Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
Quantity:
Subtotal
Taxes
Shipping
Total
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

Scots Catholic

Calling Scotland's 841,000 Catholics to unite as one voice

Scots Catholic Blog

Blog

Turning out for Jesus

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 11:47 AM Comments comments (0)
Millions flock to see Pope Francis
 
Around one million people turned out for the first papal Mass of Pope Francis’ visit to Latin America yesterday.  The city of Guayaquil, Ecuador was the venue and it brought to mind the incredible scenes from World Youth Day 2013 in Rio, when approximately 4 million swamped the Copacobana to join the Holy Father for Mass.
 
 
It’s quite an interesting fact that so many turn out to see the Holy Father and to celebrate Mass with him. Here in Scotland, when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said Mass in Glasgow in 2010, approximately 80,000 turned out; a healthy number when you consider the gradual decline in Mass attendance in Scotland in recent years.
 
 
And it’s this point in particular which intrigues me.  I often wonder how many people going to see the pope celebrate Mass actually go to Mass in their own parish on a regular basis.  It may be that they all do, though I suspect the reality is that a number are simply turning up because it is the pope.  And that in itself is understandable to a degree.  He is, after all, a very high profile figure, and someone most people would love to see in the flesh. 
 
 
But is it right that some people pull out all the stops to see the pope and don’t put in the effort to attend their parish for Sunday Mass?  I would have thought that it is not.  After all, it is Jesus we respond to when we attend Holy Mass, accepting his invitation to join him on Calvary and to share in his Passion and Resurrection.
 
 
By all means, we should rejoice when the pope comes to visit; he is a great holy man and an inspiration to all.  But at the end of the day it is Jesus who is our reason for attending Holy Mass.  It is Jesus who deserves our undivided attention for it is he who suffered and died for us.  It is Jesus who took on unimaginable pain for you and me so that we may live.  If we can’t do it for Jesus who can we do it for?  Pope Francis would agree.
 

Official Logo and Prayer for World Youth Day 2016 Revealed!

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (1)
 
The official logo and prayer for World Youth Day 2016 have been revealed!
 
The World Youth Day, which in 2016 will take place in Krakow, Poland, has over the years attracted millions of young Catholic faithful to gather in a show of great love and unity with a view to carrying that love to all corners of the earth.
 
The World Youth Day in 2013, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, attracted 3 million youth to Copacabana beach for the final Mass with Pope Francis.
 
Click here to find out all about the new logo and prayer for 2016: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/07/03/world-youth-day-2016-logo-and-prayer-revealed/
 
 

Pope Francis' Final Address to President of Brazil and Bishops in Rio

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 8:57 AM Comments comments (0)
Here is the Pope’s address to the President of Brazil, dignatories, and Bishops & priests just prior to leaving for Rome (news.va):

Madam President,
Distinguished National, State and Local Authorities,Dear Archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro,
Dear Cardinals and Brother Bishops,Dear Friends,

I am about to leave your country to return to Rome. I depart with many happy memories which I know will nourish my prayers. Already I am beginning to miss Brazil, this great people showing so much affection and friendship. I shall miss the natural and warm smiles I have seen in so many faces, and the enthusiasm shown by the volunteers. I shall miss the hope filling the eyes of the young people in the Hospital of Saint Francis. I shall miss the faith and joy shown by the residents of Varginha in the midst of their hardship. I know that Christ is truly present in the lives of countless young people and in the lives of many whom I have met during this unforgettable week. Thank you for the warm welcome and the friendship that have been offered to me. This too I shall miss.

In particular, I would like to thank Madam President for expressing the sentiments of the entire population of Brazil towards the Successor of Peter. I warmly extend gratitude to my brother Bishops and to their many collaborators for making this week a splendid celebration of the richness and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ. I thank all those who took part in the eucharistic celebrations and other events, and I thank those who organized them and those who worked to broadcast them through the media. Finally, I wish to thank all those who in one way or another rose to the challenge of hosting and organizing the large numbers of young people. And not least my gratitude goes to the many people who prayed, often in silence and simplicity, for this World Youth Day to be an authentic experience of growth in faith. May God reward all of you, as only he can!
As I express my thanks and bid farewell, my thoughts turn to those who are at the heart of these celebrations: the young people! May God bless you for the beautiful witness of your lives and for your intense and joyful participation over these last few days. Many of you came here as disciples; I have no doubt that all of you will leave as missionaries.
 
 Through your joyful witness and service, help to build a civilization of love. Show, by your life, that it is worth giving your time and talents in order to attain high ideals, it is worth recognizing the dignity of each human person, and it is worth taking risks for Christ and his Gospel. It is he that we have come to seek because he first sought us. It is he who has inflamed our hearts with the desire to take the Good News to the large cities and to the small communities, to the countryside and to all the corners of this vast planet. I will always place my hopes in the young people of Brazil and in the young around the world: through them, Christ is preparing a new springtime all over the earth. I have seen its first fruits and I know that others will joyfully reap the full harvest.

Finally, my thoughts turn to Our Lady of Aparecida, to whom I also bid farewell. In that beloved Shrine I knelt to pray for the entire human family and in particular for all Brazilians. I implored Mary to strengthen you in the Christian faith, which forms part of the noble soul of Brazil, as indeed of many other countries; this faith is your culture’s treasure and serves as encouragement and support in the task of building a renewed humanity in harmony and solidarity.
 
As he departs, the Pope says to all of you affectionately: “see you soon”. He asks you not to forget to pray for him. The Pope needs the prayers of all of you. I offer you an affectionate embrace. May God bless you!

Pope Invites Youth to Defend Marriage; to Rebel and Swim Against the Tide

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 8:54 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Pope Francis received gifts from youth
 
The Pope, in one of his final engagements of World Youth Day in Rio, attended a large gathering of volunteers in Rio’s conference centre to thank them for their efforts in making the event such a huge success.  Around 15,000 of the 80,000 volunteers were in attendance and they witnessed a very powerful address from the Holy Father who invited them to swim against the tide; to rebel; and to be revolutionaries.
 
The Pope commented: “With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.”
 
In a response to increasing worldwide attacks on marriage and family life he said “some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of marriage.  Today, there are those who say marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephermal, many preach the importance of enjoying the moment.  They say it is not worth making a lifelong commitment, making a definitive decision, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love.  I have confidence in you and pray for you.  Have the courage to swim against the tide.  Have the courage to be happy.”
 
The Pope spoke about how God calls many young men to be priests and many young women to joint he religious life and recalled his own experience of when God called him to the priesthood. 
“I will never forget that day, 21 September – I was 17 years old” he said, “when, after stopping in the Church of San José de Flores to go to confession, I first heard God calling me. Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying “yes” to God. In him we find joy!”
 
The Pope, in typically animated and passionate manner, concluded his address saying: “Dear friends, I thank you once more for all you have done during these days. Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours.”  He was then presented with gifts by some of the young people including a Poland football strip with his name on the back.
 
As this World Youth Day event draws to a close we can safely say, with at least 3 million present in Rio, the Church is in good, faithful and loving hands.  Though World Youth Day has ended; the mission of the youth to evangelise and change the world is only just beginning…
 
 
 
Here is the full text of the Pope’s address (news.va):

Dear Volunteers, Good evening!

I could not return to Rome without first thanking all of you in a personal and affectionate way for the work and dedication with which you have accompanied, helped, and served the thousands of young pilgrims, and for the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
The service you have given during these days brings to mind the mission of Saint John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. Every one of you, each in his or her own way, was a means enabling thousands of young people to “prepare the way” to meet Jesus. And this is the most beautiful service we can give as missionary disciples. To prepare the way so that all people may know, meet and love the Lord. To you who in these days responded with such readiness and generosity to the call to be volunteers for World Youth Day, I say: May you always be generous with God and with others: one loses nothing thereby, but gains great enrichment in life.
God calls you to make definitive choices, and he has a plan for each of you: to discover that plan and to respond to your vocation is to move toward personal fulfilment. God calls each of us to be holy, to live his life, but he has a particular path for each one of us. Some are called to holiness through family life in the sacrament of Marriage. Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of “enjoying” the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, “for ever”, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage “to swim against the tide”. Have the courage to be happy.
The Lord calls some to be priests, to give themselves to him more fully, so as to love all people with the heart of the Good Shepherd. Some he calls to the service of others in the religious life: devoting themselves in monasteries to praying for the good of the world, and in various areas of the apostolate, giving of themselves for the sake of all, especially those most in need. I will never forget that day, 21 September – I was 17 years old – when, after stopping in the Church of San José de Flores to go to confession, I first heard God calling me. Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying “yes” to God. In him we find joy!
Dear young people, some of you may not yet know what you will do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, in the end he answered: Speak, Lord, for I am listening (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-10). You too can ask the Lord: What do you want me to do? What path am I to follow?
Dear friends, I thank you once more for all you have done during these days. Do not forget what you have experienced here! You can always count on my prayers, and I know I can count on yours.
 
 
 

World Youth Day Final Mass Full of Joyful Singing and Dancing as the Church, Fronted by Youth, Prepares to Make Waves Across the World

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 8:47 AM Comments comments (5)
 
The Priests and Bishops were in Celebratory Mood
 
Once again the youth of Brazil and the other 179 nations represented at World Youth Day 2013 showed the world just how great it is to be in love with Christ! 
 
Although most of the Mass took place under the haze of a hushed silence; perfectly observed by the estimated 3 million present, there was still room for much singing and dancing beforehand.  As the Pope arrived and made his way up to the altar, a band struck up and a throng of singers belted out a beautiful opening hymn during which even the priests and Bishops loosened their limbs and danced to the catchy beat.  Arms waving, toes tapping; this is a Church that is far from static.  It is very much in motion.
 
During the Mass the beautifully expressed ‘Gloria’ once again had the crowd on their feet.  This time a group of priests led the singing and, yes, the other priests and Bishops were up dancing again and the crowd, in what seemed to be a choreographed exercise, waved their arms from left to right at certain points.  Again, it was so evident that this is a Church in motion.  The Holy Spirit was very much present here and it clearly took great delight in being afforded the opportunity to express its love and boundless joy through so many willing participants.
 
In his homily (full text below) the Pope suggested three simple ideas: “Go, do not be afraid, and serve.”
He warned the young that their experience at World Youth Day “must not remain locked up in your life or community, it must be shared and passed on so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history.”
 
He said, “do not be afraid to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.  The Lord seeks all; he wants everyone to feel the warmth and mercy of his love.”
“In order to proclaim Jesus” he continued, “Paul made himself a “slave to all”.  Evangelising means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.”
 
The Pope concluded his homily with an invitation to the young to go and spread the Gospel saying “Jesus Christ is counting on you!  The Church is counting on you!  The Pope is counting on you!  May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
 
Picture: Christian Science Monitor 
 
Here is the full text of the Pope’s homily (news.va):

Brother Bishops and Priests,Dear Young Friends,
“Go and make disciples of all nations”. With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: “It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.” Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ’s command: “Go” to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!
2. Do not be afraid. Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, a young man like you, when he was called by God to be a prophet. We have just heard his words: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: “Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

“Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.
And then, Jesus did not say: “One of you go”, but “All of you go”: we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! But it is a stage on the journey. Please continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And at this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to theYouth Ministery groups, to the Movements and the new Communities that accompany the young people in their experience of being Church. They are so creative, so audacious. Carry on and do not be afraid!

3. The final word: serve. The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: “I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Follow these three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading, when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you! May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Amen.
 
 At least 3 million gathered for the final Mass on Copacabana Beach
 
 

Pope Francis Calls on the Young to be Agents of Change; to be ‘Athletes of Christ’

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 8:38 AM Comments comments (0)
 
180 Nations were Represented by a Total of 3 million People in Rio
 
Pope Francis joined around 2 million young people on Copacabana beach on Saturday for a prayer vigil at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  It was a beautiful occasion with a Eucharistic procession and faithful testimonies of four young people before Pope Francis.
 
In his address the Pope referred to Brazil’s passion for sport, in particular football, and asked the gathered faithful what are players asked to do when they join a team.  He said: “they have to train, and train a lot!  The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples.”
In continuing this theme he then referred to St Paul who tells us: “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable.”
 
The Pope then remarked, “Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup!  He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life.  But he asks us to get in shape….How do we get in shape?  By talking to him; by prayer, which is our daily conversation with God, who always listens to us.  By the sacraments, which make his life grow within us and confirm us to Christ.  By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized.  Dear young people, be true ‘athletes of Christ!”
 
With the recent protests in Brazil the Pope took the opportunity to say that he has been closely following the news where “many young people throughout the world have taken to the streets in order to express their desire for a more just and fraternal society.”
He said: “These are young people who want to be agents of change.  I encourage them, in an orderly, peaceful and responsible manner, motivated by the values of the Gospel, to continue overcoming apathy and offering a Christian response to social and political concerns present in their countries.”
 
The Pope then brought his powerful address to an end saying: “Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith!  You are Christ’s athletes!  You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world.  Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady.  Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own “yes” to God: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say”.  All together let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say.”
 
 
 
Here is the full text of Pope Francis’ address (news.va):

Dear Young Friends,
We have just recalled the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: “Francis, go, rebuild my house”. The young Francis responded readily and generously to the Lord’s call to rebuild his house. But which house? Slowly but surely, Francis came to realize that it was not a question of repairing a stone building, but about doing his part for the life of the Church. It was a matter of being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her.

Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. How? In what way? Well, I think we can learn something from what happened in these days: as we had to cancel due to bad weather, the realization of this vigil on the campus Fidei, in Guaratiba. Lord willing might we say that the real area of ​​faith, the true campus fidei, is not a geographical place - but we, ourselves? Yes! Each of us, each one of you. And missionary discipleship means to recognize that we are God’s campus fidei, His “field of faith”! Therefore, from the image of the field of faith, starting with the name of the place, Campus Fidei, the field of faith, I have thought of three images that can help us understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary. First, a field is a place for sowing seeds; second, a field is a training ground; and third, a field is a construction site.

1. A field is a place for sowing seeds. We all know the parable where Jesus speaks of a sower who went out to sow seeds in the field; some seed fell on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and could not grow; other seed fell on good soil and brought forth much fruit (cf. Mt 13:1-9). Jesus himself explains the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God sown in our hearts (cf. Mt 13:18-23). This, dear young people, means that the real Campus Fidei, the field of faith, is your own heart, it is your life. It is your life that Jesus wants to enter with his word, with his presence. Please, let Christ and his word enter your life, blossom and grow.

Jesus tells us that the seed which fell on the path or on the rocky ground or among the thorns bore no fruit. What kind of ground are we? What kind of terrain do we want to be? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord’s word but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention; or we are like the rocky ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with difficulties, we don’t have the courage to swim against the tide; or we are like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord’s word in us (cf. Mt 13:18-22). But today I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians, not “starchy” and superficial, but real. I am sure that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which will make your lives meaningful. Jesus is capable of letting you do this: he is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Let’s trust in him. Let’s make him our guide!

2. A field is a training ground. Jesus asks us to follow him for life, he asks us to be his disciples, to “play on his team”. I think that most of you love sports! Here in Brazil, as in other countries, football is a national passion. Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. Saint Paul tells us: “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life. But he asks us to train, “to get in shape”, so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith. How do we get in shape? By talking with him: by prayer, which is our daily conversation with God, who always listens to us. By the sacraments, which make his life grow within us and conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized. Dear young people, be true “athletes of Christ”!

3. A field is a construction site. When our heart is good soil which receives the word of God, when “we build up a sweat” in trying to live as Christians, we experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path: we are part of the Church; indeed, we are building up the Church and we are making history. Saint Peter tells us that we are living stones, which form a spiritual edifice (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). Looking at this platform, we see that it is in the shape of a church, built up with stones and bricks. In the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up his Church, but not as a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make his living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone! To me, to you, to each of us he says: “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Tonight, let us answer him: Yes, I too want to be a living stone; together we want to build up the Church of Jesus! Let us all say together: I want to go forth and build up the Church of Christ!
In your young hearts, you have a desire to build a better world. I have been closely following the news reports of the many young people who throughout the world have taken to the streets in order to express their desire for a more just and fraternal society - (and here in Brazil), they have gone out into the streets to express a desire for a more just and fraternal civilization. These are young people who want to be agents of change. I encourage them, in an orderly, peaceful and responsible manner, motivated by the values
​​of the Gospel, to continue overcoming apathy and offering a Christian response to social and political concerns present in their countries. But the question remains: Where do we start? What are the criteria for building a more just society? Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once asked what needed to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I!

Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world. Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own “yes” to God: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say. Amen!
 

Young Catholic People Show the Way to True Faith in Christ and the Church

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 7:37 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Picture: Catholic Herald
 
To say Friday evening’s Way of the Cross (or Via Crucis) in Rio was moving would be an understatement of the very highest order.
 
To watch thousands of young people follow in the footsteps of Christ’s Passion, solemnly joined by their Holy Father, Pope Francis, was a most humbling experience.
 
The World Youth Day Cross (the same one given to the youth in St Peter’s Square in 1984 by John Paul II) was reverently carried down the street alongside Copacabana Beach, stopping at thoughtful sets, each posing as one of the fourteen stations.  Each set was designed in such a way as to convey a message about the specific station it represented and each one was full of life, with the young people stamping their artistic mark on the set.  One of the youth would introduce the meaning of the station and then another would tell a personal story; aligning their own life experience to the message of that station. 
 
If I can perhaps focus briefly on two of these stations worthy of note.  At the seventh station a young couple spoke of how they were dating and asked for Jesus to be with them on their journey, wherever it may take them.  They asked for the courage to never let their passions stray from the ultimate aim of procreation and, in a request evidently borne from society’s increasing indifference towards marriage and family life they said: “teach us to start building from the foundations Lord, and not from the roof.”
Finally, they said a most beautiful thing that all couples would do well to consider; they said: “If we fall Lord, let us never be far from you.”
 
Then, at the twelfth station (Jesus dies on the Cross) another incredible moment of faith from a young person.  A young man with terminal cancer told the millions gathered and those watching on television about his own suffering at this time.  He said that this sickness “was his cross now” and admits that “as it takes me, I prepare to meet you Lord.” 
There is a lot you could say about this young man’s incredible act of faith.  Going in front of all those people in a world where secularism and atheism often should the loudest, and speaking of his personal illness and deepest faith.  This is courage!  This is faith!  This is love for God and trust in His mercy and compassion!
 
After the stations Pope Francis addressed the estimated 2 million crowd and spoke about how “Jesus, with his Cross, walks with us and takes upon himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful.  With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenceless.”
He continued: “On the Cross, he is united with every person who suffers from hunger in a world where tons of food are thrown out each day; on the Cross, Jesus is united with those who are persecuted for their religion, for their beliefs or simply for the colour of their skin; on the Cross, Jesus is united with so many young people who have lost faith in political institutions, because they see in them only selfishness and corruption; he unites himself with these young people who have lost faith in the Church, or even in God because of the counter-witness of Christians and ministers of the Gospel.”
 
But Jesus, the Pope says, tells us to “have courage!  You do not have to carry your cross alone! I carry it with you.”
 
How true are these words!
 
Youth carry the Cross by which the world has been redeemed
Picture: Catholic Herald
 
The Pope then described how the Cross of Christ contains “all the love of God” and that this is a love in which we can “place all our trust, in which we can believe.”
He continued with an invitation to the young people to entrust themselves to Jesus; to give themselves entirely to him where we can all find salvation and redemption.  Jesus, the Pope said, has “transformed the Cross from an instrument of hate, defeat and death into a sign of love, victory and life.”
 
The Cross, he says, “teaches us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them.”
 
In referring to Jesus’ Passion, Pope Francis said “sometimes we can be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands.  Dear friends, the Cross of Christ teaches us to be like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry that heavy wood; it teaches us to be like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness.”
 
“And you?” he asked.
“Who are you like?  Like Pilate?  Like Simon?  Like Mary?”

“Dear friends, let us bring to Christ’s Cross our joys, our sufferings and our failures.  There we will find a Heart that is open to us and understands us, forgives us, loves us and calls us to bear this love in our lives, to love each person, each brother and sister, with the same love. Amen!”
 

Priests report worldwide increase in people seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM Comments comments (2)
 
It was with great joy that I heard two priests who are covering the events of World Youth Day for EWTN claim that the Church has witnessed a significant increase in people seeking the sacrament of Confession over recent months. 
 
I can imagine it would be difficult to pin this increase down to precise numbers but even this kind of talk is enough to raise the spirit within.  And it is not hard to believe that the increasing interest in the Faith brought about principally around the conclave, Pope Francis’ subsequent appointment, and his desire to be close to people, is bringing the faithful back to the Churches and seeking God’s forgiveness.
 
This wonderful news, alongside the incredible scenes in Rio, is a source of great joy for us here on earth and for the angels and saints in the Heavenly Kingdom above!!
 
 

Church is more alive than ever as Pope Francis joins 1 million on the Copacabana Beach

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 7:19 AM Comments comments (1)
 
Picture: RTE
 
To say the formal opening ceremony of World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil was a sight to behold would be an understatement on a grand scale.  With approximately one million young people gathered on the Copacabana beach (which is believed to be named after Our Lady of Copacabana, the patroness of neighbouring Bolivia), the Pope took some time meandering through those who had lined the road to see him arrive in his pope-mobile. 
 
During this journey the Holy Father blessed just about everyone he passed, kissed the heads of countless babies, gave away his white cap, and even had time to take a drink that someone kindly offered to share with him.  His boundless energy is something to behold and it is often easy to forget that this man is elderly and has had a part of one lung removed.
 
Once he had finally arrived at the massive stage constructed for the event it was evident that he wasn’t particularly keen on taking the seat clearly set aside for him.  No, this Pope wants to have fun; he wants to be with the people; he wants to be connecting with souls at every turn and spreading the love of Christ! 
 
And boy did he spread the love of Christ last night.  Though, it would be doing a disservice to the one million young Catholic folk to fail to recognise their contribution on this front.  They were phenomenal; shouting and cheering, crying and clapping, singing and dancing.  Unconditional joy; the way Jesus would want it I expect. 
 
Hundreds of Brazilian youth put on performances for the Pope, who would sit respectfully to watch the show and then stand up to applaud at the end of each spectacle.  Other youngsters carried the flags of all the nations represented at the event, 180 in all; and five young people, including one girl who just couldn’t fight off the tears, represented each of the populated continents and presented gifts to the Holy Father.  There was, of course, no better person to comfort the young girl than Pope Francis.  He took her in his arms and spoke to her gently and in an evidently comforting manner.  No better person other than Jesus himself, of course.  But then this Pope is so close to Jesus.  His unrivalled joy and unconditional love for everyone is Jesus working in him.  You can imagine Jesus being filled with wonder and delight in the presence of these young people, just as Pope Francis is.
 
It is so true to say that the events on the Copacabana beach only reinforced the view that Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross was not for nothing.  The Faith he himself entrusted to the world looks more vibrant, more colourful, more joyful, more youthful and more alive than ever!!
 
As the Pope said, “In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy.”
 
 
Picture: Global Post

Here is the full text of the Pope’s address to the world and also his homily on the Copacabana beach in Rio on Thursday night:
 
General Address

‘Dear Young Friends
 
Good evening! In you I see the beauty of Christ’s young face and I am filled with joy. I recall the first World Youth Day on an international level. It was celebrated in 1987 in Argentina, in my home city of Buenos Aires. I still cherish the words of Blessed John Paul II to the young people on that occasion: “I have great hope in you! I hope above all that you will renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ and to his redeeming Cross” (Address to Young People, Buenos Aires, 11 April 1987).Before I continue, I would like to call to mind the tragic accident in French Guiana in which young Sophie Morinière was killed and other young people were wounded. I invite all of you to observe a minute’s silence and to pray for Sophie, for the wounded, and for their families.

This year, World Youth Day comes to Latin America for the second time. And you, young people, have responded in great number to the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate this occasion. We express to him our heartfelt thanks. I am looking at the large crowd before me – there are so many of you! And you have come from every continent! In many cases you have come from afar, not only geographically, but also existentially, culturally, socially and humanly. But today you are all here, or better yet, we are all here together as one, in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples. This week Rio has become the centre of the Church, its heart both youthful and vibrant, because you have responded generously and courageously to the invitation that Christ has made to you to be with him and to become his friends. The train of this World Youth Day has come from afar and has travelled across all of Brazil following the stages of the project entitled “Bota fé – put on faith!” Today the train has arrived at Rio de Janeiro. From Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer embraces us and blesses us. Looking out to this sea, the beach and all of you gathered here, I am reminded of the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. Your families and local communities have passed on to you the great gift of faith, Christ has grown in you. I have come today to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you, but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith!

I greet you with great affection. To all of you assembled here from the five continents and, through you, to all young people of the world, and in particular to those who have not been able to come to Rio de Janeiro but who are following us by means of radio, television and internet, I say: Welcome to this immense feast of faith! In several parts of the world, at this very moment, many young people have come together to share this event: let us all experience the joy of being united with each other in friendship and faith. And be sure of this: my pastoral heart embraces all of you with universal affection. From the summit of the mountain of Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer welcomes you to this beautiful city of Rio!I wish to extend greetings to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dear and tireless Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and to all who work with him. I thank Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, for the warm welcome given to me and for the considerable work of preparation for this World Youth Day, together with the many Dioceses of this vast country of Brazil. I would also like to express my gratitude to all the national, state and local authorities and to those who have worked to make possible this unique moment of celebration of unity, faith and fraternity. Thank you to my brother Bishops, to the priests, seminarians, consecrated persons and the lay faithful that have accompanied the young from various parts of the world on their pilgrimage to Jesus. To each and every one of you I offer my affectionate embrace in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, dear friends, welcome to the XXVIII World Youth Day in this marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro!’
 
 

Homily

‘Dear Friends

It is good for us to be here! Peter cries out after seeing the Lord Jesus transfigured in glory. Do we want to repeat these words with him? I think the answer is yes, because here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio. In the Gospel we have heard God the Father say: “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). If it is Jesus who welcomes us, we too ought to welcome him and listen to his words; it is precisely through the welcome we give to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, that the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future, and enables us joyfully to advance along that way with wings of hope (cf. Lumen Fidei, 7).

But what can we do? “Bota fé – put on faith”. The World Youth Day Cross has proclaimed these words throughout its pilgrimage in Brazil. “Put on faith”: what does this mean? When we prepare a plate of food and we see that it needs salt, well, we “put on” salt; when it needs oil, then you “put on” oil. “To put on”, that is, to place on top of, to pour over. And so it is in our life, dear young friends: if we want it to have real meaning and fulfilment, as you want and as you deserve, I say to each one of you, “Put on faith”, and your life will take on a new flavour, it will have a compass to show you the way; “put on hope” and every one of your days will be enlightened and your horizon will no longer be dark, but luminous; “put on love”, and your life will be like a house built on rock, your journey will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you. Put on faith, put on hope, put on love!

But who can give us all this? In the Gospel we have just heard the answer: Christ. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” Jesus is the one who brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes (cf. Lumen Fidei, 18). For this reason, I want to insist with you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.

Today, I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We are all tempted to put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. “Put on Christ” in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed! You see how faith accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God; faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope. To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different. Peace, consolation, gentleness, courage, serenity and joy, which are all fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), find a home in our heart, and our very being is transformed; our way of thinking and acting is made new, it becomes Jesus’ own, God’s own, way of thinking and acting. During the Year of Faith, this World Youth Day is truly a gift offered to us to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.

Dear young people: “Put on Christ” in your lives. In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and your heart will be warmed by his presence; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, to heal by his mercy the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness! He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and in the humanity of the many young people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.

You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light.
“It is good for us to be here”, putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us. Dear friends, in this celebration we have welcomed the image of Our Lady of Aparecida. With Mary, may we be disciples and missionaries. Like her, may we say “Yes” to God. Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.'
 
 

Pope Francis Urges Youth to go out into the Streets and Make Noise

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 7:07 AM Comments comments (0)
 
 
Picture: Daily News
 
Pope Francis continued his Brazilian journey yesterday as he met with young people from his native Argentina in Rio de Janeiro’s Cathedral.  There was also around 30,000 gathered outside, standing in the rain, hoping to catch a glimpse of this heroic figure.
 
Pope Francis, speaking directly to the youth, said: “I would like to tell you what my expectations are regarding this World Youth Day; I would like us to make noise, I would like those inside the Dioceses to go out into the open; I want the Church to be in the streets; I want us to defend ourselves against all that is worldliness, comfort, being closed and turned within – Parishes, colleges and institutions must get out otherwise they risk becoming NGOs, and the Church is not a Non-Governmental Organisation”.

He also expressed concern about the worship of material wealth and an increasing philosophy which excludes both the young and the old in society.   He said the young do not have the experience and the dignity of work, and the aged are not allowed to speak and are being marginalized.  He also invited the young people to listen to the elderly, exclaiming: “you must listen to them!”