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Be intentional about silence during Mass, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Jan 10, 2018 / 04:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that moments of silence in the Mass should be intentional times of prayer, recollection and communion with God, rather than being viewed as times to just be quiet or not speak.

“Silence is not reduced to the absence of words, but (is) the availability to listen to other voices: that of our heart and, above all, the voice of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said Jan. 10.

In silence, then, we discover “the importance of listening to our soul and then opening it to the Lord.”

Continuing his general audience catechesis on the topic of the Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of the different moments of silence found within the celebration, especially in the recitation of the collect.

The collect, which is prayed after the Gloria, or if the Gloria is omitted, following the Penitential Act, is a short prayer which goes from praise to supplication, and is generally inspired from the day’s Scripture passages, the Pope said.

This prayer, which varies according to the day and time in which the Mass is being said, begins with the priest saying to the people, “Let us pray,” followed by a brief silence.

“I strongly recommend priests observe this moment of silence, which without wanting to, we risk neglecting,” Francis noted.

In this moment the congregation is exhorted to come together in silence, to become aware of the presence of God, and to bring out, “each one in his own heart, the personal intentions with which he participates in Mass.”

“Perhaps we come from days of toil, of joy, of sorrow, and we want to tell the Lord, to invoke his help, to ask that he be near us; we have family members and friends who are ill or who are going through difficult trials; we wish to entrust to God the fate of the Church and the world.”

“For this we need the brief silence beforehand, that the priest, gathering the intentions of each one, expresses in a loud voice to God, in the name of all, the common prayer that concludes the rites of introduction, making, indeed, a ‘collection’ of individual intentions.”

These silences are written right into the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Pope pointed out. There it says that in the Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray, everyone is supposed to spend a moment in recollection.

And in the silences following a reading or the homily, everyone is called to meditate briefly on what they have heard. After Communion they should praise and pray to God in their hearts.

The Gloria, another kind of prayer, is either recited or sung before the collect on Sundays - except during Lent and Advent - and on feasts and solemnities.

Here, “the feelings of praise that run through the hymn are intertwined with the confident pleading of divine benevolence, to end with the Trinitarian doxology, which characterizes the whole liturgical celebration,” he said.

The recitation or singing of the Gloria, the Pope emphasized, “constitutes an opening of the earth to heaven.”

By meditating on the prayers of the Mass, the liturgy can become for us, the Pope concluded, a “true school of prayer.”

Pope Francis gives 2,000 poor, prisoners a day at the circus

Vatican City, Jan 10, 2018 / 03:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Tomorrow afternoon some 2,100 of Rome's poor and homeless population, refugees, prisoners and volunteers will head to the circus, courtesy of Pope Francis.

Tickets to the performance were provided through the Papal Almoner's office, which manages the Pope's charities.

The show, announced by the Almoner's office Jan. 10, will take place the afternoon of Thursday Jan. 11, at Rome's Circo Medrano under a large tent put up specifically for the event, which has been dubbed the “Circus of Solidarity” by the organizers.

A makeshift medical station will also be set up with volunteer doctors and nurses available for attendees who want an exam or a check-up. Each participant will also be provided with a sack lunch at the end of the show.

Pope Francis made a similar gesture in January 2016, when he sent 2,000 poor and homeless residents and migrants to the Rony Roller Circus for a special show that opened with a song written and performed by a Spanish singer who had once been homeless himself.

The Pope frequently speaks of the importance of the performing arts, and has held several audiences for circus performers. During the Jubilee of Mercy, he welcomed some 6,000 of these performers to the Vatican for a special Jubilee weekend in their honor.

In a past general audience, Francis said those who are involved in circus life “create beauty, they are creators of beauty, and this does good for the soul. How much we need beauty!”

Since Pope Francis was elected, his almoner, Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, has kept busy with several similar initiatives aimed at both helping and evangelizing Rome's poor and needy through culture.

Showers and a barbershop were installed in the bathrooms of St. Peter's Square in 2015 to help the homeless people in the Vatican area to stay clean. They have also been invited to participate in several other initiatives, including concerts, a visit to the Vatican Museums, special lunches during papal events and beach days with a pizza lunch during the summer.

Pope says he will bring message of peace and hope to Chile, Peru

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2018 / 11:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ahead of his visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis has said he wants to bring a message of peace and hope to both countries, which he said have been successful in fighting a “culture of waste” through their care for the poor and needy.

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In a Jan. 9 videomessage to both Chile and Peru, Francis told people from each country that “I want to meet with you, to look you in the eyes, to see your faces and be able to experience the closeness of God, his closeness and mercy, which embraces and consoles us.”

Both countries were forged with “determination and commitment,” he said, adding that he thanks God for “the faith and the love for God and for the most needy brothers, especially for the love that you have for those who are discarded by society.”

“The culture of waste increasingly invades us,” he said, explaining that while there, he wants to participate “in your joys and sorrows, your difficulties and your hopes, and tell you that you are not alone, that the Pope is with you, that the entire Church welcomes you, that the Church is looking at you.”

Pope Francis sent his message just days ahead of his departure for Chile and Peru, where he will be Jan. 15-22.

In Chile Pope Francis will visit the capital of Santiago, as well as the cities of Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

The theme of his time in Chile is “I Give You My Peace,” while that of Peru is “United by Hope.”

In his message Francis touched on both themes, saying he wants the countries to experience “the peace that comes from God, and which is so needed; only he can give it to us.”

The Pope said peace is a gift meant for everyone, and is “the foundation of our coexistence and of society.” This peace, he said, “is sustained in justice and allows us to encounter moments of harmony and communion.”

We must constantly ask for this peace, which comes from the Risen Lord, “drives us to be missionaries, reviving the gift of faith which leads us to encounter, to the communion shared by the same faith celebrated and committed.”

This encounter with the Risen Christ also confirms us in hope, Francis said, explaining that “we do not want to be anchored in the things of this world, our gaze goes far off.” Rather, our eyes should be fixed “on his mercy, which heals our miseries.”

“Only he can give us the thrust to get up and follow,” he said, adding that “we are brothers who go out to meet others in order to confirm each other in the same faith and hope.”

The Pope closed the video entrusting his visit to Mary's intercession and, as usual, asked for prayer, adding that he will be praying for the people of Chile and Peru.

Pope Francis is scheduled to land in Santiago just after 8 p.m. Jan. 15, and has no official events apart from the welcoming ceremony, after which he will head directly the apostolic nunciature.

The next day he'll meet with the country's authorities and diplomatic corps, and will have a private audience with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet before saying Mass. He'll then make a brief visit to a women's prison before meeting with Chile's priests, seminarians, religious, and bishops in the afternoon.

His last activity for the day will be a private visit to a shrine dedicated to St. Alberto Hurtado S.J., where he will meet with the country's Jesuit priests.

On Jan. 17 the Pope will head to Temuco, where he will say Mass and have lunch with around 10 people at the mother house for the Sisters of the Holy Cross order. He'll then head back to Santiago for a meeting with youth and a visit to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

The next day, his final one in Chile, Francis will go to Iquique in the morning, where he will celebrate Mass and have lunch at the retreat house for the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. He'll then head directly to the Iquique airport, where he'll depart for Lima, Peru.

Francis will land in Lima the evening of Jan. 18, but has no official events scheduled. His first formal appointment will take place Jan. 19, when he travels to Puerto Maldonado to meet with people from the Amazon region.

After this audience, the Pope will meet with the civil population and make a brief visit to the “Little Prince Home,” which houses some 40 at-risk children and youth. He'll then lunch with representatives of Amazon before returning to Lima, where he's scheduled to meet with Peru's authorities and diplomatic corps.

Though he typically meets with the country's authorities and diplomats as his first official engagement during international trips, Pope Francis has on occasion made exceptions.

His decision to meet with people from the Amazon first, then, is a sign of how important the region is to him, both for environmental reasons related to his 2015 encyclical Laudato si', as well as the fact that in 2019 he will be holding a Pan-Amazonian synod to address problems related to the area.

After his meeting with authorities, Pope Francis will hold a private meeting with Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who recently survived an impeachment vote over corruption charges, and will meet with the country's Jesuits.

On Jan. 20, the Pope will head to Trujillo, where he will celebrate Mass and ride through the city's “Buenos Aires” neighborhood, one of the poorest areas in town. Francis will then visit the city's cathedral and afterward will meet with the country's priests, religious, and seminarians.

He will then head back to Lima, where he will start his final day in Peru, Jan. 21, praying the Liturgy of the Hours with a contemplative order before venerating the relics of several Peruvian saints in the city's cathedral.

The Pope will then meet with the country's bishops, pray the Angelus, and say Mass before heading back to Rome, where he is expected to arrive around 2:15 p.m. Jan. 22.

Francis, the Church’s first Latin American Pope, has visited several countries in South and Central America, including Brazil in 2013, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay in 2015, Cuba and Mexico in 2016, and Colombia in 2017.

The last Pope to visit Chile and Peru was St. John Paul II, who made pastoral trips to Peru in 1985 and 1988, and to Chile in 1987.

Vatican releases Pope's liturgical schedule for January, February

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2018 / 06:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Earlier this week the Vatican published Pope Francis’ liturgical schedule for the months of January and February, including his lineup of celebrations for the start of Lent, which this year begins Feb. 14.

With his trip to Chile and Peru taking place Jan. 15-22, the Pope’s usual schedule of morning Masses at Santa Marta and his Wednesday general audience Jan. 17 will be suspended.

Following his return to Rome, Francis will celebrate Second Vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls Thursday, Jan. 25. The prayer service will mark the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, as well as the 51st annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The following Sunday, Jan. 28, Pope Francis will celebrate a special Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the Feast of the transfer of the icon of Salus Populi Romani.

Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People) is the title of an ancient Byzantine icon of Mary and the Child Jesus, traditionally held to be painted by St. Luke the Evangelist and to have arrived in Rome in the 6th century.

It was first canonically crowned in 1838 by Pope Gregory XVI and a second time in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. It has a long history of devotion by the Roman people, as well as by popes. It resides in the Pauline, also called Borghese, Chapel in St. Mary Major.

Francis has a special devotion to the image. His first visit as pontiff was to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image following his election.

On Feb. 2, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

As it will also be the 22nd World Day of Consecrated Life, the Mass will be celebrated with the members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican department which oversees religious orders and congregations and secular institutes.

As is tradition, on Ash Wednesday, which falls this year on Feb. 14, Pope Francis will pray the Stations of the Cross at St. Anselm Church on Rome’s Aventine Hill, before processing the short way to the Basilica of Santa Sabina for the celebration of Mass, benediction, and the imposition of ashes.

The following Sunday, Feb. 18, he will begin his annual Lenten retreat with members of the Roman Curia. The week of spiritual exercises will take place at the Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, a town just 16 miles outside of Rome.

Located on Lake Albano, the retreat house is just a short way from the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. It will be the fifth consecutive year the Pope and members of the Curia have held their Lenten retreat at the house in Ariccia.

While the practice of the Roman Pontiff going on retreat with the heads of Vatican dicasteries each Lent began some 80 years ago under the pontificate of Pius XI, it was customary for them to follow the spiritual exercises on Vatican ground. Beginning in Lent 2014, Pope Francis chose to hold the retreat outside of Rome.

The retreat will conclude Friday, Feb. 23.

Vatican communications see new growth after rebranding

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2018 / 04:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After the recent re-branding and consolidation of the Vatican's various media outlets, their social media platforms have now reached a total of more than 4 million followers, who receive their daily papal news with a fresh logo.

According to a Jan. 9 communique from the Secretariat for Communications, Vatican media now has an online community of more than 4 million followers between the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram platforms.

The numbers, the secretariat said, are the result of the continuing reform of Vatican communications launched in 2014 by Pope Francis and his nine cardinal advisors who make up the Council of Cardinals, which meets every few months to discuss the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.

In order to map out what a possible reform of Vatican communications would look like, the Pope in 2014 established an international commission headed by British Lord Chris Patten to study the current process and provide suggestions.

Francis then established the Secretariat for Communications in June 2015, naming Italian Msgr. Dario Vigano as its first head, giving him a mandate to reform Vatican communications with a focus on consolidation and increasing their presence in the digital world.

The secretariat oversees all of the Vatican’s communications offices, including Vatican Radio, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, the Holy See Press Office, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican Internet Service, the Vatican Typography office, the Vatican's Photography Service, and the Vatican publishing house.

During the Council of Cardinals' most recent meeting in December, Vigano unveiled the new logo and design for the Vatican News website, which consolidated the Vatican's former news and radio pages into a new multimedia hub, which features audio, text, video and graphics, available in multiple languages.

With the consolidation of its social media pages, the Vatican has seen a sharp increase in followers in recent months. On Facebook, the page “Vatican News” – recognizable by the new insignia, which is a white Vatican logo with a red background – has more than 3 million followers.

The page is available in six languages, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

On Twitter, the six different language editions for Vatican media have all been unified under the same Twitter handle “@vaticannews”, and a new account, “@radiovaticanaitalia”, has been created to promote and provide information on the activities of Vatican Radio and the multilingual Vatican News channel on Instagram.

The Vatican's YouTube channel, which offers viewers live coverage of the Pope's activities, has also been rebranded with the same new logo and given the “Vatican News” title.

Social media for Vatican News is managed by the Secretariat for Communications' Editorial and Theological-Pastoral departments. The secretariat also manages the Pope's social media accounts in collaboration with the Secretariat of State.

Pope Francis has a high number of followers on his various social media accounts, which include his “@Pontifex” account on Twitter, which has more than 44 million followers in 9 languages, and his “@Franciscus” Instagram account, with more than 5 million followers on its one multilingual channel.

According to Msgr. Vigano, the increased presence of Vatican media on social networks “is one of the effects of the great process of reform of the Vatican media currently under completion.”

The positive result, he said, is thanks in large part to the “great commitment” of their journalists and technical staff.

“As communications professionals, according to the logic of a Church that looks outwards, we are all called to be among the people,” he said, explaining that in today's context, “this means being present on social networks and the internet with conviction and responsibility.”

He said the Vatican must “focus on the human person, on relationships, the culture of encounter and, only in the last instance, on technology.”