"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
Risen Christ by Joseph Fisher
World Youth Day 2018 will be celebrated in dioceses around the world on Palm Sunday (March 25). The Pope's Message for the Day, dated February 11, 2018, follows:
"... World Youth Day 2018 represents another step in preparation for the international WYD due to take place in Panama in January 2019. This new stage of our pilgrimage falls in the same year that the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will meet on the theme: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. This is a happy coincidence. The focus, prayer, and reflection of the Church will turn to you young people, with the desire to receive and, above all, to embrace the precious gift that you are to God, to the Church, and to the world.
"As you already know, we have chosen to be accompanied on this journey by the example and intercession of Mary, the young woman of Nazareth whom God chose as the Mother of His Son. She walks with us towards the Synod and towards the WYD in Panama. If last year we were guided by the words of her canticle of praise - 'The Almighty has done great things for me' (Lk 1:49) - teaching us to remember the past, this year we seek, together with her, to listen to the voice of God who inspires courage and bestows the grace needed to respond to His call: 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God' (Lk 1:30). These are the words addressed by God's messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, to Mary, an ordinary girl from a small village in Galilee.
"As is understandable, the sudden appearance of the angel and his mysterious greeting: 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you' (Lk 1:28), strongly disturbed Mary, who was surprised by this first revelation of her identity and her vocation, as yet unknown to her. Mary, like others in the Sacred Scriptures, trembles before the mystery of God's call, who in a moment places before her the immensity of His own plan and makes her feel all her smallness as a humble creature. The angel, seeing the depths of her heart, says: 'Do not be afraid!' God also reads our inmost heart. He knows well the challenges we must confront in life, especially when we are faced with the fundamental choices on which depend who we will be and what we will do in this world. It is the 'shudder' that we feel when faced with decisions about our future, our state of life, our vocation. In these moments we are troubled and seized by so many fears.
"And you young people, what are your fears? What worries you most deeply? An 'underlying' fear that many of you have is that of not being loved, well-liked or accepted for who you are. Today, there are many young people who feel the need to be different from who they really are, in an attempt to adapt to an often artificial and unattainable standard. They continuously 'photo-shop' their images, hiding behind masks and false identities, almost becoming fake selves. Many are obsessed by receiving as many 'likes' as possible. Multiple fears and uncertainties emerge from this sense of inadequacy. Others fear that they will not be able to find an emotional security and that they will remain alone. Many, faced with the uncertainty of work, fear not being able to find a satisfactory professional position, or to fulfil their dreams. Today a large number of young people are full of fear, both believers and non-believers. Indeed, those who have accepted the gift of faith and seek their vocation seriously are not exempt from fears. Some think: perhaps God is asking or will ask too much of me; perhaps, by following the road He has marked out for me, I will not be truly happy, or I will not be able to do what He asks of me. Others think: if I follow the path that God shows me, who can guarantee that I will be able to follow it through? Will I become discouraged? Will I lose my enthusiasm? Will I be able to persevere for the whole of my life?
"In moments when doubts and fears flood our hearts, discernment becomes necessary. It allows us to bring order to the confusion of our thoughts and feelings, to act in a just and prudent way. In this process, the first step in overcoming fears is to identify them clearly, so as not to find yourself wasting time and energy by being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts. And so, I invite all of you to look within yourselves and to 'name' your fears. Ask yourselves: what upsets me, what do I fear most in this specific moment of my life today? What blocks me and prevents me from moving forward? Why do I lack the courage to make the important choices I need to make? Do not be afraid to face your fears honestly, to recognize them for what they are and to come to terms with them. The Bible does not ignore the human experience of fear nor its many causes. Abraham was afraid (cf. Gen 12:10ff), Jacob was afraid (cf. Gen 31:31; 32:7), and so were Moses (cf. Ex 2:14; 17:4), Peter (cf. Mt 26:69ff) and the Apostles (cf. Mk 4:38-40; Mt 26:56). Jesus Himself, albeit in an incomparable way, experienced fear and anguish (cf. Mt 26:37; Lk 22:44).
" 'Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?' (Mk 4:40). In admonishing His disciples Jesus helps us to understand how the obstacle to faith is often not scepticism but fear. Thus understood, the work of discernment identifies our fears and can then help us to overcome them, opening us to life and helping us to calmly face the challenges that come our way. For us Christians in particular, fear must never have the last word but rather should be an occasion to make an act of faith in God ... and in life! This means believing in the fundamental goodness of the existence that God has given us and trusting that He will lead us to a good end, even through circumstances and vicissitudes which often bewilder us. Yet if we harbor fears, we will become inward-looking and closed off to defend ourselves from everything and everyone, and we will remain paralyzed. We have to act! Never close yourself in! In the Sacred Scriptures the expression 'do not be afraid' is repeated 365 times with different variations, as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year.
"Discernment is indispensable when searching for one's vocation in life. More often than not our vocation is not obvious or evident at first but rather something we come to understand gradually. Discernment, in this case, should not be seen as an individual effort at introspection, with the aim of better understanding our interior make-up so as to strengthen us and acquire some balance. In such instances the person can become stronger, but is still confined to the limited horizon of his or her possibilities and perspectives. Vocation, however, is a call from above, and discernment in this context principally means opening ourselves to the Other who calls. Prayerful silence is therefore required in order to hear the voice of God that resounds within our conscience. God knocks at the door of our hearts, as He did with Mary; He longs to establish friendship with us through prayer, to speak with us through the Sacred Scriptures, to offer us mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to be one with us in the Eucharist.
"It is also important to dialogue with and encounter others, our brothers and sisters in the faith who have more experience, for they help us to see better and to choose wisely from the various possibilities. When the young Samuel hears the voice of the Lord, he does not recognize it immediately. Three times he runs to Eli, the older priest, who in the end proposes the right response to give to the Lord's call: 'If he calls you, you shall say: "Speak Lord, for your servant hears." ' (1 Sam 3:9). In your doubts know that you can rely on the Church. I know that there are very good priests, consecrated men and woman and lay faithful, many of whom are also young, who can support you like older brothers and sisters in the faith. Enlivened by the Holy Spirit, they will help you to make sense of your doubts and understand the plan of your own vocation. The other is not only a spiritual guide, but also the person who helps us open ourselves to the infinite riches of the life that God has given us. It is important to create spaces in our cities and communities to grow, to dream, and to look at new horizons! Never lose the enthusiasm of enjoying others' company and friendship, as well as the pleasure of dreaming together, of walking together. Authentic Christians are not afraid to open themselves to others and share with them their own important spaces, making them spaces of fraternity. Dear young people, do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone. Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people, with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life.
" 'I have called you by name' (Is 43:1). The first reason not to fear is the fact that God has called us by name. The angel, God's messenger, called Mary by name. To God belongs the power to give names. In the work of creation, He calls into existence every creature by name. There is an identity behind a name, that which is unique in every single thing, in every single person; that intimate essence that only God truly knows. This divine prerogative was shared with man when God invited him to name the animals, the birds and also his own offspring (Gen 2:19-21; 4:1). Many cultures share this profound biblical vision; they recognize in a name the revelation of the profound mystery of life and the meaning of existence.
"When God calls someone by name, He also reveals to the person His vocation, His plan of holiness and fulfilment, through which the person becomes a gift to others and is made unique. And when God wants to expand the horizons of life, He gives a new name to the person He is calling, as He did with Simon, whom He called 'Peter.' From here comes the custom of taking a new name when entering a religious congregation, to indicate a new identity and mission. Since the divine call is unique and personal, we need the courage to disentangle ourselves from the pressure of being shaped by conforming patterns, so that our life can truly become an authentic and irreplaceable gift to God, to the Church, and to all.
"Dear young people, to be called by name is therefore a sign of our great dignity in the eyes of God and a sign of His love for us. God calls each one of you by name. All of you are the 'you' of God, precious in His eyes, worthy of respect and loved (cf. Is 43:4). Welcome with joy this dialogue that God offers you, this appeal He makes to you, calling you by name.
"The main reason why Mary need not be afraid is that she has found favor with God. The word 'grace' speaks of love freely given, not owed. How much we are encouraged to know that we do not have to earn the closeness and help of God, by presenting a 'Curriculum Vitae of excellence,' full of merits and successes! The angel says to Mary that she has already found favor with God, not that she will obtain it in the future. And the same formulation of the angel's words helps us understand that divine grace is continuous, not something passing or fleeting; for this reason, it will never fail. Even in the future, the grace of God will always be there to sustain us, especially in moments of trial and darkness.
"The continuous presence of divine grace encourages us to embrace our vocation with confidence; our vocation demands a commitment of faithfulness that needs to be renewed each day. Our vocational path is not without its crosses: not only our initial doubts, but also the frequent temptations that crop up along the way. The feeling of inadequacy accompanies Christ's disciple to the end. Yet he or she knows the help of God's grace.
"The Angel's words descend upon our human fears, dissolving them with the power of the Good News of which we are heralds: our life is not pure chance or a mere struggle for survival, rather each of us is a cherished story loved by God. That we have 'found grace in his eyes' means that the Creator sees a unique beauty in our being and that He has a magnificent plan for our lives. The awareness of this certainty, of course, does not resolve all our problems nor does it take away life's uncertainties. But it does have the power to transform our life deeply. The unknown that tomorrow holds for us is not a dark threat we need to overcome, but a favorable time given to us for living out the uniqueness of our personal vocation, and for sharing it with our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world.
"From the certainty that God's grace is with us comes the strength to take courage in the present moment: the courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, in every area of our lives; courage to embrace the vocation which God reveals to us; courage to live out our faith without hiding or diminishing it.
"Yes, when we open ourselves to God's grace, the impossible becomes a reality. 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Rom 8:31). God's grace touches the 'now' of your lives, 'takes hold' of you as you are, with all your fears and limits, but it also reveals His marvellous plans! You young people need to know that someone truly believes in you: please know that the Pope has confidence in you, that the Church has confidence in you! For your part, have confidence in the Church!
"To the young Mary was entrusted an important task, precisely because she was young. You young people have strength as you go through a phase of your lives where energy is not lacking. Make use of this strength and this energy to improve the world, beginning with the realities closest to you. I want important responsibilities to be given to you within the Church; that there may be the courage to make space for you; and that you may be prepared to take on these responsibilities.
"I invite you once again to contemplate Mary's love: a caring, dynamic, and concrete love. A love full of boldness and focused completely on the gift of self. A Church permeated by these Marian qualities will always be a Church going forth, one that goes beyond her own limits and boundaries to let the grace she has received overflow. If we allow ourselves to be truly touched by Mary's example, we will live out authentically that charity which urges us to love God above all else and above ourselves, to love those with whom we share our daily life. And we will also love those who may seem hardly lovable in themselves. It is a love that is service and dedication, above all towards the weakest and poorest, love that transforms our faces and fills us with joy.
"I would like to end with the beautiful words Saint Bernard used in a famous homily on the mystery of the Annunciation, words that express the anticipation of all humanity for Mary's response: 'You have heard, O Virgin that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer... We too, O Lady, are waiting for your word of compassion... In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life... This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet... Answer quickly, O Virgin' (Sermon 4, 8-9; Opera Omnia).
"Dear young people, the Lord, the Church, the world are waiting for your answer to the unique call that each one receives in this life! As World Youth Day in Panama draws closer, I invite you to prepare yourselves for our gathering with the joy and enthusiasm of those who wish to participate in such a great adventure. WYD is for the courageous! Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise. Do you accept the challenge?"
"April 22 is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Francis sent a message for this day, dated December 3, 2017. the message follows:
"Next October, the Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will meet to discuss the theme of young people and in particular the relationship between young people, faith and vocation. There we will have a chance to consider more deeply how, at the center of our life, is the call to joy that God addresses to us and how this is 'God's plan for men and women in every age' (SYNOD OF BISHOPS, XV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Young People, The Faith and Vocational Discernment, Introduction).
"The Fifty-fifth World Day of Prayer for Vocations once again proclaims this good news to us, and in a decisive manner. We are not victims of chance or swept up in a series of unconnected events; on the contrary, our life and our presence in this world are the fruit of a divine vocation!
"Even amid these troubled times, the mystery of the Incarnation reminds us that God continually comes to encounter us. He is God-with-us, who walks along the often dusty paths of our lives. He knows our anxious longing for love and He calls us to joy. In the diversity and the uniqueness of each and every vocation, personal and ecclesial, there is a need to listen, discern and live this word that calls to us from on high and, while enabling us to develop our talents, makes us instruments of salvation in the world, and guides us to full happiness.
"These three aspects - listening, discerning, and living - were also present at beginning of Jesus' own mission, when, after His time of prayer and struggle in the desert, He visited His synagogue of Nazareth. There, He listened to the word, discerned the content of the mission entrusted to Him by the Father, and proclaimed that He came to accomplish it 'today' (Lk 4:16-21).
"The Lord's call - let it be said at the outset - is not as clear-cut as any of those things we can hear, see, or touch in our daily experience. God comes silently and discreetly, without imposing on our freedom. Thus it can happen that His voice is drowned out by the many worries and concerns that fill our minds and hearts.
"We need, then, to learn how to listen carefully to His word and the story of His life, but also to be attentive to the details of our own daily lives, in order to learn how to view things with the eyes of faith, and to keep ourselves open to the surprises of the Spirit.
"We will never discover the special, personal calling that God has in mind for us if we remain enclosed in ourselves, in our usual way of doing things, in the apathy of those who fritter away their lives in their own little world. We would lose the chance to dream big and to play our part in the unique and original story that God wants to write with us.
"Jesus too, was called and sent. That is why He needed to recollect Himself in silence. He listened to and read the word in the synagogue, and with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit He revealed its full meaning, with reference to His own person and the history of the people of Israel."
"Nowadays listening is becoming more and more difficult, immersed as we are in a society full of noise, overstimulated, and bombarded by information. The outer noise that sometimes prevails in our cities and our neighborhoods is often accompanied by our interior dispersion and confusion. This prevents us from pausing and enjoying the taste of contemplation, reflecting serenely on the events of our lives, going about our work with confidence in God's loving plan, and making a fruitful discernment.
"Yet, as we know, the kingdom of God comes quietly and unobtrusively (cf. Lk 17:21), and we can only gather its seeds when, like the prophet Elijah, we enter into the depths of our soul and are open to the imperceptible whisper of the divine breeze (cf. 1 Kg 19:11-13).
"When Jesus, in the synagogue of Nazareth, reads the passage of the prophet Isaiah, He discerns the content of the mission for which He was sent, and presents it to those who awaited the Messiah: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (Lk 4:18-19).
"In the same way, each of us can discover his or her own vocation only through spiritual discernment. This is 'a process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one's state in life' (SYNOD OF BISHOPS, XV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment, II, 2).
"Thus we come to discover that Christian vocation always has a prophetic dimension. The Scriptures tell us that the prophets were sent to the people in situations of great material insecurity and of spiritual and moral crisis, in order to address in God's name a message of conversion, hope and consolation. Like a whirlwind, the prophet unsettles the false tranquility of consciences that have forgotten the word of the Lord. He discerns events in the light of God's promise and enables people to glimpse the signs of dawn amid the dark shadows of history.
"Today too, we have great need of discernment and of prophecy. We have to resist the temptations of ideology and negativity, and to discover, in our relationship with the Lord, the places, the means, and situations through which He calls us. Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to 'read within' his or her life, and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission.
"Lastly, Jesus announces the newness of the present hour, which will enthuse many and harden the heart of others. The fullness of time has come, and He is the Messiah proclaimed by Isaiah and anointed to liberate prisoners, to restore sight to the blind and to proclaim the merciful love of God to every creature. Indeed, Jesus says that 'today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing' (Lk 4:21).
"The joy of the Gospel, which makes us open to encountering God and our brothers and sisters, does not abide our slowness and our sloth. It will not fill our hearts if we keep standing by the window with the excuse of waiting for the right time, without accepting this very day the risk of making a decision. Vocation is today! The Christian mission is now! Each one of us is called - whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration - in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now.
"This 'today' that Jesus proclaimed assures us that God continues to 'come down' to save our human family and to make us sharers in His mission. The Lord continues to call others to live with Him and to follow Him in a relationship of particular closeness. He continues to call others to serve Him directly. If He lets us realize that He is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to His kingdom, then we should have no fear! It is beautiful - and a great grace - to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters.
"Today the Lord continues to call others to follow Him. We should not wait to be perfect in order to respond with our generous 'yes,' nor be fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead open our hearts to the voice of the Lord. To listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us.
"May Mary Most Holy, who as a young woman living in obscurity heard, accepted and experienced the Word of God made flesh, protect us and accompany us always on our journey."
"The future St. Pope John Paul II worked during the Nazi occupation of Poland in a chemical factory. It just happened to be just a few hundred yards from the convent chapel and the grave of Sr. Faustina Kowalska, the messenger of Divine Mercy. It was not until shortly before his elevation to pope that the mistranslation of her diary was re-translated and so removed from the Index of Forbidden books. His first canonization as pope was hers and he declared the Sunday after Easter Mercy Sunday, when Jesus' first words were "Peace be with you."
"Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome," Pope St. John Paul II said, "I consider this message my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church, and the world."
"It is a message that is clear and understandable for everyone. Anyone can come here, look at this image of the merciful Jesus. His heart radiating grace and hear in the depths of his own heart what Blessed Faustina heard: 'I AM with you always,' and if this person responds with a sincere heart: 'Jesus, I trust in You!' he [or she] will find comfort in all his anxieties and fears."
"Fr. Michael Gaitley, the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, tells of his confirmation of his priestly and ministerial vocations. It was when he was one of many of the young people at Easter vigil in Rome in 1997. He prayed silently, "I want to be a priest like you." Just then Pope John Paul turned and looked right at him and give him a look as if to say, "This is serious." When he repeated the prayer he got what he took as a confirmation when the pope turned to him again.
"There are now many resources explaining this message for our age. Marian Helpers offers many DVDs on Divine Mercy. "The Doors of Mercy" set is called "an 8-week journey through salvation history." "Divine Mercy in the Second Greatest Story," in response to the book by Fr. Gaitley, is on Poland's salvation story and Our Lady's role in it. "Divine Mercy and Mary" from Franciscan University with Regis Martin and Scott Hahn also connect to two.
"Fr. Gaitley's series "You Did It To Me:" Putting Mercy into Action, shown on EWTN, is also on DVD. There is also "Divine Mercy Essentials" by Robert Stackpole and the booklet and ebook Divine Mercy Explained by Fr. Gaitley. A Journey to Healing through Divine Mercy by Teresa Bonopaktis is subtitled "mercy after abortion." For beginners there is "Divine Mercy 101" kit.
"They have A Year of Mercy with Pope Francis. The diary of St. Faustina comes in both print and audio versions. Mercy's Gaze by Vinny Flynn is a collection of parallel passages from Scripture and the Diary. Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI by Robert Stackpole makes an even more in depth connection. "Divine Mercy - No Escape" is St. Faustina's story as told by Helen Hayes.
"Loved, Lost and Found: 17 Divine Mercy Conversions edited by Felix Carroll tells of how Mercy saved an abortionist, an atheist, and adulterer, a cult member, a rape victim, and others. Come to My Mercy is called "a step-by-step manual on how to give and receive mercy." Divine Mercy Minutes by Fr. George Kosicki is excepts from St. Faustina's diary, "daily gems ... to transform your prayer life."
"More than one version of the divine mercy chaplet is sung on DVDs and CDs. The sisters of our Lady of Mercy have one, as do Trish Short and Michael Bethea. "Endless Mercy" contains songs of Vinny Flynn.
"Ignatius Press has "the Face of Mercy" documentary with Jim Cavieval, shares true stories of mercy. Their Disciple of Mercy Journal is a 12-week guide using Scripture as inspiration for acts of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn does the same in We Have Found Mercy. The DVD "Fautina: apostle of Divine Mercy" is in Polish with English or Spanish subtitles. Their booklet Divine Mercy and Faustina briefly instructs.
"For other conversation starters there's Divine Mercy pens, bookmarks, tote bags, luggage tags, elastic bracelets, tapestries, pocket statues, lapel pins, prayer cards, key chains, and even dog tags.
Pope Francis addressed the key role of nurses in a March 3 address to the Italian Federation of the Boards of Nursing Profession. A portion of his address follows:
"... The role of nurses in assisting the sick is truly irreplaceable. Unlike any other, the nurse has a direct and continuous relationship with patients, taking care of them on a daily basis, listening to their needs, and coming into contact with their bodies, which the nurse attends. It is a particular approach to healthcare which you accomplish with your actions, wholly taking upon yourselves the burden of people's needs, with that typical concern that patients recognize in you, and which represents a fundamental part in the treatment and healing process.
"The International Code of Nursing Ethics ... identifies four fundamental responsibilities of your profession: 'to promote health, to prevent illness, to restore health, and to alleviate suffering. The need for nursing is universal' (Preamble). It entails complex and numerous functions, which touch upon every sphere of care, and which you carry out in cooperation with other professionals of the sector. The curative and preventative, rehabilitative and palliative character of your work demands from you a high level of professionalism, which requires specialization and continuing education, due also to the constant evolution of technologies and treatments.
"This professionalism, however, manifests itself not only in the technical sphere, but also and perhaps even more so in the sphere of human relationships. Being in contact with physicians and family members, in addition to the sick, you become, in hospitals, in healthcare facilities, and in homes, the crossroads of a thousand relationships, which require attention, competence, and compassion. And it is precisely in this synthesis of technical abilities and human sensitivity that the value of your work is fully revealed.
"Taking care of women and men, of children and elderly, in every phase of their life, from birth to death, you are tasked with continuous listening, aimed at understanding what the needs of that patient are, in the phase that he or she is experiencing. Before the uniqueness of each situation, indeed, it is never enough to follow a protocol, but a constant - and tiresome! - effort of discernment and attention to the individual person is required. All this makes your profession a veritable mission, and makes you 'experts in humanity,' called to carry out an irreplaceable undertaking of humanization in a distracted society which too often leaves the weakest people at the margins, taking interest only in those who 'count,' or responding to criteria of efficiency or gain.
"Being in contact with patients each day, the sensitivity that you acquire makes of you promoters of life and of people's dignity. May you be able to recognize the proper limits of technology, which can never become an absolute and relegate human dignity to second place. May you also be attentive to the desire, sometimes unexpressed, for spirituality and religious assistance, which for many patients represents an essential element of life's meaning and serenity, even more compelling in fragility caused by illness.
"For the Church, the sick are people in whom, in a special way, Jesus is present; He identifies Himself in them when He says 'I was sick and you visited Me' (Mt 25:36). Throughout His ministry, Jesus was close to the sick; He approached them with loving kindness and healed so many of them. In meeting the leper who asks Jesus that he be healed, He reaches out His hand and touches him (cf. Mt 8:2-3). The importance of this simple gesture must not escape us: Mosaic law prohibited touching lepers, and forbade them to approach populated areas. However, Jesus goes to the heart of the law, which finds fulfilment in love of neighbor, and in touching the leper He reduces the distance from him, so that he may no longer be separated from the community of men and perceive, through a simple gesture, the closeness of God Himself. Thus, the healing that Jesus gives him is not only physical, but goes to the heart, because the leper has not only been healed but also felt loved. Do not forget the 'medicine of caresses:' it is so important! A caress, a smile, is full of meaning for the sick person. It is a simple gesture, but it lifts one up; a person feels supported, feels healing is near, feels as a person, not a number. Do not forget it.
"Being with the sick and practicing your profession, you personally touch the sick, and more than anything else, you take care of their bodies. When you do so, remember how Jesus touched the leper: not in a distracted, indifferent, or annoyed manner, but attentive and loving, so it makes him or her feel respected and taken care of. In doing so, the contact that you establish with patients accompanies them as an echo of God the Father's closeness, of His tenderness for each one of His children. Precisely tenderness: tenderness is the 'key' to understanding the sick. The sick cannot be understood with harshness. Tenderness is the key to understanding them, and is also a precious medicine for their healing. And tenderness passes from the heart to the hands; it passes, with full respect and love, through the 'touching' of wounds...
"Mindful of the highly demanding task that you perform, I welcome the occasion to exhort the patients themselves to never take for granted what they receive from you. You too, sick people, be attentive to the humanity of the nurses who assist you. Ask without insisting; do not just expect a smile, but also offer it to those who devote themselves to you ... Thus, no one should take for granted what the nurses do for them, but always nourish the sense of respect and gratitude owed to you..."
(A Christian Perspective on World News)
WASHINGTON - (March 5, 2018) In the aftermath of the tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, urged national leaders to finally come together and address the crisis of gun violence in a comprehensive way.
The full statement follows:
"Once again, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children and those who teach them. Our prayers continue for those who have died, and those suffering with injuries and unimaginable grief. We also continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life.
Specifically, this moment calls for an honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals-not partisanship and overheated rhetoric. The idea of arming teachers seems to raise more concerns than it addresses. Setting a more appropriate minimum age for gun ownership, requiring universal background checks (as the bishops have long advocated), and banning 'bump stocks' are concepts that appear to offer more promise. We must explore ways to curb violent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth, and ensure that law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identify troubled individuals and get them help.
Most people with mental illness will never commit a violent act, but mental illness has been a significant factor in some of these horrific attacks. We must look to increase resources and seek earlier interventions.
For many years, the USCCB has supported a federal ban on assault weapons, limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons, and ammunition magazines, further criminalizing gun trafficking, certain limitations on the purchase of handguns, and safety measures such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using guns without permission.
The advocacy by survivors of the Parkland shooting-and young people throughout our nation-is a stark reminder that guns pose an enormous danger to the innocent when they fall into the wrong hands. The voices of these advocates should ring in our ears as they describe the peaceful future to which they aspire. We must always remember what is at stake as we take actions to safeguard our communities and honor human life. In the words of St. John, 'let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth' (1 Jn. 3:18)."
(Source: USCCB press release)
WASHINGTON - (March 13, 2018) Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joins other leaders from the U.S. Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), and Armenian Churches in urging Israel to not confiscate church lands or tax church properties. In the joint letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, the Church leaders express deep concern that the measure would "...jeopardize the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land." A second letter has been sent by the US signatories to all the heads of churches in the Holy Land pledging to continue to press the Israeli government on their behalf.
The full statement to the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Jerusalem follows:
"As heads of churches and communions in the United States, we write to express our strong concern about recent legal proposals and tax plans that would severely inhibit the work of the churches in and around Jerusalem. If enacted, these measures would have the effect of creating a situation that jeopardizes the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land.
We have expressed to the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, in the enclosed letter, our firm solidarity with them during this crisis, including by strong advocacy before our own government.
We know of the myriad of activities in which the churches there are engaged, such as education, health care, and pilgrimages, and we recognize that they are integral to the churches' mission and of major benefit to the Jerusalem community beyond the churches.
We ask that you end measures that disrupt the Status Quo. We have pledged to the church leaders in Jerusalem our unwavering support for all peaceful and lawful measures they may pursue to ensure the preservation and flourishing of the Christian community now and in the future."
The full letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Mayor Nir Barkat can be found at:
The full letter to the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem can be found at:
(Source: USCCB press release)
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