“God turns everything to our good”

Pope Francis’ extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing

 

From the steps of St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary blessing “To the City and to the World” on Friday 27 March: to pray for an end to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. In his meditation, the Pope reflects on Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

This is usually a colourful event, reserved for Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.  This extraordinary blessing was in keeping with the gravity of the current global situation, as more than half of the world’s population is confined to their homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Standing in a deserted St. Peter’s Square with a steady rain falling, Pope Francis spoke to the world through every means of modern communication: Facebook, YouTube, TV, and radio.

Symbols of faith
He prayed for the world at this critical juncture in the presence of two images that have accompanied the people of Rome for centuries: the ancient icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani – usually housed in the Basilica of St. Mary Major – and the miraculous crucifix kept in the church of San Marcello on the city’s Via del Corso.

Most importantly, the Pope exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration and imparted his Apostolic Blessing, offering everyone the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence.

Evening meditation
But first, Pope Francis offered a meditation on the crisis facing the world, reflecting on a passage from the Gospel of Mark (4:35-41).

“For weeks now it has been evening,” said the Pope. “Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice it in people’s gestures, their glances give them away.”

In this situation, he said, we feel afraid and lost, like the disciples whose boat was in danger of sinking while Jesus slept at the stern.

All in the same boat
The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us that we are all on the same boat, said Pope Francis, and so we call out to Jesus. The disciples ask Him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”

The Pope said these words would have shaken Jesus, “because He, more than anyone, cares about us.”

The storm exposes “our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules” and lays bare “all those attempts to anesthetize ourselves”.

What is revealed, he said, is “our belonging as brothers and sisters”, our common humanity.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?
Pope Francis then picked up the thread of Jesus’ question: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

He said we have all gone ahead “at breakneck speed”, ignoring the wars, injustice, and cries of the poor and our ailing planet. “We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.”

In our stormy sea, we now cry out: “Wake up, Lord!”

Now is the time of choosing
Really, said Pope Francis, it is Jesus calling out to us to be converted, calling us to faith.

“You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing,” he said.

Now is not the time of God’s judgment, but of our own: “a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.”

The Pope said we can draw lessons from the many people who – even though fearful – have reacted by giving their lives, including medical personnel, supermarket clerks, cleaners, priests, police officers, and volunteers. This, he said, “is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial.”

Stripped of our self-sufficiency
Pope Francis said faith begins “when we realize we are in need of salvation” and are not self-sufficient.

If we turn to Jesus and hand Him our fears, said the Pope, He will conquer them.

“Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”

So God asks us now, in the midst of the tempest, “to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering.”

His cross is our hope
Jesus’ cross, said Pope Francis, is the anchor that has saved us, the rudder that has redeemed us, and our hope, because “by His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from His redeeming love.”

“In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things,” he said, “let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: He is risen and is living by our side.”

So we embrace His cross in the hardships of the present time, and make room in our hearts “for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring.”

“Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.”

Turning to the Lord
Concluding his meditation, Pope Francis entrusted us all to the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that our faith might not waiver in this time of crisis.

“Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us’ (cf. 1Pet 5:7).”

 

The whole text from the Vatican can be found here. 

with thanks to Devin Watkins

COVID-19 update

Thank you for your patience while we take on board the changing situation with COVID-19 and the incredibly important role you play in support of our development and humanitarian work.

Thanks to your compassion and commitment, we can reach some of the poorest and marginalised communities around the world.

CAFOD is following the advice issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales (CBCEW) as well as the UK government.

All the latest information about CAFOD’s response to COVID-19 will be on our Coronavirus Q & A and COVID-19: Information for volunteers pages.

Get in touch: Your usual office contacts are still be available by mobile phone, email and via social media, so if you have any questions or thoughts do not hesitate to be in touch whatever your query:

Therese Warwick: 01989 768708, mobile: 07823 445112 or email: southwales@cafod.org.uk

If you’re a parent, we have a large range of online education resources tailored specifically for primary and secondary ages, alongside worship and prayer content.

If you’re looking to learn more about CAFOD’s international work, we will be releasing a weekly timetable of online talks.

Meet us online: 
While we can’t meet face to face we would love to see you online.

Stories from Cyclone Idai – What happened next?
Wednesday 15 April, 1-2pm

Join CAFOD’s Tiago Coucelo to hear how, with your support, local workers are helping some of the remotest rural communities to rebuild their shattered lives.

Register to join us live, or listen later.

Continue your Lenten journey with us
Use our resources to continue on your Lenten journey.

Feel-good stories

If you are a CAFOD volunteer and hear of a great story in your local parish – please let us know so we can share it on our social media channels and website.

It would be great if you would be able to email over a few sentences about what happened, along with a photo.

Prayer for the Coronavirus

Even though the volunteer centres are temporarily shut, we hope to be able to continue to offer opportunities to connect with the lives of our sisters and brothers around the world.

Please keep an eye of our social media pages for the latest updates:

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In the meantime, we continue to pray for all those affected by the COVID-19 virus and the healthcare workers here in the UK and overseas, who are on the frontline of this crisis – and ask that you too join us in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

 

Door of Mercy in Swansea’s oldest church and the Lampedusa Cross

Canon Flook with parishioner from St David's Priory

The oldest Roman Catholic Church in Swansea is also one of the designated Holy Doors of Mercy in Menevia.

And we are delighted to announce that St David’s Priory has been hosting a Lampedusa Cross since Thursday 29 September where it is due to remain until Monday 10 October.

Canon Michael Flook, V.F. and his parish community invited CAFOD’s Community Participation Co-ordinator in Menevia, Therese Warwick, to give a presentation around the Year of Mercy.

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Lunchtime talk with Cardinal Bo from Myanmar

 

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo Archbishop of Yangon

Cardinal Charles Bo is the first Cardinal from a south-east Asian country.

Born on 29 Oct 1948 near Mandalay, Burma, he was ordained a priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco order on 9th April, 1976.

He is an outspoken voice on human rights, religious freedom and inter-religious harmony, justice and peace building in his country.

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Inspiring Young Future Leaders

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After the great success of the conference’s launch last year we again decided to equip students from across Wales to take the lead in their communities and tackle social injustices such as poverty. Sixth Formers from across Wales gathered at Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School in Bridgend for a day on leadership training, looking at how they can unlock their leadership potential to help work for a better and safer world.

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Welsh teens meet Jenny Willott MP on trip to parliament

MP visit

Jenny Willott, Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, met sixth form students from St David’s College when they visited the Houses of Parliament as part of an event organised by CAFOD to encourage young people to engage with politics, campaigning and to develop their leadership skills. Continue reading