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HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS FOR THE OPENING OF SYNOD ON THE FAMILY

HOLY MASS FOR THE OPENING OF THE XIV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4 October 2015

[Multimedia]

“If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration.

The readings centre on three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden. He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them. Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20). He was lonely.

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture.

Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom… The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as the Psalm proclaimed today says (cf. Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self. It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question – probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact – Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense.

For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.

Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.

To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously.

The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 3).

And the Church is called to carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II, Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide His  Church through the intercession of The Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

ANTRIM TOWN REFUGEE APPEAL: A SOLIDARITY APPEAL IN CONJUNCTION WITH EUROPE REFUGEE CRISIS NI

Donations of the following items will be collected for further shipment to aid refugees in crisis.

 

PLEASE NOTE ALL ITEMS NEED TO BE CLEAN AND USEABLE

URGENTLY REQUIRED

TENTS (ESP 4 MAN PLUS)

HEAVY DUTY RUBBISH BAGS

BLANKETS AND SLEEPING BAGS

WARM CLOTHS FOR MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN

WARM HATS, GLOVES AND WALKING SHOES OR RUNNERS

WARM COATS

WATERPROOFS AND WELLIES

CANDLES AND TORCHES

TOILETERIES

BIKES, PUNCTURE KITS AND BIKE TOOLS

FIRST AID SUPPLIES AND ‘IN DATE’ MEDICINES

BABY SLINGS, NAPPIES, WIPES, BOTTLES,

GAS STOVES, POTS AND PANS

ALL DONATIONS TO BE LEFT

AT ST JOSEPH’S PARISH HALL GREYSTONE ROAD

MON 14TH SEPT – 7,00pm – 9.00pm

TUE 15TH SEPT  – 7.00pm – 9.00pm

WED 16TH SEPT – 7.00pm – 9.00pm

Francis calls on every parish across Europe to house refugee families

“In front of the tragedy of the tens of thousands of refugees escaping death by war or hunger, on the path towards the hope of life, the Gospel calls us, asks us to be ‘neighbors’ of the smallest and most abandoned,” Francis told the crowds in the Square.

Christians, the pope said, must give the refugees “a concrete hope. Not only to say: ‘Courage, patience!'” Christian hope, he said, “is combative, with the tenacity of someone going towards a sure goal.”

“To this end, with the nearing of the Jubilee of Mercy, I address an appeal to the parishes, to the religious communities, to the monasteries and shrines of all of Europe to express the concreteness of the Gospel and welcome a family of refugees,” said Francis, calling it “a concrete gesture in preparation of the Holy Year of Mercy.”

The pontiff specified the scope of his request: “Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe house a family, starting from my diocese of Rome.”

The pope said that even the two small parishes at the Vatican “will welcome in these days two families of refugees.”

“I address myself to my brother bishops of Europe … that in their dioceses they will support this appeal of mine, remembering that Mercy is the second name of Love,” said the pontiff, quoting Matthew’s Gospel: “‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

Francis extraordinary appeal to Catholics across Europe comes after a week that saw worldwide attention drawn to the refugee crisis, with news of migrants struggling to cross the border from Hungary to Austria and global spread of the image of a boy who drowned while trying to make the journey.

The scale and continuing nature of the crisis has shocked nations across the continent, which have struggled in their response to the sheer numbers of people risking death on journeys in makeshift boats or even by foot from countries throughout the Middle East.

The U.N. refugee agency said Europe might need to accept some 200,000 refugees to stem the crisis.

The pope made his appeal Sunday after reflecting on the Gospel reading for the day, which sees Jesus heal a man who was deaf and had some sort of speech impediment.

Francis said that Jesus’ action in the episode, where he first looks to Heaven before making the miracle, shows that God “is not closed in Gods-self, but is open and puts Gods-self in communication with humanity.”

“In God’s immense mercy, God surpasses the abyss of infinite difference between Him and us, and comes to meet us,” said the pope. “To realize this communication with humankind, God is made man: it is not enough to speak to us through the law and the prophets, but God makes Gods-self present in the person of his Son, the Word made flesh.”

“Jesus is the great ‘bridge builder’ that constructs in himself the great bridge of full communion with the Father,” said the pontiff.

“This Gospel speaks also to us,” said Francis. “Often we are withdrawn and closed in ourselves and we create many inaccessible and inhospitable islands.”

“So much so that the most basic human relations at times are created from reality unable to make reciprocal openness: the closed couple, the closed family, the closed group, the closed parish, the closed homeland,” he continued. “This is not from God! This is ours; this is our sin.”

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

Book Launch in the Parish of Cushendall

On Saturday 25th July, the parish of Cushendall launched a book to commemorate the centenary of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The book is available to order and buy through the parish Office.  Bishop Noel Treanor, Monsignor Ambrose Macaulay and Fr. Luke McWilliams (PP of Cushendall) are pictured with part of the team who put the book together.

Contact: cushendall@downandconnor.org or telephone 028 2177 1240

WORLD YOUTH DAY

World Youth Day 2016Would you like to be part of World Youth Day 2016?
Will you be aged between 17-25 in summer 2016?

Living Youth are taking a group of young people to Poland, next summer, for 10 Days of amazing fun, faith, music, friendship, culture & Mass with the Pope! If you are interested please read the information below, fill in a Living Youth WYD Expression of Interest Form and return it to the Living Youth office.

LIVING YOUTH – Faith & Life Convention 2015

 

Are you aged 16-21?

Why not register for the youth workshop and spend the day (Saturday 26th Sept) with other young adults, from across the Diocese at the Faith and Life Convention.

Find out more about your faith, discuss issues and join in the annual celebration of our faith.

The cost is £5 (includes lunch and refreshments) if you register through Living Youth.

For more detail or to register contact Claire at Living Youth, tel: 028 90 232 432 email: info@livingyouthni.org.

Faith and Life Convention 2015

 

The Faith and Life Convention is a forum for people to gather together and to take part in a range of conversations about the meaning of faith and its relevance to our everyday lives. We invite you to join us for our second Faith and Life Convention on Saturday 26th September 2015 in Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock, Belfast beginning at 10am.

Perhaps the best part of the day is the pleasure of meeting up with a great crowd of committed people from all over the diocese and beyond!

At the inaugural Faith and Life Convention last September the well-known ‘Vaticanista’ John Allen Jr and the comprehensive range of workshops sparked a lot of interest and enthusiasm.

This year our Keynote Speaker will be Fr Brendan Comerford SJ. A former Master of Novices Brendan has specialised in the study of Spirituality and lectures widely all over Ireland and across Europe. He is well known to groups in Down and Connor for his lectures on the Mystics which drew very appreciative audiences. Week on week the hosts found they had to put out extra chairs! He will speak to us on the theme: What hope for faith?

One change this year: In the afternoon each participant will have the opportunity to take part in two workshops from a range of twenty. The workshops fill up quickly so it’s best to book now! We look forward to seeing you in September.
Book Now. To Register your place please contact parish office.

Crochet and Craic

Restarts Tuesday 8th September, 7.30pm in St Comgall’s Minor Hall (previously known as The Youth Centre).

Want to learn or perhaps you already can and would like to crochet in the company of others. All welcome. Come along or contact Noreen on 07729050515

Friday Crafting Class

Sewing, crochet, upholstery, knitting and much more. Starts Friday 11th September, for 10 weeks, 10.30am o 12.30pm at our new venue in St Joseph’s Parish Hall. Cost £40 payable at the first class.

Expert tutor Patsy Gribben. Newcomers very welcome.

For information or to book a place contact Grace on 07882345523

Pope Francis Calls for Urgent Rethink of Man’s Relationship with the Earth in Ground-Breaking Encyclical

 

 

Vatican sources have indicated that Laudato si’ – named after words of St Francis of Assisi in his Canticle of the Creatures and published today – is a deliberate intervention in the debate over climate change in the run-up to three major UN summits, including that in Paris in December, where 196 countries will meet to sign a new agreement.

The Pope’s words are addressed not only to Catholics but to everyone, including governments and businesses who can make decisions that will limit global warming.

The document makes it clear that Pope Francis is shifting Catholic theology away from a human-centred concept of life towards a more planet-centred idea. “We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us.”