An emotional Mass for migrants with Pope Francis

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Pope Francis washes the feet of migrants and refugees during Holy Thursday Mass March 24, 2016. Credit: CTV screenshot.

Pope Francis celebrated last night the Missa in coena Domini – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper – leading the Church of Rome into the sacred Paschal Triduum. He did so at the C.A.R.A. reception centre for refugees seeking asylum, located at Castelnuovo di Porto, just over 18 miles outside of Rome.
Pope Francis performed the ritual washing of the feet of a dozen people – eleven guests of the C.A.R.A. Centre and one woman who works at the Centre for Auxilium. Four of the guests taking part in the ritual were Nigerian Catholics, three others – all three women – were Coptic Christians from Eritrea, three others were Muslims from Syria, Pakistan and Mali, and one was an Indian Hindu.
The CA.R.A. centre is host to nearly 900 asylum-seekers from 25 different countries spread across Africa, Asia, and even Europe. The majority of the guests at the facility are Muslim, and there are many Protestants and Coptic Christians as well. The Auxilium group that operates the Centre says that there has never been any tension as a result of the religious diversity of the guests.
In his brief homily, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel story of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles. He emphasized the common bonds that unite all people. “We are different; we are unique,” the Pontiff said. “We have different cultures and religions. But we are brothers and we want to live in peace.” He referred to two gestures in the gospel: the gesture of Jesus, who serves, who washes the feet, the gesture of brotherhood and goodness; and the gesture of Judas, who goes to those who don’t want peace, the gesture that destroys brotherhood. And added that there are also two gestures here today. At the C.A.R.A. reception centre: Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals, but brothers, children of the same God who want to live in peace, integrated. Yet three days ago there was a gesture of war, of destruction in Brussels. People who don’t want to live in peace, the gesture that destroys brotherhood.

CNA/EWTN News have this report by Elise Harris, copied below in full. It includes the full text of the Pope’s homily:

During a Mass in Rome on Holy Thursday Pope Francis washed the feet of migrants and refugees, many of whom were moved to tears by the gesture.
The Pope told them that while there are some people in the world who seek to sow violence, Jesus shows us the path to unity, brotherhood and peace.
“Today, right now, when I do the same gesture as Jesus in washing the feet of you 12, all of us are making the same gesture of brotherhood,” he said.
“We are different, we are unique. We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,” he said, adding that “each of you has your own story. Many crosses, many pains, but also an open heart that wants brotherhood.”
Francis spoke to the 900 migrants and refugees currently housed at the Reception Center for Asylum Seekers, or CARA, in Castelnuovo di Porto, just over 18 miles outside of Rome. Nearly all of them come from sub-Saharan Africa.
The Pope decided to celebrate his Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the center, after spending previous years offering the Mass in prisons and a rehab center for the disabled.
Nearly 900 migrants and more than 100 volunteers attended the Mass. Most of the migrants hosted at CARA are Muslims, and among the Christians, most are Copts or Protestants.
During the Mass, Pope Francis washed the feet of 11 migrants and of one volunteer. Of the migrants, four were Catholic youths from Nigeria, three were Coptic women from Eritrea, three were Muslims, and one was a Hindu youth from India.
While tears could be seen in the eyes of several of the men and women whose feet the Pope washed, one woman was particularly moved. She had been tearful while the Pope washed her feet, but began to sob as Francis reached up to touch her baby.
In his homily, the Pope stressed that “actions speak more than images and words,” and pointed to the day’s Gospel reading from John in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet before being betrayed by Judas, who turned him in for 30 pieces of silver.
Francis pointed to two separate gestures in the passage, the first was being “Jesus, who serves, who washes the feet. He, who was the head, washes the feet of his, the smallest.”
The second gesture was that of Judas, “who goes to the enemies of Jesus, those who don’t want peace with Jesus, to take money…two gestures.”
Pope Francis noted that the two gestures are also present today. One, he said, seeing everyone from different cultures and religions gathered together.
“Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals, but brothers. Children of the same God who want to live in peace, integrated.”
However, the Pope observed that there is also the gesture of war and destruction, and pointed to the March 22 terror attacks in Belgium.
The attack is an example of “people who don’t want to live in peace,” he said, but noted behind that act, “just as behind Judas, there were others.”
“Behind Judas there were those who gave him money so that Jesus would be delivered. Behind that act (in Brussels), there are manufacturers, arms traffickers who want blood, not peace, who want war, not brotherhood.”
Francis again contrasted the actions of Jesus who washes feet, and Judas who sells his friend for money. He told the migrants despite their differences, they are all “children of the same Father, brothers.”
He encouraged each of them, “in their own religious language,” to pray to God “so that this brotherhood infects the world. So that there will not be the 30 coins to kill our brother, because there will always be brotherhood and goodness. So be it.”
Please see below for the full text of the Pope’s homily:
Actions speak more than images and words. Actions. In the Word of God we have read, there are two gestures. Jesus, who serves, who washes the feet. He, who was the head, washes the feet of his, the smallest. One gesture. The second gesture: Judas, who goes to the enemies of Jesus, those who don’t want peace with Jesus, to take money, that … of 30 coins. Two gestures. Also here today there are two gestures. This, all of us together. Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals, but brothers. Children of the same God who want to live in peace, integrated. One gesture. Three days ago there was a gesture of war, of destruction in a European city. People who don’t want to live in peace. But behind that act, just as behind Judas, there were others. Behind Judas there were those who gave him money so that Jesus would be delivered. Behind that act (in Brussels), there are manufacturers, arms traffickers who want blood, not peace, who want war, not brotherhood. Two gestures. Jesus washes the feet, and Judas sells Jesus for money. You, us, everyone together, different religions, different cultures, but children of the same Father, brothers. And over there (are the) poor ones who buy arms to destroy brotherhood. Today, right now, when I do the same gesture as Jesus in washing the feet of you 12, all of us are doing the same gesture of brotherhood, and we all say, we are different, we are unique. We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace. And this is the gesture that I do with you. Each of you has your own story. Many crosses, many pains, but also an open heart that wants brotherhood. Each one, in their own religious language, prays to the Lord, so that this brotherhood infects the world. So that there will not be the 30 coins to kill our brother, because there will always be brotherhood and goodness. So be it.
 

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And I showed Mercy to Them

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Paula addressing the delegates at the National Elective Chapter of OFSGB at the Oblate Retreat Centre, Crewe, in September 2015

And I showed Mercy to Them is a weekend “Exploring the Richness of God’s Mercy” led by Paula Pearce, our National Minister at Pantasaph Retreat Centre from 6th to 8th May, 2016. A Pantasaph booking form can be found here.
The life of St Francis of Assisi was transformed when he recognised the loving mercy of God in
his life and this led him to desire that everyone might experience God’s mercy.

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You may also care to revisit Paula’s recent post on the National Seat. The document she referred to on why we have to have a national seat has now been included.

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There was something we failed to mention in the “Easter greeting from Tibor Kauser, Minister General of the OFS, ” post that was made last night. Paula has asked if we can pass this message on so that it gets to as many of our members as possible (All?) and as soon as possible. Thank you, Good People! As a bonus we have now added to that post a photo of Tibor taken during our National Elective Chapter at Crewe last September.
 

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Perfect Computer Joy

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There are no known technical issues with the website.
 
But if members have technical issues they wish to raise it is easy to contact me at rogerofs@gmail.com (I generally check mails many times during a day), on 07910358646 (if I am unable to answer, to ensure a prompt reply, please leave a brief text or WhatsApp message rather than a voicemail), or on info@ofsgb.org (you can find this email address easily at the top of the text on the home page of the website). It is good for us to clear up any issues, so that members may easily use the site.
 
And if any member feels that they wish to make a technical point to all members who are subscribed to email updates from the site, that is fine too. May I ask you to make these comments in this “Perfect Computer Joy” post, which can be easily accessed at any time, either in the near future, or many months hence, by going to the right hand sidebar of the website, scrolling down to the heading “Categories” and clicking on the category “Website”. In this way members who do not have technical concerns or interests may be untroubled by technical comments that do not relate to the content of the post against which they are made, and may perfectly ignore all comments against this “Perfect Computer Joy” post as they appear in their inboxes.
 
If this post does generate an extensive range of technical comments, queries and issues, then we will set up a standalone technical forum to which the technically troubled, the technically minded, and aspiring geeks may contribute at length, while leaving at peace those members who have no wish to have their attention drawn to technical matters. Important points that may arise from this exchange could be included here.
 
In this manner, perhaps, we may all, in our various ways, attain perfect computer joy. So may it be.
#livinginhope #gettingthere #triduum
 
Blessings and love to you all for the Triduum and for the Easter season.
 

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An Easter greeting from Tibor Kauser, Minister General of the OFS

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Tibor Kauser at the National Elective Chapter of OFSGB at the Oblate Retreat Centre, Crewe, in September 2015

We have posted here an Easter greeting from Tibor Kauser, Minister General of the OFS, that was mailed out today by CIOFS on behalf of the International Fraternity. Please do read it. It is good.
In it Tibor says: “In this letter I’d like to invite you to fill our joy of Easter with the decision to be more committed to be witnesses of the resurrection, delivering the love of the merciful Heavenly Father.”
“All along this year of mercy, our life has to be characterized by this being merciful. And what else could better build our fraternities than this divine mercy?”
He continues: “And I do believe that nothing can build a true fraternity better than the mercy of God that invites us to be merciful.”
Tibor writes: “In this spirit, I invite you this Easter to study and live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, particularly in our fraternities, but also whenever and wherever we are working in the world.” so that we can “build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. (Rule 14.)”

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National Minister Blog on National Seat

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The National Council in session at Barton (March 2016)
It has been a really busy and significant time. Both National Executive and National Council have now met. We planned to make these meetings residential so we could get through a lot of work and build fraternity. I struggle with single day meetings when there is a lot to do. There has been much to work through. I suppose you will never have enough time but it was so much better and we have grown as fraternity.

Cold Ash was wonderful. We were spoiled, welcomed and could relax when we were not around the conference table. The national council meeting was a very different experience to anything we have ever done before. It was our first meeting at the Barton premises. We did not have Franciscan accommodation and had to look for places to stay that were relatively cheap. This meant that we were some 3 miles from Barton, not on a direct public transport route. 3 people had cars but there was an overflow so we had to use taxis for some journeys. Breakfast and evening meals were quite cheap. The Friday evening meal was in a pub, next to one of our motels, and we planned to eat at 7.30pm in order to have a full working day on Saturday. This worked but it was all out of our comfort zone.

We learned a lot during our stay. The seat/office has not yet been fully cleared and remains too dusty so we have asked for both these issues to be addressed. It is basic. As Franciscans that should not bother us, providing it is serviceable and does not jeopardise health. One of our regional ministers was thrilled because this is the centre for the Crusade of Mary Immaculate. This is one group we are benefiting by our rent payments. We are also helping the OFM Conventuals to keep the building going. St Maximilian Kolbe would be the obvious Patron Saint if this site is to work. We will be praying to him as we continue our work there.

We had a packed lunch on Saturday. Pam had secured 2 urns, so we just made hot drinks when we were ready. This meant we had a very good and long working day. It was up to council members to decide if we can make this place work for at least the year to which we are already committed. I was relieved when the council agreed. We also met from 9.00 – 1.00 on Mother’s Day – of course we had not realised we would be away on Mothering Sunday when we fixed the date.

Since the council members have agreed, I have now to let you know that we have to pay £10 a day for the building. For this we have a lot of room – office space, storage and meeting facilities – plenty, providing our concerns can be addressed and, as I have indicated, these are considerable. We have no other outgoings for the accommodation – heating is provided, all insurance and maintenance is covered, we have wifi. It is the condition and dinginess of what was, after all, a purpose built printing unit, that we hope to be able to address when we have clear space. Councillors have already offered to come and help, whether practical cleaning and decorating, or on our paperwork – administration and archives. It is spacious so can house our archives. However, we cannot fund it without help from our members.

We decided the way forward is to turn this into a project. The increase in capitation was necessary to enable us to carry out our work – it cannot stretch to this. One region has already offered to pay a months rent. Other regions may offer to do the same. Some individuals and local fraternities will make it into their charity, or make this an additional charity, and agree to make regular or one-off donations. Some members might pay for paper or cartridges, or other stationery that we will need. Some might help with the cleaning costs. In time we may be able to fund raise at the premises.

So this is a major leap of faith. It was essential that national council came and saw, so we could discern. You will understand why it is only now that I can put you all fully in the picture.

I will fill you in on what we have been doing at another time. Here is a document on why we have to have a national seat.

Most importantly this whole project needs prayer.

I hope we all have a reflective Passiontide until Easter and then I wish everyone a happy and joyful Easter season.

Paula ofs.

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All Saints, Barton, Manchester

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All Saints at Barton, Manchester is where OFSGB now has its national seat. The church was built between 1865 and 1868. Cardinal Manning preached at the solemn opening in June 1868.
The Friars Minor Conventual have cared for the church, described as ‘A Cathedral in miniature’, since 1962. The church is listed as Grade 1 and is considered to be the chief work of the architect Edward Welby Pugin (son of the better known Augustus Pugin). It is a remarkably complete example of Victorian Catholic Church architecture in the Gothic style. The architectural historian, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner called it ‘Pugin’s masterwork’.

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Pope Francis: Intensify the Inner Journey of Conversion.

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We are well into Lent now, but Pope Francis, in his Angelus address last weekend (6th March) called upon the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square to “intensify the inner journey of conversion” as Easter approaches. He said this while reflecting on the parable of the prodigal son. For each of us this “intensification” will be different. Perhaps the 2016 Lenten homilies given by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa might help us. Zenit have made available in English the four homilies he has given this Lent to date (here as pdf). The remaining homilies will be added as they are given. Or we may still wish to sign up to receive by daily email these succinct Lenten reflections on brief scripture passages, together with review questions. They have been put together by the Southwark diocesan Stewardship Team in collaboration with the diocesan Spirituality Commission. Paula Pearce, our National Minister, is a member of this team.

There are still places available for the Cardiff event with Francis Dor OFM Cap, our Capuchin General Spiritual Assistant who will be coming from Rome, where he is based, in order to be with us. Called “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response”, it runs from 29th April to 1st May. See here for details and a booking form.

This is an update on the very difficult situation of the Calais migrants, that was issued by email on 4th March. See also the Seeking Sanctuary website: scroll down for the latest news and their urgent update. They have made it very easy to buy something online as a contribution.

A note on adjusting the size of the type on the website so that it is comfortable for you to read can be found here.
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The Jubilee of Mercy Image

The Jubilee of Mercy website says: The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ.

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On the Mercy Bus?

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South Wales and South West Region are offering an interesting weekend event in Cardiff from 29th April to 1st May for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy entitled “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” See here for details and a booking form.
The weekend will be led by Brother Francis Dor OFM Cap, who is based in Rome, and is one of the General Spiritual Assistants to the Secular Franciscan Order.
We hope that members from the other regions will wish to support this event. Please pass on the details of the event to members in your region who may not be aware of it. Bookings to Angela Bradley.

And from 6th – 8th May 2016 at Pantasaph Franciscan Friary Paula Pearce will offer “And I showed mercy to them” (Testament of Francis): The weekend will be a reflective weekend around the following: The meaning of this Year of Mercy, Mercy in the Franciscan Sources and The meaning of the Year of Mercy for us today.

We have posted some Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy links here. Perhaps study Misericordiae Vultus in fraternity as we are currently doing at Stratford.

And why not check out the Diocese of Salford Mercy Bus, which, according to the Catholic Herald last week, is now touring Lancashire in an attempt to reach lapsed Catholics?

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