Pope to Bishops: Love alone satisfies the heart

In his homily at Mass with the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) on Thursday, Pope Francis reflected on "three words that challenge us as Christians and Bishops in Europe: reflect, rebuild and see.", writes Francesca Merlo in Vatican News.

Bishops from across Europe, including Archbishop Leo Cushley, are in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CCEE with a plenary conference on 23-26 September.

Reflect

God, speaking through the Old Testament prophet Haggai, invites us to reflect on how we live our lives, said the Pope: Twice the prophet says to the people: “Reflect on your ways!” ( Hag 1:5.7).

The Pope noted that those words, 'Reflect on your ways!', are challenging because in Europe today, "we Christians can be tempted to remain comfortably ensconced in our structures, our homes and our churches, in the security provided by our traditions, content with a certain degree of consensus, while all around us churches are emptying and Jesus is increasingly forgotten".

He asked the bishops and all those present to consider "how many people no longer hunger and thirst for God."

This is not because they are evil, he continued, but because there is "no one to awaken in them a hunger for faith and to satisfy that thirst in the human heart". Certainly, we are “preoccupied” by this, but are we really “occupied” with responding to it? asked the Pope.

There is no sense in judging those who do not believe, said the Pope. "Do we feel concern and compassion for those who have not had the joy of encountering Jesus or who have lost that joy?"

Through the prophet Haggai, the Lord asks his people to reflect on another thing, said the Pope, and this is charity. "Lack of charity causes unhappiness, because love alone satisfies the human heart," said the Pope. "The solution to problems and self-absorption is always that of gratuitous gift. There is no other. This is something to reflect on."

Rebuilding

Build my house”, God says through the prophet (Hag 1:8), and the people rebuild the Temple, said the Pope, introducing the second word: rebuilding.

In order to build the European common house, we must "leave behind short-term expedience and return to the farsighted vision of the founding fathers, a prophetic vision of the whole", he said.

We must begin from the foundations, because that is where rebuilding starts: from the Church’s living tradition, which is based on "what is essential, the Good Newscloseness and witness. We need to rebuild from her foundations the Church of every time and place, from worship of God and love of neighbour, and not from our own tastes."

"All rebuilding takes place together, in unity, with others," said the Pope. Rebuilding means becoming artisans of communion, weavers of unity at every level.

See

"If we rebuild in this way, we will enable our brothers and sisters to see," said the Pope. This is the third word: See.

"So many people in Europe see the faith as déja vu, a relic of the past," said the Pope. This is because they have not seen Jesus at work in their own lives, he explained. Often this is because we, by our lives, have not sufficiently shown Him to them.

"They will not recognize the One who loves each of His sheep, calls them by name, and bears them on His shoulders. They will not see the One whose incredible passion we preach: for it is a consuming passion, a passion for mankind," said the Pope.

This divine, merciful and overpowering love, concluded the Pope "is itself the perennial newness of the Gospel and it demands of us, dear brothers, wise and bold decisions, made in the name of the mad love with which Christ has saved us."

WATCH: Pope's prayer intention for May

Pope Francis has released his prayer intention for the month of May 2021, calling for regulators to limit speculation in financial markets and protect ordinary people. Read the full story at Vatican News.

The Prayer intention

"The true economy, the one that creates work, is in crisis. How many people are now unemployed! — But the financial markets have never been as inflated as they are now. How far away is the world of high finance from the lives of ordinary people!

If finance is unregulated, it becomes pure speculation driven by various monetary policies. This situation is unsustainable. And it is dangerous.

So that the poor do not suffer painful consequences from this system, financial speculation must be carefully regulated.
Speculation. I want to underline that term.

May finance be a form of service, and an instrument to serve the people, and to care for our common home!
We still have time to begin a process of global change to practice a different kind of economy, one that is more just, more inclusive and sustainable —and leaves no one behind.

We can do this! And let us pray that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate financial markets and protect citizens from its dangers."

Parishes at the service of evangelization

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy has released a new document to help guide the reform of parish communities.
It is entitled 'The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church' (read it here).

Isabella Piro, on vaticannews.va, writes: "The document does not promulgate any new legislation, but proposes methods to better apply existing rules and canonical norms.

"The aim is to encourage the co-responsibility of the baptized and to promote pastoral care based on closeness and cooperation between parishes."

She adds: "What emerges most forcefully from the Instruction is the urgency of missionary renewal, a pastoral conversion of the parish, so that the faithful may rediscover the dynamism and creativity which allows the parish to be always "going forth", aided by the contribution of all the baptized faithful."

 

'Pope's astronomer' at the Vatican tours Scotland

The Pope’s stargazer is to visit Scotland to attend a series of events aimed at exploring the evidence for God's existence.

Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, said he was "thrilled" to be visiting for a four day tour.

Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “Brother Guy Consolmagno is a high profile example of one whose work combines matters of science and matters of God, demonstrating once more that there is absolutely no inherent conflict between scientific understanding and belief in a creator.

"The more we know about science, the more we see the imprint of a creator.

"That we have a Jesuit speaking at an event hosted by the interdenominational body Grasping the Nettle (GTN) underscores the commitment of the Church in Scotland to speak with one voice on the issue of science and God.”

Faith and science

GTN is backed by Scottish church leaders and promotes dialogue on how faith and science can work together.

Bro Consolmagno, a Jesuit religious brother, said: "It’s so important to dialogue with students and the general public, of all faiths and sciences, how faith enhances our science and science our faith. Both seek truth, and find it in joy.”

“The claim that somehow a scientist must be atheist is a holdover from the Victorian idea of materialism. But consider the 19th century physicist James Clerk Maxwell, whose famous equations led to the overthrow of that misconception and opened the door to modern physics.  He was a man of deep faith; and, of course, a Scotsman. I am honoured to visit the land of his birth.”

Very Rev John Chalmers, Former Church of Scotland Moderator and Ambassador at Large for GTN said: “Those of us who are a part of GTN believe that the search for God is not incompatible with holding a deep respect for science and its success in helping us to understand our place in the physical universe. We are searching for meaning and purpose and as well as exploring our inner space we find inspiration in outer space.”

Tour schedule

Wed 30th Oct: Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer. Glasgow University Memorial Chapel, 2:30pm

Wed 30th Oct: Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, John Anderson Lecture Theatre, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, 7:30pm.

Thur 31st Oct: Schools Conference, St Bride’s Hall, Motherwell, in association with the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES).

Thur 31st Oct: ‘Strange Cosmologies’, Institute of Physics Talk, Boyd Orr Building, Lecture Theatre 222, Glasgow University, 6:30pm.

Fri 1st Nov: Schools Conference, Grove Academy, Broughty Ferry, in association with Christian Values in Education Scotland (CVE).

Fri 1st Nov: Discarded Images: The History of Strange Ideas (including God?), Dundee Science Centre, 7:30pm.

Sat 2nd Nov: GTN National Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 10:00am - 4:30pm.