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Catholic News Service is a leading agency for religious news. It was founded by U.S. bishops in 1920, and is an office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
VATICAN CITY — Despite the chill and gusts of wind in St.
Peter’s Square, Pope Francis welcomed the beginning of spring with an
impromptu lesson about gardening and how to grow into being better
“Does a tree or plant that is diseased bloom well? No!
Does a tree or a plant that isn’t watered … bloom well? No. And does a
tree or plant with no roots bloom?” he said before delivering his
general audience talk March 21.
Christians can learn from what
makes spring flowers flourish, the pope said, because for Christians,
their root is Jesus and the water that replenishes those roots are the
sacraments and prayer, which makes lives bloom with Christian virtues
and good works.
“I wish that this spring would be for you a spring
in bloom” and an Easter that blossoms, he said. Offering a saying that
is well-known in Argentina, the pope said, “‘The flowers a tree puts
forth come from what it has underneath.’ Never cut off (one’s) roots
In his main talk, the pope continued his series on the Mass, focusing on the rite of holy Communion.
rite is a continuation of Jesus’ offer at the Last Supper, where He
said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in
him,” the pope said. The priest or deacon distributes to the faithful
“the bread of life and the chalice of salvation” in Jesus.
the celebrant breaks the consecrated bread, the people reflect on the
words spoken at the altar, proclaiming Jesus as “the Lamb of God who
takes away the sin of the world,” he said.
This moment is an
invitation, “calling us to experience the intimate union with Christ,
source of joy and holiness,” the pope said. It’s also an invitation to
an “examination of conscience, enlightened by the faith.”
one hand, “we see the distance that separates us from the holiness of
Christ; on the other, we believe that His blood was shed to take away
the sins,” the pope said.
Just as baptism washes away sin, he
said, “we are all forgiven or will be forgiven each time we approach the
sacrament of reconciliation.”
“Do not forget! Jesus always forgives. Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness,” he added.
St. Ambrose wrote, “I, who sin continually, must always have a remedy,”
he was reflecting on the salvific power of the blood shed by Christ,
the pope said.
The same faith is at work, he said, when the
assembly looks to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
and beseeches, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my
roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”
people process toward the altar to receive Communion, the pope said, “in
reality, it is Christ who comes toward us to assimilate us in Him.”
Receiving the Eucharist means letting oneself be transformed by what is received, he said.
time we take Communion, we resemble Jesus more,” increasingly being
transformed in Jesus and stripping away one’s selfishness by uniting
oneself closer with Christ, he said.
Just as the bread and wine
are turned into the real body and blood of Christ, he said, so too are
those who receive the gifts, transformed into “a living Eucharist,”
becoming “body of Christ.”
“We become what we receive,” he said.
pope said receiving Communion can be done standing “with devotion” or
kneeling, whichever has been determined by each bishops’ conference, and
Communion can be received on the tongue or, where it is permitted, in
He encouraged people to use the time after receiving Communion to pray more deeply, silently speaking with Jesus from the heart.
Eucharist makes us strong, to give us fruit, flowers of good works,” he
said. Receiving the Eucharist is receiving Jesus, who “is so good and
so great,” he transforms people.
CITY — The revelation of God’s love toward humanity is made known
through contemplating the crucifix and not just using it as work of art
or as a fashion accessory, Pope Francis said.
Through the image of
Christ crucified, the mystery of Jesus’ death “as a supreme act of
love, source of life and salvation for humanity in every age is
revealed,” the pope said March 18 before reciting the Angelus prayer
with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
invites us to turn our gaze toward the crucifix, which is not an
ornamental object or a clothing accessory — that is often abused — but a
religious sign to contemplate and comprehend,” he said.
reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. John, in which Jesus
foreshadows His death through the imagery of the grain of wheat that,
once dead, “produces much fruit.”
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life,” Jesus said.
comparison to the grain of wheat, the pope explained, was made so His
disciples would understand that the “extreme event” of His crucifixion,
death and resurrection was an act meant to bear fruit and save men and
women from the slavery of sin.
“He paid that price. This is the
mystery of Christ. Go to his wounds, enter, contemplate. Look at Jesus
but from within,” he said.
Like the grain of wheat, Pope Francis
said, Christians are also called to “lose their life” by thinking “less
of ourselves, our personal interests” and thinking more of the needs of
the least of these.
“To carry out works of charity with joy toward
those who suffer in body and spirit is the most authentic way of living
the Gospel,” Pope Francis said. “It is the necessary foundation so that
our communities may grow in brotherhood and mutual hospitality.”
— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
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