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My People

Vol. 29, Issue 9, September 2016

"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Aim High, Love Jesus

Pope Francis concluded World Youth Day on Sunday, July 31, in Krakow, Poland. He celebrated Mass with participants. His homily follows:

"... You have come to Krakow to meet Jesus. Today's Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, He passed through the city (v. 1). In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that His life and our life can truly meet.

"An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief 'publican' or tax collector. Zacchaeus was thus a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has changed, and can daily still change, each of our lives. But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. It was not easy for him; he had to face a number of obstacles. At least three of these can also say something to us.

"The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn't see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don't feel big enough, because we don't think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself. For faith tells us that we are 'children of God... that is what we are' (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God's own image; Jesus has taken upon Himself our humanity and His heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God!

"That is our real 'stature', our spiritual identity: we are God's beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault, or mistake of ours makes Him change His mind. As far as Jesus is concerned - as the Gospel shows - no one is unworthy of, or far from, His thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for Him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In His eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn't care whether you are stylish or not; He cares about you, just as you are! In His eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.

"At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in His love for us. The fact is, He loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always "cheering us on;" He is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But such brooding is unworthy of our spiritual stature! It is a kind of virus infecting and blocking everything; it closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over. God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful! He believes that we can always get up, and He hates to see us glum and gloomy. It is sad to see young people who are glum. Because we are always His beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day. It will do us good to pray every morning: 'Lord, I thank you for loving me; I am sure that You love me; help me to be in love with my own life!' Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.

"Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We spoke a little about this yesterday. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle - on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power, but deeply hated. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all. Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing. Something similar took place in the heart of Zacchaeus, when he realized that Jesus was so important that he would do anything for Him, since Jesus alone could pull him out of the mire of sin and discontent. The paralysis of shame did not have the upper hand. The Gospel tells us that Zacchaeus 'ran ahead,' 'climbed' the tree, and then, when Jesus called him, he 'hurried down' (vv. 4, 6). He took a risk, he put his life on the line. For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life - we can't respond by thinking about it or 'texting' a few words!

"Dear young friends, don't be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with His forgiveness and his peace. Don't be afraid to say 'yes' to Him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow Him! Don't let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm 'no' to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.

"After his small stature, after the paralysis of shame, there was a third obstacle that Zacchaeus had to face. It was no longer an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him: How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner! How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a 'God who is rich in mercy' (Eph 2:4)! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid, and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father 'makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good' (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy' (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centered or small-minded. Don't be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!

"That day the crowd judged Zacchaeus; they looked him over, up and down. But Jesus did otherwise: He gazed up at him (v. 5). Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person. He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion. In no case does it halt at appearances, but looks to the heart. Jesus looks to our hearts, your heart, my heart. With this gaze of Jesus, you can help bring about another humanity, without looking for acknowledgement but seeking goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice. Don't stop at the surface of things; distrust the worldly cult of appearances, cosmetic attempts to improve our looks. Instead, 'download' the best 'link' of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary. The joy that you have freely received from God, please, freely give away (cf. Mt 10:8): so many people are waiting for it! So many are waiting for it from you.

"Finally let us listen to the words that Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, which to be seem meant for us today, for each one of us: 'Come down, for I must stay at your house today' (v. 5). 'Come down, for I must stay with you today. Open to me the door of your heart.' Jesus extends the same invitation to you: 'I must stay at your house today.' We can say that World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on. The Lord doesn't want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone. He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to Him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the 'contacts' and 'chats' of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants His word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life!

"In asking to come to your house, Jesus calls you, as He did Zacchaeus, by name. All of us, Jesus calls by name. Your name is precious to Him. The name 'Zacchaeus' would have made people back the think of the remembrance of God. Trust the memory of God: His memory is not a 'hard disk' that 'saves' and 'archives' all our data, His memory is a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in 'erasing' in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days. In silence, let us remember this encounter, let us preserve the memory of the presence of God and His word, and let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as He calls us by name. So let us now pray silently, remembering and thanking the Lord wanted us to be here and has come here to meet us."

Prayer For Peace

O almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of history. All that You have created is good and Your compassion for the mistakes of mankind knows no limits.

We come to You today to ask You to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism, to restore friendship, and instill in the hearts of Your creatures the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.

O Giver of life, we pray to You also for all those who have died as victims of brutal terrorist attacks. Grant them their eternal reward. May they intercede for the world that is torn apart by conflicts and disagreements.

O Jesus, Prince of Peace, we pray to You for the ones who have been wounded in these acts of inhuman violence: children and young people, old people, and innocent people accidentally involved in evil. Heal their bodies and hearts; console them with Your strength and, at the same time, take away any hatred and a desire for revenge.

Holy Spirit Consoler, visit the families of the victims of terrorism, families that suffer through no fault of their own. Wrap them in the mantle of Your divine mercy. Make them find again in You and in themselves the strength and courage to continue to be brothers and sisters for others, above all for immigrants, giving witness to Your love by their lives.

Touch the hearts of terrorists so that they may recognize the evil of their actions and may turn to the way of peace and goodness, of respect for the life and for the dignity of every human being, regardless of religion, origin, wealth, or poverty.

O God, Eternal Father, in Your mercy hear our prayer which we raise up to You amidst the deafening noise and desperation of the world. We turn to You with great hope, full of trust in Your infinite Mercy. Made strong by the examples of the blessed martyrs of Perú, Zbigniew, and Michael, who have rendered courageous testimony to the Gospel, to the point of offering their blood, we entrust ourselves to the intercession of Your Most Holy Mother. We ask for the gift of peace and of the elimination from our midst of the sore of terrorism.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

- Pope Francis, July 30, 2016, Kraków, Poland

Key Questions On Migration

by Caritas Internationalis

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas Internationalis. Caritas Internationalis is the global confederation of 165 Catholic organizations working on behalf of the poor. It is the arm through which the Church delivers its moral mission to help the most vulnerable and excluded people, whatever their religion or race.)

Sixty million people were either refugees or forcibly displaced in 2015. Martina Liebsch, head of policy and advocacy at Caritas Internationalis, looks at why such large movements of people are challenging nations and individuals.

Why are we challenged by the arrival of migrants in our country?

Migrants may look different to us and may bring another way of seeing the world. We may see them only as suffering and needing of help, and this can make us feel helpless or that we may not want to help them. Migrants appeal to our mercy and present the opportunity of sharing with them.

Aren't there terrorists among the migrants who arrive?

We cannot condemn millions of people because a tiny number of terrorists have migrated using the same channels. Attackers in a number of terrorist incidents are already residents in the country that they attack. Internet access means that terrorism is a transnational phenomenon which allows groups to reach out to marginalized individuals, recruit and train them in their own homes. Fighting social exclusion and poverty should be a cornerstone of states' anti-terrorist strategies.

How can we fight smuggling and trafficking of Human Beings?

A key element of Caritas' migration advocacy is the creation of safe channels of migration because their absence gives rise to people smuggling and trafficking. Many migrants who seek safety or a job - often so they can support families back home - find they don't have legal ways to migrate. They can end up paying large amounts of money by selling all their belongings they can ill afford to smugglers. Opening humanitarian corridors or resettling people in another country are two safe channels for people forcibly displaced. Legal pathways for labor migration based on needs, are a way for labor migrants.

Refugees and migrants stranded on the Franco-Italian border found shelter in Sant'Antonio church and were welcomed by Caritas Ventimiglia. Photo by Stefano Schirato / Caritas Ambrosiana

Should migrants not stay in their own countries?

Many people would opt to stay in their own countries but violence, oppression, and poverty often make this impossible. While people's lives, health, and stability are at risk, they have the right to migrate. Migration is a survival strategy but almost all migrants pay a very high emotional, economic, and physical price for choosing this strategy.

It is our commitment and duty as Christians to welcome strangers. Pope Francis reiterated this duty when he called on all parishes in Europe to host a refugee family - something he has already done at the Vatican.

How do we integrate migrants?

Many migrants will seek the support of their a community of their own nationality when they arrive in a country but it's important to foster the encounter between migrants and host communities. Caritas organizations promote this by providing new migrants with language and culture lessons, offering training in new professions which will allow the migrants to enter the local workforce and by creating joint projects and organizing inter-cultural events.

Will migrants steal our jobs?

Asylum seekers are often not allowed to work while their asylum claim is being processed or they may only be able to work after a certain time.

Labor migrants generally work in the so-called "dangerous, dirty, and demanding" sectors. Often these are jobs which nationals don't want to do such as fruit picking for very low pay or cleaning.

Some academics argue that migrant workers complement the existing labor force rather than compete and that the economy benefits where there is higher immigration.

Refugees and migrants stranded on the Franco-Italian border found shelter in Sant'Antonio church and were welcomed by Caritas Ventimiglia. Photo by Stefano Schirato / Caritas Ambrosiana

Will migrants and refugees will take away our pensions?

With the demographic decline in many countries fewer people will pay into pension schemes. Migrants and refugees, if allowed to work, contribute to the pension systems as they are often young. There are studies which say that migrants with their contributions largely outweigh what they may cost.

Is inter-religious dialogue necessary when migrants have a different religion to the host country's?

Caritas is Catholic organization but we serve people of all faiths. We believe that inter-religious dialogue is essential for peaceful societies. It works where there is a clear will among members of religious communities to search for common values and where religious leaders join hands to be a model for others.

How can we prevent development aid being used inappropriately by corrupt governments?

Caritas denounces corruption and is working on governance which is in support of people. Caritas advocates for an enabling environment for Civil Society Organizations, which can then hold governments account-able. The Sustainable Development Goals, universal in their nature, are a chance to work towards "leaving no one behind" and Caritas is working to ensure that this happens.

How does Caritas help migrants and refugees?

Many of 165 members worldwide provide migrants and refugees with services such as reception centers, psychological, and legal counselling, social services, language courses, and pre-departure counselling. Caritas also works on trafficking, migrant workers' rights on a national and international level.

Pope Reports On World Youth Day

In his general audience on August 3, Pope Francis discusses his trip to World Youth Day in Poland. His remarks follow:

"... Today I should like to reflect briefly on the Apostolic Journey to Poland that I made in recent days.

"The occasion for the Journey was World Youth Day, 25 years after the historic Day celebrated in Chęstochowa shortly after the fall of the 'Iron Curtain.' In these 25 years Poland has changed, Europe has changed and the world has changed, and this WYD has become a prophetic sign for Poland, for Europe and for the world. The new generation of young people, the heirs and successors continuing the pilgrimage begun by St. John Paul II, have given a response to today's challenge, they have given the sign of hope, and this sign is called fraternity. Because, precisely in this world at war, fraternity is needed, closeness is needed, dialogue is needed, friendship is needed. This is the sign of hope: when there is fraternity.

"Let us begin precisely with the young people, who were the primary reason for the Journey. Once again they have answered the call: they came from all over the world - some of them are even here! [indicating pilgrims in the Hall]. A celebration of colors, of different faces, of languages, of diverse histories. I don't know how they do it: they speak different languages, but they manage to understand one another! Why? Because they have this willingness to go together, to build bridges, of fraternity. They also came with their wounds, with their questions, but above all with the joy of encountering one another; and once again they formed a mosaic of fraternity. One can speak of a mosaic of fraternity. An emblematic image of World Youth Day is the expanse of multicolored flags waved by the young people: in effect, at WYD the flags of the nations become more beautiful, as though 'they are purified,' and even the flags of nations at war with each other wave near each other. This is beautiful! Here too there are their flags... let them be seen!

"In this way, in this great Jubilee meeting of theirs, the young people of the world heard the Message of Mercy, in order to carry it everywhere in spiritual and corporal works. I thank all the young people who came to Krakow! And I thank those who joined us from every part of the Earth! Because in so many countries, small World Youth Days were held in conjunction with the one in Krakow. May the gift that you have received become a daily response to the Lord's call. A recollection full of affection goes to Susanna, the girl from this Diocese of Rome, who died right after participating in WYD, in Vienna. May the Lord, who has certainly welcomed her into Heaven, comfort her family and friends.

"During this Journey I also visited the Shrine of Chestochowa. Before the icon of Our Lady, I received the gift of the gaze of the Mother who, in a particular way, is the Mother of the people of Poland, of that noble nation that has suffered so much, and with the strength of faith and her maternal hand, has always raised itself again. I greeted several Poles here [in the Hall]. You are good, you are good people!

"There, under that gaze, one understands the spiritual sense of the journey of this people, whose history is linked indissolubly to the Cross of Christ. There one touches by hand the faith of the holy faithful People of God, who safeguards hope through trials; and also safeguards the wisdom which is a balance between tradition and innovation, between memory and future. Poland today reminds all of Europe that there can be no future for the continent without its founding values, which in their turn have the Christian vision of mankind at the center. Among these values is mercy, of which two great children of Poland's soil were special apostles: St. Faustina Kowalska and St. John Paul II.

"Lastly, this Journey also had the horizon of the world, a world called to respond to the challenge of a 'piecemeal' war that is threatening it. Here the profound silence of my visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau was more eloquent than any words. In that silence I listened, I felt, the presence of all the souls that passed by there; I felt the compassion, the mercy of God, that some holy souls were able to take even into that abyss. In that deep silence I prayed for all the victims of violence and of war. And there, in that place, I understood more than ever before the value of remembrance, not only as the recollection of past events, but as monition and responsibility for today and tomorrow, so that the seeds of hatred and of violence do not take root in the furrows of history. Thus in recalling the wars and the many wounds, so much pain that was experienced, there are also many of today's men and women who are suffering due to war, so many of our brothers and sisters. Seeing that cruelty, in that concentration camp, I immediately thought of the cruelty that is similar today: not as concentrated as in that place, but everywhere throughout the world; this world that is ill with cruelty, with pain, with war, with hatred, with sadness. And for this reason I continually ask you to pray: that the Lord give us peace!

"For all this I thank the Lord and the Virgin Mary. And once again I express my gratitude to the President of Poland and to the other Authorities, to the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow and to the entire Polish Episcopate, and to all those who, in a thousand ways, made this event possible, who offered a sign of fraternity and of peace to Poland, to Europe and to the world. I would also like to thank the young volunteers, who worked for over a year to prepare for this event; and also the media, those who work in the media: thank you very much for enabling this Day to be seen throughout the world. And I cannot forget Anna Maria Jacobini, an Italian journalist who lost her life there unexpectedly. Let us also pray for her: she passed away carrying out her service."

Youths Work Hard To Make A Difference

by Rose Sagna, Caritas Internationalis

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Caritas Internationalis. Rose Sagna is women project manager. Rose went to World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow as part of the #YoungCaritas delegation. She told youngsters from around the world about her work with Caritas Senegal.)

This is my first time at the World Youth Day and it's been really great to meet other people from Caritas. These are people who are young like me (I'm 28), they have a job and a position of responsibility within the Caritas confederation.

I run a project for women migrants who come from the countryside to Dakar. There's often very little work in rural villages in Senegal. This situation worsens when the rainy season arrives. When women leave their villages to find work in the city, they live in really bad conditions. They often live in huts behind the market, 15 to a room, there's no shower or toilet. Sometimes there's just one toilet for the whole neighborhood. It's really difficult.

These women have to do work which is hard such as millet grinding or doing washing up all day. Often their rights aren't respected, for example their employers refuse to give them the wage they'd agreed at the beginning. They give them less money and then they get fired.

Caritas approaches these women and asks them what they need. They say that if they had enough money to feed their children in the villages, they wouldn't come to Dakar, so we set up our program for women migrants.

We help migrant women set up small businesses by giving them microfinance. We also raise awareness among the women in Dakar so they return to their villages. The women do a bit of gardening so they can sell vegetables at markets. We buy sewing machines so they can make a living as a seamstress while others become a small-scale traders, buying and selling at the market.

Rose Sagna talking about her work with Caritas Senegal at WYD in Krakow, Poland. Photo by Caritas Poland

The overall aim is that these women return to their villages, so they can live in their own houses and take care of their own children. This is what all the women want.

Caritas Senegal is trying to help them gain financial independence. We've seen that with a little bit of economic help and some training, the women organize themselves into groups and they do just that. It's the group that takes care of reimbursing the money. Each woman is encouraged to save so that they can invest in their own futures and be a step closer to financial independence. Some of them even get to the point where they don't need further help from us because they have made enough money to support their own activities.

This project is aimed at internal women migrants within Senegal but I often think about the wider problem of migration from West Africa towards Europe.

Whenever I speak to young people who want to leave Senegal they always say, "There's nothing here for me, my parents are poor and I have nothing to give them - I can't even afford to buy them breakfast."

Migration is such a complicated issue. When I finished studying, I was unemployed for two years. I couldn't give anything to my parents. In Senegal, not being able to contribute to your upkeep is a question of honor.

But migration to Europe isn't the only solution in my opinion. Potential migrants could use the money they give to traffickers (thousands of Euros) to develop a small project in their country. This way they can contribute to their country.

If you really dedicate yourself to what you're doing and you work hard, you can really make a difference. You can even get to the point where you create jobs for others.

There are some migrants who left for France, but they since returned to invest in their country. There are networks of young entrepreneurs. I really hope for a future where these young people could invest their time and talents in building Senegal.

There are many young people who work in Caritas organizations around the world and I'd like to encourage them to persevere in their work and to also take the best interests of the person they help to heart. This means putting themselves in the place of others, helping them be independent so they can overcome difficulties. It means looking at others with compassion and with the love of Christ in their hearts.

Forgiveness Is Direct Route To Heaven

Pope Francis marked the 800th anniversary of the "Pardon of Assisi" by traveling to Assisi on August 4. His mediation at the Basiliea of St. Mary of the Angels follows:

"Today ... I would like before all else to recall the words that, according to an ancient tradition, Saint Francis spoke in this very place, in the presence of all the townsfolk and bishops: 'I want to send you all to heaven!' What finer thing could the Poor Man of Assisi ask for, if not the gift of salvation, eternal life and unending joy, that Jesus won for us by His death and resurrection?

"Besides, what is heaven if not the mystery of love that eternally unites us to God, to contemplate Him forever? The Church has always professed this by expressing her belief in the communion of saints. We are never alone in living the faith; we do so in the company of all the saints and holy ones, including our loved ones who practiced the faith with joyful simplicity and bore witness to it by their lives. There is a bond, unseen but not for that reason any less real, which makes us, by baptism, 'one body' moved by 'one Spirit' (cf. Eph 4:4). When Saint Francis asked Pope Honorius III to grant an indulgence to all who visited the Porziuncola, he was perhaps thinking of Jesus' words to the disciples: 'In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also' (Jn 14:2-3).

"Forgiveness - pardon - is surely our direct route to that place in heaven. How hard it is to pardon! How much effort it takes for us to forgive others! Let us think about this. Here at the Porziuncola everything speaks to us of pardon! What a great gift the Lord has given us in teaching us to forgive - or at least to try to forgive - and in this way to touch the Father's mercy! We have heard the parable in which Jesus teaches us to forgive (cf. Mt 18:21-35). Why should we forgive someone who has offended us? Because we were forgiven first, and of infinitely more. There is no one here who has not been forgiven. Let each of us reflect on this... Let us reflect in silence on the wrong we have done and how the Lord has forgiven us. The parable tells us exactly this: just as God has forgiven us, so we too should forgive those who do us harm. This is the caress of forgiveness. A forgiving heart caresses. It is far removed from the attitude of: 'You'll pay for this!' Forgiveness is something other. So it is with the prayer that Jesus taught us, the Our Father, in which we say: 'Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors' (Mt 6:12). The debts are our sins in the sight of God, and our debtors are those whom we, for our part, must forgive.

"Each of us might be that servant in the parable burdened with so great a debt that he could never repay it. When we kneel before the priest in the confessional, we do exactly what that servant did. We say, 'Lord, have patience with me.' Have you ever reflected on God's patience? He is full of patience. We are well aware of our many faults and the fact that we often fall back into the same sins. Yet God never tires of offering us His forgiveness each time we ask for it. His is a pardon that is full and complete, one that assures us that, even if we fall back into the same sins, He is merciful and never ceases to love us. Like the master in the parable, God feels compassion, a mixture of pity and love; that is how the Gospel describes God's mercy towards us. Our Father is moved to compassion whenever we repent, and He sends us home with hearts calm and at peace. He tells us that all is remitted and forgiven. God's forgiveness knows no limits; it is greater than anything we can imagine and it comes to all who know in their hearts that they have done wrong and desire to return to him. God looks at the heart that seeks forgiveness.

"The problem, unfortunately, comes whenever we have to deal with a brother or sister who has even slightly offended us. The reaction described in the parable describes it perfectly: 'He seized him by the throat and said, "Pay what you owe!' " (Mt 18:28). Here we encounter all the drama of our human relationships. When we are indebted to others, we expect mercy; but others are indebted to us, we demand justice! All of us do this. It is a reaction unworthy of Christ's disciples, nor is it the sign of a Christian style of life. Jesus teaches us to forgive and to do so limitlessly: 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven' (v. 22). What He offers us is the Father's love, not our own claims to justice. To trust in the latter alone would not be the sign that we are Christ's disciples, who have obtained mercy at the foot of the cross solely by virtue of the love of the Son of God. Let us not forget, then, the harsh saying at the end of the parable: 'So also My heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart' (v. 35).

"... the pardon of which Saint Francis made himself a 'channel' here at the Porziuncola continues to 'bring forth heaven' even after eight centuries. In this Holy Year of Mercy, it becomes ever clearer that the path of forgiveness can truly renew the Church and the world. To offer today's world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted. I repeat: to offer today's world the witness of mercy is a task from which none of us can feel exempted. The world needs forgiveness; too many people are caught up in resentment and harbor hatred, because they are incapable of forgiving. They ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them rather than finding the joy of serenity and peace. Let us ask Saint Francis to intercede for us, so that we may always be humble signs of forgiveness and channels of mercy.

"We can pray about this. Each in his or her own way. I ask the friars and the bishops to go to the confessionals - I too will go - to be available for pardon. It will do us good to receive it today, here, all together. May the Lord grant us the grace to say those words that the Father does not let us finish, the words spoken by the prodigal son: 'Father, I have sinned against..." He did not let him finish, but embraced him. We start to speak but He does not let us finish, and gives us a new garment... 'But, Father, I am afraid of going back and doing the same thing tomorrow..' Return! The Father is always on the lookout, waiting for the return of the prodigal son. All of us are that son. May the Lord grant us this grace.

Can A Christian Use On-Line Dating?

by Leiann Spontaneo

In this day and age, on-line dating is the rage. But do you think you can honestly find "God's" mate for you this way? Most of the research I could find on the internet was geared toward women finding "prince charming." I do not mean to leave out men. However, I think a man could learn a little also from what I found.

On joleneengle.com, Jolene Engle states four things you need to do before meeting prince charming. (1) Your heart's desire should be to feel loved by Jesus Christ first and foremost before you look to fall in love with some man. (2) Continue to accept yourself and who God has made you to be. (3) Be content during this season of your life. (4) Don't wait for your life to begin. Live it now!

Ms. Engle goes on to ask (1) What if you had someone in your life who knew exactly what to look for in your future spouse? Would you listen to that person? (2) What if that person also knew exactly what you needed in your future husband? Would you take their advice regarding their choice for you? (3) What if that person knew exactly where to find that person? Perhaps you can call this a matchmaker? Did you know that God has ALL those answers? Not only can He do all things but is the Perfect Matchmaker!

Following is a look at the Lord's wisdom regarding what not to settle for ... (1) He is not a person who lacks integrity. Is he a habitual liar? Proverbs 19:1 (4) You don't respect him. Ephesians 5:33 (5) He rules over you, bosses you and tries to control you. (Proverbs)

According to Liv (last name unknown), in blog She is Set Apart, as daughters of God, we have an awesome privilege of being able to go to our heavenly Father with boldness and seek His council when it comes to our singleness. Seeking God means pursuing, requiring, desiring Him and forsaking the other things we find our comfort in, whether it be romantic movies, stories, or the relationship statuses of our friends and family. We don't have to fear His "No's" because we think we'll never be married. We can wait for His "Yes" with hopeful expectation because we trust that He loves us enough to give us His very best.

On Catholicsay.com, is a real treat from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. They released a novena prayer right before Valentine's Day (Hey, better late than never), to give support to people seeking a spouse.

During the reign of Claudius, Valentine, a priest in Rome, was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christian who was being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome when helping them was considered a crimes.

St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, and young people. The release of this prayer aims to remind everyone that our prayers can often be answered in ways we didn't expect and it is important to be open to this. Whatever your circumstances, know that you are not alone, that you are loved by God who is full of tenderness, mercy, and compassion.

Finally, the prayer below:

Loving Father,

You know that the deepest desire in my heart is to met someone that I can share my life with.

I trust in Your loving plan for me and ask that I might meet soon the person that You have prepared for me.

Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, open my heart and mind so that I recognize my soul mate.

Remove any obstacles that may be in the way of this happy encounter, so that I might find a new sense of wholeness, joy, and peace.

Give me the grace too to know and accept if you have another plan for my life.

I surrender my past, present, and future into the tender heart of Your Son, Jesus.

Confident that my prayer will be heard and answered.

Amen.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You.

St. Valentine, pray for me.

Works Cited:

http://www.printfriendly.com/print?url-http%3A%2Fjoleneengle.com%2F4-things-you-need-to-do-before-you-meet-prince-charming%2F%3Futm_campaig...

http://www.printfriendly.com/print?url-http%3A%2F%2Fjoleneengle.com%2Fwhat-not-to-settle-for-in-your-future-husband%2F%3Futm_campaign%3Dshareah...

http://www.sheissetapart.com/2015/03/seeking-god-in-singleness.html

http://catholicsay.com/catholic-bishops-releases-novena-prayer-for-young-single-catholics-ahead-of-february-14th/

Author Focuses On Transformation

by Michael Halm

Bear Wozniak, the author of the best seller A Surfing Guide to the Soul, has a new book. He was a world champion surfer, a ninja black belt, a Benedictine oblate, and now hosts "Deep Adventure Radio," which has over three million listeners on three hundred stations. Guests have included filmmaker Jason Jones and martial artist Jesse Romeo. The website invites visitors to share their own stories of how Christ has transformed their lives.

"Join us on this quest," it challenges. "Abandoning yourself to God's will takes every ounce of your courage and dedication. You will be tested, but Jesus is the one calling and He will empower you in ways you've never even imagined."

The new book, Deep Adventure, is subtitled "The Way of Heroic Virtue." Its chapters make their way from virtue to virtue, as Wozniak describes it toward "a life lived in pursuit of God's will in the boldest, most rewarding way possible to live." As Peter was asked by Christ on his way away from Rome, Wozniak asks, "Whare are you going?" and then adds, "Are you ready to enter into Deep Adventure? Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Him? Are you ready to let virtue propel you into the wild adventure of God's will? Are you ready to walk the Way of Heroic Virtue?"

"True heroism," he explains, "the kind that saves lives, preserves dignity, and protects the most vulnerable, is a determined, steadfast power, under control, and directed toward the good with the clarity of purpose that comes with humility."

"A hero," he continues, "is cultivated by countless - often unnoticed - actions. They are ordinary humans - you and me - who direct their decisions and actions to be strengthened by goodness, compassion, integrity,and righteousness."

The chapters are connected by the adventure story "The Rescue" that works on its own. The chapters are also accompanied by commentaries from a variety of others on the virtues. He refers to the four virtues of Socrates, justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude. He contrasts Socrates' misunderstanding of our fallen nature with St. Paul's understanding that we cannot become virtuous without a Savior.

He quotes St. Augustine on temperance, Friar Antonio de Montesino on justice, and Bl. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio on fortitude. Mother Angelica comments on faith and Sts. Damien and Marianna of Molokai on hope.

Wozniak also shares his own "Scuba Tank Theology." He tells of being so overwhelmed by the sensation of flying underwater, of seeing all the sea life in its natural environment, that he forgot to conserve his oxygen. His diving instructor exchanged his fuller oxygen tank for his nearly empty one.

"In that moment," he writes, "holding my tank in my hands and my last breath in my lungs, I realized that if the transition did not go smoothly, I would have no air at 120 beet below the surface."

Anthony De Stefano, author of A Travel Guide to Heaven, calls Wozniak's new book "not a book to read and put away, but rather to read and keep referring to it."

"Men," he says emphatically, "this book will bring you closer to God and help you to become the man God intended you to be."

Reviewer Jeffrey Miller warns the reader that the book does contain many sports metaphors. He does, however, nevertheless call it "solid spiritual reading."

Sheila Liaugminas, author of Non-Negotiable, writes, "Take the spiritual classics of the desert fathers, put them in the hands of a modern ocean master and champion surfer, reintroduce them to modern culture with lost words like heroism and virtue ... and you have this powerful blast of clarity and pull of gravity toward the greatest force of nature: God Who is love."

Bishop Michael Byrnes of Detroit says, "I can affirm wholeheartedly with Bear the deep conviction that is at the heart of his book: 'The most radical thing that you can do in life is to abandon yourself to the wild adventure of God's will.' "

Besides the TV and radio shows and the blogs DeepInTheWave and BearsWave, Wozniak Deep Adventure Ministry also offers 2-minute podcasts on living the virtues, retreats for both men and women, and the Renegade Rosary Run for everyone. The three 'laps' around the rosary are for the deeper conversion of friends and family, for the blessing of Deep Adventure and for your own personal intention, fifteen decades in all.

http://www.catholic365.com/article/412/the-dirty-secret-of-romance-novels-html

Light to the Nations

(A Christian Perspective on World News)

Stop The Violence

WASHINGTON - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement in relation to the July 17 fatal shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Full statement follows.

"Stop, no more of this!" (LK 22:51)

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

I offer my prayers for the officers and families affected by the horrible shooting in Baton Rouge. We find ourselves amid a prolonged prayer of lament as we join to console the grieving and support the suffering. People are suffering because their uniform is blue, suffering because their skin is black and suffering simply because of their station in life.

The temptation to respond to violence with violence is strong. Even St. Peter himself lashed out upon the arrest of our beloved Savior. Jesus' response was clear. "Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (MT 26:52). As followers of Christ, let us always embrace love and ask ourselves how we can best invite all people of good will to live with us in peace.

The reasons for so much suffering are complex and varied. As a society, we must come together to address the lingering evil of racism, the need to safeguard our citizens from the present danger of extremism and the overall breakdown of civility. As a Church, we will seek out ways to foster this life-saving dialogue. Answers will not come easily nor as quickly as we need. We must continue searching and listening until they do.

As we seek a dialogue that cultivates a true respect for every human being, we should also seek ways, large and small, to be a sign of hope in the everyday routines of life. The next time you are pulled over by a police officer or walk past one on the street, thank him or her for their service. For those in law enforcement, the next time you make a traffic stop, thank the person for their time. The task of building a society upon the strong foundation of love begins with each one of us every day.

(Source: USCCB press release)

Prayers, support offered

WASHINGTON - Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed prayers and support after the latest terrorist attack on a Catholic parish in Normandy, France, that left a priest dead and another person seriously injured.

According to reports, the attack took place while Father Jacques Hamel was celebrating Mass, he and five other people were taken hostages inside the church.

Full statement (July 26) follows.

Attack on Our Catholic Church in Normandy

A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic faithful around the world experienced the shock and sadness of this morning's barbaric attack on Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in France, as if the loss was in our very own parish. We pray for Father Hamel and his parishioners knowing, as St. Paul stated regarding the Body of Christ, "if one suffers, all the parts suffer with it." (1 Cor 12:26)

The Holy Mass is the most sacred and joyful act we, as Catholics, celebrate. Never are we closer to our Lord Jesus Christ than we are when we receive the Eucharist. No act of desecration - no matter how vile - can obscure the merciful presence of God.

Jesus calls us to be sisters and brothers, to strive to care for one another, and always to reject the evil that seeks to divide us. We give thanks to God for the unforgettable witness of the faithful this morning at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

(Source: USCCB news release)

Edge To Edge

Pray The News

Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.

  • We pray in Thanksgiving for the Church's new saint, Mother Teresa.
  • We pray for peace and an end to terrorism and violence.
  • We pray for continued blessings from World Youth Day.
  • We pray that all will work faithfully for Jesus.
  • We pray for all students, parents, and teachers.
  • We pray for the elections to be under the lordship of Jesus and for wisdom and discernment for voters.
  • We pray for hearts of forgiveness and mercy.
  • We pray that people would have the heart of Jesus for migrants.
  • We pray for migrants to have a spirit of wanting to contribute to countries which receive them.

The cost of this publication is a donation. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit what amount He would have you contribute.

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Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com

 

 

 
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