Around the Regions March 2017


Here we highlight some national events, and initiatives from various regions.

The programme for the National Assembly to be held in Gibraltar in April is now available. We are delighted that every region is represented. There may still be places available should others wish to attend. It seems that the Extra Costs will now be only £40, and not £110 as originally expected. This is to help meet the costs of the Speaker and Spiritual Assistants and the catering for the weekend. We believe that the Gibraltar Fraternity will revitalise everyone who comes. We know they have devoted a huge amount of time and energy to make this unique experience uplifting and successful.

And in September Paula Pearce will lead a Living in Faith in Daily Life weekend retreat at Pantasaph Friary. Details may be found here.

Formation: We hope you are making good use of the excellent formation material that our national formation minister, John Power, has provided. John is also now working on material for Ongoing Formation.

South Wales and South West region have an interesting programme of events for 2017, and perhaps members from other regions might like to join them. Many from other regions will recall that in 2016 South Wales and South West offered the excellent “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” weekend in Cardiff.

London Region have a Youfra initiative with an event in April: Working together to build Peace in our families, schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, our nation, our world…..and ourselves. See the hurt of the world and want to respond in the way of Peace, Joy, Hope, Love, Good….? There are many ways to be involved: pray for this initiative; publicise it; support one-off events; or join us in our year of monthly meetings/activities, growing together as we explore our Christian life in the Franciscan spirit.
Come and See: Friday 28th April 2017, 6.30pm-8pm Our Lady of the Rosary Church Hall, Brixton.
Get in touch and keep in touch: Facebook: Franciscan Youth UK
and on Twitter: @YouFraLondon
Email – YouFraLondon@aol.co.uk
If young people from other OFSGB regions want to make contact for resources etc, please get in touch.

The latest Southern Region newsletter “Viewpoint” is just in. There is much interesting material in the newsletters that the various regions provide.

East Anglian Region are drawing our attention to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales initiative referred to as the Holy Land Co-ordination.
After a recent visit the CBCEW say that “In 2017 we see a land of tension and division, walls and suspicion.” They invite us to “Take Action”, one suggestion being contact with our MP’s. David Gleave of East Anglian region says: “They have provided a pro-forma letter, so it is quite easy to share their message with your MP – all you have to do is provide your name and address.”
Since 1998, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has organised an annual meeting of the Co-ordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land. Mandated by the Holy See, an international delegation of bishops meets in the region every January to act in solidarity with the Christian communities there and to share in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences extreme political and social-economic pressure.

And we have details of the East Anglian regional election last weekend: here, and also here.

Our North East Region are energetically drawing our attention to a charity ride in memory of the much loved Michael Almond, of the Leeds fraternity, who died last year.

South East Region have details of the funeral arrangements for Declan Walsh ofs, dearly missed Minister of the Croydon fraternity. The Requiem will take place on Friday 31 March 2017 at Our Lady of the Rosary, 2 St Barnabas Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 4NL at 10.00 hrs. Followed by burial at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Warlingham, and a reception at The Horseshoe Pub, Warlingham. The region are suggesting donations to the OFS Barton project instead of flowers.

A further update may follow with news from Scotland, the North West Region, and the Midland Region.

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The Trump Travel Ban and the challenge of the UK Community Sponsorship Scheme

Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.” (OFS Rule, Art. 19)

 
As you will know US President Donald Trump recently issued an Executive Order banning travel to the USA from seven Muslim-majority countries. Enforcement of this order has been suspended since a federal district judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order against it. That injunction was upheld by the ninth circuit court of appeals in a 9 February ruling.
Now, according to various news sources, such as Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, President Trump plans to rescind his executive order and replace it with a new one. “Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns,” the justice department writes in a brief to the ninth circuit court of appeals. A draft of President Donald Trump’s revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya), and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven’t used it yet.
 
It is good to see the Franciscans of the United States have taken a stand on this issue in prayer for and solidarity with our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters. The Franciscan Friars of the United States have issued this statement signed by the Provincials of the seven OFM provinces in the USA. And Carolyn Townes, the OFS National Animator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) in the United States has said that “The U.S. Seculars will stand with and support our brother Friars as well as our Bishops.” She says: “Let us come together in prayer and solidarity for our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters!” And she offers this “Prayer for Migrants” from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Merciful and loving Father,
We beseech you, open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality and refuge to migrants who are lonely, afraid, and far from their homes. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst, to invite them into our communities as a demonstration of Christ’s love for us. We pray that when we encounter the other, we see in her the face of your Son, when we meet a stranger, that we take his hand in welcome. Help us to live in solidarity with one another, to seek justice for those who are persecuted and comfort for those who are suffering. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (The Prayer for Migrants, USCCB)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website also has these reflections on Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration.
 
May we in the Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain stand together with our sisters and brothers in the USA. And may we, as communities, respond to the challenge of the UK Community Sponsorship Scheme that Cardinal Vincent Nichols outlined to us when he spoke recently on the BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour. The Cardinal spoke about President Trump’s executive order, and he also spoke in praise of the The UK Community Sponsorship Scheme, a UK government-backed initiative that enables community groups – including the Catholic Church, its agencies and charities – to take on the role of welcoming and supporting resettled refugees in the UK.

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In the interview, the Cardinal explained that safety ‘is not secured by fear, it is secured by improving relationships…by opening up things not shutting them down.’ He also expressed concern that the executive order ‘increases the risk faced by Christian communities in the Middle East because it implicitly backs a false notion that this conflict is between Christians and Muslims. It increases the image of Christianity as a Western phenomenon.’
Reflecting on political leaders’ duty of care, Cardinal Vincent emphasised that this is ‘a question of how you exercise that duty’. The Cardinal expressed his concern that the executive order would not help. ‘Safety can never be the overall and ultimate aim, because if we try and live safely by simplifying, identifying others as our enemies, then we live in an increasingly enclosed mentality and an enclosed environment and that is not the best way for people to live.’

Speaking then in praise and encouragement of the The UK Community Sponsorship Scheme he said ‘The challenge is not only to the government, but to the communities in this country who often speak about their generosity, to really take up this opportunity. Then, I would hope, that programme can be speeded up and expanded.’

Cardinal Vincent acknowledged the difficulty in making decisions regarding acceptance of more refugees, but emphasised that ‘the intention that we play a concerted effort to solve this dramatic crisis of our time is very important because otherwise it is the extreme voices that win, whether they’re the extreme terrorist voices or the populist voices. I don’t believe that any form of leadership is best exercised by using fear.’
The full BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour interview is available to listen to here.

Do let us know of any initiatives drawn from the Community Sponsorship Scheme (or similar projects) that your fraternities, your regions or your parishes are engaging in or planning to engage in. An excellent Presence in the World project.

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Children Praying for Peace

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Michael Martin, of our Oxford fraternity, has alerted us to a letter “Children praying for peace” from the Minister General of the OFM (Fr. Michael Perry OFM), and from the new Custos of the Holy Land (Fr. Francesco Patton OFM). The letter was posted on the First Sunday of Advent on both the OFM website, and on the website of the Custodia Terrae Sanctae (The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land).

The letter is addressed “to all the friars of the Order of Friars Minor, to the Poor Clares, to the sisters to the brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, and to all women and men of good will.”

This text follows Fr. Michael’s recent message, at the time of the feast of St Francis, regarding Syria and Aleppo, which we posted here.

A PDF of the letter, which you may download, is available here.

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Fathers Michael and Francesco say in the letter that they wish to join, and “want to propose to all our communities”, the “Children praying for peace” initiative that began with “Aid to the Church in Need.” They say that “our Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo, which has been strongly affected by the tragedy of war and which has been tenaciously anchored to its hope for peace, has already joined the initiative. From Aleppo, we are now sending out our invitation to the whole world.”

“We believe that the Lord hears the cry of the “little ones” and that their prayer will become an opportunity for reflection and conversion for those who are “big.”

“We are asking each community to dedicate their children’s mass, or the mass most frequented by children, on the first Sunday of every month, to prayer for peace, according to what is locally possible. The same thing can be done in a celebration during the Oratory or by involving the schools, thus, in this way giving an ecumenical and interreligious spirit to the initiative. If a community does not have a children’s liturgy or if it does not have a ministry for Oratories or a school, it can make the gesture during the communal Praises or Vespers, or on an occasion created especially for this initiative.”

They offer, in the letter, some practical suggestions using the example of how it is done in Aleppo.

They ask all those who take heed to their proposal to report it on to their Facebook page “Children in prayer for peace” which is based at St Francis parish, Aleppo.

If you do not have access to facebook, then add a comment to this post mentioning your community’s response to the initiative, which we can pass on to them, to assure them of the solidarity of the various communities / fraternities that make up the Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain.

As Fathers Michael and Francesco mention, “Children Praying for Peace” is an Aid to the Church in Need initiative. In May this year Aid to the Church in Need reported that children from Syria’s different Christian denominations (Catholic and Orthodox) would be joining together to pray for peace in that country on International Children’s Day.

And on 7th October Aid to the Church in Need reported that More than one million children in Syria have been calling for peace as part of a fresh appeal to political leaders to end the violence engulfing the country. “At least 2,000 schools from many parts of Syria are taking part in the initiative in which youngsters have been drawing pictures and writing messages for the attention of the United Nations in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels. Children of all denominations in the capital, Damascus, as well as in Homs, Yabroud, Marmarita as well as Aleppo have been taking part in the Peace for Children initiative with songs, dances, drama and prayer, all calling for peace.”

Aid to the Church in Need project partners including Aleppo-based Sister Annie Demerjian have stressed the number of traumatised children, with many experiencing violence, sexual exploitation, abduction and the loss of loved ones. Sister Annie Demerjian (pictured below), was recently in London at an Aid to the Church in Need event, and spoke of the extremely difficult conditions they faced in Aleppo.

Fathers Michael and Francesco suggest that the prayers of the “little ones” will become an opportunity for reflection and conversion for those who are “big.” Grown-Ups wishing to add their prayers to those of the children may find an additional resource on this page.

Sister Annie Demerjian:

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Children from Al Nouzha, Homs showing pictures of the Infant of Prague which they drew in Catechism classes – from Aid to the Church in Need:

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Feast of St Francis: OFM Appeal for Syria

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May the Lord grant you peace on this feast day of our Holy Father Francis!
And on this great feast the Friars Minor have launched this urgent appeal calling for the designation of Aleppo, and other places in Syria, as Safe Zones. The appeal is co-signed by the Minister General Fr. Michael A. Perry OFM and by the Custos of the Holy Land Fr. Francesco Patton OFM.
In particular – note Fr. Perry and Fr. Patton – the establishment of a security zone around Aleppo “would allow the whole population, worn down by the terrible effects of the conflict, to receive essential humanitarian aid without discrimination, to find safety and security, and to recover some trust and hope in a speedy solution, which would be motivated by peace alone”. The Religious Superiors also pledge their prayers and support to “our confrères who courageously continue to live in Syria. Through their closeness and practical service to all those weighed down by the harrowing consequences of the conflict, the friars have shown themselves to be true “good Samaritans”.
Currently there are about fifteen Friars Minor in Syria. Among them, in addition to the religious dispersed in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia, there are two friars who continue to carry out their pastoral service in Knayeh, Yacoubieh and Jdeideh, in the villages of the Orontes valley, subject to the domination of jihadist forces, where some hundreds of baptized continue to live, pray and attend Masses celebrated in the three Catholic parishes stripped of the bells, crosses and statues of saints. The two friars who are with them are the only priests and religious Christians left in the lands where jihadist militias dictate laws.
May we secular franciscans also pledge our prayers and support to “our confrères who courageously continue to live in Syria”.
To read the message as a pdf see here.
For more information on the work of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land see here and here.
The full Agenzia Fides report on the launch of the appeal is here.
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A thought for today from the National Minister

Today in England is the Feast of Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Margaret Ward. These three martyrs gave active support to many priests and faithful Catholics during the Reformation.
The Breviary has been taking us through the writings of the Prophets recently, others from past history who devoted their lives to bringing the truth of the will of God to the attention of those who were seeking their own way, not God’s, and leading the chosen people away from the Covenant relationship.
This Jubilee Year of Mercy has been reminding us that God is always ready to welcome back those who have lost their way. God remains steadfast and faithful forever.
God asks us to be co-workers in the Kingdom of God wherever we find ourselves. These are just a few reminders of the constant need to call on God, first for discernment, and then for the graces we need, to serve Him faithfully for as long as we remain pilgrims in this world.
These reminders serve also to help us keep things in perspective. This is far from the only period of uncertainty, instability and fear of the future that affects even people of faith, hope and love. The difference now is that we know much more about what is happening even in the most distant and remote of places. The information we have access to is often unfiltered and immediate and is therefore raw. In past times there was a process of editing and doctoring. This process was open to abuse but revision and editing meant some accountability and demanded reflection I believe we have yet to learn how to manage the constant stream of images and opinions that rain down on us every day. The mass of material in itself can make us feel powerless and overwhelmed.
On September 1st we are asked to pray for the care of creation. This year we could include prayers for our human brothers and sisters who are suffering in so many different ways throughout the world.

Paula

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Reminder Day of Prayer for Creation September 1st

Just a quick reminder that you will find a novena of prayer which can be done beginning on that day under Mission and then Presence in the World on this website. Thanks to Debbie for preparing this and to Helen for putting it on Facebook National Fraternity.

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Update: The EU Referendum; also Ramadan

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Our Lady of Europe, in the cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned (Santa María la Coronada) in Gibraltar.
Image by Falconaumanni – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17976196.

 
David Gleave, of our East Anglian region has drawn our attention to a statement by the National Justice & Peace Network about the debate on the forthcoming European referendum. Debbie Bool, our national Presence in the World minister, has suggested it be brought to the attention of the national fraternity.

David Gleave also refers us to this resolution on the EU Referendum made by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales:

Michael Simmonds (Bedford Fraternity) has followed up on the NJPN’s call to deep prayer on this issue by reminding us that we have six patron saints of Europe to whom we can pray for their powerful intercession. Michael says:

We are blessed by having SIX patron saints of Europe. We can pray for their powerful intercession for the improvement of the European Community, so we should have confidence to pray that the good things of the European Union can improve and the less good things can be diminished.
The main patron saint of Europe is Saint Benedict, [480-547] the father of western monastic life.
Then there are five co-patrons: Saints Cyril & Methodius, [9th century] apostles to the Slavs;
Saint Bridget, Queen of Sweden, [14th century], founder of the Bridgettine nuns;
Saint Catherine of Siena [14th century] who persuaded the Papacy to return to Rome from Avignon;
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein], [20th century] of Jewish birth. She became a Catholic and a Carmelite nun. During the Nazi persecution of the Jews, she had the chance to escape to safety, but chose to remain and suffer with her Jewish people and died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
As a bonus, we can also ask Saint Hedwig [14th century], patron saint of queens and European Unification, to intercede for us.
 
Saint Benedict, pray for us
Saints Cyril & Methodius, pray for us
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us
St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us
Saint Hedwig, pray for us.

Leda Aynedjian, of our Clacton fraternity, reminds us that we may also pray to St Francis. We also have St Clare, and all Franciscan saints; and we may pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Europe, a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as patroness of Gibraltar. The entire European continent was consecrated under the protection of Our Lady of Europe in the early 14th century from the Shrine in Gibraltar where devotion still continues to this day, over 700 years on.

Thank you for these contributions, East Anglia.
 
Ramadan

Also from Eccleston Square, and at the suggestion of Salvina Bartholomeusz of our South East region, we share with you these comments by Katharina Smith-Müller, Interreligious Adviser to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, regarding the Muslim month of Ramadan. She made these comments to colleagues, as I understand it, but has agreed with Salvina that her comments may be reproduced here:
 
Just a quick note to remind you that Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, donating and increased prayer, has begun.  The Islamic calendar works on lunar months, which is why Ramadan moves through the year, and why many of the celebrations and products linked with it are decorated with a moon – the month begins and ends with a sighting of the new moon. This also means that the fast is exceptionally long this year – practising Muslims (apart from a few exceptions that are made e.g. for pregnant women) will not be consuming drink or food from sunrise to sunset.

There will be a number of fast-breaking meals that are open to all – if you are interested in attending one, see the links below, or come and have a chat with me. They are called “iftar”, and will be around 21:30pm this year. The end of Eid, in a month’s time, will be celebrated with one of the two Eids, the big Muslim festivals of the year – Eid Al-Fitr.

In my experience, Ramadan is a good time to strike up a conversation with Muslims you meet – I have found that “so, are you fasting?” usually leads to an interesting conversation, and I am sure that your Muslim friends and acquaintances would appreciate your good wishes during this month – a simple “Happy Ramadan” is usually very much appreciated (“Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Karim” mean the same thing). If you have any personal worries that you would appreciate prayer for, now is also a good time to ask Muslims of your acquaintance – after all, there is a renewed focus on prayer life during this month.

There is more information here, and an interview with Sadiq Khan which I found interesting here

If you fancy joining a fast-breaking meal, there are a number of opportunities – the Ramadan Tent project is a good place to start, and you can follow The Big Iftar on facebook or twitter (unfortunately their website doesn’t seem to be working at the moment). There are listings of different iftars taking place across the country. There is also an interfaith iftar organised by the Three Faith Forum.
 
Katharina Smith-Müller also writes this interreligious blog.

Finally, this report on a Catholic delegation (Bishop Paul Hendricks, Canon John O’Toole, and Ms Katharina Smith-Müller – Interreligious Adviser to the bishops of England and Wales) helping out on 2nd June at Finsbury Park Mosque’s ‘Meal for All’ – a project for the homeless.

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Street Passion Play in Bedford

Caiaphas+Annas

A Street Passion Play was enacted in Bedford on Holy Saturday 26th March 2016. Our very own Michael Simmonds, of the Bedford fraternity, portrayed the character of Caiaphas (see image above). A splendid evangelisation opportunity! Good work, Michael! An idea for another enterprising fraternity.

Michael tells us:

The drama began in Church Square with the Last Supper in the presence of a large crowd of onlookers. After the Supper, Jesus was arrested and dragged along the road to Caiaphas and Annas [picture] where he was found guilty of blasphemy and was then dragged up Silver Street to Pilate. Here Jesus was condemned and had to carry a heavy cross-beam down the High Street, with the two thieves, to Castle Mound, where he was realistically crucified on a full-sized cross in the presence of a huge crowd, possibly 1000 people. After his death on the Cross, the crowd moved down to a lower area where Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleophas went to the tomb on Easter morning. They went to the disciples and they were all wondering at the death of Jesus and his missing body when he walked in among them. They were full of wonder and excitement and joy! The Salvation Army played an Easter hymn and some doves were released behind Jesus. Many people commented on how moving it was and tears were shed at the suffering of Christ. The play lasted about two hours. Evangelisation!
The only professional actor was the one playing Christ – all the rest were members of different Churches in Bedford.

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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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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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