Category Archives: Past Items

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

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“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

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.

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.”

Q. Is there anything I can do to get rid of this awful fear that I will never be good enough to get into heaven?

One thing that is clear in the gospel is that Jesus came to save all sinners. Let him be your Saviour, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Accept the divine forgiveness which is celebrated in the sacrament of Confession. Instead of you trying to get into heaven, why not let heaven get into you. What I mean is that you allow God’s love and mercy take over your mind and heart. Don’t be all locked up in yourself but let God’s love take over.

Pope Francis: Wars Begin in the Heart

 Pope Francis: Wars begin in the heart | Pope Francis, wars begin in the heart, general audience,Meridiana Airlines

Greeting the crowds

 

Referring to Saint Paul’s advice to the quarreling community in Corinth the Pope noted  that many of our Christian communities, our parishes are divided by envy, gossip, misunderstanding and marginalization. He said this “dismembers us” and moreover is the beginning of war. “War does not begin on the battlefield: war, wars begin in the heart, with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other”.

No one is superior in the community of the Church, and when we feel tempted to think of ourselves as superior “especially to those who perform the most humble and hidden services” the Pope said we should “remember our sins” in shame before God. The only way to counter such division is to appreciate the individual qualities and gifts of others and give thanks to God for them.

The Church understood as the Body of Christ – he concluded – is a profound communion of love, its deepest and most beautiful distinguishing feature.

A Vatican Radio English translation of the text follows:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

When you want to highlight how the elements that form a reality are closely united with one another and together form one single body, the image of the body is often used. Starting with the Apostle Paul, this expression has been applied to the Church and was recognized as its deepest and most beautiful distinguishing feature. Thus today, we want to ask ourselves: in what sense does the Church form a body? And why is called the ‘body of Christ’?

The Book of Ezekiel describes a vision that is somewhat particular and shocking, but one which instills confidence and hope in our hearts. God shows the prophet a field of bones, broken and parched. A bleak scenario … Imagine: an entire plain full of bones. God asks him, then, to invoke the Spirit upon them. At that point, the bones move, they begin to draw closer to each other and join together, nerves begin to grow and then flesh and thus the body is formed, whole and full of life (cf. Ez 37.1 to 14). Well, this is the Church! When you go home toady pick up a Bible, Ezekiel  Chapter 37, do not forget, and read this passage, it’s beautiful. This is the Church, it is a masterpiece, the masterpiece of the Spirit, which instills in each of us new life of the Risen Christ and places us next to each other, to help and support each other, thus making all us one body, built in the communion and love.

The Church, however, is not only a body built in the Spirit: The Church is the Body of Christ! It may seem a little strange, but this is how it is. It is not just a saying, we really are! It is the great gift that we receive on the day of our Baptism! In the sacrament of Baptism, in fact, Christ makes us His, welcoming us into the heart of the mystery of the Cross, the supreme mystery of His love for us, to make us rise again with Him as new creatures. Behold, thus the Church was born, and so the Church recognizes herself as the body of Christ! Baptism is truly a rebirth, which regenerates us in Christ, making us a part of Him, and unites us intimately among each other, as members of the same body, of which He is the head (cf. Rom 12.5, 1 Cor 12, 12-13).

What emerges from this, then, is a profound communion of love. In this sense, it is illuminating how Paul, in exhorting husbands to “love their wives as their own bodies,” states: “Even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body” (Eph 5.28 to 30). How nice it would be if we remembered what we are more often, what the Lord Jesus has made us, we are His body, that body that nothing and no one can snatch from Him and which he covers with all His passion and all His love, just like a bridegroom with his bride. This thought, however, must give rise in us to the desire to respond to the Lord Jesus and share His love among ourselves, as living members of His own body. In Paul’s time, the community of Corinth experienced a lot of difficulties in this sense, experiencing, as we too often do, divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization. All of these things are not good, because rather than building and helping the Church to grow as the Body of Christ, they shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it. And this also happens in our day.

Just think of our Christian communities, our parishes, think of how many divisions there are in our neighborhoods, how much envy, gossip, how much misunderstanding and marginalization. And what does it do? It dismembers us. It is the beginning of war. War does not begin on the battlefield: war, wars begin in the heart, with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other. And the community of Corinth was just like this, they were champions in this! And the Apostle, then, gave some practical advice to the Corinthians that can apply to us: Do not be jealous, but appreciate the gifts and the quality of our brothers and sisters in our communities. Jealousy: “But … he bought a car,” and I am jealous; “This one won the lotto”, and I am jealous; “And he’s good at this,” and another jealousy. And that dismembers, it hurts, it should not be done! Because jealousy grows, grows and fills the heart. And a jealous heart is a bitter heart, a heart that instead of blood seems to have vinegar, eh! It is a heart that is never happy, it is a heart that disrupts the community. But what should I do? Appreciate the gifts and the quality of others in our communities, of our brothers. But, when I am jealous – because it happens to us all no? All of us, we are all sinners eh! – When I am jealous, I must say to the Lord: “Thank you, Lord, for you have given this to that person”.

Appreciating the qualities and countering division; drawing close and participating in the suffering of the poorest and the most needy; expressing gratitude for everything –  saying thank you, the heart that knows how to say thank you, is a good heart, a noble heart, a heart that is happy because it knows how to say thank you. I ask you: do we all know to say thank you? No? Not always? Because envy, jealousy holds us back a bit? Everyone, and especially those who perform the most humble and hidden services; and, finally, this is the advice that the apostle Paul gives the Corinthians and we to should give one another: never consider yourself superior to others – how many people feel superior to others! We too, often sound like the Pharisee in the parable: “Thank you Lord that I am not like that person, that I am superior”. But this is bad, do not do that! When you are tempted to this, remember your sins, those no one knows, shame yourself before God and say, “You, Lord, you know who is superior, I close my mouth”. And this is good. And always, in charity consider yourself as members who belong to one another and who live and give yourselves for the benefit of all (cf. 1 Cor 12-14).

Dear brothers and sisters, like the prophet Ezekiel, and like the Apostle Paul, we also implore the Holy Spirit, so that His grace and the abundance of His gifts help us to really live as the Body of Christ, united as a family, but a family that is the body of Christ, and as a beautiful and visible sign of the love of Christ. Thank you.

…………

At the end of the catechises Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in different languages. He especially addressed the employees of Meridiana Airlines. a company in grave financial difficulties, who attended the audience carrying large banners. Pope Francis expressed his concern for the workers saying: “I hope a fair solution may be worked out, that considers above all the dignity of the human person and the essential needs of the families concerned”… “Please, I appeal to all those with responsibility: no family without work!”

 Source: VIS/Vatican Radio

Cardinal condemns ‘repugnant’ beheading of David Haines

Cardinal Nichols called for a renewed political resolve to work for lasting peace in the region.

“In its destructive savagery, [this attack] is an act that expresses the worst and most misguided aspects of human nature,” he said. “In contrast, I wish to pay tribute to David Haines, who by his untiring service to those who suffer the ravages of war, lived a life that demonstrated all that is best in humanity. His concern for others manifested itself in his commitment to helping others, without counting the cost to himself, ultimately paying the price with his life.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “the darkness is deepening,” telling ITV News that there is a “sick sense of horror” at the “unspeakably evil” acts of militants.

He said: “It’s been done in the name of faith but we’ve heard already today faith leaders from Islam across the world condemning this. Faith is being twisted to enable it to be used [by IS] to gain power and influence for their own unspeakably evil ends.”

The Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Shuja Shafi, described the jihadists’ behaviour as depraved and far from Islam. “David Haines went out to the region to help the people of the region. That extremists chose to murder him only shows once again the depravity of their warped ideology.”

Meanwhile on Saturday Pope Francis again suggested a Third World War was already underway.

During a visit to Italy’s largest military cemetery, Redipuglia, near Slovenia, to commemorate the centenary of World War One, he said: “Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”

World leaders are holding urgent talks in Paris today to discuss a global response to the threat posed by IS.

On Francis’ return from Korea last month he said he agreed with the view that “we are in World War III, but spread out in small pockets everywhere”.