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Pope’s tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn’t like you

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Pope Francis visited the parish of St Mary Josefa on the edge of the Diocese of Rome

A practical first step toward holiness — as well as for assuring peace in one’s family and in the world — is to pray for a person who has caused offence or harm, Pope Francis said.

“Are you merciful toward the people who have harmed you or don’t like you? If God is merciful, if he is holy, if he is perfect, then we must be merciful, holy and perfect as he is. This is holiness. A man or woman who does this deserves to be canonized,” the Pope said on February 19 during an evening parish Mass.

“I suggest you start small,” Pope Francis told members of the parish of St Mary Josefa on the extreme eastern edge of the Diocese of Rome. “We all have enemies. We all know that so-and-so speaks ill of us. We all know. And we all know that this person or that person hates us.”

When that happens, the Pope said, “I suggest you take a minute, look at God (and say), ‘This person is your son or your daughter, change his or her heart, bless him or her.’ This is praying for those who don’t like us, for our enemies. Perhaps the rancour will remain in us, but we are making an effort to follow the path of this God who is so good, merciful, holy, perfect, who makes the sun rise on the evil and the good.”

The day’s first reading included the line, “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy,” and in the Gospel reading, Jesus said, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

“You might ask me, ‘But, father, what is the path to holiness?’ ‘What is the journey needed to become holy?’ Jesus explains it well in the Gospel. He explains it with concrete examples,” the pope said.

The first example, he said, is “not taking revenge. If I have some rancour in my heart for something someone has done, I want vengeance, but this moves me off the path of holiness. No revenge. ‘But he did this and he will pay.’ Is this Christian? No. ‘He will pay’ is not in the Christian’s vocabulary. No revenge.”

In people’s everyday lives, he said, their squabbles with their relatives or neighbors may seem a little thing, but they are not. “These big wars we read about in the papers and see on the news, these massacres of people, of children, how much hatred! It’s the same hatred you have in your heart for this person, that person, that relative, your mother-in-law. It’s bigger, but it’s the same hatred.”

Forgiveness, the Pope said, is the path toward holiness and toward peace. “If everyone in the world learned this, there would be no wars.”

Wars begin “with bitterness, rancour, the desire for vengeance, to make them pay,” he said. It’s an attitude that destroys families and neighbourhoods and peaceful relations between nations.

“I’m not telling you what to do, Jesus is: Love your enemies. ‘You mean I have to love that person?’ Yes.”

“‘I have to pray for someone who has harmed me?’ Yes, that he will change his life, that the Lord will forgive him,” the Pope said. “This is the magnanimity of God, of God who has a big heart, who forgives all.”

“Prayer is an antidote for hatred, for wars, these wars that begin at home, in families,” he said. “Think of how many wars there have been in families because of an inheritance. ”

“Prayer is powerful. Prayer defeats evil. Prayer brings peace,” the pope said.

As is his custom for parish visits, Pope Francis began this three-hour visit to St Mary Josefa by meeting different parish groups, including children, who were invited to ask him question.

One asked how he became pope and Pope Francis said when a Pope is elected “maybe he is not the most intelligent, perhaps not the most astute or the quickest at doing what must be done, but he is the one who God wants for the Church at that moment.”

Pope Francis explained that when a pope dies or resigns, like Benedict XVI did, the cardinals gather for a conclave. “They speak among themselves, discuss what profile would be best, who has this advantage and who has that one. But, above all, they pray.”

They use their reason to try to figure out what the church needs and who could provide it, he said, but mostly they rely on the Holy Spirit to inspire them in their choice.


Cardinal Nichols consecrates England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Thousands attended the consecration in Westminster Cathedral

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has crowned a statue of Our Lady of Fátima in the centenary year of her appearance, and re-consecrated England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

At a packed Westminster Cathedral, filled to its 3,000 capacity and with large crowds spilling into the plaza, Cardinal Nichols led the prayer of consecration, which includes the sentence: “To you and your Immaculate Heart, in this centenary year of the apparitions of Fátima, we re-consecrate ourselves in union not only with the Church, the Mystical Body of your Son, but also with the entire world.”

The cardinal was renewing a consecration made by his predecessor as Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bernard Griffin, in 1948.

Catholics offer devotion to Our Lady of Fátima (mazur/


In May 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fátima, Portugal. She told them of a coming upheaval in the world, linked especially to Russia, which would cause terrible suffering. She also reminded the children of the danger of hell, and asked them to pray the rosary and make sacrifices for sinners.

She explained that there would be a great event on October 13. That day, vast crowds gathered, and the “Miracle of the Sun” took place, at which many onlookers saw the sun dance.

Catholics are not obliged to believe in the Fátima revelations, but the Church has officially declared them “worthy of belief”, and Our Lady of Fátima has a central place in Marian devotion.

In his homily, Cardinal Nichols said the apparitions presented a “considerable challenge”, and that Catholics must ask themselves: “How well do we express our discipleship of Christ every day? How are we getting on in those two ways of giving time to the Lord and to others: in those areas of prayer and sacrifice?”

The cardinal recommended the rosary as a prayer to help one to say “yes” to God, which was, he said the essence of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The statue will now tour 20 cathedrals of England and Wales, ending in the Diocese of Wrexham in October.


If Catholics are not faithful to doctrine, we will face Anglican-style divisions

Those proposing change have not shown how it can be reconciled with Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium

The Church is in a full-blown civil war over doctrine, as Dan Hitchens observed earlier this week in a carefully argued and fully evidenced article. Coincidentally, the Church of England’s doctrinal civil war has taken a new turn at the latest sitting of the General Synod, with heated debates over same-sex relationships. Michael Fabricant MP suggests in the Telegraph that Anglicans should jettison their “conservative” wing. In the same newspaper, the devout and passionate Andrea Minichiello Williams makes a convincing case for Christian tradition.

The Williams article makes one very important point: “The Church can’t give its blessing to same-sex marriages when its sole source of authority does not.” She is completely correct to pinpoint the question of authority as crucial. If anyone is proposing change, one must ask by what authority do they act? When a change cannot be backed up by Scripture (crucial for all Christians) and by Tradition and the Magisterium (especially crucial for Catholics), then there can be no presumption that change is right. When Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium are not merely not silent on the matter, but explicitly forbid what is being proposed, then the matter is even more clear-cut.

This is not “fundamentalism”, a charge often levelled at people like Andrea Minichiello Williams. If the Scriptural foundation of the Church’s teaching – any Church’s teaching – is removed – then it follows logically that no teaching is to be regarded as absolute, and thus no teaching is to be regarded as worthy of belief, for all teachings are from now on, in theory at least, open to radical revision.

If we look at the sort of Church that Michael Fabricant is envisioning, it is a Church without any foundation at all, except the vagaries of public opinion. Contrary to what he thinks, such a Church would simply fade away. It would, for a moment, seem terribly up to date, but that would last merely a few years. It would come to look increasingly desperate as it struggled to keep up with every vagary of public opinion, which is hardly coherent and ever fluctuating.

Catholics cannot be smug about this, for the same pressures that afflict the Anglicans are now being brought to bear on us. Those who are proposing change need to be confronted with the question of authority and challenged to show us where in Scripture, where in the Magisterium, and where in the Tradition is there anything that can be used to justify communion for those living in irregular unions. They would have a hard task to find any useful evidence for their position. Moreover, they have advanced no argument of merit, as far as I can see, that suggests that change in this matter is desirable or necessary.

Meanwhile, Catholics should look at the Church of England, for what is happening there today represents our future too unless we are not merely careful, but faithful to what we have received. The Anglican civil war began at the Lambeth Conference of 1930. Ours is just beginning, and will, perhaps, run for many a year yet.



Pope laments plight of child soldiers fighting in Congo

The Pope was speaking days after the UN voiced concern about deadly violence in the country

Pope Francis has expressed dismay about clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo he described as “violent and brutal.”

In remarks to the faithful in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, Francis singled out for concern the “many children torn from families and schools to be used as soldiers” in the fighting.

The Pope spoke days after the United Nations voiced grave concern about reports of more than 100 people killed in recent clashes between Congolese soldiers and fighters.

The vast Central African country is home to multiple militias vying for control of rich mineral deposits, and human rights groups have long expressed alarm over alleged abuses by the military in the fight against them.

Francis says he is praying for the victims as well as for religious and humanitarian personnel.


ISIS vows more attacks on Egypt’s Christians

In a video released on Monday, an ISIS affiliate group said Christians are their ‘favourite prey’

An ISIS affiliate group in Egypt released a video on Monday showing the suicide bomber who killed nearly 30 people when he attacked a packed church in December and vowing more attacks on the country’s Christian.

A narrator says in the 20-minute video that the Egyptian Christians are the extremist group’s “favourite prey.”

The video shows footage of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope, Christian businessmen, judges and priests who either speak of the need to protect the minority or use derogatory terms to refer to Egypt’s Muslim majority. The narrator says Christians were no longer “dhimmis,” a reference to non-Muslims in Islam who enjoy a degree of state protection. Instead, the group describes the Christians as “infidels” who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.

“God gave orders to kill every infidel,” one of the militants carrying an AK-47 assault rifle says in the video.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up around 10% of the population, have been always a favourite target of Islamic extremists. Attacks on churches by Muslim mobs increased since the 2013 military overthrow of an Islamist president. Christians overwhelmingly supported the army chief-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and extremists have used such support as a pretext to increase attacks against them.

The video shows footage of Abu Abdullah al-Masri, the militant who blew himself up at the central Cairo church in December. The attack, says the narrator, was “only the beginning.”

“Oh worshippers of the cross … the soldiers of the state are watching you,” another masked militant identified as Abu Zubair al-Masri says.

The video carries the logo “Egypt” instead of the normal “Wilayat Sinai” or the state of Sinai. Wilayat Sinai, the name of the iSIS branch in Sinai, has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings and attacks, mainly targeting security forces and military across the country but primarily in Sinai Peninsula, where the army has been leading an anti-terrorism operation for years.

The ISIS message comes at a time when attacks on Coptic Christians have escalated in Sinai. In the past month, at least three Christians were gunned down in separate drive-by shooting attacks in the city of el-Arish.

El-Sissi has repeatedly assured Egypt’s Christians of his goodwill toward the community, visiting the seat of the Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo on major holidays, but many in the ancient community complain that very little has changed in their lives since el-Sissi took office in 2014, especially in rural areas where Muslim radicals frequently attack Christian homes and businesses over a range of issues, including the construction or restoration of churches, land disputes or sexual affairs between members of each community.


Innocent children forced into horrid orphanages and a life of terrorism

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Innocent and terrified boys, aged from three to 16, entered what appeared to be a Mosul orphanage with tears streaming down their faces asking about their parents.

The boys’ parents went missing after Islamic State militants raided through Northern Iraq in 2014, and the boys were taken straight to an Islamic State training facility in eastern Mosul.

Life in the “orphanage” began to take its toll on the boys, as they soon absorbed ISIS’ strict, outrageous ideology and began to refer to their families as enemies, or apostates.

It didn’t matter whether they were Yazidis or Shi’ite Muslims because they were all schooled in Sunni Islam by militants.

Arithmetic books feature imagery of warfare and history books focus solely on the early years of Islam and martial events. The English book used words such as martyr, sniper, mortar and bomb alongside words like an ant, apple, and yawn.

Mosul orphanage material

The word “woman” was shown with a black figure in full niqab covering. All the other faces in the books were blurred.

They were forced to convert and memorized the Koran. Outsiders were to be treated as infidels.

The boys were being trained to be Cubs of the Caliphate.

New groups of children arrived at the Zuhur orphanage every month from all over Mosul and a few outside areas, including Syria.

According to an anonymous orphanage worker, girls brought in were married off to the group’s commanders, and the boys and girls were kept separately.

The older kids were immediately sent off to Mosul’s Tel Afar for intense military training with the Islamic State.

“After six months at the camps, some of the boys came back to spend a weekend with their younger brothers. They were wearing uniforms and carrying weapons,” the orphanage worker said, according to Reuters, who exclusively visited the site.

The orphanage has since been abandoned after Iraqi forces launched a U.S.-backed offensive in October 2016 to retake Mosul. A few weeks before the attacks began, the lessons were canceled, and all of the boys were sent to Tel Afar, but evidence of the horrors remain.

No one knows what became of the once-innocent boys, but it can be assumed they have all been killed amid attacks.

“I told them, ‘If you see the army, drop your weapons and tell them you are orphans. Maybe they will spare your lives.'”

By Abigail James


US bishops join Mexican colleagues in denouncing ‘Santa Muerte’

Catholics have been urged to avoid honouring the folk ‘saint’

Bishops in the United States are denouncing La Santa Muerte — the skeleton folk saint in Mexico linked to the illicit drug trade.

Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz, and San Angelo Michael Sis in Texas joined their counterparts in Mexico last week in urging Catholics to avoid honouring to the folk saint. Wester called her “antithetical” to the teachings of Jesus.

The denouncement comes after Ciudad Juarez Bishop Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos attacked La Santa Muerte, which means Holy Death, in a recent newspaper interview.

Popular in Mexico, Santa Muerte is folk saint also worshipped by some immigrant small business owners, gay activists and the poor.


Pope Francis shares words of wisdom

The Christian mission today means facing new challenges with simplicity, holiness, and openness to God, Pope Francis told an audience with the Marian Fathers on Saturday.

“Many still await knowledge of Jesus, the sole Redeemer of man, and many situations of injustice and moral and material hardship challenge believers,” the Pope said Feb. 18. “Such an urgent mission requires conversion at personal and community levels. Only hearts that are fully open to the action of grace are able to interpret the signs of the times and to hear the calls of humanity in need of hope and peace.”

The Pope told the Marian Fathers that their apostolate is a “vast field” constituted by “the urgent need” to bear witness to the gospel before everyone without distinctions.

The Pope received members of the Congregation of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday morning in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall. The congregation, present in 20 countries, is holding its general chapter in Rome from Feb. 5-25.

The Pope encouraged their reflections to be done in fidelity with their founder’s charism and their spiritual heritage while also having “a heart and mind open to the new needs of the people.”

“It is true, we must go ahead towards the new needs, the new challenges, but remember: we cannot go ahead without memory,” Pope Francis said. “It is a continual tension. If I want to go ahead without memory of the past, of the history of the founders, the great figures and also the sins of the congregation, I cannot do so.”

The Marian Fathers was founded by St. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary in Poland in 1673. He was canonized in 2016.

Pope Francis told the congregation’s members that their service to God’s word is “witness to the Risen Christ, whom you have met on your journey and whom, with your style of life, you are called to take wherever the Church sends you.”

“Christian witness also requires commitment to and with the poor, a commitment that has characterized your Institute since the beginning,” the Pope continued. “I encourage you to keep alive this tradition of service to the poor and humble, through the proclamation of the Gospel with language understandable to them, with works of mercy and prayer for the souls of the departed.”

Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience.Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience (Bohumil Petrik/CNA).

The Pope stressed the importance of simplicity as a spiritual foundation.

“We are not princes, sons of princes or counts or barons: we are simple people, of the people. And for this reason we draw close with this simplicity to the simple people and those who suffer the most: the sick, children, the abandoned elderly, the poor … all of them,” he said. “And this poverty is at the heart of the Gospel: it is the poverty of Jesus, not sociological poverty, but that of Jesus.”

Pope Francis invoked the example of Blessed George Matulaitis, a member of the congregation who became Bishop of Vilnius in Lithuania. He was beatified in 1987.

The Pope praised his writings for showing “the total dedication to the Church and to man.” He praised the congregation’s initiatives to spread its charism to poor countries, especially those in Africa and Asia.

“The great challenge of enculturation requires that today you proclaim the Good News using languages and methods comprehensible to the men of our time, involved in processes of rapid social and cultural change,” the Pope said.

The pontiff asked the Marian Fathers to show courage in their service to Jesus Christ and the Church. He said that God can draw great things out of smallness and unworthiness.

“Our smallness is in fact the seed, that then germinates, grows; the Lord waters it, and in this way it goes ahead,” the Pope said. “But the sense of smallness is that first impulse towards trust in the power of God. Go, go ahead on this road.”

Pope Francis prayed for the congregation’s journey of faith and growth.


Former mobster cleans up and becomes a preacher

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Tatsuya Shindo, a Japanese man covered in tattoos and missing the tip of his pinkie finger – a Japanese gang custom to show atonement for an offense or as a punishment for one – once lived for money. Today, he lives for God.

Shindo joined the Japanese mafia, known as the yakuza, when he was 17-years-old.

“I was a child,” he told CNN. I didn’t think too deeply. And I admired the yakuza for what was visible only on the surface. They have lots of money, spend their money lavishly, and play glamorously. The bad guys looked so cool in my eyes.”

Like other gangs and mafias, the yakuza promoted loyalty and a sense of family but, as Shindo quickly discovered, the price of being a member was often paid for in blood.

“My boss was killed. People were killed in power struggles. People’s legs were shot. A guy who was doing drugs with me died of intoxication. Suicides happened. Sudden deaths. I’ve seen many deaths,” Shindo shared. “I saw my henchmen get stabbed to death.”

He became addicted to crystal meth and got the tattoos promoted by the yakuza. To exclude mafia members from the rest of society, visible tattoos are not allowed in most public places, leaving yakuza members to receive their tattoos in places easily hidden by clothing.

Shindo lost the tip of his pinkie finger after getting high, driving and crashing his boss’ car. He was arrested seven times and was imprisoned three times from the time he was 22-years-old.

By 32, he ha been excommunicated by the yakuza after he spent 8 of a 10-year sentence. While incarcerated, he was in solitary confinement and began reading the Bible.

He studied more and more until he realized he wanted to share the Word and become a preacher.

“I know how bad I was and the bad things I had done,” he told the Tokyo Reporter. “At the same time, I know how much I was forgiven by God. So I wanted to engage myself in God’s work.”

When he was released from prison, he took over the June Bride, an old bar and karaoke spot owned by his mother. He replaced the stage with a large crucifix and filled the place with rows and rows of seats.

Pastor Shindo is now a man of the cloth who reaches out to ex-gangsters in a prefecture on the outskirts of Tokyo.Pastor Shindo is now a man of the cloth who reaches out to ex-gangsters in a prefecture on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Shindo’s mother, Yoshimi Shindo, explained: “When he came back [from prison], he apologized and said, ‘I survived for you, mother.’ When I heard those words, I decided to forget everything that happened in the past. And now, I’m very happy.”

At first, she was the only one he could share the Gospel to but over time, more and more people from all walks of life began to stream in.

“In the beginning, it was only me,” Shindo recalled. “So I was preaching to the walls.”

Then suddenly people began to appear for his Sunday services.

“A lot of people with different backgrounds come here,” Shindo stated. “Those who are divorced, bankrupt and cast away. There are also parents who have missing children, those whose sons are put into jail, or those who’ve been abandoned after prison. This is a place to restart your life.”

Knowing everyone has their own story, Shindo shared: “They are seeking divine intervention. They want God to help them with their problems.”

The Lord has always encouraged reform and offered forgiveness. Shindo’s mother explained God’s work in her son has also encouraged others in a way she never would have guessed. By divine intervention, her son went from yakuza to preacher and she couldn’t be more proud.

“I think this place has significance that God provided here for us,” she explained. “I believe it was God’s intention. I believe my son’s life portrays God’s surprise ending.”

By Kenya Sinclair


Pope: ‘Time Is Running Out, We Must Act’

Time is running out to confront this ecological crisis. We must act. I appeal for Creation to be defended..

And remember, no people are ‘criminal,’ nor religion, ‘terrorists.’ But there are people out there who are fundamentalists…

Pope Francis made these points in his message to the participants of a national meeting of popular movements in Modesto, California. The encounter, Feb. 16-18, was organized with support from Vatican’s new dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, the U.S. Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the National Network of People Improving Communities through Organizing.

Read more at ZENIT

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

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