Connect with us


Pope in North Macedonia: Full text of address to religious, priests



1557245223 cq5dam.thumbnail.cropped.1500.844


Pope Francis greets the priests and religious men and women of North Macedonia, and says the Catholic Church in the country breathes with both her lungs: the Latin and Byzantine rites. The full text of the Pope’s address is below:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis

Meeting with Priests, their Families and Religious

Skopje, Cathedral

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

            Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to meet you.  I am particularly grateful for this moment, in which I can see the Church breathing fully with both her lungs – the Latin rite and the Byzantine rite – and taking in the ever new and renewing air of the Holy Spirit.  Two lungs that are necessary and complementary, that help us better to taste the beauty of the Lord (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 116).  Let us give thanks for this chance to breathe deeply, as one, and to sense how good the Lord has been with us.

            I thank you for your testimonies, which I would now like to take up.  You mentioned the fact that you are few in number and risk giving into a certain inferiority complex.  While I was listening to you, I thought of Mary, who took a pound of pure nard, anointed the feet of Jesus and then wiped them dry with her hair.  The Evangelist concludes his description of the scene by saying: “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (Jn 12:3).  That nard was able to permeate everything, leaving an unmistakable impression.

            In more than a few situations, we feel the need to “take stock” and see where things stand.  We can begin by looking at our numbers… we are few; the means at our disposal… and they are not many.  Then we look at the number of houses and apostolates we have to support… they are too many.  We could go on to list all those many situations in which we experience how precarious are the resources we have for carrying out the missionary mandate with which we have been entrusted.  Whenever we do this, it can seem that our bottom line is “in the red”.

            True, the Lord told us: if you want to build a tower, calculate the costs, lest once you have laid the foundations, you are unable to complete the work (cf. Lk 14:29).  But “taking stock” of things can lead us into the temptation of putting too much trust in ourselves, falling back on our own abilities and our shortcomings.  In this way, we might almost end up like the disciples of Emmaus, proclaiming the kerygma with our lips, while our heart is sunken in a silence marked by a subtle frustration that prevents it from listening to the One who walks at our side and is a source of joy and gladness.

            Brothers and sisters, “taking stock” of things is always necessary, when it can help us to understand and draw near to all those persons who daily struggle to make ends meet.  Families that fail to grow, the elderly and abandoned, the sick and bedridden, young people frustrated and without a future, and the poor who remind us what we truly are: a Church of beggars in need of the Lord’s Mercy.  It is legitimate to “take stock” of things, only if it enables us once more to become fraternal and attentive to others, to show understanding and concern as we draw near to the frustrations and the uncertainties felt by so many of our brothers and sisters who yearn for an anointing that can lift them up and heal their hope.

            It is legitimate to take stock of things, but only in order to speak out all the more forcefully and to pray together with our people: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

            I need only say that this land was able to give to the world and to the Church in Mother Teresa just that kind of concrete sign of how one small person, anointed by the Lord, could permeate everything, once the fragrance of the Beatitudes was spread over the weary feet of our humanity.  How many people were put at ease by the tenderness of her glance, comforted by her caress, sustained by her hope and nourished by the courage of her faith, which could make even the most forgotten in our midst realize that they are not forgotten by God!  History is written by people like this, people unafraid to offer their lives for love: whenever you did this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me (cf. Mt 25:40).  How much wisdom do we find in the words of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “Certainly, the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions.  And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed” (Vorgebenes Leben und Epiphanie: GW XI, 145).

            All too often we let ourselves think that things might be different if we were strong, powerful and influential.  But isn’t it the truth that the secret of our strength, power and influence, and even of our youthfulness, comes from somewhere else, and not from the fact that our “accounts are in order”?  I ask you this, because I was struck by Davor’s testimony, when he shared with us what really touched his heart.  You were quite clear: what saved you from careerism was returning to your first vocation and setting out to seek the risen Lord where he is to be found.  You set out, leaving behind your forms of security, to walk the streets and squares of the city.  There you felt that your vocation and your life were renewed.  Bending over the daily life of your brothers and sisters to share with them and to anoint them with the fragrance of the spirit, your priestly heart began to beat anew and with greater intensity.

            You drew near to anoint the weary feet of the Master, the weary feet of concrete individuals, there where they were to be found, and the Lord was waiting for you, to anoint you anew in your vocation.  How often do we expend our energies and resources, in meetings, discussions and programmes, on preserving approaches, methods and goals that not only excite no one, but prove incapable of bringing even a glimmer of that evangelical fragrance that can offer comfort and open paths of hope, while depriving us of personal encounter with others?  How right Mother Teresa was, when she said: “Everything useless weighs me down!” (A. COMASTRI, Mother Teresa, Una goccia di acqua pulita, 39).  Let us leave behind all the burdens that keep us from the mission and prevent the fragrance of mercy from being breathed in by our brothers and sisters.  A pound of nard was able to permeate everything and leave behind an unmistakable impression.

            Let us not deprive ourselves of the best of our mission; let us not stifle the heartbeat of the spirit.

            Thank you, Father Goce and Gabriella, and your children Filip, Blagoj, Luca and Ivan, for having shared with us your joys and concerns, both in ministry and in family life.  But also the secret of how to keep going during the times of difficulty that you had to endure.

            Your testimony has that “Gospel fragrance” of the first communities.  Let us remember that “the New Testament speaks of ‘churches that meet in homes’ (cf. 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:5; Col 4:15; Philem 2).  A family’s living space could turn into a domestic church, a setting for the Eucharist, the presence of Christ seated at its table.  We can never forget the image found in the Book of Revelation, where the Lord says: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me’ (3:20).  This is the image of a home filled with the presence of God, common prayer and every blessing” (Amoris Laetitia, 15).  In this way, you give a vivid witness of how “faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it” (ibid., 181).  The world may not be the way we would like it, nor are we ourselves “perfect” or spotless.  But we are drawn into it in the precariousness of our lives and of our families, anointed each day with trust in God’s unconditional love for us.  A trust that leads us, as you have clearly reminded us, Father Goce, to develop certain aspects of life that are as important as they are overlooked in a society frayed by frenetic and superficial relationships: the aspects of tender love, patience and compassion towards others.

            I like to think of each family as an “icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth.  Its daily life had its share of burdens and even nightmares, as when they met with Herod’s implacable violence.  This last was an experience that, sad to say, continues to afflict the many refugee families who in our day feel rejected and helpless” (Amoris Laetitia, 20).  Through the faith built up by daily struggles, they are able “to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286).

            Thank you for having shown the familiar face of the God with us, the God who never ceases to surprise us amid the pots and pans!

            Dear brothers and sisters, thank you again for this ecclesial opportunity to take a deep breath with both lungs.  Let us ask the Spirit to keep renewing us in our mission, with the confidence of knowing that he wants to permeate everything with his presence.


Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



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.”

Continue Reading


Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship



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.

Continue Reading


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



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.

Continue Reading