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Here are two basic requirements Catholics must meet to receive Holy Communion

Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. / Sidney de Almeida/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 08:24 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments. Of these, the Eucharist stands apart. St. Thomas Aquinas called it the “Sacrament of Sacraments.”

The Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine. The Eucharist is also referred to as “Holy Communion.” 

“Communion” comes from the Latin communio, which means “to be in union with.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Church refers to the Eucharist by this name “because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body” (CCC 1331).

The Church teaches that anyone who receives Jesus in the Eucharist also receives “the pledge of glory with him” (CCC 1419). The Catechism says that participating in the Eucharist “identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints” (CCC 1419).

The Church also teaches that receiving the Eucharist “increases the communicant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins, (CCC 1416).”

Receiving the Eucharist can transform one’s spiritual life. That’s why Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

At the same time, the Church draws on the words of Scripture in setting forth requirements for receiving Holy Communion. For as St. Paul tells us, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11:27-28).

The Church teaches that there are two basic requirements Catholics must meet in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.

First, one must be in a state of grace.

To be in a “state of grace” means to be free from mortal sin. As the Catechism states, “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance” (CCC 1415).

What is a mortal sin? The Catechism explains that a mortal sin “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God” (CCC 1855).

For a sin to be mortal, or deadly, one must be aware that the act is sinful and conscientiously commit it anyway.

Examples of mortal sins include: murder, adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, theft, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and taking advantage of the poor. The Church teaches that intentionally skipping Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation when one is able to attend also is a mortal sin.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC) emphasizes this requirement for receiving Holy Communion when it states: “A person who is conscious of a grave sin is not to … receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible” (CIC 916).

The U.S. bishops, in the document they adopted in November 2021 titled, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” elaborate on this important point.

“To receive the Body and Blood of Christ while in a state of mortal sin represents a contradiction,” the document states. “The person who, by his or her own action, has broken communion with Christ and his Church but receives the Blessed Sacrament, acts incoherently, both claiming and rejecting communion at the same time. It is thus a counter sign, a lie — it expresses a communion that in fact has been broken.”

The bishops' document goes on to say that the sacrament of penance "provides us with the opportunity to recover the gift of sanctifying grace and to be restored to full communion with God and the Church. All the sacrament requires of us as penitents is that we have contrition for our sins, resolve not to sin again, confess our sins, receive sacramental absolution, and do the assigned penance.”

The second requirement for receiving Holy Communion is to observe the Eucharistic fast.

Canon law states, “One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion” (CIC 919). 

Elderly people, those who are ill, and their caretakers are excused from the Eucharistic fast (CIC 191 §3). Priests and deacons may not dispense one obligated by the Eucharistic fast unless the bishop has expressly granted such power to them (CIC 89).

Life ‘is always sacred and inviolable’ Pope Francis says

Participants in Italy's pro-life demonstration in Rome on May 21, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Vatican City, May 22, 2022 / 08:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis praised a pro-life event in Rome and offered comments defending the dignity of life on Sunday. 

According to the website for the national Scegliamo la vita (Let’s Choose Life) event, the May 21 gathering intended to affirm the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Videos and photos on the event’s Facebook page shows crowds marching and singing with signs and music. 

The pope greeted participants in the event after praying the Regina Caeli in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

“I thank you for your dedication in promoting life and defending conscientious objection, which there are often attempts to limit,” he said. 

“Sadly,” the pope continued, “in these last years, there has been a change in the common mentality, and today we are more and more led to think that life is a good at our complete disposal, that we can choose to manipulate, to give birth or take life as we please, as if it were the exclusive consequence of individual choice.”

Pope Francis flatly rejected that view.

“Let us remember that life is a gift from God!” he said. “It is always sacred and inviolable, and we cannot silence the voice of conscience.” 

Pope Francis’ pro-life comments came after he offered a reflection on Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper in Sunday's Gospel reading from John, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” The Holy Father said that “no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves, emphasizing that the peace that Jesus is referring to comes from the Holy Spirit and is a “gift of God."

Pope Francis’ comments defending life come at a time when the highest court in the United States nears the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 

In early May, a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that showed the court was poised to overturn Roe was leaked by the news outlet Politico.

Shortly after the leak, pro-abortion advocates began protesting at the court, in front of justices' homes, and even in Catholic churches around the country. Additional security measures have been taken to protect the justices and the court itself, as a fence has recently been built surrounding the court.

However, if Roe is overturned, abortion will not be outlawed nationwide. The Mississippi abortion case in consideration, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, would give states the exclusive right to legislate on abortion. 

Still, some states have “trigger laws” which automatically outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned. You can learn more about which states have those laws here

Pope Francis: Ask the Lord for the gift of peace

Pope Francis greets a crowd of an estimated 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square in Rome for his Regina Caeli address on May 22, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 22, 2022 / 07:33 am (CNA).

In his Sunday Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper in the Gospel reading from John: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

Speaking to an estimated 25,000 pilgrims gathered on a bright day in St. Peter's Square in Rome, the pope noted that Jesus also makes a point to add, "Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27).

"What is this peace that the world does not know and the Lord gives us?" Pope Francis asked.

"This peace is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit of Jesus. It is the presence of God in us, it is God’s 'power of peace,'" he explained. "It is He, the Holy Spirit, who disarms the heart and fills it with serenity. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who loosens rigidity and extinguishes the temptations to attack others. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who reminds us that there are brothers and sisters beside us, not obstacles or adversaries.

"It is He, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to forgive, to begin again, to set out anew because we cannot do this with our own strength. And it is with Him, with the Holy Spirit, that we become men and women of peace," Pope Francis said.

“This is the source of the peace Jesus gives us,” he added. “For no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves. No one can give peace unless that person is at peace.”

Pilgrims at St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 22, 2022. In his Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis spoke about the peace of Christ. Vatican Media
Pilgrims at St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 22, 2022. In his Regina Caeli address, Pope Francis spoke about the peace of Christ. Vatican Media

Pope Francis said, “Let us learn to say every day: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’ This is a beautiful prayer. Shall we say it together? ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.'”

Again encouraging the crowd to pray with him, he said, “I didn’t hear it well. One more time: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.’”

Focusing on the context of Gospel reading, Pope Francis observed that Jesus' words to his apostles are "a sort of testament."

The pope said, “Jesus bids farewell with words expressing affection and serenity. But he does so in a moment that is anything but serene," referring to Judas' unfolding betrayal and Peter's imminent denial that he even knows Jesus.

“The Lord knows this, and yet, he does not rebuke, he does not use severe words, he does not give harsh speeches,” Pope Francis said. “Rather than demonstrate agitation, he remains kind till the end.”

He continued, “There is a proverb that says you die the way you have lived. In effect, the last hours of Jesus’ life are like the essence of his entire life. He feels fear and pain, but does not give way to resentment or protesting. He does not allow himself to become bitter, he does not vent, he is not impatient. He is at peace, a peace that comes from his meek heart accustomed to trust.”

In so doing, “Jesus demonstrates that meekness is possible," the pope observed.

“He incarnated it specifically in the most difficult moment, and he wants us to behave that way too, since we too are heirs of his peace,” he said. “He wants us to be meek, open, available to listen, capable of defusing tensions and weaving harmony. This is witnessing to Jesus and is worth more than a thousand words and many sermons. The witness of peace.”

Pope Francis invited all disciples of Jesus to reflect on whether they behave in this way.

"Do we ease tensions, and defuse conflicts? Are we too at odds with someone, always ready to react, explode, or do we know how to respond nonviolently, do we know how to respond with peaceful actions? How do I react?” he asked.

“Certainly, this meekness is not easy,” while adding ,“How difficult it is, at every level, to defuse conflicts!” 

Jesus understands this. He knows "that we need help, that we need a gift," the pope explained.

“Peace, which is our obligation, is first of all a gift of God.”

Pope Francis said that “no sin, no failure, no grudge should discourage us from insistently asking for this gift from the Holy Spirit who gives us peace.”

“The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace,” he said. 

Pilgrims gather at St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 22, 2022, for Pope Francis' Regina Caeli address. Vatican Media
Pilgrims gather at St. Peter's Square in Rome on May 22, 2022, for Pope Francis' Regina Caeli address. Vatican Media

Pope Francis invited the crowd to pray with him, “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit.” He added, “And let us also ask this for those who live next to us, for those we meet each day, and for the leaders of nations.”

After praying the Regina Caeli at noon, Pope Francis commented on the beatification in Lyon, France, later on Sunday of Pauline Marie Jericot, who founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith for the support of the missions in the early 19th century. The pope called her “a courageous woman, attentive to the changes taking place at the time, and had a universal vision regarding the Church’s mission.”

Pope Francis continued: “May her example enkindle in everyone the desire to participate through prayer and charity in the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.”

Pope Francis also noted that Sunday marked the beginning of "Laudato Si' Week," a weeklong reflection inspired by his 2015 encyclical on the environment. He called the observance an opportunity “to listen ever more attentively to the cry of the Earth which urges us to act together in taking care of our common home.”

Pope Francis also mentioned that May 24 marks the Feast day of Mary Help of Christians, who is “particularly dear to Catholics in China.”

He added that Mary Help of Christians is the patroness for Chinese Catholics and is located in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai in addition to many churches and homes throughout the country. 

“This happy occasion offers me the opportunity to assure them once again of my spiritual closeness" to believers in China, he said.

“I am attentively and actively following the often complex life and situations of the faithful and pastors, and I pray every day for them,” he said.

“I invite all of you to unite yourselves in this prayer so that the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, might live in effective communion with the universal Church, and might exercise its mission of proclaiming the Gospel to everyone, and thus offer a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society as well.”

Pope Francis also greeted participants in Italy's annual pro-life demonstration, titled Scegliamo la vita, or in English, "Let’s Choose Life."

“I thank you for your dedication in promoting life and defending conscientious objection, which there are often attempts to limit,” Pope Francis said.

“Sadly, in these last years, there has been a change in the common mentality, and today we are more and more led to think that life is a good at our complete disposal, that we can choose to manipulate, to give birth or take life as we please, as if it were the exclusive consequence of individual choice," the pope said.

“Let us remember that life is a gift from God! It is always sacred and inviolable, and we cannot silence the voice of conscience,” he concluded.

UPDATE: These Catholic bishops support Nancy Pelosi ban on Holy Communion

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 21, 2022 / 11:15 am (CNA).

So far only a small minority of U.S. bishops have come out publicly in support of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s May 20 announcement that he is barring Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, until she repudiates her longstanding advocacy of abortion.

There are 194 dioceses and archdioceses in the U.S. Here is a list of those bishops who have spoken in favor of Cordileone’s action, as of May 23. Please send updates, with links to online statements if available, to [email protected]

California

Diocese of Oakland

Diocese of Santa Rosa

Bishop Robert Vasa said on May 20 that he spoke to the pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in St.Helena, a parish that Pelosi reportedly attends on occasion. 

Vasa said, “I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

“The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Colorado

Archdiocese of Denver

Illinois

Diocese of Springfield

Kansas

Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann issued the following statement on May 20:

"I applaud Archbishop Cordileone’s patient and persevering efforts to
enlighten Speaker Pelosi about the moral gravity of her extreme efforts to
promote, to advocate and to initiate legislation to enshrine legalized abortion into
federal law. I fully support the both pastoral and courageous actions that
Archbishop Cordileone has now taken in an effort to awaken Speaker Pelosi’s
conscience and at the same time to protect Catholics in the Archdiocese of San
Francisco and throughout the country from being confused by Speaker Pelosi’s
radical support for abortion, while claiming to be a faithful Catholic. I pray that
Speaker Pelosi will have a change of heart."

Nebraska

Diocese of Lincoln

Oklahoma

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Oregon

Diocese of Baker

Bishop Liam Cary issued the following statement on May 20:

"Representative Nancy Pelosi proudly combines “devout” practice of Catholic faith in her personal life with high-profile promotion of legalized abortion in her political life. The scandalizing gap between belief and behavior on the part of the Speaker of the House grievously misleads her fellow believers about Catholic teaching on social justice and seriously handicaps Catholic efforts to defend unborn life in the womb. 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has repeatedly brought these sad facts to Representative Pelosi’s attention and called her to repentance. In response, the Speaker has defiantly doubled down on her uncompromising advocacy for unlimited abortion, thereby proposing herself as an exemplar for Catholic politicians who deliberately distance themselves from the saving clarity of the Gospel of Life. At the same time, in choosing to ally herself actively with abortion’s most extreme proponents, Representative Pelosi has unilaterally broken communion with Archbishop Cordileone and the flock he shepherds. She has withdrawn herself from communion with the Church.  

In a letter to the Speaker on May 19 Archbishop Cordileone acknowledged this sad rupture for what it is and made her aware of its consequences: she is not to present herself for Holy Communion until she publicly renounces her support for abortion, makes a sacramental confession, and receives absolution. These conditions invite Representative Pelosi’s return to Communion and show her the way to do so on the Church’s terms, not her own. May our merciful Lord grant her the grace to accept them. May He strengthen Archbishop Cordileone to walk the path of courage with confidence."

Texas

Diocese of Tyler

Washington State

Diocese of Spokane

Wisconsin

Diocese of Green Bay

Diocese of Madison

Bishop Donald Hying supported Cordileone, saying: “I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”

Hying said that “Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking…’”

Pope Francis advances sainthood cause of Filipino bishop known for bilocation

Archbishop Teofilo Camomot / Public domain

Vatican City, May 21, 2022 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has recognized the heroic virtue of a Filipino archbishop with a reputation for having the ability to bilocate.

In a decree promulgated on May 21, the pope recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of a Spanish woman and the heroic virtue of seven holy people, including Filipino Archbishop Teofilo Camomot.

Camomot, who was ordained a bishop in 1955, was known on the island of Cebu in the Philippines for his spiritual gifts. There have been testimonies of his ability to heal the sick, levitate in prayer, and bilocate, according to the Archbishop Camomot Committee in Cebu.

One of these testimonies comes from an affidavit from the late Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, who said that Camomot was with him on Sept. 27, 1985 at a time when Camomot was also seen giving the Anointing of the Sick to a man in a mountain village about 30 miles away.

Priests were also known to seek out Camomot to hear their final confessions before they died. After he became Coadjutor Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Camomot founded the Tertiaries of the Blessed Eucharist, today known as the Daughters of Saint Teresa.

Carmomot died in a car accident on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul on Sept. 27, 1988.

Pope Francis also approved the canonization of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini with a dispensation from the requirement for a second miracle, according to Vatican News.

In an audience with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope decided to convene a consistory for the canonizations of Scalabrini and Blessed Artemide Zatti.

Scalabrini, a bishop of Piacenza, Italy, founded the Missionaries of St. Charles (also known as the Scalabrinians) to offer pastoral care to migrants who were emigrating from Italy at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1901, Scalabrini visited his missionaries in the United States and was received at the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt. Pope Pius IX once described Scalabrini as “the apostle of the Catechism.”

The decree authorized by the pope recognized a miracle attributed to Venerable Maria de la Concepción Barrecheguren y García, a lay Spanish woman who died of tuberculosis in 1927 in Granada at the age of 21, who will now be able to be beatified.

The pope’s decree also approved the heroic virtue of three Italians: Bishop Luigi Sodo (1811-1895), Fr. Alfredo Morganti (1886-1969), and Fr. Giampietro da Sesto (1886-1913) a Franciscan from Italy who served as a missionary in Brazil.

In addition, Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtue of Spanish Fr. Jose Torres Padilla (1811-1878), Polish nurse Janina Woynarowska (1923-1979), and Mother Mariana of the Holy Trinity (1854-1933), who was born in Mexico and co-founded the Trinitarian Sisters of Madrid.

St Petersburg diocesan summit to grow the Church was historic opportunity

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the St. James Chapel at Bethany Center in Lutz, Fla., April 25, 2022. / Diocese of St. Petersburg Office of Communications

St. Petersburg, Fla., May 21, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Parish and Pastoral Center leaders from across the Diocese of St. Petersburg gathered April 25-27, 2022, for one purpose: growing the Church. The Parish Growth Summit at the Bethany Center provided 32 hours of praying, learning, dreaming and envisioning plans for filling our churches. The theme for the Summit was from Luke 14:23, the Parable of the Great Feast. In this Parable, Jesus speaks of a dinner that was prepared, but those who were invited never showed. The Master then orders the servant to find new people to invite so that “My house may be filled.”

“This event was transformational for me personally. Day-to-day we can fall into the mundane of ministry. But this workshop has reinvigorated my heart, my mind, and my passion for doing ministry and doing it the way Christ has called me,” said Charmaine Carter, Director of Adult Faith Formation, Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

Carter felt the call to be more courageous in her ministry and to invite more people to follow Christ. “The Lord spoke to me and said you need to grow in courage and trust that I am going to be with you to accomplish that which I have called you to do,” added Carter.

The Parish Growth Summit was an initiative of Courageously Living the Gospel, the diocesan vision that calls us to proclaim the Gospel, and invite all to encounter the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

National speakers from Casting Nets Ministries spoke passionately about the seven pillars of effective evangelization: Prayerful, Invitational, Hospitable, Inspirational, Sacramental, Formational and Missionful.

“We have to go outside our comfort zone. Greatness comes from pushing the limit. Our culture is no longer a Christian culture. It’s a hostile culture,” said Chris Stewart, Casting Nets Ministries, when speaking about pillar number four, Inspirational.

“We need more inspirational people to inspire other people, and to love others no matter who they are,” added Stewart.

The speakers also reminded the participants that our greatest Christian vocation is to be disciples who make disciples. Inviting others with a personal invitation, like Jesus did, is essential to this vocation.

“We have lost the art of personal invitation. We need to look another person in the eye. It’s hard to do that because it makes us vulnerable. But our personal invitation means something to someone,” said Stewart.

Chris McBride, Parish Manager of St. Jerome Parish in Largo, led parish representatives through highly detailed, parish-specific reports with demographic information about people living in their mission field, which covers a 20-minute radius from the church. The reports also provided ministry preferences, religious beliefs, communication styles, and other helpful information about those living in the neighborhoods around each parish.

Father Mike Smith, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Temple Terrace and certified Dream Manager coach, led the parishes in a visioning session of their Dream Parish — what would the parish look like if God’s “house was filled.”

“We heard repeatedly during the Synod process people’s deep desire for others to develop a close relationship with Christ and His Church.  They expressed concern and disappointment that many are not practicing their faith and hoped that they would come back,” said Dr. Lois Locey, Chancellor for Administration, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Bishop Gregory Parkes heard this and shares the same concerns.

“Instead of just lamenting, we, as a united diocese, are taking action. The Summit was an opportunity for parishes to partner with other parishes and diocesan ministries to grow forward the church in concrete ways.  We are inspired by the US Bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship which said, ‘Jesus’ call is urgent. He does not tell people to follow him at some time in the future but here and now—at this moment, in these circumstances. There can be no delay. Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ For the parishes and Diocese of St. Petersburg, there will be no delay.  We are going to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God and invite others into a deeper relationship with God and others,” added Dr. Locey, who is also an Adjunct Professor at the Center for Church Management at Villanova University.

The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of St. Petersburg proudly served as Presenting Partner for the Parish Growth Summit. “Thanks to our donors who supported the 2021 Giving Challenge, the Foundation is excited to partner and support this essential work,” shared Meegan Wright, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation and emcee for the summit. “Based on the enthusiasm and energy created through this summit, we know this is just the beginning of amazing growth for these parishes.”

“This was one of the best diocesan events I have been to. It was educational and it touched my heart. This experience moves me to do more than what I’ve been doing and to overcome my fears. It starts with me. I have to be more prayerful and more formational to be an example to others,” said Kathy Brasseur, Office Manager, St. Scholastica Parish, Lecanto.

Twenty-nine parishes participated in the Parish Growth Summit and most of them brought a pastor and a team of parish leaders that included a combination of staff and volunteers.

“It’s good to be reminded and to get fired back up about evangelization. It reaffirmed my views that evangelization needs to be relational, and it involves walking with small groups of people,” said Father Jonathan Emery, Pastor, St. Matthew Parish, Largo. He attended the Summit with three parishioners.

In addition to the Catholic Foundation of St. Petersburg, the following Catholic organizations supported the Transformational Parish Growth Summit: Rebuilt Parish, Prenger Solutions Group, Catholic Social Media, Diocesan, Mission Pathways, OSV, Flocknote, Faith Catholic, Dynamic Catholic, and Made2Thrive. Music was provided by St. Mary Magdalen Music Ministries in Altamonte Springs.

This article was first published by Gulf Coast Catholic, the publication of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and is reprinted at Catholic News Agency with permission.

Pope Francis: Catholic schools should not be Christian in name only

Pope Francis met with members of the De La Salle Christian Brothers on May 21, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 21, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Saturday that Catholic schools should not be Christian in name only, but in fact.

Speaking to the De La Salle Christian Brothers, the pope underlined that Christians educators must first of all be witnesses to the Gospel.

“The Christian educator, in the school of Christ, is first of all a witness, and he is a teacher to the extent that he is a witness,” Pope Francis said on May 21.

“And above all I pray for you, that you may be brothers not only in name, but in fact. And for your schools to be Christian not in name, but in fact,” he said.

The pope met with the Christian Brothers as the religious institute is participating in its 46th General Chapter in Rome on the theme: “Building new paths to transform lives.”

“We know that the ‘way,’ the truly new path, is Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis said.

“By following him, by walking with him, our lives are transformed, and we in turn become leaven, salt, and light.”

The De La Salle Christian Brothers, formally known as the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, were founded by St. John Baptist de La Salle to provide Christian education to the young, especially the poor.

The brothers live in community and take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service of the poor through education.

Pope Francis read the brothers part of a quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians in which Paul said he was in labor until “Christ is formed in you.”

“To educate in this way is your apostolate, your specific contribution to evangelization: to make humanity grow according to Christ,” he said.

“In this sense, your schools are 'Christian': not because of an external label, but because they take this path.”

Pope Francis said that Christian teachers are “on the front line” in “educating so as to move from a closed world to an open world; from a throwaway culture to a culture of care; from a culture of rejection to a culture of integration; from the pursuit of vested interests to the pursuit of the common good.”

“As educators, you know very well that this transformation must start from the conscience, or it will only be a façade,” he added.

Pope Francis’ audience with the Christian brothers was one of many audiences that he had on May 21. The pope also met with the publishers of the Famiglia Cristiana magazine, participants in an international conference on biodiversity, and young people receiving the sacrament of Confirmation in the Diocese of Genoa this year.

In all of the audiences, the pope spoke from a wheelchair. He has been primarily in a wheelchair since May 5 due to an injury to his right knee, although the pope did stand for longer periods while offering Mass for the canonization held in St. Peter’s Square on May 15.

At the end of his speech to the Christian Brothers, Pope Francis thanked them for their service as teachers and reminded them not to forget to pray for him.

“Go forth with the joy of evangelizing by educating and of educating by evangelizing,” he said.

Pope Francis’ health: Here's a timeline of his medical issues in recent years

Pope Francis enters the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall in a wheelchair on May 5, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, May 21, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has been speaking about his health in recent weeks, especially a problem with his knee that is forcing him to walk and stand less.

The 85-year-old Francis, who has spent most of his nine years as pope in relatively good health, has dealt with several painful medical conditions over the last few years.

His difficulties have included a stay of more than a week in a hospital after colon surgery in 2021.

Here is a timeline charting Pope Francis’ recent health concerns:

December 2020

A bout of sciatic pain in the final days of 2020 kept Pope Francis from presiding at the Vatican’s liturgies on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Francis has suffered from sciatica for a number of years; he spoke about it during an in-flight press conference returning from a trip to Brazil in July 2013.

“Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone,” he said about the condition, which starts in the lower back and can cause pain running down the back of the thigh and leg to the foot.

January 2021

Pope Francis was also forced to cancel three more public appearances at the end of January due to sciatic nerve pain.

July 2021

A problem with his colon landed the pope in hospital on July 4, 2021.

According to the Vatican, Francis underwent surgery to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

During his 11-day stay in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, the pope made “normal clinical progress” in his recovery, the Vatican said.

January 2022

At meetings in January, Pope Francis shared that he was having problems with his knee.

“Excuse me if I stay seated, but I have a pain in my leg today ... It hurts me, it hurts if I’m standing,” the pope told journalists from the Jerusalem-based Christian Media Center on Jan. 17.

He explained further at a general audience the following week, saying the reason he would be unable to greet pilgrims as usual was because of a temporary “problem with my right leg,” an inflamed knee ligament.

February 2022

At the end of February, Pope Francis canceled two public events due to knee pain and doctor’s orders to rest.

In the month that followed, he received help going up and down stairs, but continued to walk and stand without assistance.

April 2022

During a trip to Malta on the first weekend of April, Pope Francis used a lift to disembark the papal plane. A special lift was also installed at the Basilica of St. Paul in Rabat, so that Francis could visit and pray in the crypt grotto without taking the stairs.

On the return flight on April 3, he told journalists that “my health is a bit fickle, I have this knee problem that brings out problems with walking.”

At the Vatican’s Good Friday service, the pope did not lay prostrate before the altar, as he has done in the past.

He also did not preside over the Easter Vigil Mass on April 16, or participate in the Paschal candle procession, but sat in the front of the congregation in a white chair.

On April 22 and April 26, Francis’ agenda was cleared for medical checkups and rest for his knee, the Vatican said. The following day, the pope told pilgrims at his general audience that his knee prevented him from standing for very long.

Pope Francis also started to remain seated in the popemobile while greeting pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

On April 30, he said that his doctor had ordered him not to walk.

May 2022

The pope said at the beginning of May that he would undergo a medical procedure on his knee, “an intervention with infiltrations,” by which he may have meant a therapeutic injection, sometimes used to relieve knee pain caused by ligament tears.

Two days later, he used a wheelchair in public for the first time since his July 2021 colon surgery. Throughout May he has continued to use the wheelchair and avoid most standing and walking.

Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Francis is also undergoing over two hours of rehabilitation for his knee every day, according to an Argentine archbishop close to the pontiff.

The treatment “is giving results,” Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández wrote on Twitter on May 14, after he had a private meeting with Francis.

Other than his knee, “he’s better than ever,” Fernández added.

A few earlier, Lebanon’s tourism minister had said that a reported papal visit to the country in June was being postponed due to the pope’s health.

The pope did stand for longer periods when celebrating a May 15 Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Afterward, a seminarian from Mexico caught a moment of lightheartedness between pilgrims and the pope as he greeted them from the popemobile.

Someone thanked the pope for being present at the Mass, despite his knee pain, to which Francis responded: “Do you know what I need for my knee? A bit of tequila.”

Who is Pauline Jaricot, the Catholic Church’s next blessed?

Pauline Jaricot (1799-1862). / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

Lyon, France, May 21, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

In 1859, the year that he died, St. John Vianney offered a cross to Pauline Jaricot, who will become the Church’s newest blessed on Sunday.

As he did so, he said these words: “God alone as witness, Jesus Christ as model, Mary as support, and then nothing, nothing but love and sacrifice.”

That cross can be seen today at the Maison de Lorette, a recently restored building in Lyon, the city in east-central France where Jaricot will be beatified on May 22.

Jaricot was a prominent figure in 19th-century French Catholicism but is less well known outside France than Vianney, who played a significant role in her life.

She met the priest when she was a child. Her parents had a house in the country, in Tassin, near Lyon, within the parish of Dardilly, where Vianney served. He sometimes came for lunch at the Jaricot house on Sundays, until he was appointed Curé of Ars.

Jaricot was born in Lyon on July 22, 1799, in the wake of the French Revolution and six months before Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’état. The Lyon region was an important center of resistance against the Revolution and Jaricot was baptized by a refractory priest.

She was the last of seven children. Her mother was a silk worker — a job with a low income — but thanks to her factory-owning father, the family lived in prosperity in the center of Lyon, next to Saint-Nizier Church.

It was in that church that her life changed one day. At the age of 17, she was listening to a homily that shook her to her core. Up to that point, she had lived a Christian life tinged with vanity. But on Christmas 1816, she took a vow of perpetual virginity in a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the hill of Fourvière, a district of Lyon lying west of the old town.

In 1815, the family moved to another location in the city, near the neighborhood of La Croix-Rousse, where impoverished silk workers lived. After her conversion in 1816, Jaricot began to pray intensively and decided to dress like the silk workers, to be close to the poor and a sign of Christ’s presence among them.

She kept going to the Saint-Nizier Church (where she is buried), but also began to attend the Church of St. Polycarp in La Croix-Rousse (which today contains her heart). There, she formed a parish group with silk workers known as the Réparatrices du cœur de Jésus méconnu et méprisé.

During long hours of prayer, she had heard Jesus lamenting humanity’s ingratitude. She created the group in reparation and to console Jesus through prayer and action. The group’s spirituality centered on the Eucharist and devotion to the Cross.

One day, Jaricot heard some troubling news from friends of one of her brothers, Philéas, who was a seminarian in Paris. The Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, founded in 1663 to evangelize Asia, was in financial difficulty.

With other members of her group, she began to collect money for the Society every Friday in the streets of Lyon. From this emerged the organization known at first as the Association of the Propagation of the Faith and later as the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.

In 1922, Pius XI would add the title “Pontifical” and today it is the oldest of four Pontifical Mission Societies, an umbrella group of Catholic missionary societies under the pope’s authority.

As the initiative spread, Jaricot’s spiritual father asked her to devote herself yet more intensely to prayer. It was a difficult time for her because she wanted to be active. But in this period, she wrote the book “Infinite Love in the Divine Eucharist,” a simple but profound meditation on the Eucharist read by generations of French Catholics.

In 1825, Pope Leo XII organized a great Jubilee, asking Catholics to pray the rosary for the protection of the Church and the world from dangers such as anti-clericalism and irreligion.

In response, Jaricot founded the Association of the Living Rosary. The idea was simple: 15 members of a group would combine together to recite the full 15 decades of the rosary every day. The initiative was a great success in France and soon spread beyond it.

Several Living Rosary groups continue to thrive in Lyon. Their members sometimes meet in locations associated with Jaricot, such as the Maison de Lorette. She acquired the house on the Fourvière Hill in 1832. Together with other women, she formed a small lay community there called the Filles de Marie (“Daughters of Mary”). They followed a rigorous routine of prayer and activities such as promoting the Living Rosary and visiting the sick.

Jaricot’s health was precarious and in 1835, she set off for Mugnano, a town in southern Italy hosting the relics of St. Philomena. She was drawn there by stories of miracles obtained through the saint’s intercession.

On the feast of St. Philomena, Jaricot received Communion near the shrine containing the relics. Seated in an invalid chair, she experienced a healing later known as the “great miracle of Mugnano.” The chair can be viewed at the shrine today.

When she returned from Italy, Jaricot brought back some small relics, which she offered to St. John Vianney.

Thanks to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and Association of the Living Rosary, Jaricot’s fame spread far and wide. She received letters from around the world from missionaries and Church figures. But her final years were marked by deep suffering and lived in the shadow of the Cross.

At the time of her conversion, Jaricot had heard Jesus ask her in prayer: “Would you like to suffer and die for me?” She wrote in a notebook that “I offered myself as a victim to the divine Majesty.”

Appalled by the condition of Lyon’s workers, she offered to buy a factory in 1845 that she hoped would serve as a model Christian enterprise. But she was swindled and the project was a great failure. She spent the rest of her life trying to pay off the debts of those she had convinced to invest alongside her.

Her reputation diminished greatly and, at the end of her life, she was included in the list of the city’s poor. She died almost alone in 1862.

After her death, a long text was discovered that is considered her spiritual testament. It contains these words: “My hope is in Jesus! My only treasure is the Cross! I will bless the Lord at all times and his praise will be continually in my mouth.”

Jaricot is best known for the organizations she founded. But her beatification on May 22 will draw attention to her deep spiritual life, marked by devotion to the Eucharist and the Cross, surrender to the divine will, and unfailing hope in God. Her relationship with God was so intense that some authors have described her as a mystic comparable to the great St. Catherine of Siena.

Nicaraguan bishop charges police, government persecution

Protests in Granada, Nicaragua, April 29, 2018. / Riderfoot/Shutterstock.

Mexico City Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa has charged that the police of President Daniel Ortega’s government harassed him by following him all day and into the night, and announced he will fast indefinitely “on water and whey” until the harassment ends.

In a video message released May 19 by the Archdiocese of Managua, Bishop Álvarez said that "today I have been followed all day and into the evening hours by the Sandinista police."

The bishop said he was tailed when he went to his niece's house for dinner that evening. The police “entered my circle of family privacy, they came to my private, family, paternal, maternal home, putting the safety of my family at risk."

When he asked the police why they were following him, "they informed me they’re obeying orders.”

Later, he recalled, the policemen told him they were following him “for my safety. But we already know that the insecurity in this country is precisely (due to) the police.”

"Those who make us feel insecure by being followed are you, my brothers the police," he said.

This is not the first time that Bishop Álvarez, who has been a clear defender of human rights and freedom in Nicaragua, has been harassed by the police working for the Ortega government, which has been in power since 2007.

Father Harvin Padilla of the Diocese of Masaya also charged this week that he has been followed and harassed by police and paramilitaries connected to the Ortega government.

At the beginning of May the Nicaraguan National Assembly, controlled by Daniel Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front, which holds an 80% majority in the legislature, approved a report that accuses bishops and priests of participating in what Ortega considers a coup attempt in 2018.

The document accuses the Catholic Church of supporting the citizen protests that demanded in 2018 that Ortega leave power.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. 

He was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

A crisis began in Nicaragua in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.

Security forces killed at least 320 protesters, with hundreds more arrested.

In March, Nicaragua expelled Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, until then the apostolic nuncio, a decision that the Vatican described as "incomprehensible."

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua published a statement May 18 expressing its concern over "the situation in the country that we love as children of God, as Nicaraguans and as Christians."

"We join in prayer so that God might transform hard hearts into feeling hearts, with love for others, free from feelings that impede the normality that leads to authentic social peace."

"May love, forgiveness and mercy prevail in everyone in the search for the common good, practicing Christian principles," the commission urged.

"Faithful to the mandate of the Lord, and faithful to her vocation, the Church will continue to announce the Gospel, denouncing the social structures of sin, accompanying the people, especially the poor and the weak," they said.

"The mission of the Church will always provoke contradictions in this world where along with the light there is also the darkness of evil," the Justice and Peace  commission noted.

Link:

https://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/obispo-denuncia-que-sufre-persecucion-policial-del-gobierno-de-nicaragua-37795