Sunday, December 8, 2019

Pope Francis and a prayer for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

2019.12.08 Omaggio all'Immacolata in Piazza di Spagna Pope Francis at the Piazza di Spagna in Rome 

Pope entrusts sinners to Mary in prayer for Immaculate Conception

Pope Francis visits Rome’s Piazza di Spagna on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and prays that Our Lady may help free us from corruption of heart.

By Vatican News 
During his Sunday Angelus address in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis announced he would be visiting Piazza di Spagna to perform what he called “the traditional act of homage at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate Conception”. He asked all those present to join him spiritually in this gesture, which, he said, “expresses our filial devotion to our heavenly Mother”.

Blessed Pius IX

The statue of Our Lady stands above a 12-metre high ancient Roman column. It was placed here on September 8th 1857 and commemorates Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, stating that Mary is the only human being who was born without original sin.  

Venerable Pius XII

The column and statue were originally erected with the help of 220 firemen, which is why the floral tributes always include a garland of flowers placed in Our Lady’s arms by a member of Rome’s fire department. The tradition of offering flowers to her image here on this feast day was begun by Pope Pius XII.

Pope Francis

When he arrived in Piazza di Spagna on Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis addressed his own prayer to Our Lady at the foot of the monument. He entrusted to her all those in Rome and throughout the world, who are burdened “by discouragement because of sin; those who think there is no longer hope for them, that their sins are too many and too great, and that God certainly does not have time to waste with them”.
The Pope thanked our Immaculate Mother for reminding us that, because of Jesus’ love “we are no longer slaves to sin, but free, free to love, free to love one another, to help one another as brothers and sisters, despite our differences”.
Below please find the unofficial Vatican News translation of the Holy Father’s prayer:
O Mary Immaculate,
we gather around you once again.
The more we move forward in life
the more our gratitude to God increases
for giving as a Mother to us who are sinners,
you, the Immaculate Conception.
Of all human beings, you are the only one
preserved from sin, as Mother of Jesus,
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
But this singular privilege of yours
was given to you for the good of us all, your children.
In fact, looking at you, we see the victory of Christ,
the victory of God's love over evil:
where sin abounded, namely, in the human heart,
grace has overflowed all the more,
through the gentle power of Jesus’ Blood.
You, Mother, remind us that we are sinners,
but we are no longer slaves to sin!
Through His Sacrifice, your Son
has broken the rule of evil, and has overcome the world.
This tells all generations about your heart,
clear as the sky where the wind has dissipated every cloud.
And so you remind us that being sinners and being corrupt
is not the same thing: it's very different.
It is one thing to fall, but then, repenting,
to get up again with the help of God's mercy.
Something else is hypocritical conspiracy with evil,
corruption of the heart, that appears faultless on the outside,
but inside, is full of evil intentions and nasty selfishness.
Your crystal-clear purity calls us back to sincerity,
transparency, simplicity.
How much we need to be liberated
from corruption of heart, which is the greatest danger!
This seems impossible to us, we are so accustomed to it,
yet it is within easy reach. It is enough to look up
at your Mother's smile, at your unspoiled beauty,
to feel once more that we are not meant for evil,
but for good, for love, for God!
For this reason, O Virgin Mary,
today I entrust to you all those who, in this city
and throughout the world, are burdened by disillusionment,
by discouragement because of sin;
those who think there is no longer hope for them,
that their sins are too many and too great,
and that God certainly does not have time to waste with them.
I entrust them to you, because not only are you a Mother
and as such, you never stop loving your children,
but you are also Immaculate, full of grace,
and you can reflect into the darkest gloom
a ray of the Risen Christ’s light.
He, and He alone, breaks the chains of evil,
frees from the most acute dependencies,
unties from the most criminal bonds,
softens the hardest of hearts.
And if this happens within people,
how the face of the city changes!
In small gestures and big choices,
vicious circles gradually become virtuous,
the quality of life improves
and the social climate becomes more breathable.
We thank you, Immaculate Mother,
for reminding us that, because of Jesus Christ’s love,
we are no longer slaves to sin,
but free, free to love, to love one another,
to help one another as brothers and sisters, despite our differences —
and thank you for the differences between us.
Thank you, because with your purity, you encourage us
not to be ashamed of good, but of evil;
you help us to keep at a distance the evil one,
who deceives us and draws us to himself, into coils of death;
you grant us the gentle reminder that we are children of God,
Father of immense goodness,
eternal source of life, beauty and love. Amen.

Angelus Address of 12.08.2019, Pope focuses on Feast of Immaculate Conception (celebrated this year in USA on Dec 9th)

2019.12.01 Angelus The Pope recites the Angleus  (Vatican Media)

Pope at Angelus: May our whole life be a “yes” to God

The Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin and full of grace, is at the centre of today's feast. In his reflection before the Angelus, the Pope highlights all her beauty: a masterpiece even in her humility, capable of making room for God without complacency and ready to put herself at the service of others. May she be a model of our communities and of our life.

By Vatican News
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary – “celebrating the singular grace and privilege granted by God” by which the Mother of God “was preserved free from all stain of original sin” from the first moment of her conception – was the focus of Pope Francis’ reflections at the Angelus on the Second Sunday of Advent.
This feast, he said, is found in Advent, a time of waiting and expectation; but in the case of Mary, he explained, God’s will has already been done, as Mary was preserved “from the contamination of evil that is the common legacy of the human family.”

Trust in God’s will

Turning to the Gospel, which recounts the story of the Annunciation, Pope Francis said that God thought of Mary and wanted her “from the beginning”. But, he said, in order to be “full of grace”, to be filled with God’s love, it is necessary to listen to God’s Word and trust totally in His will, as Mary did.

Mary, the Pope said “does not lose herself in logical arguments, she does not place obstacles in the Lord’s way, but she promptly entrusts herself and leaves room for the action of the Holy Spirit”. Corresponding perfectly to God’s plan for her, “Mary becomes ‘all beautiful’, ‘all holy’, but without the slightest shadow of self-satisfaction”. That is, she remains “humble, small, poor”.

An attitude of service

Pope Francis then emphasized “the word with which Mary defines herself in her surrender to God”. “Mary’s ‘yes’ to God”, the Pope said, assumes from the beginning the attitude of service, of attention to the needs of others”, as seen in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. “Openness to God is found in the openness to take on the needs of one's neighbor”. Moreover, he emphasized, this is done without “noise or ostentation… because charity and works of mercy do not need to be exhibited as a trophy”.

Making our whole life a ‘yes’ to God

Pope Francis concluded his reflection with the prayer that the feast of the Immaculate Conception might “help us to make our whole life a ‘yes’ to God, a ‘yes’ made of adoration of Him and of daily gestures of love and service”.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Since I moved to Abita Springs the most consistent thing has been LSU Tiger Football

I am on LSU Football high tonight as my LSU Tigers destroy Georgia, claim the SEC title and put in their best effort to be the #1 seeded team in the College Football Championship.  To date, this is a 13 win, 0 loss season with 2 games to go.

From the offseason to the first game kickoff football experts were saying keep your eye on this LSU offense as it will be much more wide open than the usual LSU offense of run and grind.  I'll be damn if they were not spot on as LSU secured the services of Joe Brady from the New Orleans Saints, installed a Saints/Drew Brees like offense and Joe Burrow was up to the task.  Joe Burrow's offensive output this year was off the charts and next weekend he should be awarded with the Heisman Trophy.  LSU had a fun team to watch although some games I admittedly was frustrated with the defense who did not get much rest game after game as the offense scored often and quickly.  Once the running game under Clyde Edwards-Helaire's leadership it was even better.  And yes, while the defense had some less than stellar moments tonight they were dominate and that can be said now 3 games in a row.

What else needs to be said is how about Coach Ed Ogeron, coach O or Coach Oeaux!?  Nobody, me included, thought he was the guy that could bring LSU back to football greatness and a SEC championship with an awesome shot at national championship.  I was wrong; mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxia culpa!  We all wanted Jimbo and Hermann and others and all of them are on the outside looking in.  Coach O is very much on the inside and now has LSU at the top of college football world.  And since taking over for Les Miles he has an overall record of 38 wins and 9 losses and has already won 2 of 3 post season bowl games.  He has been such a pleasant surprise and has put together an incredible coaching staff and now has recruiting at an all time high.

So now LSU either finishes ranked #1 or #2 and will face, as I speculate, either Oklahoma or Clemson.  If they keep this up, LSU should do well against whoever it may be.

Despite what some may think, I love LSU, always have since the days of Charlie McClendon and, if you can believe this, the most important game of each year was against Tulane.  Wow.

So tonight, quite simply it's Geaux Tigers and a big thank you to these incredible LSU Tigers!

By the way, the headline above: after some tough years in the late 90's, LSU has not had a losing season since 2000.  Just awesome.

Another Papal reminder to smell like sheep

Pope meeting officials and staff of the "Aggiornamenti Sociali" magazine on December 6, 2019. Pope meeting officials and staff of the "Aggiornamenti Sociali" magazine on December 6, 2019.   (Vatican Media)

Pope urges researchers on social issues to smell like sheep

Pope Francis on Friday received in audience the officials and staff of the Italian weekly magazine, “Aggiornamenti Sociali”. In a prepared text he handed them, he encouraged a preferential love for the poor and building of bridges among people through listening, dialogue and walking together.

By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis encouraged those who research and reflect on social issues to have the heart of a shepherd who smells like sheep and assume the compassion of Jesus for the poor and suffering people.    “Putting yourself on the side of the poor is an encounter with suffering and injustice, but also with genuine and contagious happiness” of the Beatitudes, he told some 50 journalists and collaborators of the Italian weekly magazine, “Aggiornamenti Sociali” (Social Updates).  
The Jesuit-run periodical and think tank that began in 1950, also offers formation and has a staff composed of Jesuits and lay people.  
Pope Francis handed them the prepared text of his discourse but preferred to speak from his heart.  In their activities, he particularly encouraged them in the art of listening and dialoguing.  


Listening, the Pope said, is precisely the fundamental attitude of every person who wants to do something for others.  But it must be done with an open mind and heart, without any prejudice.
In this regard, he deplored the prejudice that Europe is experiencing today, with countries closing in and old ideologies that brought about the Second World War,  making a comeback.  In doing so, one must not distort reality but take it as it is. 


After listening comes dialoguing which takes into account what reality is and seeking answers.  And this dialogue, the Pope said, starts with the values of the Gospel that Jesus taught, without imposing them dogmatically, but with dialogue and discernment.  According to the Pope, a genuine dialogue by a Christian includes looking at reality, resorting to prayer and then discerning the way forward, because “the Lord speaks to us through reality, through prayer and in discernment”.
“Never, never cover up reality,” he urged, stressing, “there are no ‘highways’ for evangelization; only humble, humble paths that will take us forward.”

Discerning with the Spirit

In his prepared remarks to “Aggiornamenti Sociali”, the Holy Father stressed the importance of discerning in order to orient members of society in the right direction.  This consists in recognizing and following the voice of the Spirit at the personal, civil and ecclesial levels. 
In areas such as artificial intelligence,  bioethics, migration, inequality, economy, environment, and the common good, the Pope said, “Aggiornamenti Sociali” must not only provide reliable information but also accompany its readers to learn how to make judgments and act with greater responsibility.
The Holy Father encouraged the magazine to welcome the results of scientific research on social phenomena with the “gaze of the disciple, assuming the compassion that Jesus, the Master, feels and shows for the suffering people, for the poor who cry out to him, and, together with them, for our oppressed and devastated land”.  
In discerning social phenomena, he said, Christians cannot ignore the preferential option for the poor.  Among the strengths of Aggiornamenti Sociali, he said, is also that of giving space to the perspective of those who are "discarded" by listening to and accompanying them and giving voice to them.
“Even those who do research and reflect on social issues,” he said, “are called to have the heart of a shepherd who smells like sheep.”

Journeying together

This task of social discernment, the Pope further explained, cannot be done alone but involves all parties travelling together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It consists in building a relationship, and also bridges, with words and gestures, by listening and willing to learn and change, to achieve a common goal.
The Pope urged those working at “Aggiornamenti Sociali” to particularly focus on three areas.  Firstly, they should integrate those sectors of society that are on the margins, where the victims of the “culture of waste” are more easily found. Secondly, they should encourage solidarity and the encounter between the older and young generations, noting that the acceleration of social change risks tearing young people away from their past and roots. Lastly, he encouraged the encounter and common action among Christians, believers of other religions and all people of goodwill.
In conclusion, the Holy Father urged to them not to be discouraged in their commitment to justice for the poor and the “care of our common home”, saying it will make them enter into the dynamic of the Beatitudes  – “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”