Pope dedicates February 23 as 'Day of Fasting for Peace'

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Pope dedicates February 23 as 'Day of Fasting for Peace'

By Salvatore Cernuzio/ lastampa.it

On 23 February an event dedicated to the people of South Sudan and Congo. Appeal for life, “There are few people who fight for it in a world where weapons are produced every day and the “culture of waste” goes on”.

“No to violence”. Pope Francis thundered from the window of the Apostolic Palace, where he recites the Angelus before 20 thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "Victories obtained through violence are false victories; while working for peace does good to everyone!" And, with the "tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world" in mind, he launches a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on 23 February, the Friday of the First Week of Lent. “Our prayers will be offered especially to that suffering violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan".

An initiative that recalls the historic vigil for peace in Syria, convened by the Argentine Pontiff on September 7,2013, at the beginning of his pontificate. Like for that occasion, Bergoglio invites "also non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to join us this initiative in whatever ways they deem most appropriate".

Ensuring that "our Heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out to Him in sorrow and anguish", Francis then addresses "a heartfelt appeal that we too may listen to this cry and, each of us in our conscience, before God, shall ask ourselves:" What can I do for peace? For sure, we can pray; but not only that: everyone can concretely say "no" to violence”. Because victories obtained with violence are false victories; while working for peace does good to everyone!”.

With equal energy, Bergoglio takes advantage of today's anniversary of the Day for Life in Italy, on the theme "The Gospel of life, joy for the world", to once again stigmatize that "culture of waste" that claims countless victims among the weakest. I join in the message of the Italian Bishops - he says reading the written text - and I express my appreciation and encouragement to the different ecclesial realities that in many ways promote and support life, in particular the Movement for Life, of which I greet the many exponents present here.

“They are actually few" he adds," and this worries me, because not so many fight for life in a world where every day more weapons are made, where every day, laws against life are made, every day goes on with this "culture of waste", to discard what is not needed, those who bother… Please, let us pray for our people be more aware of the importance of life in this “moment of discard” of humanity.

In his catechesis, the pope focused on the Gospel of Mark, which describes Jesus' day in Carafano, and explains the meaning of the miracles, reflecting in particular on the relationship "between Jesus' taumaturgical activity and the awakening of faith in the people he meets".

“With the signs of healing that he carries out for the sick of all kinds, the Lord wants to arouse faith as an answer", the Pontiff emphasizes. For example, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law unveils the "general meaning of the miracles: the healing of the body aims at healing the heart". An exhortation valid for every believer, "Once we are freed from the grip of evil and regain our strength following Jesus' intervention, one must follow the example of Peter's mother-in-law, who immediately put herself at the service of the Lord and other guests," the Pope explains.

Then, reflecting on another key scene of the Gospel - that of the local people who crowded in front of the house where Jesus was staying to bring him all the ill people - he recalls that: The crowd, marked by physical suffering and spiritual misery, constitutes, so to speak, the "living environment" in which Jesus' mission is carried out, made of words and gestures that heal and comfort ".

Jesus did not come to bring salvation in a laboratory - he says off the cuff -, he does not preach in a laboratory, He is in the midst of the people, he spent most of public life amid the people to heal their physical wounds, their spiritual wounds ". All of the "sufferings", the "strains" and "problems" that afflicted humanity at the time, "The powerful, liberating and renewing action of Jesus is directed at such poor humanity. And, it is in the midst of the crowd, until late at night, when that Saturday ends.

Before the dawn of the following day, the Messiah withdraws to a secluded place to pray: a way of removing "his person and his mission from a triumphalist vision, which misunderstands the sense his miracles and charismatic power," Francis commented. In fact, miracles are "signs" that draws us to the answer of faith; signs that are always accompanied and enlighten by words, and signs and words together provoke faith and conversion ".

The mission of the Church is therefore carried out "on the road", "under the sign of "setting out", of "movement", never of motionless", the Pope points out. He finally, prays to the Virgin Mary for the Church may "place her tent more and more among the people to bring to everyone the healing word of Jesus, the doctor of souls and bodies".

After the Marian prayer, Francis remembers the beatification yesterday in Vigevano of Teresio Olivelli, killed for his faith in 1945, in in Hersbruck concentration camp. “He gave witness to Christ in his love for the weakest and he joins the long line of martyrs of the last century. His heroic sacrifice is a seed of hope and fraternity especially for the young” he said.

The Bishop of Rome also expressed his closeness to the people of Madagascar “recently hit by a strong cyclone, which has caused victims, displaced people and wreaked extensive damage”. May the Lord comfort and support them" he prays. Then he greeted the various pilgrims gathered in the square, in particular a representative group of the city of Agrigento, "to whom I express my gratitude for the commitment to welcome and integrate migrants. Thank you, thank you very much for what you do. I would also like to greet volunteers and collaborators of the "Fraterna Domus" association, which has been working for 50 years in Rome for welcoming and for charity”.

Finally, I wish you a "good Sunday" and the usual recommendation, "Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a Good lunch and goodbye!».

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 20:41
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