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Pope at General Audience: courage and filial intimacy to call God “Father”

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At Wednesday’s General Audience, Pope Francis concludes his series of catechesis on the “Our Father” prayer, saying it is the Holy Spirit who is the teacher and protagonist of true prayer.

By Robin Gomes

In his General Audience this week, Pope Francis concluded his series of catecheses on the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”, which he began on December 5.

Courage to call “Father”

The Pope noted that Christian prayer that is “born of the audacity to call God by the name of ‘Father’”, expresses a “filial intimacy” into which we are introduced by the grace of the Holy Spirit.  He cited a few examples from the New Testament where the various expressions of Jesus’ prayers recall the text of the “Our Father”.

In Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus prays,  “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will”, we discover His filial trust in the Father amidst the darkness, fear and anguish of the night of Gethsemane, where He asks that the Father’s will be fulfilled. 

Not without brothers and sisters

Elsewhere, Jesus teaches his disciples to cultivate a spirit of prayer that is insistent, but especially that bears the memory of our brothers and sisters, especially when we have difficult relationships with them.

In this regard, Jesus says in Mark’s Gospel, “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”

The Pope noted that in the writings of Saint Paul we do not find the text of the “Our Father”, but His presence emerges in that stupendous synthesis where the invocation of the Christian is condensed into a single word: “Abba! Father!” (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus fulfils the request of the disciples and teaches them how to pray to the Father.

Holy Spirit – the true protagonist of prayer

Pope Francis noted that the New Testament as a whole indicates that the first protagonist of all Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit.  

“We could never pray without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is He who prays in us and moves us to pray well.”

The Spirit, the Pope explained, is both the teacher and protagonist of true prayer.  It is He who breathes into the heart of each one of Jesus’ disciples, enabling them to pray as children of God, which they truly are in Baptism.

“The Spirit makes us pray in the ‘furrow’ that Jesus dug for us,” the Pope said, explaining that by grace Christian prayer attracts us to the dialogue of love of the Most Holy Trinity.

Core of every prayer –“my”, intimacy

The Holy Father observed that sometimes Jesus uses expressions that are very far from the text of the “Our Father”.  For example, while dying on the cross He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).

Certainly, the Pope said, the heavenly Father cannot abandon His Son.  “Yet His love for us, sinners,” the Pope said, “has brought Jesus to this point: to the point of experiencing the abandonment of God, His distance because He has taken upon Himself all our sins.” 

But even in His anguished cry, “My God, my God”, the Pope noted, the “my” remains the “core of the relationship with the Father” and the “core of faith and prayer”.

Pope Francis noted that with this nucleus, a Christian can pray in any situation.   All the prayers of the Bible, especially the Psalms, and the prayers throughout millennia of history have this nucleus. 

The Holy Father urged that we never cease to speak about our brothers and sisters in humanity to the Father, so that none of them, especially the poor, may remain without consolation and a portion of love.

But to pray genuinely, the Pope said, “we must make ourselves little, so that the Holy Spirit may come into us and guide us in prayer.” 

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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