A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Poverty; Corpus Christi; Politeness; Getting Engaged

FrancisGeneral audience: The family and the downward spiral of poverty

Vatican City, 3 June 2015 (VIS) – The living conditions that put the family to the test and render it vulnerable, starting with poverty, will be the themes of Pope Francis’ catechesis starting from today, he announced to the twenty thousand faithful attending this week’s Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The Holy Father spoke about the misery and degradation that can accompany poverty, in the suburbs of metropolises and in rural areas alike, a situation that is often aggravated by war that has a profound impact on civilians. “In truth, war is the ‘mother of all poverty’, a great predator of lives, souls, and of the dearest and most sacred affections,” he said.

However, he added, there are many families who, although poor, seek to live their daily lives with dignity, often openly trusting in God’s blessing. Nevertheless, this “must not justify our indifference, but rather increase our shame! It is almost a miracle that, even in poverty, families continue to form, and indeed preserve as best they can, the special humanity of their bonds. It is a fact that irritates those planners of well-being who consider sentiments, procreation and family bonds as a variable secondary to the quality of life. Instead, we should kneel before these families, who are a true school of humanity and who save society from barbarism.”

“What will become of us if we give in to the blackmail of violence and money, and go so far as to renounce the affections of the family? A new form of civil ethics will arise only when those responsible in public life recognise the social bond, starting with the fight against the downward spiral of poverty in the family, that leads us to the abyss.” The Pope also remarked on the contradiction inherent in today’s economy that often appears to specialise in individual well-being, but practices the widespread exploitation of family relationships. “The immense labour of the family is not quoted on balance sheets, naturally!” he exclaimed. “It is not merely a question of bread. We are talking about work, education, healthcare. It is important to be clear about this.”

“We must endeavour to stay ever closer to families afflicted by poverty,” he repeated. “In effect, social misery affects the family and at times destroys it. The lack or loss of work, or its precariousness, have serious repercussions on family life, putting relationships under stress. The living conditions in the most disadvantaged areas, with problems regarding housing and transport, as well as the reduction of social, healthcare and educational services, cause further difficulties. Added to these material factors there is also the damage caused to the family by false models, propagated by the mass media, based on consumerism and the cult of appearances, which affect the poorest social classes and increase the disintegration of family bonds.”

“The Church is Mother, and must never forget the tragedy of her children. She too must be poor, to become fruitful and to respond to so much suffering. A poor Church is a Church that practices a voluntary simplicity in her own life – in her institutions, in the lifestyle of her members – to break down walls of separation, especially those that separate us from the poor. This takes prayer and action. Let us pray intensively to the Lord to awaken us, to make our Christian families agents in this revolution of family closeness that is now so necessary. This is what the Church has been made of since the very beginning. And let us not forget,” he warned, “that the judgement of the needy, the small and the poor prefigures the judgement of God.”

The Body and Blood of Christ 

Vatican City, 7 June 2015 (VIS) – At midday today – the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or according to the better known Latin expression, Corpus Domini – the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Francis commented on the Gospel reading of this Sunday’s liturgy, which narrates the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, when Jesus, pronouncing the words, “Take; this is my body,” assigns to the bread a function “that is not solely that of simple physical nourishment, but rather that of being present in his Person in the midst of the community of believers.”

The Last Supper is “the point of arrival of all of Christ’s life. It is not merely the anticipation of His sacrifice that will be fulfilled on the Cross, but also the synthesis of an existence offered for the salvation of all of humanity.” Therefore, “when we eat this bread, we are associated with Jesus’ life, we enter into communion with Him, we undertake to achieve communion among ourselves, and to transform our life into a gift, especially to the poorest.”

Three Key Words of the Family: Please, Thank you and Sorry 

Vatican City, 13 May 2015 (VIS) - “Please, thank you and sorry” are the three words that Pope Francis “would write on the door of every family home” as they are the key to living well and in peace both inside and outside the home. They are simple words, much easier to say than to put into practice, but “they contain great strength: the strength of protecting the home, even through a thousand difficulties and trials; instead, when they are lacking, cracks gradually open up that can even lead it to collapse.”

The Pope dedicated the catechesis of today’s general audience to these three words, normally considered as the words of politeness. “A great bishop, St. Francis of Sales, said that kindness is halfway to holiness. However, beware,” he warned, “as in history we have also known a formalism of good manners that can become a mask to conceal an arid heart and lack of interest in others. … Not even religion is immune to this risk, in which formal observance may slip into spiritual worldliness. The devil who tempts Jesus shows off his good manners and cites the Sacred Scriptures. His style appears correct, but his intention is to deviate from the truth of God’s love.”


The first word is “please.” “To enter into the life of another person, even when that person forms part of our life, requires the delicacy of a non-intrusive attitude, that renews trust and respect. Confidence, then, does not authorise us to take everything for granted. Love, the more intimate and profound it is, the more it demands respect for freedom and the capacity to wait for the other to open the door of his or her heart.”

Thank You

The second phrase is “thank you.”    “At times,” observed the Holy Father, “it seems that we are becoming a civilisation of poor manners and unpleasant words. … Politeness and the capacity to thank are seen as a sign of weakness, and at times even arouse distrust. This tendency should be opposed within the family itself. We must become intransigent in the education of gratitude and recognition: the dignity of the person and social justice both come from this. If this approach is neglected in family life, it will also be lost in social life.”


The third word is “sorry,” as “when it is lacking, small cracks become larger … to the point of becoming deep trenches. It is not by chance that in the prayer taught by Jesus, the Lord’s prayer that summarises all the essential questions for our life, we find the expression ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Acknowledging our errors and being willing to restore what has been removed – respect, sincerity, love – makes one worthy of forgiveness. … If we are not capable of apologising, it means we are not capable of forgiveness either. … Many hurt feelings, many lessons in the family begin with the loss of those precious words: ‘I am sorry.’ In married life there are many arguments … but I advise you never to let the day end without making peace. And for this, a small gesture is enough.”

“These three key words for the family are simple words, and perhaps at first they make us smile. But … perhaps our education neglects them too much. May the Lord help us to restore them to their rightful place in our heart, in our home, and also in our civil co-existence.”

Engagement is a Path to Preparation
VIS 27 May

Pre-matrimonial courses are a special expression of preparation that offer engaged couples what may indeed be the sole opportunity to “reflect on their experience in terms that are not banal. Yes, many couples stay together for a long time, also intimately, at times living together, without truly knowing each other,” the Pope observed. “Therefore there is a need to re-evaluate engagement as a time to get to know each other and for sharing a plan. … And focusing also here on the essential point: the Bible, to be rediscovered together, in a conscious way; prayer, in its liturgical dimension, but also in terms of ‘domestic prayer’ … in the Sacraments … in which the Lord comes to reside in the betrothed couple and prepares them to truly accept each other with the grace of Christ; and fraternity with the poor, the needy, which leads us towards sobriety and sharing. Couples who make this commitment both grow, and all this leads to preparing a beautiful marriage celebrated in a different way, not worldly but Christian.”

The Pope invited couples to reflect on and repeat to each other the words of the prophet Hosea: “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” “May every engaged couple think of this and say to each other, ‘I will make you my spouse,’ Wait for that moment; it is a moment on a path on which one proceeds slowly, a path of ripening. One must not pass through the different stages too quickly. Ripening takes place in this way, step by step.”    

Tagged as: , , ,

Comments are closed.