place for some of the most distinguished Poles, particularly those who lived in Kraków.

Address to the young people of World Youth Day, after praying a presentation of the Way of the Cross linked to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me (Mt 25:35-36).

These words of Jesus answer the question that arises so often in our minds and hearts: “Where is God?” Where is God, if evil is present in our world, if there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles and refugees? Where is God, when innocent persons die as a result of violence, terrorism and war? Where is God, when cruel diseases break the bonds of life and affection? Or when children are exploited and demeaned, and they too suffer from grave illness? Where is God, amid the anguish of those who doubt and are troubled in spirit? These are questions that humanly speaking have no answer. We can only look to Jesus and ask him. And Jesus’ answer is this: “God is in them”. Jesus is in them; he suffers in them and deeply identifies with each of them. He is so closely united to them as to form with them, as it were, “one body”.

Jesus himself chose to identify with these our brothers and sisters enduring pain and anguish by agreeing to tread the “way of sorrows” that led to Calvary. By dying on the cross, he surrendered himself into to the hands of the Father, taking upon himself and in himself, with self- sacrificing love, the physical, moral and spiritual wounds of all humanity. By embracing the wood of the cross, Jesus embraced the nakedness, the hunger and thirst, the loneliness, pain and death of men and women of all times. Tonight Jesus, and we with him, embrace with particular love our brothers and sisters from Syria who have fled from the war. We greet them and we welcome them with fraternal affection and friendship.

By following Jesus along the Way of the Cross, we have once again realized the importance of imitating him through the fourteen works of mercy. These help us to be open to God’s mercy, to implore the grace to appreciate that without mercy we can do nothing; without mercy, neither I nor you nor any of us can do a thing. Let us first consider the seven corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, and burying the dead. Freely we have received, so freely let us give. We are called to serve the crucified Jesus in all those who are marginalized, to touch his sacred flesh in those who are disadvantaged, in those who hunger and thirst, in the naked and imprisoned, the sick and unemployed, in those who are persecuted, refugees and migrants. There we find our God; there we touch the Lord. Jesus himself told us this when he explained the criterion on which we will be judged: whenever we do these things to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do them to him (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

After the corporal works of mercy come the spiritual works: counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, consoling the afflicted, pardoning offences, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead. In welcoming the outcast who suffer physically and welcoming sinners who suffer spiritually, our credibility as Christians is at stake.

Humanity today needs men and women, and especially young people like yourselves, who do not wish to live their lives “halfway”, young people ready to spend their lives freely in service to those of their brothers and sisters who are poorest and most vulnerable, in imitation of Christ who gave himself completely for our salvation. In the face of evil, suffering and sin, the only response possible for a disciple of Jesus is the gift of self, even of one’s own life, in imitation of Christ; it is the attitude of service. Unless those who call themselves Christians live to serve, their lives serve no good purpose. By their lives, they deny Jesus Christ.

This evening, dear friends, the Lord once more asks you to be in the forefront of serving others. He wants to make of you a concrete response to the needs and sufferings of humanity. He wants you to be signs of his merciful love for our time! To enable you to carry out this mission, he shows you the way of personal commitment and self-sacrifice. It is the Way of the Cross. The Way of the Cross is the way of fidelity in following Jesus to the end, in the often dramatic situations of everyday life. It is a way that fears no lack of success, ostracism or solitude, because it fills ours hearts with the fullness of Jesus. The Way of the Cross is the way of God’s own life, his “style”, which Jesus brings even to the pathways of a society at times divided, unjust and corrupt.

The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life. It is the way of hope, the way of the future. Those who take up this way with generosity and faith give hope and a future to humanity.

Dear young people, on that Good Friday many disciples went back crestfallen to their homes. Others chose to go out to the country to forget the cross. I ask you: How do you want to go back this evening to your own homes, to the places where you are staying? How do you want to go back this evening to be alone with your thoughts? Each of you has to answer the challenge that this question sets before you.