Chapter 1


Chapter 1


Pope Francis          

08.12.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square   

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary   

Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12,     

Luke 1: 26-38 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning! Happy Feast Day!

The message of today’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary can be summed up in these words: everything is a free gift from God, everything is grace, everything is a gift out of his love for us. The Angel Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace” (Lk 1:28): in her there is no room for sin, because God chose her from eternity to be the mother of Jesus and preserved her from original sin. And Mary corresponds to the grace and abandons herself, saying to the Angel: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (v. 38). She does not say: “I shall do it according to your word”: no! But: “Let it be done to me...”. And the Word was made flesh in her womb. We too are asked to listen to God who speaks to us, and to accept his will; according to the logic of the Gospel nothing is more productive and fruitful than listening to and accepting the Word of the Lord, which comes from the Gospel, from the Bible. The Lord is always speaking to us!

The attitude of Mary of Nazareth shows us that being comes before doing, and to leave the doing to God in order to be truly as he wants us. It is He who works so many marvels in us. Mary is receptive, but not passive. Because, on the physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit and then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God who forms within her. Thus, on the spiritual level, she accepts the grace and corresponds to it with faith. That is why St Augustine affirms that the Virgin “conceived in her heart before her womb” (Discourses, 215, 4). She conceived first faith and then the Lord. This mystery of the acceptance of grace, which in Mary, as a unique privilege, was without the obstacle of sin, is a possibility for all. St Paul, indeed, opens his Letter to the Ephesians with these words of praise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3). As Mary was greeted by St Elizabeth as “blessed among women” (cf. Lk 1:42), so too we have always been “blessed”, that is, loved, and thus “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless” (Eph 1:4). Mary was pre-served, while we have been saved thanks to Baptism and to the faith. However, all people, she and we together, through Christ, “to the praise of his glorious grace” (v. 6), with which grace the Immaculata was endowed to the fullest.

Regarding this love, regarding this mercy, the divine grace poured into our hearts, one single thing is asked in return: unreserved giving. Not one of us can buy salvation! Salvation is a free gift of the Lord, a free gift of God that comes within us and dwells in us. As we have received freely, so are we called to give freely (cf. Mt 10:8); imitating Mary, who, immediately upon receiving the Angel’s announcement, went to share the gift of her fruitfulness with her relative Elizabeth. Because if everything has been given to us, then everything must be passed on. How? By allowing that the Holy Spirit make of us a gift for others. The Spirit is a gift for us and we, by the power of the Spirit, must be a gift for others and allow the Holy Spirit to turn us into instruments of acceptance, instruments of reconciliation, instruments of forgiveness. If our life is allowed to be transformed by the grace of the Lord, for the grace of the Lord does transform us, we will not be able to keep to ourselves the light that comes from his face, but we will let it pass on to enlighten others. Let us learn from Mary, who kept her gaze, constantly fixed on the Son and her face became “the face that looked most like Christ’s” (Dante, Paradiso, XXXII, 87). And to her let us now turn with the prayer that recalls the annunciation of the Angel. 


Chapter 1



Pope Francis          

18.01.15  Holy Mass, Rizal Pak, Manila, Philippines     

Santo Niño Sunday Year B      

Isaiah 9: 1-6,     

Ephesians 1; 3-6, 15-18,     

Mark 10: 13-16 

“A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Is 9:5). It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness. It brings the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guides us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children”. That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.

The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph 1:3). These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.

God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4). He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”. He distracts us with the view of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: forget, at heart, that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.

The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.

In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16). We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.

It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless



Chapter 1



Pope Francis       

05.01.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square     

Second Sunday after Christmas Year A       

Ephesians 1: 3-6, 15-18  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On this second Sunday of Christmas Time, the Scripture Readings help us to broaden our gaze, in order to have a full awareness of the meaning of Jesus' birth.

The Gospel, with the Prologue of St. John, shows us the shocking novelty: the eternal Word, the Son of God, "became flesh" (v. 14). Not only did he come to live among the people, but he became one of the people, one of us! After this event, to guide our lives we no longer have only a law, an institution, but a Person, a divine Person, Jesus, who guides our lives, makes us go on the right path because He has done it before. 

St. Paul blesses God for his design of love made in Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 1:3-6, 15-18). In this plan each of us finds our fundamental vocation. What is it? So Paul says: we are predestined to be children of God by the work of Jesus Christ. The Son of God became a man to make us, men, children of God. For this reason the Eternal Son has made himself flesh: to introduce us into his filial relationship with the Father. 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, as we continue to contemplate the admirable sign of the Nativity scene, today's Liturgy tells us that the Gospel of Christ is not a fairy tale, it is not a myth, an uplifting tale, no. The Gospel of Christ is the full revelation of God's plan, of God's plan for human beings and the world. It is a message that is both simple and grandiose, that prompts us to ask ourselves: what concrete project has the Lord placed in me, as He continues to make His birth present among us?

It is the Apostle Paul who suggests the answer: "God has chosen us. To be holy and without blemish before him. In love" (v. 4). That's what Christmas means. If the Lord continues to come among us, if he continues to give us his Word, it is for each of us to respond to this call: to become saints in love. Holiness is belonging to God, it is communion with him, and becoming a manifestation of his infinite goodness. Holiness is to preserve the gift that God has given us. Only this: to guard the gratuitousness. This is being holy. Therefore, those who accept holiness as a gift of grace cannot fail to translate it into concrete action in everyday life. This gift, this grace that God has given me, I translate it into concrete actions in everyday life, in the encounter with others. This charity, this mercy towards our neighbour, is a reflection of God's love, and at the same time purifies our hearts and gives us forgiveness, making us "without blemish" day after day. But without blemish not in the sense that I take a stain off: immaculate in the sense that God enters us, the gift, the gratuitousness of God enters us and we guard it and give it to others. 

May the Blessed Virgin Mary helps us to welcome with joy and gratitude the divine design of love realized in Jesus Christ. 



Chapter 1



Pope Francis          

02.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace

Catechesis on Prayer - 17. The Blessing    

Ephesians 1: 3-6,       

Genesis 1: 22,28, 2: 3 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we will reflect on an essential dimension of prayer: blessing. We are continuing the reflections on prayer. In the creation accounts (see Gn 1-2), God continually blesses life, always. He blesses the animals (1:22), He blesses the man and the woman (1:28), finally, He blesses the Sabbath, the day of rest and the enjoyment of all of creation (2:3). It is God who blesses. On the first pages of the Bible, there is a continual repetition of blessings. God blesses, but men give blessings as well, and soon they discover that the blessing possesses a special power that accompanies the person who receives it throughout his or her entire life, and disposes the person’s heart to allow God to change it (see Second Vatican Council Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 61).

At the world’s beginning, therefore, there is a God who “speaks well”[1], who blesses. He sees that every work of His hands is good and beautiful, and when He creates man, and creation is complete, He recognizes that he is “very good” (Gn 1:31). Shortly thereafter, the beauty that God had imprinted within His work will be altered, and the human being will become a degenerate creature, capable of spreading evil and death in the world; but nothing will ever take away God’s original imprint of goodness that God placed in the world, in human nature, in all of us: the capacity of blessing and of being blessed. God did not make a mistake with creation nor with the creation of man. The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good[2], He is the first, as the poet Péguy said,[3] to continue to hope for our good.

God’s greatest blessing is Jesus Christ; His Son is God’s greatest. He is a blessing for all of humanity, He is the blessing that saved us all. He is the eternal Word with which the Father blessed us “while we were yet sinners” (Rm 5:8), St Paul says: the Word made flesh and offered for us on the cross.

St Paul proclaims with emotion God’s plan of love. And he says it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:3-6). There is no sin that can completely erase the image of Christ present in each one of us. No sin can erase that image that God has given us – the image of Christ. Sin can disfigure it, but not remove it from God’s mercy. A sinner can remain in error for a long time, but God is patient till the end, hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change. God is like a good father, He is a Father, and like a good mother, He is a good mother as well: they never stop loving their child, no matter what he or she may have done wrong, always. What comes to my mind is the many times that I have seen people in line to go into a prison, how many mothers are there in line to see their imprisoned child. They do not cease to love their child and they know that the people passing by on the bus are thinking: “Ah, that is the mother of a prisoner…”. They are not embarrassed about this. Yes, they are embarrassed but they go ahead. Just as their child is more important than their embarrassment, so we are more important to God than all of the sins that we can commit. Because He is a Father, He is a Mother, He is pure love, He has blessed us forever. And He will never cease blessing us.

What an impressive experience it is to read these biblical texts of blessing in a prison, or in a rehabilitation group. To allow these people to hear that they are still blessed, notwithstanding their grave errors, that the heavenly Father continues to desire their good and to hope that they will open themselves in the end to the good. Even if their closest relatives have abandoned them – many abandon them, they are not like those mothers who wait in life to see them, they are not important, they abandon them – they have abandoned them since they by now judge them to be irredeemable, they are always children to God. God cannot erase in us the image of sons and daughters, each one of us is His son, His daughter. At times we see miracles happen: men and women who are reborn because they find this blessing that has anointed them as children. For God’s grace changes lives: He takes us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are.

Let us think about what Jesus did with Zacchaeus (see Lk 19:1-10), for example. Everyone saw evil in him; instead, Jesus spots a glimmer of good, and from that – from his curiosity to see Jesus – He allows the mercy that saves to pass through. Thus, first Zaccaeus’s heart was changed, and then his life. Jesus sees the indelible blessing of the Father in the people who are rejected and repudiated. He was a public sinner, he had done so many awful things, but Jesus saw that indelible sign of the Father’s blessing and because of that, He had compassion. That phrase that is repeated often in the Gospel, “He was moved with compassion”, and that compassion leads Him to help him and to change his heart. What’s more, Jesus came to identify Himself with every person in need (see Mt 25:31-46). In the passage about the final protocol on which all of us will be judged, Matthew 25, Jesus says: “I was there, I was hungry, I was naked, I was in prison, I was in hospital, I was there”.

To the God who blesses we, too, respond by blessing – God has taught us how to bless and we must bless – through the prayer of praise, of adoration, of thanksgiving. The Catechism writes: “The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing” (n. 2626). Prayer is joy and thanksgiving. God did not wait for us to convert ourselves before beginning to love us, but He loved us a long time before, when we were still in sin.

We cannot but bless this God who blesses us; we must bless everyone in Him, all people, to bless God and to bless our brothers and sisters, to bless the world – and this is the root of Christian meekness, the ability of feeling blessed and the ability to bless. If all of us were to do this, wars would surely not exist. This world needs blessings, and we can give blessings and receive blessings. The Father loves us. The only thing that remains for us is the joy of blessing Him, and the joy of thanking Him, and of learning from Him not to curse, but to bless. Here, just one word for the people who have the habit of cursing, people who always have a bad word, a curse, on their lips and in their hearts. Each one of us can think: Do I have this habit of cursing like this? And ask the Lord the grace to change this habit because we have a blessed heart and curses cannot come out of a heart that has been blessed. May the Lord teach us never to curse, but to bless.

[1]Translator’s note: the Italian word for bless is benedire: bene (well or good), dire (to speak), which literally corresponds with the English word benediction .

[2]Translator’s note: literal translation of the Italian expression volere bene: volere (to desire or wish), bene (well); this expression is used often in Italian to say “I love you”

[3] The Portico of the Mystery of the Second Virtue; first edition, Le porche du mystère de la deuxième vertu, published in 1911. 


 Chapter 1



Pope Francis          

08.12.20 Angelus, St Peter's Square   

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Year B   

Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12,   

Luke 1: 26-38 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good afternoon!

Today’s liturgical feast celebrates one of the wonders of the story of salvation: the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Even she was saved by Christ, but in an extraordinary way, because God wanted that the mother of His Son not be touched by the misery of sin from the moment of her conception. And so, for the entire course of her earthly life, Mary was free from any stain of sin, she was the “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), as the angel called her. She was favoured by a singular action of the Holy Spirit so as to always remain in perfect relationship with her Son, Jesus. Rather, she was Jesus’s disciple: His Mother and disciple. But there was no sin in her.

In the magnificent hymn that opens the Letter to the Ephesians (see 1:3-6, 11-12), St Paul makes us understand that every human being is created by God for that fullness of holiness, for that beauty of which the Madonna was clothed from the beginning. The goal to which we are called is also a gift of God for us, for which, the Apostles says He “chose us before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish” (v. 4); He predestined us (see v. 5), in Christ to be totally free from sin one day. And this is grace, it is gratuitous, it is a gift of God.

And what Mary had from the beginning, will be ours in the end, after we have passed through the purifying “bath” of God’s grace. What opens the gates of paradise to us is God’s grace, received by us with faithfulness. Even the most innocent were, nevertheless, marked by original sin and fought with all their strength against its consequences. They passed through the “narrow door” that leads to life (see Lk 13:24). And do you know who is the first person we are sure entered paradise? Do you know who? A “ruffian”: one of the two who was crucified with Jesus. And he turned to Jesus saying: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. And He responded: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:42-43). Brothers and sisters, God’s grace is offered to everyone; and many who are the least on this earth will be the first in heaven (see Mk 10:31).

But be careful. It does not pay to be clever – to continually postpone a serious evaluation of one’s own life, taking advantage of the Lord’s patience. He is patient. He waits for us, He is always ready to give us grace. We may be able to deceive people, but not God; He knows our hearts better than we ourselves do. Let us take advantage of the present moment! This, yes, is the Christian sense of seizing the day. Not to enjoy life in each passing moment – no, this is the worldly sense. But to seize today, to say “no” to evil and “yes” to God, to open oneself to His grace, to once and for all stop thinking of ourselves, dragging ourselves into hypocrisy and to face our own reality as we are –this is who we are – to recognize that we have not loved God and neighbour as we should have. And to confess it, this is the beginning of a journey of conversion, asking God’s pardon first of all in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and then to repair the harm done to others. But always open to grace: the Lord knocks on our door, He knocks on our heart to enter into friendship with us, in communion, to give us salvation.

And this, for us, is the path for becoming “holy and immaculate”. The uncontaminated beauty of our Mother is incomparable, but at the same time it attracts us. Let us entrust ourselves to her and say “no” to sin and “yes” to Grace once and for all.



Chapter 1


Pope Francis       

30.08.22 Holy Mass with the new Cardinals and the College of Cardinals, St Peter's Basilica  

Ephesians 1: 3-14

Matthew 28: 16-20 

The readings of this celebration – taken from the Votive Mass “for the Church” – set before us two instances of wonder: the wonder of Paul before God’s saving plan (cf. Eph 1:3-14) and the wonder of the disciples, including Matthew himself, at meeting the risen Jesus, who then commissioned them (cf. Mt 28:16-20). A twofold wonder. Let us enter more deeply into these two “territories” where the wind of the Holy Spirit blows strongly, so that we can set out from this celebration, and this assembly of Cardinals, ever more ready to “proclaim to all the peoples the wonders of the Lord” (cf. Responsorial Psalm).

The hymn that opens the Letter to the Ephesians is born of the contemplation of God’s saving plan in history. Just as we marvel at the sight of the universe all around us, so we are full of wonder as we consider the history of salvation. And if, in the cosmos, everything moves or stands still according to the invisible force of gravity, in God’s plan, down the ages all things find their origin, existence, end and purpose in Christ.

In the Pauline hymn, that expression – “in Christ” or “in him” – is the foundation supporting every stage of salvation history. In Christ we were blessed even before the world was created; in him we were called and redeemed; in him all creation is restored to unity, and all, near and far, first and last, are destined, by the working of the Holy Spirit, to the praise of God’s glory.

As we contemplate this plan, “praise is due” to God (Responsory, Lauds, Monday Week IV): praise, blessing, adoration and the gratitude that acknowledges all that God has done. Praise born of wonder, praise that will never become force of habit, as long as it remains rooted in wonder and nourished by that fundamental attitude of the heart and spirit. I would like to ask each of us, you dear brother Cardinals, Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, people of God: how is your wonder? Do you sense wonder at times? Or have you forgotten what it means?

This is the atmosphere of wonder with which we can now enter into the “territory” of the Pauline hymn.

If we enter into the brief but profound account found in the Gospel, if together with the disciples, we answer the Lord’s call and go to Galilee – and we all have our own Galilee within our particular histories, that Galilee where we sensed the Lord’s call, the gaze of the Lord who called us; go back to that Galilee – if we go back to that Galilee on the mountain that he pointed out we will experience a new wonder. This time, we will marvel not at the plan of salvation itself, but at the even more amazing fact that God calls us to share in this plan. Here we see the mission of the apostles with the risen Christ. We can scarcely imagine the emotion with which the “eleven disciples” heard those words of the Lord: “Go… make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). And then, his final promise that inspires hope and consolation – indeed today we spoke about hope [in this morning’s meeting]: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20). These words, spoken by the risen Lord, still have the power, even after two thousand years, to thrill our hearts. We continue to marvel at the unfathomable divine decision to evangelize the whole world starting with that ragtag group of disciples, some of whom – as the evangelist tells us – still doubted (cf. v. 17). Yet, if we think about it, we should marvel no less if we look at ourselves, gathered here today, to whom the Lord has spoken those same words, given that same mandate! Each of us, as a community, as a College.

Brothers and sisters, this kind of wonder is a way to salvation! May God keep it ever alive in our hearts, for it sets us free from the temptation of thinking that we can “manage things”, that we are “most eminent”. Or from the false security of thinking that today is somehow different, no longer like the origins; today the Church is big, solid, and we occupy eminent positions in its hierarchy – indeed they address us as “Your Eminence”… There is some truth in this, but there is also much deception, whereby the Father of Lies always seeks to make Christ’s followers first worldly, then innocuous. This can lead you to the temptation of worldliness, which step by step takes away your strength, takes away your hope; it prevents you from seeing the gaze of Jesus who calls us by name and sends us out. Those are the seeds of spiritual worldliness.

Today, truly, the word of God awakens in us wonder at being in the Church, of being Church! Let us return to our initial baptismal wonder. That is what makes the community of believers attractive, first to themselves and then to others: the double mystery of our being blessed in Christ and of going forth with Christ into the world. This wonder does not diminish with the passing of the years; it does not weaken with our increasing responsibilities in the Church. No, thanks be to God. It grows stronger and deeper. I am certain that this is also the case with you, dear brothers, who have now become members of the College of Cardinals.

We rejoice too that this sense of gratitude is shared by all of us, all the baptized. We should be immensely grateful to Saint Paul VI, who passed on to us this love for the Church, a love which is first and foremost gratitude, grateful wonder at her mystery and at the gift of our being not only members of the Church, but involved in her life, sharing in and, indeed, jointly responsible for her. At the beginning of his programmatic encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, written during the Council, the first thought that came to the Pope’s mind was that “the Church needs to cultivate a deeper awareness of her identity… her origin and her mission”. In this regard, he made explicit reference to the Letter to the Ephesians, to “the providential plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God… so that through the Church… it may be made known” (Eph 3:9-10).

This, dear brothers and sisters, is what it is to be a minister of the Church. One who experiences wonder before God’s plan and, in that spirit, passionately loves the Church and stands at the service of her mission wherever and however the Holy Spirit may choose. This was the case with the Apostle Paul, as we see from his letters. His apostolic zeal and the concern for the community was always accompanied, and indeed preceded, by words of blessing filled with wonder and gratitude: “Blessed be God…”, and full of wonder.  This is perhaps the measure, the thermometer of our spiritual life. I repeat the question, dear brother, dear sister, all of here together: how is your ability to be amazed? Or are you used to it, so used to it that you have lost it? Are you able once again to be amazed?

May it be the case with us! May it be the case with each of you, dear brother Cardinals! May the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary – who looked and carried everything in her heart with wonder – may the Mother of the Church obtain this grace for each of us. Amen!


Chapter 2


Chapter 2


Pope Francis       

15.03.15  Angelus, St Peter's Square        

4th Sunday of Lent Year B            

Ephesians 2: 4-10,         John 3: 14-21  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Today’s Gospel again offers us the words that Jesus addressed to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). In hearing these words, we turn our heart’s gaze to Jesus Crucified and we feel within us that God loves us, truly loves us, and He loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that epitomizes all of the Gospel, all of the faith, all of theology: God loves us with a free and boundless love.

This is how God loves us and God shows this love first through creation, as the Liturgy announces, in the fourth Eucharistic Prayer: “You have created all things, to fill your creatures with every blessing and lead all men to the joyful vision of your light”. At the beginning of the world there is only the freely given love of the Father. St Irenaeus, a saint of the first centuries, writes: “In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have one upon whom to confer His benefits” (Adversus Haereses, IV, 14, 1). It is like this, God’s love is like this.

Thus the fourth Eucharistic Prayer continues: “Even when he disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon him to the power of death”, but with your mercy “helped all men to seek and find you”. He came with his mercy. As in creation, and also in the subsequent stages of salvation history, the freely given love of God returns: the Lord chooses his people not because they are deserving but because they are the smallest among all peoples, as He says. And when “the fullness of time” arrived, despite the fact that man had repeatedly broken the covenant, God, rather than abandoning him, formed a new bond with him, in the blood of Jesus — the bond of a new and everlasting covenant — a bond that nothing will ever break.

St Paul reminds us: “God, who is rich in mercy”, — never forget that He is rich in mercy — “out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4). The Cross of Christ is the supreme proof of the mercy and love that God has for us: Jesus loved us “to the end” (Jn 13:1), meaning not only to the last instant of his earthly life, but to the farthest limit of love. While in creation the Father gave us proof of his immense love by giving us life, in the passion and death of his Son He gave us the proof of proofs: He came to suffer and die for us. So great is God’s mercy: He loves us, He forgives us; God forgives all and God forgives always.

May Mary, who is the Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certitude that we are loved by God. May she be close to us in moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of her Son, so our Lenten journey may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome, and of charity. 


Chapter 2

 Chapter 2


Pope Francis          

23.10.18   Holy Mass Santa Marta  

Ephesians 2: 12-22 

Hope,  is not something abstract. Hope instead means living in expectation of the concrete encounter with Jesus. And wisdom consists in being able to rejoice in the “little encounters of the life with Jesus."

The first Reading, taken from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, speaks about citizenship: It is a gift that God has given us, making us citizens. It consists in having given us an identity, our identity papers, so to speak. God, in Jesus, has abolished the law (cf. 2:15) in order to reconcile us, putting that enmity to death by it, so that through Him both Jews and Gentiles might both have access in one Spirit to the Father — and so you are fellow citizens with the saints, in Jesus.

Our identity lies precisely in this, in being healed by the Lord, being built into a community and having the Holy Spirit within.

God is leading us on the journey toward the inheritance, secure in the knowledge that we are fellow citizens, and that God is with us. The inheritance, is that which we seek in our journey, that which we will receive in the end. But we need to seek it each day; and it is precisely hope which carries us forward in the journey toward that inheritance. Hope, is perhaps the smallest virtue, perhaps the most difficult to understand.

Faith, hope, and charity are one gift. Faith and charity are easy to understand. “But what is hope?”  It is hoping for heaven, hoping to encounter the Saints, eternal happiness. But what, is heaven for you?

Living in hope is journeying towards a reward, yes, toward a happiness that we do not have but we will have there. It is a difficult virtue to understand. It is a humble virtue, very humble. It is a virtue that never disappoints: if you hope, you will never be disappointed. Never, never. It is also a concrete virtue. “But how can it be concrete,” [you ask,] “if I don’t know heaven, or what awaits me there?” Hope, our inheritance which is hope directed towards something, is not an idea, it is not being in a good place… no. It is an encounter. Jesus always emphasizes this part of hope, this living in expectation, encountering

Something comes to mind, when I think of hope, an image: a pregnant woman, a woman expecting a child. She goes to the doctor, she sees the ultrasound. Is she indifferent? Does she say, “Oh look, a baby. Ok.” No! She rejoices! And every day she touches her belly to caress that child, in anticipation of that child, living in anticipation of that son. This image can help us understand what hope is: living for that encounter. That woman imagines what her son’s eyes will be like, what his smile will be like, whether he’ll be blonde or dark-haired… but she imagines meeting her son. She imagines meeting her son.

Do I hope like this, concretely, or is my hope a little dispersed, a little gnostic? Hope is concrete, it is an everyday thing, because it is an encounter. And every time we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the Gospel, in the poor, in the life of the community, every time we take another step toward this definitive encounter. This is the wisdom of knowing how to rejoice in the little encounters of daily life with Jesus, preparing for that definitive encounter.

The word “identity” refers to our having been made one community; and the inheritance is the strength of the Holy Spirit that carries us forward with hope. Ask yourselves how you live out your identity as Christians, whether you are expecting an inheritance in heaven that is somewhat abstract – or whether you are really hoping for an encounter with the Lord.


 Chapter 2



Pope Francis       

27.10.23 Prayer for Peace, St Peter's Basilica  

at the Conclusion of the Pacem in Terris Holy Hour 

Isaiah 2: 2,4-5

Ephesians 2: 13-14, 17

Mary, look at us! We stand here before you. You are our Mother, and you know our struggles and our hurts. Queen of Peace, you suffer with us and for us, as you see so many of your children suffering from the conflicts and wars that are tearing our world apart.

This is a dark hour. This is a dark hour, Mother. In this dark hour, we look to you, and in the light of your countenance we entrust ourselves and our problems to your maternal Heart, which knows our anxieties and fears. How great was your concern when there was no place for Jesus at the inn! How great was your fear when you fled in haste to Egypt because Herod sought to kill him! How great was your anguish before you found him in the Temple! Yet, Mother, amid those trials, you showed your strength, you acted boldly: you trusted in God and responded to concern with tender care, to fear with love, to anguish with acceptance. Mother, you did not step back, but at decisive moments you always took initiative: with haste you visited Elizabeth; at the wedding feast of Cana you prompted Jesus’ first miracle; in the Upper Room you kept the disciples united. And when, on Calvary, a sword pierced your heart, Mother, by your humility and strength you kept alive the hope of Easter through the night of sorrow.

Now, Mother, once more take the initiative for us, in these times rent by conflicts and laid waste by the fire of arms. Turn your eyes of mercy towards our human family, which has strayed from the path of peace, preferred Cain to Abel and lost the ability to see each other as brothers and sisters dwelling in a common home. Intercede for our world, in such turmoil and great danger. Teach us to cherish and care for life – each and every human life! – and to repudiate the folly of war, which sows death and eliminates the future.

Mary, how many times have you come, urging prayer and repentance. Yet, caught up in our own needs and distracted by the things of this world, we have turned a deaf ear to your appeal. In your love for us, you never abandon us, Mother. Lead us by the hand. Lead us by the hand and bring us to conversion; help us once again to put God first. Help us to preserve unity in the Church and to be artisans of communion in our world. Make us realize once more the importance of the role we play; strengthen our sense of responsibility for the cause of peace as men and women called to pray, worship, intercede and make reparation for the whole human race.

By ourselves, Mother, we cannot succeed; without your Son, we can do nothing. But you bring us back to Jesus, who is our Peace. Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, we come before you and we seek refuge in your Immaculate Heart. Mother of mercy, we appeal for mercy! Queen of Peace, we appeal for peace! Touch the hearts of those imprisoned by hatred; convert those who fuel and foment conflict. Dry the tears of children – at this hour, so many are weeping! – be present to those who are elderly and alone; strengthen the wounded and the sick; protect those forced to leave their lands and their loved ones; console the crestfallen; awaken new hope.

To you we entrust and consecrate our lives and every fibre of our being, all that we possess and all that we are, forever. To you we consecrate the Church, so that in her witness to the love of Jesus before the world, she may be a sign of harmony and an instrument of peace. To you we consecrate our world, to you we consecrate especially those countries and regions at war.

Your faithful people call you the dawn of salvation; Mother, grant that glimmers of light may illumine the dark night of conflict. Dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, inspire the leaders of nations to seek paths of peace.  Queen of all peoples, reconcile your children, seduced by evil, blinded by power and hate. You, who are close to all, shorten our distances. You, who have compassion on everyone, teach us to care for one another. You, who reveal the Lord’s tender love, make us witnesses of his consolation and peace. Mother, Queen of Peace, pour forth into our hearts God’s gift of harmony. Amen.


Chapter 3

 Chapter 3


Pope Francis       

08.06.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta   

Feast of the Sacred Heart    

Hosea 11: 1,3,4,8C,9,    

Ephesians 3: 8-12, 14-19 

It is not us who first loved God, it's the other way around: it is He who loved us first.

The prophets used the symbol of the almond blossom to explain this reality highlighting the fact that the almond blossom is the first to bloom in spring.

God is like that: he is always first. He's the first to wait for us, the first to love us, the first to help us.

However, it is not easy to understand God's love as is narrated in the passage from today liturgical reading in which the Apostle Paul speaks of "preaching to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ.”

It is a love that cannot be understood. A love that surpasses all knowledge. It surpasses everything. The love of God is so great; a poet described it as a “bottomless sea without shores…” This is the love that we must try to understand, the love that we receive.

Throughout the history of salvation the Lord has revealed his love to us: He has been a great teacher.

God did not reveal his love through power but by loving His people, teaching them to walk, taking them in His arms, caring for them.

How does God manifest his love? With great works? No: He makes himself smaller and smaller with gestures of tenderness and goodness. He approaches His children and with his closeness He makes us understand the greatness of love.

God sent us His Son. He sent Him in the flesh and the Son humbled himself until death.

This, is the mystery of God's love: the greatest greatness expressed in the smallest smallness. This, allows us to understand Christianity.

Jesus teaches us the kind of attitude a Christian should have; it is all about carrying on God’s own work in your own small way: that is feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, visiting the sick and the prisoner.

Works of mercy, pave the path of love that Jesus teaches us in continuity with God’s great love for us!

We do not need great discourse on love, but men and women who know how to do these little things for Jesus, for the Father.

Our works of mercy, he said, are the continuity of this love.



Chapter 3



Pope Francis       

25.10.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta   

Ephesians 3: 14-21 

Who is Jesus Christ for you?  If someone asks us the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”, we should say what we have learned: He is the Saviour of the world, the Son of the Father, which we recite in the Creed. But it is a little more difficult to answer the question of who Jesus Christ is “for me.” It is a question that can embarrass us a little bit, because in order to answer that question, I have to dig into my heart; that is, we have to begin from our own experience.

Saint Paul experienced precisely this uneasiness in bearing witness to Jesus Christ. He knew Jesus through his own experience of being thrown from his horse, when the Lord spoke to his heart. He didn’t begin to know Christ by studying theology, even if later he went to see how Jesus was proclaimed in Scripture.

Paul wants Christians to feel what he himself felt. In response to the question that we can put to Paul – “Paul, who is Christ for you?” – he spoke simply about his own experience: “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.” But he was involved with Christ who paid for him. And Paul wants every Christian – in this case, the Christians of Ephesus – to have this experience, to enter into this experience, to the point that each one can say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me,” but to say it from their own personal experience.

Reciting the Creed can help us to know about Jesus. But in order to really know Him, as St Paul came to know Him, it is better to begin by acknowledging that we are sinners. This, is the first step. When Paul says that Jesus gave Himself for him, he is saying that He paid for him, and this comes out in all of his letters. And the first definition Paul gives of himself follows from this: He says he is a sinner, he admits that he persecuted Christians. He begins precisely by recognising that he was chosen through love, although he is a sinner.

The first step in knowing Christ, lies precisely in recognising that we are sinners. He said that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we confess our sin – but, he noted, it is one thing to tell our sins, and another to recognise ourselves as sinners, capable of doing anything. St Paul had this experience of his own wretchedness, and recognised that he needed to be redeemed, recognised that he needed someone who would pay for his right to call himself a ‘son of God’: We are all sinners, but to say it, to feel it, we need the sacrifice of Christ.

But in order to know Jesus, there is also a second step: we get to know Him through contemplation and prayer.  ‘Lord, let me know You, and know myself.' We should not content ourselves with saying three or four good things about Jesus, because knowing Jesus is an adventure, but a serious adventure, not an adventure of a child, because the love of Jesus is without limits.

Paul says that He “is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” He has the power to do it. But we have to ask Him: “Lord, let me know you; so that when I talk about you, I am not repeating words like a parrot, but rather I am saying words born from my own experience. So that like Paul I can say: ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me’ – and say it with conviction. This is our strength, this is our witness. Christians of words, we have many words; we too, so many words. And this is not sanctity. Sanctity is being Christians who work in life that which Jesus has taught and what Jesus has sown in our hearts.

The first step is knowing oneself: that we are sinners, sinners. Without this understanding, and without this interior confession – that I am a sinner – we cannot go forward. The second step is prayer to the Lord, who with His power makes us know this mystery of Jesus, which is the fire that He has brought upon the earth. It would be a good habit if every day, in every moment, we could say, “Lord, let me know You, and know myself." 



Chapter 3



Pope Francis       

05.11.21 Holy Mass from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery     

Ephesians 3: 8-12, 14-19 

John 19: 31-37

As we commemorate with gratitude the gift of this seat of the Catholic University, I would like to share with you some thoughts in relation to its name. It is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as is this day, the first Friday of the month. Contemplating the Heart of Jesus, we can let ourselves be guided by three words: memory, passion and consolation.

Remembrance. To remember [in Italian, ricordare], means “to return to the heart, to return with the heart”. Ri-cordare. What does the Sacred Heart of Jesus make us return to? To what He did for us: the Heart of Christ shows us Jesus who offers Himself, it is the compendium of his mercy. Looking at it – like John did in the Gospel (19: 31-37), it comes naturally to us to remember his goodness, which is freely given, which can be neither bought nor sold; and unconditional, it does not depend on our actions, it is sovereign. And it is moving. In today’s haste, in the midst of a thousand errands and continuous worries, we are losing the capacity to be moved and to feel compassion, because we are losing this return to the heart, that is, this memory, this return to the heart. Without memory one loses one’s roots, and without roots, one does not grow. It is good for us to nurture the memory of who has loved us, cared for us, and lifted us up. I would like to renew today my “thanks” for the care and the affection I have received here. I believe that in this time of the pandemic it is good for us to remember even of the times we have suffered the most: not to make us sad, but so as not to forget, and to guide us in our choices in the light of a very recent past.

I wonder: how does our memory work? To simplify, we could say that we remember someone or something when it touches our heart, when it binds us to a particular affection or lack of affection. And so the Heart of Jesus heals our memory because it brings it back to the fundamental affection. It roots it on the most solid base. It reminds us that, whatever happens to us in life, we are loved. Yes, we are loved beings, children whom the Father loves always and, in any case, brothers and sisters for whom the Heart of Christ beats. Every time we peer into that Heart we discover ourselves “rooted and grounded in love”, as the Apostle Paul said in today's first reading (Eph 3:17).

Let us cultivate this memory, which is strengthened when we are face to face with the Lord, especially when we let ourselves be looked upon and loved by Him in adoration. But we can also cultivate among ourselves the art of remembering, of treasuring the faces we meet. I think of the tiring days in hospital, at university, at work. We run the risk that everything will pass without a trace, or that only fatigue and tiredness will remain. It is good for us, in the evening, to look back on the faces we have met, the smiles we have received, the good words. They are memories of love and they help our memory to find itself again: may our memory find itself again. How important these memories are in hospitals! They can give meaning to a sick person’s day. A fraternal word, a smile, a caress on the face: these are memories that heal inside, they do the heart good. Let us not forget the therapy of remembering: it does so much good!

Passion is the second word. Passion. The first is memory, remembering; the second is passion. The Heart of Christ is not a pious devotion, so as to feel a little warmth inside; it is not a tender image that arouses affection, no, it is not that. It is a passionate heart - just read the Gospel -, a heart wounded with love, torn open for us on the cross. We have heard how the Gospel speaks of it: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (Jn 19:34). Pierced, He gives; in death, He gives us life. The Sacred Heart is the icon of the Passion: it shows us God’s visceral tenderness, his loving passion for us, and at the same time, surmounted by the cross and surrounded by thorns, it shows us how much suffering our salvation cost. In its tenderness and pain, that Heart reveals, in short, what God’s passion is. What is it? Man, us. And what is God’s style? Closeness, compassion and tenderness. This is God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness.

What does this suggest? That, if we really want to love God, we must be passionate about humanity, about all humanity, especially those who live the condition in which the Heart of Jesus was manifested, that is, pain, abandonment and rejection; especially in this throwaway culture that we live in today. When we serve those who suffer we console and rejoice in the Heart of Christ. One passage in the Gospel is striking. John the Evangelist, at the very moment when he recounts the pierced side, from which blood and water flow, bears witness so that we may believe (cf. v. 35). Saint John writes, that is, that at that moment the testimony occurs. Because the piercee Heart of God is eloquent. It speaks without words, because it is mercy in its pure state, love that is wounded and gives life. It is God, with closeness, compassion and tenderness. How many words we say about God without showing love! But love speaks for itself, it does not speak of itself. Let us ask for the grace to become passionate about the man who suffers, to become passionate about service, so that the Church, before having words to say, may keep a heart that beats with love. Before speaking, may she learn to safeguard her heart in love.

The third word is comfort. The first was remembrance, the second passion, the third is consolation. It indicates a strength that does not come from us, but from those who are with us: that is where strength comes from. Jesus, the God-with-us, gives us this strength, his Heart gives us courage in adversity. So many uncertainties frighten us: in this time of the pandemic we have found ourselves to be smaller, more fragile. In spite of so many marvellous advances, this is also evident in the medical field: so many rare and unknown diseases! When I find people in the audiences - especially children - and I ask: “Are you ill?” - [they answer] “A rare disease”. There are so many of them today! How hard it is to keep up with pathologies, with treatment facilities, with healthcare that is really what it should be, for everyone. We could become discouraged. That is why we need consolation - the third word. The Heart of Jesus beats for us, always repeating those words: “Courage, courage, do not be afraid, I am here!”. Courage, sister, courage, brother, do not lose heart, the Lord your God is greater than your ills, He takes you by the hand and caresses you, He is close to you, He is compassionate, He is tender. He is your comfort.

If we look at reality from the greatness of his Heart, the perspective changes, our knowledge of life changes because, as Saint Paul reminded us, we know “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:19). Let us encourage ourselves with this certainty, with God’s comfort. And let us ask the Sacred Heart for the grace to be able to console in turn. It is a grace that must be asked for, as we courageously commit ourselves to opening up, helping one another, carrying one another’s burdens. It also applies to the future of health care, especially “Catholic” health care: sharing, supporting each other, moving forward together.

May Jesus open the hearts of those who care for the sick to collaboration and cohesion. To your Heart, Lord, we entrust our vocation to care: let us make every person who approaches us in need feel they are dear to us. Amen.


Chapter 4

 Chapter 4


Pope Francis          

26.10.18 Holy Mass  Santa Marta        

Ephesians 4: 1-6       Luke 12: 54-59 

St. Paul from the solitude of his imprisonment was writing to the Ephesians a true "hymn to unity", recalling the "dignity of vocation". Paul’s solitude would accompany him until his death in Rome, because Christians were “too busy” in their "internal struggles". And before Paul, Jesus Himself “asked for the grace of unity from the Father for all of us."

Yet, today we are "used to breathing the air of conflict". Every day, on the TV and in newspapers, we hear about conflicts and wars  "one after the other", "without peace, without unity”. Agreements made to stop conflicts are ignored, thus the arms race and preparation for war and destruction go ahead.

Even world institutions created with the best of intentions for peace and unity, fail to come to an agreement because of a veto here and an interest there ... While they are struggling to arrive at peace agreements, children have no food, no school, no education and hospitals because the war has destroyed everything.

There is a tendency to destruction, war and disunity in us. It is the tendency that the devil, the enemy and destroyer of humanity sows in our hearts. The Apostle teaches us that the journey of unity is, so to say, clad or “armoured' with the bond of peace. Peace, he said, leads to unity.

We who are used to insulting and shouting at each other, need to make peace and unity among us with gentleness and patience

Christians open your hearts and make peace in the world taking the path of the “three little things” - "humility,   gentleness and patience". Paul's advice is “bear with one another in love". It’s not easy as there is always a judgement, a condemnation which leads to separation  and distances

When a rift is created between members of the family, the devil is happy with the start of war . The advice is then to bear with one another because we always have an excuse to be annoyed and impatient because we are all sinners with defects. St. Paul, inspired by Jesus at the Last Supper who urged for “one body and one spirit”, thus urges us to “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace".

The next step is to see the horizon of peace with God, just as Jesus made us see the horizon of peace with prayer: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one'. In today's Gospel of Luke Jesus advises us to strike an agreement with our adversary along the way. It’s good advice, because "it is not difficult to come to an agreement at the beginning of a conflict.

The advice of Jesus is to settle the matter and make peace at the beginning, which calls for humility, gentleness and patience. One can build peace throughout the world with these little things, which are the attitudes of Jesus who is humble, meek and forgives  everything.

Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. I invite Christians to start putting into practice humility, gentleness and patience saying this is the path to making peace and consolidating unity


Chapter 4



Pope Francis          

30.09.23 Ecumenical Prayer Vigil, Saint Peter's Square  

Ephesians 4: 1-7

Matthew 5: 1-12

“Together”. Like the early Christian community on the Day of Pentecost. Like one flock, loved and gathered by one Shepherd, Jesus. Like the great crowd in the Book of Revelation we are here, brothers and sisters “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev 7:9), from different communities and countries, daughters and sons of the same Father, inspired by the Spirit received in baptism, and called to the same hope (cf. Eph 4:4-5).

Thank you for your presence. Thank you to the Taizé Community for this initiative. With great affection, I greet the Heads of Churches, the leaders and delegations of the different Christian traditions and all of you, especially the young people: thank you for coming to pray for us and with us, in Rome, prior to the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and on the eve of the spiritual retreat that precedes it. “Syn-odos”: let us walk together, not only Catholics, but all Christians, all of the baptized, the whole People of God, because “only the whole can be the unity of all” (cf. J.A. MÖHLER, Symbolism).

Like the great crowd in the Book of Revelation, we prayed in silence, listening to a “great silence” (cf. Rev 8:1). Indeed, silence is important and powerful: it can express unspeakable sorrow in the face of misfortune, but also, in moments of joy, a gladness that goes beyond words.  That is why I would like to reflect briefly with you on its importance in the life of the believer, in the life of the Church and in the journey of Christian unity.  The importance of silence.

First, silence is essential in the life of the believer. Indeed, it lies at the beginning and end of Christ’s earthly existence. The Word, the Word of the Father, became “silence” in the manger and on the cross, on the night of the Nativity and on the night of his Passion. This evening, we Christians have been silent before the San Damiano Cross, as disciples listening before the cross, the Master’s throne. Ours was not an empty silence, but a moment filled with faith, expectation and readiness. In a world full of noise, we are no longer accustomed to silence; indeed sometimes we struggle with it, because silence forces us to face God and ourselves. Yet it lies at the foundation of the word and of life. Saint Paul tells us that the mystery of the Incarnate Word was “kept secret for long ages” (Rom 16:25), teaching us that silence guards the mystery, as Abraham guarded the Covenant, as Mary guarded in her womb and pondered in her heart the life of her Son (cf. Lk 1:31; 2:19.51). Moreover, truth does not need loud cries to reach people’s hearts.  God does not like declarations and shouting, gossiping and noise: rather, he prefers, as he did with Elijah, to speak in the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), in a “thread of resounding silence”. We too, then, like Abraham, like Elijah, like Mary, need to free ourselves from so much noise in order to hear his voice. For only in our silence does his word resound.

Second, silence is essential in the life of the Church. The Acts of the Apostles says that after Peter’s discourse to the Council of Jerusalem, “the whole assembly kept silence” (Acts 15:12), preparing to receive the testimony of Paul and Barnabas about the signs and wonders God had performed among the nations. This reminds us that silence, in the ecclesial community, makes fraternal communication possible, where the Holy Spirit draws together points of view, because he is harmony. To be synodal is to welcome one another like this, in the knowledge that we all have something to share and to learn, gathering together to listen to the “Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17) in order to know what the Lord “is saying to the churches” (Rev 2:7). What is more, silence enables true discernment, through attentive listening to the Spirit’s “sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26) that echo, often hidden, within the People of God. Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bestow the gift of listening on the participants of the Synod: “listening to God, that with him we may hear the cry of the people; to listen to the people until breathing in the will to which God calls us” (Address at the Prayer Vigil in Preparation for the Synod on the Family, 4 October 2014).

Finally, the third element: silence is essential for the journey of Christian unity. Indeed, it is fundamental to prayer, and ecumenism begins with prayer and is sterile without it. Jesus himself prayed that his disciples “may all be one” (Jn 17:21). The silence that is prayer enables us to accept the gift of unity “as Christ wills it… by the means he chooses” (cf. ABBÉ COUTURIER, Prayer for Unity), not as the fruit of our own efforts and according to purely human criteria. The more we turn together to the Lord in prayer, the more we feel that it is he who purifies us and unites us beyond our differences. Christian unity grows in silence before the cross, just like the seeds we will receive, which represent the different gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit on the various traditions: it is up to us to sow them, in the certainty that God alone brings about the growth (cf 1 Cor 3:6). They will be a sign for us, who are called in turn quietly to die to selfishness in order, through the action of the Holy Spirit, to grow in communion with God and in fraternity among ourselves.

That is why, brothers and sisters, in common prayer we ask to learn again to be silent: to listen to the voice of the Father, the call of Jesus and the groaning of the Spirit. Let us ask that the Synod be a kairós of fraternity, a place where the Holy Spirit will purify the Church from gossip, ideologies and polarization. As we approach the important anniversary of the great Council of Nicaea, let us ask that we may know how, like the Magi, to worship in unity and in silence the mystery of God made man, certain that the closer we are to Christ, the more united we will be among ourselves. And as the wise men from the East were led to Bethlehem by a star, so may the heavenly light guide us to our one Lord and to the unity for which he prayed. Brothers and sisters, let us set out together, eager to meet him, worship him and proclaim him, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

30.09.23 ec

 Chapter 4

26 to

5: 2

Pope Francis       

31.01.24 General Audience,  Paul VI Audience  

Cycle of Catechesis. Vices and Virtues. 6. Wrath  

Ephesians  4: 26-27, 31-32

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we will pause to reflect on the vice of wrath. Now we are talking about vices and virtues: today it is time to reflect on the vice of wrath. It is a particularly dark vice, and it is perhaps the easiest to detect from a physical point of view. The person dominated by wrath finds it difficult to hide this impulse: you can recognize it from the movements of his body, his aggressiveness, his laboured breathing, his grim and frowning expression.

In its most acute manifestation, wrath is a vice that concedes no respite. If it is born of an injustice suffered (or believed to be suffered), often it is unleashed not against the offender, but against the first unfortunate victim. There are men who withhold their rage in the workplace, showing themselves to be calm and composed, but at home they become unbearable for the wife and children. Wrath is a pervasive vice: it is capable of depriving us of sleep, of barring the way to reason and thought.

Wrath is a vice that destroys human relationships. It expresses the incapacity to accept the diversity of others, especially when their life choices diverge from our own. It does not stop at the misconduct of one person, but throws everything into the cauldron: it is the other person, the other as he or she is, the other as such, who provokes anger and resentment. One begins to detest the tone of their voice, their trivial everyday gestures, their ways of reasoning and feeling.

When the relationship arrives at this level of degeneration, lucidity is lost. Wrath makes us lose lucidity, doesn’t it? Because one of the characteristics of wrath, at times, is that sometimes it fails to mitigate with time. In these cases, even distance and silence, instead of easing the burden of mistakes, magnifies them. For this reason, the Apostle Paul – as we have heard – recommends to Christians to face up to the problem straight away, and to attempt reconciliation: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). It is important that everything dissipate immediately, before sundown. If some misunderstanding arises during the day, and two people can no longer understand each other, perceiving themselves as far apart, the night cannot be handed over to the devil. The vice would keep us awake at night, brooding over our reasons and the unaccountable mistakes that are never ours and always the other’s. It is like that: when a person is enraged, they always, always say that the other person is the problem. They are never capable of recognizing their own defects, their own shortcomings.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus makes us pray for our human relations, which are a minefield: a plane that is never in perfect equilibrium. In life, we have to deal with trespassers who are in fault with us, just as we have never loved everyone in the right measure. To some we have not returned the love that was due to them. We are all sinners, all of us, and we all have accounts to settle: do not forget this. We are indebted, we all have accounts to settle, and therefore we all need to learn how to forgive so as to be forgiven. Men do not stay together if they do not also practice the art of forgiveness, as far as this is humanly possible. Wrath is countered by benevolence, openness of heart, meekness and patience.

But, on the subject of wrath, there is one last thing to be said. It is a terrible vice, it was said, that is at the origin of wars and violence. The Proem of the Iliad describes the wrath of Achilles, which will be the cause of “infinite woes”. But not everything that stems from wrath is mistaken. The ancients understood well that there exists an irascible part of us that cannot and must not be denied. The passions are to some extent unconscious: they happen, they are life experiences. We are not responsible for the onset of wrath, but always for its development. And at times it is good for anger to be vented in the right way. If a person were never to anger, if a person did not become indignant at an injustice, if he did not feel something quivering in his gut at the oppression of the weak, it would mean that the person was not human, must less a Christian.

Holy indignation exists, which is not wrath but an inner movement, a holy indignation. Jesus knew it several times in His life (cf. Mk 3.5): He never responded to evil with evil, but in His soul, He felt this sentiment, and in the case of the merchants in the Temple, He performed a strong and prophetic action, dictated not by wrath, but by zeal for the house of the Lord (cf. Mt 21:12-13). We must distinguish well: zeal, holy indignation, is one thing; wrath, which is bad, is another.

It is up to us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to find the right measure for the passions. To educate them well so that they turn to good and not to evil. Thank you.


 Chapter 4

26 to

5: 2


Pope Francis          

12.08.18   Angelus, St Peter's Square        

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B           

Ephesians 4: 30 - 5: 2 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, and Dear Italian Young People, Good morning!

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul addresses an urgent invitation to us: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). But I ask myself: how does the Holy Spirit become saddened? We all received him in Baptism and in Confirmation. Thus, in order not to sadden the Holy Spirit, it is necessary to live in a manner consistent with the promises of Baptism that are renewed in Confirmation. In a consistent manner, not with hypocrisy. Do not forget this. Christians cannot be hypocrites. They must live in a consistent manner. The promises of Baptism have two aspects: rejecting evil and clinging to good.

Rejecting evil means saying ‘no’ to temptation, to sin, to Satan. More concretely, it means saying ‘no’ to a culture of death that manifests itself in escaping from reality towards a false happiness that is expressed in lies, deceit, injustice and in despising others. ‘No’ to all this. The new life given to us in Baptism has the Spirit as its wellspring and rejects any behaviour dominated by feelings of division and discord. This is why the Apostle Paul urges that “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from your hearts, with all malice” (cf. v. 31). This is what Paul says. These six elements or vices which unsettle the joy of the Holy Spirit, poison the heart and lead to cursing God and our neighbours.

But, it is not enough to refrain from doing evil in order to be a good Christian. It is necessary to cling to good and to do good. And then Saint Paul continues: “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (v. 32). Often, we happen to hear someone say: “I do no harm to anyone”. And they think they are saints. All right, but do you do good? How many people do no evil but, at the same time, do no good, and their life goes by in indifference, apathy and tepidness. This attitude is contrary to the Gospel and it also goes against the temperament of you young people, who are by nature dynamic, passionate and brave. Remember this — if you remember it we can repeat it together: “It is good to do no evil, but it is evil to do no good”. Saint Alberto Hurtado used to say this.

Today, I urge you to be protagonists in good! Protagonists in good. Do not feel all is well when you refrain from doing evil. Everyone is guilty of not doing the good they could have done. It is not enough to refrain from hate. One must forgive. It is not enough to refrain from bearing grudges. One must pray for one’s enemies. It is not enough not to refrain from causing division. We must bring peace where there is none. It is not enough to refrain from speaking ill of others. We must interrupt when we hear others speak badly about someone: stopping the gossip: this is doing good. If we do not oppose evil, we feed it tacitly. It is necessary to intervene where evil spreads because evil spreads in the absence of audacious Christians who oppose it with good, walking in love (cf. 5:2), according to Saint Paul’s admonition.

Dear young people, you have walked a lot in these days! Therefore you are in good shape and I can tell you: walk in charity, walk in love! And let us walk together toward the upcoming Synod of Bishops. May the Virgin Mary sustain us with her maternal intercession so that, every day, each of us may say ‘no’ to evil and ‘yes’ to good, through our actions.


Chapter 6

Chapter 6

11 - 15

Pope Francis


12.04.23 General Audience, Saint Peter's Square   

Catechesis. The passion for evangelization: the apostolic zeal of the believer. 9. Witnesses: Saint Paul. 2  

Ephesians  6: 11, 13-15

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

After having seen, two weeks ago, St Paul's personal zeal for the Gospel, we can now reflect more deeply on the evangelical zeal as he himself speaks of it and describes it in some of his letters.

By virtue of his own experience, Paul is not unaware of the danger of a distorted zeal, oriented in the wrong direction. He himself had fallen into this danger before the providential fall on the road to Damascus. Sometimes we have to deal with a misdirected zeal, doggedly persistent in the observance of purely human and obsolete norms for the Christian community. “They make much of you,” writes the Apostle, “but for no good purpose” (Gal 4:17). We cannot ignore the solicitude with which some devote themselves to the wrong pursuits even within the Christian community itself; one can boast of a false evangelical zeal while actually pursuing vainglory or one’s own convictions or a little bit of love of self.

For this reason, we ask ourselves, what are the characteristics of true evangelical zeal according to Paul? The text we heard at the beginning seems useful for this, a list of “arms” that the Apostle indicates for the spiritual battle. Among these is readiness to spread the Gospel, translated by some as “zeal” – this person is zealous in carrying forward these ideas, these things – and referred to as a “shoe”. Why? How is zeal for the Gospel related to what is worn on your feet? This metaphor picks up on a text from the prophet Isaiah, who says this: “How beautiful on the mountains are / the feet of the one who brings good tidings, / who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation / who says to Zion: ‘Your God reigns’” (52:7).

Here too, we find reference to the feet of a herald of good news. Why? Because the one who goes to proclaim must move, must walk! But we also note that Paul, in this text, speaks of footwear as part of a suit of armour, following the analogy of the equipment of a soldier going into battle: in combat it was essential to have stability of footing in order to avoid the pitfalls of the terrain – because the adversary often littered the battlefield with traps – and to have the strength to run and move in the right direction. So the footwear is to run and to avoid all these things of the adversary.

Evangelical zeal is the support on which proclamation is based, and heralds are somewhat like the feet of the body of Christ that is the Church. There is no proclamation without movement, without ‘going out’, without initiative. This mean there is no Christian if not on the move; no Christian if the Christian does not go out of themself in order to set out on the journey and bear the proclamation. There is no proclamation without movement, without walking. One does not proclaim the Gospel standing still, locked in an office, at one’s desk or at one’s computer, arguing like ‘keyboard warriors’ and replacing the creativity of proclamation with copy-and-paste ideas taken from here and there. The Gospel is proclaimed by moving, by walking, by going.

The term used by Paul to denote the footwear of those who bear the Gospel is a Greek word denoting readiness, preparation, alacrity. It is the opposite of sloppiness, which is incompatible with love. In fact, elsewhere Paul says: “Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom 12:11). This attitude was the one required in the Book of Exodus to celebrate the sacrifice of the Passover deliverance: “In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night” (12:11-12a).

A herald is ready to go, and knows that the Lord passes by in a surprising way. He or she must therefore be free from schemes and prepared for an unexpected and new action: prepared for surprises. One who proclaims the Gospel cannot be fossilised in cages of plausibility or the idea that “it has always been done this way,” but is ready to follow a wisdom that is not of this world, as Paul says when speaking of himself: “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ (1 Cor 2:4-5).

This is why, brothers and sisters, it is important to have this readiness for the newness of the Gospel, this attitude that involves momentum, taking the initiative, going first. It means not letting pass by the opportunities to promulgate the Gospel of peace, that peace that Christ knows how to give more and better than the world gives.

And for this reason I exhort you to be evangelizers who are moving, without fear, who go forward, in order to bring the beauty of Jesus, to bring the newness of Jesus who changes everything. “Yes, Father, He changes the calendar, because now we count the years beginning with Jesus…” But does He also change the heart? And are you disposed to let Jesus change your heart? Or are you a lukewarm Christian, who is not moving? Think about it: Are you an enthusiast of Jesus, are you going forward? Think about it a bit.



Chapter 6

18 - 20

Pope Francis          

16.12.20  General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace        

Catechesis on prayer: 19. The Prayer of Intercession       

Ephesians 6: 18-20 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Those who pray never turn their backs on the world. If prayer does not gather the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the anxieties of humanity, it becomes a “decorative” activity, a superficial, theatrical, solitary way of behaving. We all need interiority: to retreat within a space and a time dedicated to our relationship with God. But this does not mean that we evade reality. In prayer, God “takes us, blesses us, then breaks us and gives us”, to satisfy everyone’s hunger. Every Christian is called to become in God’s hands bread, broken and shared. That is, it is concrete prayer, that is not an escape.

So, men and women of prayer seek solitude and silence, not so as not be disturbed, but so as to listen better to God’s voice. Sometimes they withdraw from the world altogether, in the secret of their own room, as Jesus recommended (see Mt 6:6). But wherever they are, they always keep the doors of their hearts wide open: an open door for those who pray without knowing how to pray; for those who do not pray at all but who carry within themselves a suffocating cry, a hidden invocation; for those who have erred and have lost the way… Whoever can knock on the door of someone who prays finds a compassionate heart which does not exclude anyone. Prayer comes from our hearts and our voices and gives heart and voice to so many people who do not know how to pray or who do not want to pray or for whom it is impossible to pray: we are the heart and the voice of these people, rising to Jesus, rising to the Father as intercessors. In the solitude of those who pray, whether the solitude lasts a long time or only a half hour, to pray, those who pray separate themselves from everything and from everyone to find everything and everyone in God. These people pray for the whole world, bearing its sorrows and sins on their shoulders. They pray for each and every person: they are like God’s “antennas” in this world. The one who prays sees the face of Christ in every poor person who knocks at the door, in every person who has lost the meaning of things. In the Catechism we read: “intercession - asking on behalf of another (…) has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy”. This is beautiful. When we pray we are in tune with God’s mercy; having mercy regarding our sins, being merciful with ourselves, but also merciful with all those who have asked to be prayed for, those for whom we want to pray in tune with God’s heart. This is true prayer: in tune with God’s mercy, with His merciful heart. “In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints” (n. 2635). What does it mean to participate in Christ’s intercession? When I intercede for someone or pray for someone: because Christ is before the Father He is the intercessor, He prays for us, He prays showing the Father the wounds of His hands because Jesus is physically present before the Father with His body. And Jesus is our intercessor and to pray is to be a bit like Jesus: to intercede in Jesus to the Father, for others. This is very beautiful.

The human heart tends toward prayer. It is simply human. Those who do not love their brother or sister do not pray seriously. Someone might say: one cannot pray when steeped in hatred; one cannot pray when steeped in indifference. Prayer is offered only in the spirit of love. Those who do not love pretend to pray, they believe they are praying, but they are not praying because the lack the proper spirit, which is love. In the Church, those who are familiar with the sadness and joy of others dig deeper than those who investigate the worlds “chief systems”. Because of this, human experience is present in every prayer, because no matter what mistakes people may have committed, they should never be rejected or set aside.

When believers, moved by the Holy Spirit, pray for sinners, no selection is made, no judgement or condemnation is uttered: they pray for everyone. And they pray for themselves. At that moment they know they are not that different from those for whom they pray. They realize they are sinners among sinners and they pray for everyone. The lesson of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican is always alive and always relevant (see Lk 18:9-14): we are not better than anyone, we are all brothers and sisters who bear fragility, suffering and being sinners in common. Therefore, a prayer that we can say to God is this: “Lord, no one is just in your sight” (see Ps 143:2), this is what one of the Psalms says: “Lord, no one who lives is just in your sight, none of us: we are all sinners – we are all in debt, each with an outstanding balance to pay; no one is without sin in Your eyes. Lord, have mercy on us!” And with this spirit, prayer is fruitful because we go humbly before God and pray for everyone. Instead, the Pharisee was praying proudly: “I thank you, Lord, because I am not like others, sinners: I am just, I always do…”. This is not prayer: this is looking at yourself in a mirror, it is not looking at one’s own reality, no. It is like looking at yourself made-up in a mirror because of your pride.

The world keeps going thanks to this chain of people who pray, who intercede, and who are unknown for the most part…but not unknown to God! There are many anonymous Christians who, in times of persecution, have repeated the words of our Lord: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).

The Good Shepherd remains faithful even before the awareness of the sin of His own people: the Good Shepherd continues to be a Father even when His children distance themselves and abandon Him. He perseveres in His service as shepherd even with those who have bloodied His hands; He does not close His heart to those who have even made Him suffer.

The Church, in all of her members, has the mission to practice the prayer of intercession: to intercede for others. This is especially so for those who exercise roles of responsibility: parents, teachers, ordained ministers, superiors of communities… Like Abraham and Moses, they must at times “defend” the people entrusted to them before God. In reality, we are talking about protecting them with God’s eyes and heart, with His same invincible compassion and tenderness. Pray with tenderness for others.

Brothers and sisters, we are all leaves on the same tree: each one that falls reminds us of the great piety that must be nourished in prayer, for one another. So let us pray for each other. It will do us good and do good for everyone. Thank you.