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Thought for the Day – 16 February – May we all become Sacramentini!

Thought for the Day – 16 February – The Memorial of Blessed Joseph Allamano (1851–1926) – Founder of the Consolata Missionaries and Consolata Missionary Sisters and of World Mission Sunday

20 October 2019 will mark the 93rd World Mission Sunday and this year, the Holy Father has proclaimed October as as ‘Extraordinary Missionary Month’ to be marked and celebrated in the whole Church throughout the world and entrusted the mission of the Church in the world especially to St Pope John Paul II, as Pope Francis made the announcement he said – “On the day of the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, missionary Pope, we entrust to his intercession the mission of the Church in the world.’

The first World Mission Day was celebrated in October 1926, eight months after the death of Blessed Joseph Allamano.   This is not a simple coincidence because Joseph Allamano dedicated a great deal of his time and influence during the last years of his life, to the effort of creating awareness in the Church, about the need for a World Mission Day to be celebrated once a year by all Catholics.

This was in line with his vision that Missions and missionary work were the duty of every baptised believer, each one according to his abilities and possibilities but none exempted.   Allamano did not see here on earth the fulfilment of his efforts for the creation of this day of prayer and commitment but witnessed it from heaven.

He can be compared to Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577-1622), a saint he especially admired and proposed as Patron to his Missionaries, who in his time insisted tirelessly on the need to create in Rome a Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples and died a martyr of the faith in April 1622, three months before the creation of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide (for the Propagation of the Faith).

For Allamano it was not simply a question of awakening the missionary zeal in others, he always looked at his faith, whatever the circumstances, as a faith to be shared with the entire world.   He would subscribe especially to the Pope Benedict’s message statement that “every Christian community is born missionary and it is exactly on the basis of the courage to evangelise that the love of believers for their Lord is measured”. (Pope Benedict’s Message 2001 – To All the Churches of the World)

The sources of Joseph’s personal tenderness for all, for the whole world, were Our Lady Consolata and the Eucharist.   The love towards our Mother Mary and the Eucharist made him speak words belonging uniquely to him.   He became progressive resulting in marked changes in his attitude and behaviour  . It was a life shaped by Mary and Jesus. Familiar to us, the sons and daughters of Allamano, are these very words, ‘First Saints and then Missionaries.’

For sure, Blessed Allamano was an excellent father in human relationships.   Who was the source of his inspiration and wisdom?   Indeed, it is only from the Eucharist that Joseph Allamano found God in His essence, the pure love.   Therefore, Allamano became a witness of the pure love, Jesus.   Ultimately, he was inspired to send missionaries to be ‘SACRAMENTINI’ as he would say.   He sent them to ‘love the Eucharist’.

My prayer, is that Blessed Joseph Allamano, priest and missionary for the entire world, may bless all our parish communities and all the Catholics of the world, that our zeal and determination may be increased, to make our treasure, the Gospel and the Holy Eucharist, our Lord and Saviour, available to all.

May we all become Sacramentini!  Amenbl joseph allamano pray for us no 2 - 16 feb 2019.jpg

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Message of the Holy Father for the 27th World Day of the Sick – 11 February 2019

Message of the Holy Father

“You received without payment, give without payment” (Mt 10:8)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8).   These are the words spoken by Jesus when sending forth his apostles to spread the Gospel, so that his Kingdom might grow through acts of gratuitous love.

On the XXVII World Day of the Sick, to be solemnly celebrated on 11 February 2019 in Calcutta, India, the Church – as a Mother to all her children, especially the infirm – reminds us that generous gestures like that of the Good Samaritan are the most credible means of evangelisation.   Caring for the sick requires professionalism, tenderness, straightforward and simple gestures freely given, like a caress that makes others feel loved.

Life is a gift from God.   Saint Paul asks: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7).   Precisely because it is a gift, human life cannot be reduced to a personal possession or private property, especially in the light of medical and biotechnological advances that could tempt us to manipulate the “tree of life” (cf. Gen 3:24).

Amid today’s culture of waste and indifference, I would point out that “gift” is the category best suited to challenging today’s individualism and social fragmentation, while at the same time promoting new relationships and means of cooperation between peoples and cultures.   Dialogue – the premise of gift – creates possibilities for human growth and development capable of breaking through established ways of exercising power in society.   “Gift” means more than simply giving presents – it involves the giving of oneself and not simply a transfer of property or objects.   “Gift” differs from gift-giving because it entails the free gift of self and the desire to build a relationship.   It is the acknowledgement of others, which is the basis of society.   “Gift” is a reflection of God’s love, which culminates in the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Each of us is poor, needy and destitute.   When we are born, we require the care of our parents to survive and at every stage of life we remain in some way dependent on the help of others.   We will always be conscious of our limitations, as “creatures”, before other individuals and situations.   A frank acknowledgement of this truth keeps us humble and spurs us to practice solidarity as an essential virtue in life.

Such an acknowledgement leads us to act responsibly to promote a good that is both personal and communal.   Only if we see ourselves, not as a world apart but in a fraternal relationship with others, can we develop a social practice of solidarity aimed at the common good.   We should not be afraid to regard ourselves as needy or reliant on others, because individually and by our own efforts, we cannot overcome our limitations.   So we should not fear, then, to acknowledge those limitations, for God himself, in Jesus, has humbly stooped down to us (cf. Phil 2:8) and continues to do so, in our poverty, He comes to our aid and grants us gifts beyond our imagining.

In light of the solemn celebration in India, I would like to recall, with joy and admiration, the figure of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta – a model of charity who made visible God’s love for the poor and sick.   As I noted at her canonisation, “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, of those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created.   For Mother Teresa, mercy was the ‘salt’ which gave flavour to her work, it was the ‘light’ that shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.   Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor” (Homily, 4 September 2016).

Saint Mother Teresa helps us understand that our only criterion of action must be selfless love for every human being, without distinction of language, culture, ethnicity or religion.   Her example continues to guide us by opening up horizons of joy and hope for all those in need of understanding and tender love, and especially for those who suffer.

Generosity inspires and sustains the work of the many volunteers who are so important in health care and who eloquently embody the spirituality of the Good Samaritan.   I express my gratitude and offer my encouragement to all those associations of volunteers committed to the transport and assistance of patients, and all those that organise the donation of blood, tissues and organs.   One particular area in which your presence expresses the Church’s care and concern is that of advocacy for the rights of the sick, especially those affected by pathologies requiring special assistance.   I would also mention the many efforts made to raise awareness and encourage prevention.   Your volunteer work in medical facilities and in homes, which ranges from providing health care to offering spiritual support, is of primary importance.   Countless persons who are ill, alone, elderly or frail in mind or body benefit from these services.   I urge you to continue to be a sign of the Church’s presence in a secularised world.   A volunteer is a good friend with whom one can share personal thoughts and emotions, by their patient listening, volunteers make it possible for the sick to pass from being passive recipients of care to being active participants in a relationship that can restore hope and inspire openness to further treatment.   Volunteer work passes on values, behaviours and ways of living born of a deep desire to be generous.   It is also a means of making health care more humane.

A spirit of generosity ought especially to inspire Catholic healthcare institutions, whether in the more developed or the poorer areas of our world, since they carry out their activity in the light of the Gospel.   Catholic facilities are called to give an example of self-giving, generosity and solidarity in response to the mentality of profit at any price, of giving for the sake of getting and of exploitation over concern for people.

I urge everyone, at every level, to promote the culture of generosity and of gift, which is indispensable for overcoming the culture of profit and waste.   Catholic healthcare institutions must not fall into the trap of simply running a business, they must be concerned with personal care more than profit.   We know that health is relational, dependent on interaction with others and requiring trust, friendship and solidarity.   It is a treasure that can be enjoyed fully, only when it is shared.   The joy of generous giving is a barometer of the health of a Christian.

I entrust all of you to Mary, Salus Infirmorum.   May she help us to share the gifts we have received in the spirit of dialogue and mutual acceptance, to live as brothers and sisters attentive to each other’s needs, to give from a generous heart and to learn the joy of selfless service to others.   With great affection, I assure you of my closeness in prayer, and to all I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Vatican City, 25 November 2018
Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Francis27th world day of prayer 11 feb 2019 pope francis message.jpg

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One Minute Reflection – 11 February – 27th World Day of Prayer for the Sick

One Minute Reflection – 11 February – Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 27th World Day of Prayer for the Sick

And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country,
they laid the sick in the market places
and besought him that they might touch
even the fringe of his garment
and as many as touched it were made well...Mark 6:56and wherever he came - mark 6 56 11 feb 2019 world day of the sick.jpg

REFLECTION – “Only if we see ourselves, not as a world apart but in a fraternal relationship with others, can we develop a social practice of solidarity aimed at the common good.   We should not be afraid to regard ourselves as needy or reliant on others, because individually and by our own efforts, we cannot overcome our limitations.   So we should not fear, then, to acknowledge those limitations, for God himself, in Jesus, has humbly stooped down to us (cf. Phil 2:8) and continues to do so, in our poverty, He comes to our aid and grants us gifts beyond our imagining.”…Pope Francis, Message for the 27th World Day of the Sick27th world day of the sick - only if we see ourselves - pope francis 11 feb 2019.jpg

PRAYER – Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness, that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God, may, with the help of her intercession, rise up from our iniquities. Grant, we pray that our lives may be gifts to all those who cry out in pain. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever, amen.our-lady-of-lourdes-pray-for-us-11-feb-2018.jpg

Posted in CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS of the Month, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL MESSAGES, PAPAL PRAYERS, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, PRAYERS for VARIOUS NEEDS, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on the FAMILY

Monthly Catholic Devotions: FEBRUARY is the Month of THE HOLY FAMILY

FEBRUARY – THE MONTH OF THE HOLY FAMILYfeb-the-month-of-the-holy-family-1-feb-2018

In January, the Catholic Church celebrated the Month of the Holy Name of Jesus and in February, we turn to the entire Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The special devotion which proposes the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as the model of virtue of all Christian households began in the 17th century.   It started almost in France – the Association of the Holy Family was founded  by the Daughters of the Holy Family in Paris in 1674.

This devotion soon spread and in 1893 Pope Leo XIII expressed his approval of a feast under this title and himself composed part of the Office.   On account of the flight into Egypt this feast has been observed by the Copts from early times.

The feast was welcomed by succeeding Pontiffs as an efficacious means for bringing home to the Christian people the example of the Holy Family at Nazareth and by the restoration of the true spirit of family life, stemming, in some measure, the evils of present-day society.

In the words of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, “Nothing truly can be more salutary or efficacious for Christian families to meditate upon than the example of this Holy Family, which embraces the perfection and completeness of all domestic virtues.”feb the month of the holy family 1 feb 2019.jpg

Prayer to the Holy Family
By Pope Francis
Angelus, 29 December 2013

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in You we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to You we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalised
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may we be made
once more mindful
of the sacredness
and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.
Amen

(This prayer was composed for the Synod of the Family in 2014, so it has been very slightly adapted to remove the reference to the said Synod).prayer to the holy family by pope francis - written 2013 for the 2014 synod - 1 feb 2019.jpg

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The Holy Father’s Prayer Intention for February 2019

The Holy Father’s Prayer Intention for February 2019

FEBRUARY 2019

Human Trafficking

For a generous welcome
of the victims of human trafficking,
of enforced prostitution
and of violence.

the holy father's prayer intention for feb 2019 human trafficking 1 feb 2019.jpg

Let us pray:

Prayer to St Josephine Bakhita
for Intercession Against Human Trafficking
By Pope Francis

Saint Josephine Bakhita, you were sold into slavery as a child
and endured unspeakable hardship and suffering.
Once liberated from your physical enslavement,
you found true redemption in your encounter
with Christ and his Church.
O Saint Josephine Bakhita,
assist all those who are entrapped in slavery.
Intercede on their behalf with the God of Mercy,
so that the chains of their captivity will be broken.
May God Himself free all those who have been threatened,
wounded or mistreated by the trade and trafficking of human beings.
Bring comfort to survivors of this slavery
and teach them to look to Jesus,
as an example of hope and faith,
so that they may find healing from their wounds.
We ask you to pray for us and to intercede on behalf of us al,
that we may not fall into indifference,
that we may open our eyes
and be able to see the misery and wounds
of our many brothers and sisters
deprived of their dignity and their freedom
and may we hear their cry for help.
Amen

PRAYER FROM THE
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER,
REFLECTION AND ACTION
AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Clementine Hall
Monday, 12 February 2018prayer to st josephine bakhita against human trafficking by pope francis 1 feb 2019.jpg

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Thought for the Day – 3 January – The Name, the Heart and the Blood

Thought for the Day – 3 January – The Name, the Heart and the Blood

A name represents that person, his or her identity.   According to Matthew 1:21, Joseph was directed by an angel to call Mary’s son “Jesus,” a name that means “God saves.”   This is Jesus’ identity.   He is the Saviour of the world.   As such His Name is “above every name” and is the name at which “every knee should bend” (Philippians 2:9-10). Moreover, according to a speech that St Peter gave in front of the Sanhedrin, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts: 4:12).   The Name of Jesus says it all and is all-powerful.   It’s a prayer in itself.

As Jesus can be represented by His Name, so He is also represented by His Heart.   The heart is the centre of a person, that person’s deepest interior or identity.   Thus devotion to the Name of Jesus goes with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.   Jesus fulfilled the Name given to Him when He suffered and died on the cross, when His Heart was pierced so that Blood and Water, the sacramental life of the Church, would flow forth and save the world.

Devotion to Jesus’ Name and Heart includes devotion to His Precious Blood.   These three go together:  the Name, the Heart, and the Blood.   In fact, Saint John XXIII wrote about this in a 30 June 1960 letter entitled “On Promoting Devotion to the Most Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   He wrote:

“We judge it most timely to call our beloved children’s attention to the unbreakable bond which must exist between the devotions to the Most Holy Name and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus — already so widespread among Christians — and devotion to the incarnate Word’s Most Precious Blood, ‘shed for many, to the remission of sins.’
“Suffice it to recall the spiritual favours that our predecessors from the sixteenth century on have attached to practising devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which in the previous century St Bernardine of Siena untiringly spread throughout Italy.   No less striking, are the benefits the popes have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose rise and spread owe so much to the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St Margaret Mary Alacoque.   So highly have all the popes regarded this devotion that again and again in their official acts they have expounded its nature, defended its validity, promoted its practice.

“Likewise the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, which owes its marvelous diffusion to the 19th-century Roman priest, St Gaspar del Bufalo, has rightly merited the approval and backing of this Apostolic See.

“Amid today’s most serious and pressing spiritual needs, may this latest exercise of that ‘care for all the churches’ proper to our sovereign office awaken in Christian hearts a firm conviction about the supreme abiding effectiveness of these three devotions.”

Jesus—the Name, the Heart, and the Blood that flowed from it to save the world—all represent the Person.   May the Name of Jesus be reverenced and honoured at all times and places world without end. Amen

Apostles of Prayer – Fr James Kubicki SJname-above-all-names-10-jan-2018

LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNERthe jesus prayer - 3 jan 2019

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The 52nd World Day of Prayer for Peace – 1 January 2019

The 52nd World Day of Prayer for Peace – 1 January 2019

Excerpt from St Pope Paul VI’s First Message to the World on 1 January 1968 for the First World Day of Prayer for Peace1st world day of prayer of peace - st popepaul VI 1 jan 1968 1 jan2019

“We address Ourself to all men of good will to exhort them to celebrate “The Day of Peace”, throughout the world, on the first day of the year, 1 January 1968.   It is Our desire that then, every year, this commemoration be repeated as a hope and as a promise, at the beginning of the calendar which measures and outlines the path of human life in time, that Peace with its just and beneficent equilibrium may dominate the development of events to come.

We think that this proposal interprets the aspirations of peoples, of their governments, of international organisms which strive to preserve Peace in the world, of those religious institutions so interested in the promotion of Peace, of cultural, political and social movements which make Peace their ideal;  of youth, whose perspicacity regarding the new paths of civilisation, dutifully oriented toward its peaceful developments is more lively;  of wise men who see how much, today, Peace is both necessary and threatened. The proposal to dedicate to Peace the first day of the new year is not intended, therefore, as exclusively ours, religious, that is, Catholic.   It would hope to have the adherence of all the true friends of Peace, as if it were their own initiative, to be expressed in a free manner, congenial to the particular character of those who are aware of how beautiful and how important is the harmony of all voices in the world for the exaltation of this primary good, which is Peace, in the varied concert of modern humanity.

The Catholic Church, with the intention of service and of example, simply wishes to “launch the idea”, in the hope that it may not only receive the widest consent of the civilised world but that such an idea may find everywhere numerous promoters, able and capable of impressing on the “Day of Peace”, to be celebrated on the first day of every new year, that sincere and strong character of conscious humanity, redeemed from its sad and fatal bellicose conflicts, which will give to the history of the world a more happy, ordered and civilised development.”the 52nd world day of prayer for peace - pope francis 1 jan 2019

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE
FRANCIS
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE
52nd WORLD DAY OF PEACE

1 JANUARY 2019

Good politics is at the service of peace

1. “Peace be to this house!”

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.  The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”

2. The challenge of good politics

Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated. It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalisation and even destruction.

Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). In the words of Pope Paul VI, “to take politics seriously at its different levels – local, regional, national and worldwide – is to affirm the duty of each individual to acknowledge the reality and value of the freedom offered him to work at one and the same time for the good of the city, the nation and all mankind”.

Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.

3. Charity and human virtues:  the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace

Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”. This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.

In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.

Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.

Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.

Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.

Blessed be the politician who works for unity.

Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.

Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.

Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.

4. Political vices

Sadly, together with its virtues, politics also has its share of vices, whether due to personal incompetence or to flaws in the system and its institutions. Clearly, these vices detract from the credibility of political life overall, as well as the authority, decisions and actions of those engaged in it. These vices, which undermine the ideal of an authentic democracy, bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony. We think of corruption in its varied forms: the misappropriation of public resources, the exploitation of individuals, the denial of rights, the flouting of community rules, dishonest gain, the justification of power by force or the arbitrary appeal to raison d’état and the refusal to relinquish power. To which we can add xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.

5. Good politics promotes the participation of the young and trust in others

When the exercise of political power aims only at protecting the interests of a few privileged individuals, the future is compromised and young people can be tempted to lose confidence, since they are relegated to the margins of society without the possibility of helping to build the future. But when politics concretely fosters the talents of young people and their aspirations, peace grows in their outlook and on their faces. It becomes a confident assurance that says, “I trust you and with you I believe” that we can all work together for the common good. Politics is at the service of peace if it finds expression in the recognition of the gifts and abilities of each individual. “What could be more beautiful than an outstretched hand? It was meant by God to offer and to receive. God did not want it to kill (cf. Gen 4:1ff) or to inflict suffering, but to offer care and help in life. Together with our heart and our intelligence, our hands too can become a means of dialogue”.

Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home. Authentic political life, grounded in law and in frank and fair relations between individuals, experiences renewal whenever we are convinced that every woman, man and generation brings the promise of new relational, intellectual, cultural and spiritual energies. That kind of trust is never easy to achieve, because human relations are complex, especially in our own times, marked by a climate of mistrust rooted in the fear of others or of strangers, or anxiety about one’s personal security. Sadly, it is also seen at the political level, in attitudes of rejection or forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalised world has such great need. Today more than ever, our societies need “artisans of peace” who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family.

6. No to war and to the strategy of fear

A hundred years after the end of the First World War, as we remember the young people killed in those battles and the civilian populations torn apart, we are more conscious than ever of the terrible lesson taught by fratricidal wars: peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear. To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity. This is why we state once more that an escalation of intimidation, and the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, is contrary to morality and the search for true peace. Terror exerted over those who are most vulnerable contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace. Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.

Our thoughts turn in a particular way to all those children currently living in areas of conflict, and to all those who work to protect their lives and defend their rights. One out of every six children in our world is affected by the violence of war or its effects, even when they are not enrolled as child soldiers or held hostage by armed groups. The witness given by those who work to defend them and their dignity is most precious for the future of humanity.

7. A great project of peace

In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.

Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;

– peace with others:  family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

From the Vatican, 8 December 2018

Francis