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Vatican City, Apr 17, 2014 / 12:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his homily for Holy Thursday’s Mass at a center for disabled persons, Pope Francis reflected on how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, calling it an act of loving service that we ought to imitate.

“He did it this way out of love. You too should love each other. Be servants in love,” the Pope said in his April 17 homily during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Celebrated by the Church each year in commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist and Jesus’ call for his disciples to imitate him in serving others, this particular Mass was held in Don Gnocchi facility. Located in Rome’s Casal del Marmo area it serves as a rehabilitation center for the elderly and disabled.

Beginning his reflections, the pontiff immediately turned to the Gospel reading in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet on his knees, explaining that this is an invitation, and telling those present that “you too should be servants, one to the other.”

Jesus’ act in washing the apostle’s feet “is a symbolic gesture,” he noted, emphasizing how “Slaves did it, servants did it.”

During that time when guests entered the house “it was necessary to wash their feet” because the streets were all made of dirt, the Pope continued, “And Jesus did this gesture, the work of a servant, of a slave.”

Highlighting how this act is a “legacy” that Jesus leaves to us, Pope Francis stated that “We should always be servants to one another,” and emphasized that it is for this reason the Church on Holy Thursday “commemorates the last supper of Jesus,” during which he institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Repeating that “We should be servants to one another,” the Roman Pontiff then explained that “Now I will do this same gesture, but all of us in our hearts think of others.”

“And we think of the love of Jesus who tells us that we should have for others. We think also how we can serve” Jesus well, “because this is what Jesus wanted for us.”

This marks the second year in a row that Pope Francis has chosen to celebrate the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper with those who are often pushed to the margins of society, having visited and washed the feet of inmates in a Roman Youth Detention Center.

Among the 12 persons whose feet the pontiff washed are nine Italians, one Muslim from Libya, a young man from Cape Verde and an Ethiopian woman who are all suffering from physical, neurological and oncological illnesses.

The youngest of those who had their feet washed is a 16-year-old youth named Oswaldinho who hails from Cape Verde and is completely paralyzed following a diving accident last summer. Not far behind Oswaldinho was 19-year-old Marco, who is a high school student and leader of his parish Youth Group, and who was diagnosed with a cerebral palsy just last year.

Eldest of the 12 was Pietro, 86, who has been a resident at the center for a year and who struggles with mobility and muscular deficiency. The second eldest was 75-year-old Hamed, who is a Muslim man originally from Libia, and who worked for the Itlian-Arab Chamber of Commerce before being involved in a traffic accident that caused serious neurological impairment.

The other eight who had their feet washed by the Pope are Orietta, 51, who suffers from an illness affecting her brain; Samuel, 66, who has had polio from his youth; Angelica, 86, the former president of Catholic Action in Italy, and has had hip replacement surgery twice; Daria, 39, has suffered with cerebral palsy from her childhood; Gianluca, 36, who from the age of 14 has undergone numerous operations as a result of meningitis; Stefano, 49, suffers from a serious cerebral and motor disorder; Giordana, 27 and from Ethiopia, suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and Walter, 59, who has Down's Syndrome.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, Pope Francis is slated to preside over Mass commemorating the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5p.m., after which he will lead faithful in the Stations of the Cross, a prayer commemorating the last events of Jesus life before he died on the Cross, at the Coliseum at 9:15p.m.

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2014 / 04:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily given during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis spoke on the joy of the priestly vocation, saying a cleric “is useless” unless his happiness is found in the grace of God.

“Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness,” the pontiff said April 17, noting that priestly joy “is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God.”

Pope Francis made his remarks on the priesthood during the morning's Chrism Mass, which takes place in the Catholic Church each year on Holy Thursday and involves the blessing of oils used for the sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.

Highlighting how priestly joy has its source in the Father's love, Pope Francis said that “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that (the) priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men.”

“The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock,” the Pope continued, adding that “No one is more ‘little’ than a priest left to his own devices.”

Encouraging priests to seek the protection of Mary and to echo her words in the Gospel, saying “I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness,” he explained that “in that littleness we find our joy.”

Drawing attention to three important characteristics of this joy, the pontiff observed that it is a gladness that anoints, is imperishable and is also missionary.

On the anointing, the Pope reflected that this joy “has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally.”

Through all the signs and actions performed during the rite of ordination, he added, “Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest.”

“We are anointed down to our very bones…and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.”

Turning to the imperishable quality of this gladness, the Pope explained that the fullness of this gift is something “which no one can take away or increase,” and “is an unfailing source of joy.”

“It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed,” he continued.

Highlighting the missionary quality of priestly joy, Pope Francis emphasized that it “is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy,” adding that “Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people,” to baptize, bless, comfort and evangelize them.

The Bishop of Rome pointed out that since this joy “only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock,” it is a “guarded joy” which is “watched over by the flock itself.”

“Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to ‘guard’ that joy,” he stated.

Pope Francis then alluded to three “sisters” of this guarded joy who “surround it, tend it and defend it,” revealing that they are “sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.”

“Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to poverty,” he observed, noting that “the priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people.”

On how the priest does not need to create this joy for himself, the pontiff expressed that it is found in his belonging to God and to his holy people.

“The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than 'exit' signs,” the Pope continued, “signs that say: exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you.”

“Unless you 'exit' from yourself, the oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful,” he explained, stating that “going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty.”

Moving on to the theme of fidelity, the Pope highlighted that priestly joy is also a “sister to fidelity,” but “Not primarily in the sense that we are all 'immaculate,' for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church.”

Whenever the priest “does all that he has to do and lets go of everything that he has to let go of, as long as he stands firm amid the flock which the Lord has entrusted to him,” his mission will bring him joy.

Calling attention to obedience as a sister to this priestly joy, Pope Francis stated that it is “An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience…but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood.”

“It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can,” he went on to say, noting that through obedience “Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen and feels a loving mandate from Christ who sends him to relieve that need with mercy.”

“All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world,” he added, highlighting that “it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus” that is true.

Pope Francis then prayed that “on this priestly Thursday” Jesus would enable “many young people to discover that burning zeal which joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.”

He also prayed that the Lord would preserve the joy “sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world,” and to confirm the joy “of those who have already ministered for some years,” especially those who “bear the burden of the ministry” and who “having experienced the labors of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves.”

Concluding his homily, the Roman Pontiff also prayed that Jesus “make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm,” adding that “It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels.”

“May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity,” he asked.

And “may they know the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.”

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2014 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonized April 27, are “bound together” by their love for addressing the world in conversation, a cardinal who worked with them both has said.

“Before John XXIII, the Pope was perceived as one who made pronouncements from on high; John XXIII was the first Pope speaking off the cuff, and he paved the way for a new style,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in an April 15 interview with CNA.

“And of course we all remember the spontaneous meetings John Paul II had, especially with young people.”

Cardinal Poupard worked at the Secretariat of State beginning in 1959, the second year of Angelo Roncalli’s papacy.

John Paul II appointed him head of the Secretariat for Non-Believers in 1980, and he was president of the Pontifical Council for Culture from 1988 to 2007.

Cardinal Poupard had the opportunity to spend time with both Popes, and saw that “during their meetings, both of them turned into, in a sense, who they had been before their election.”

He recalled his first meeting with John XXIII, when he, a 29-year-old priest of Paris, presented the Roman Pontiff with the book he published after his doctoral dissertation, about the appointments of bishops in France.

“The appointment of bishops! You wanted to work hard!,” John XXIII told Fr. Poupard, reminded of his own efforts in French bishop appointments.

Roncalli had been apostolic nuncio to France from 1944 to 1953.

“In the conversation, he turned into the apostolic nuncio again,” Cardinal Poupard reflected.

He then recounted that “when John Paul II spoke about the situation in Poland, he spoke such that he turned back to being the Bishop of Krakow, mentioning the Primate, Stefan Wyszynski.”

Cardinal Poupard said that “John XXIII was the first Pope ‘speaking off the cuff’”, and he also “introduced into the style of encyclicals, the reading of the signs of times.”

This style is peculiarly evident, he said, in Pacem in terris, John XXIII’s last encyclical and “his spiritual legacy, I would say, since he died some weeks after the encyclical had been issued.”

Cardinal Poupard explained that “every chapter of the encyclical starts with a statement dealing with an aspiration of men … to peace, to freedom, to dignity.”

This style of Pacem in terris was an inspiration for the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, which was something “new in the history of ecumenical councils.”

“Conciliar documents had always been based on God, on revelation … Gaudium et spes inaugurated a new way of addressing the world, an inductive method which began from the aspirations of the human being instead of a deductive method with a basis in revelation.”

He said John XXIII paved the way to a more spontaneous way of being Pope, upon which John Paul II built, citing in particular the Pole’s institution of World Youth Day.

John Paul II frequently engaged in conversation with the world through his trips to 129 countries, and his dialogue with other Christians and with the followers of other religions.

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