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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Exodus, a fundamental experience of vocation: Pope's Message for the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Vatican City, 14 April 2015 (VIS) “Exodus, a fundamental experience of vocation” is the title of the Holy Father's Message for the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on 26 April, the fourth Sunday of Easter.

In the text, the Pope explains that at the root of every Christian vocation there is an exodus that starts from the renouncement of the comfort and inflexibility of the self in in order to go forth trustfully, like Abraham, towards the “new land” that God indicates to us. This dynamic is relevant not only to a personal calling, but also to the missionary and evangelical action of all the Church, truly faithful to her Master, “to the extent that she is a Church which 'goes forth', a Church which is less concerned about herself, her structures and successes, and more about her ability to go out and meet God’s children wherever they are, to feel compassion (com-passio) for their hurt and pain”. It is a dynamic towards God and towards man that fills life with joy and meaning, as Francis says to the young, urging them not to let uncertainties obstruct their dreams, and not to be afraid to go forth.

The following is the full text of the Message:

“Dear brothers and sisters,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter offers us the figure of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep: he calls them, he feeds them and he guides them. For over fifty years the universal Church has celebrated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this way she reminds us of our need to pray, as Jesus himself told his disciples, so that 'the Lord of the harvest may send out labourers into his harvest'. Jesus' command came in the context of his sending out missionaries. He called not only the twelve Apostles, but another seventy-two disciples whom he then sent out, two by two, for the mission. Since the Church 'is by her very nature missionary', the Christian vocation is necessarily born of the experience of mission. Hearing and following the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd, means letting ourselves be attracted and guided by him, in consecration to him; it means allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us into this missionary dynamism, awakening within us the desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God.

To offer one’s life in mission is possible only if we are able to leave ourselves behind. On this 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like reflect on that particular 'exodus' which is the heart of vocation, or better yet, of our response to the vocation God gives us. When we hear the word 'exodus', we immediately think of the origins of the amazing love story between God and his people, a history which passes through the dramatic period of slavery in Egypt, the calling of Moses, the experience of liberation and the journey toward the Promised Land. The Book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, which recounts these events is a parable of the entire history of salvation, but also of the inner workings of Christian faith. Passing from the slavery of the old Adam to new life in Christ is a event of redemption which takes place through faith. This passover is a genuine 'exodus'; it is the journey of each Christian soul and the entire Church, the decisive turning of our lives towards the Father.

At the root of every Christian vocation we find this basic movement, which is part of the experience of faith. Belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to centre our life in Jesus Christ. It means leaving, like Abraham, our native place and going forward with trust, knowing that God will show us the way to a new land. This 'going forward' is not to be viewed as a sign of contempt for one’s life, one’s feelings, one’s own humanity. On the contrary, those who set out to follow Christ find life in abundance by putting themselves completely at the service of God and his kingdom. Jesus says: 'Everyone who has left home or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life'. All of this is profoundly rooted in love. The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, 'decentring' us and triggering “an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God'.

The exodus experience is paradigmatic of the Christian life, particularly in the case of those who have embraced a vocation of special dedication to the Gospel. This calls for a constantly renewed attitude of conversion and transformation, an incessant moving forward, a passage from death to life like that celebrated in every liturgy, an experience of passover. From the call of Abraham to that of Moses, from Israel’s pilgrim journey through the desert to the conversion preached by the prophets, up to the missionary journey of Jesus which culminates in his death and resurrection, vocation is always a work of God. He leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters. Responding to God’s call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.

This exodus process does not regard individuals alone, but the missionary and evangelising activity of the whole Church. The Church is faithful to her Master to the extent that she is a Church which 'goes forth', a Church which is less concerned about herself, her structures and successes, and more about her ability to go out and meet God’s children wherever they are, to feel compassion (com-passio) for their hurt and pain. God goes forth from himself in a Trinitarian dynamic of love: he hears the cry of his people and he intervenes to set them free. The Church is called to follow this way of being and acting. She is meant to be a Church which evangelises, goes out to encounter humanity, proclaims the liberating word of the Gospel, heals people’s spiritual and physical wounds with the grace of God, and offers relief to the poor and the suffering.

Dear brothers and sisters, this liberating exodus towards Christ and our brothers and sisters also represents the way for us to fully understand our common humanity and to foster the historical development of individuals and societies. To hear and answer the Lord’s call is not a private and completely personal matter fraught with momentary emotion. Rather, it is a specific, real and total commitment which embraces the whole of our existence and sets it at the service of the growth of God’s Kingdom on earth. The Christian vocation, rooted in the contemplation of the Father’s heart, thus inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest. A disciple of Jesus has a heart open to his unlimited horizons, and friendship with the Lord never means flight from this life or from the world. On the contrary, it involves a profound interplay between communion and mission.

This exodus towards God and others fills our lives with joy and meaning. I wish to state this clearly to the young, whose youth and openness to the future makes them open-hearted and generous. At times uncertainty, worries about the future and the problems they daily encounter can risk paralysing their youthful enthusiasm and shattering their dreams, to the point where they can think that it is not worth the effort to get involved, that the God of the Christian faith is somehow a limit on their freedom. Dear young friends, never be afraid to go out from yourselves and begin the journey! The Gospel is the message which brings freedom to our lives; it transforms them and makes them all the more beautiful. How wonderful it is to be surprised by God’s call, to embrace his word, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in adoration of the divine mystery and in generous service to our neighbours! Your life will become richer and more joyful each day!

The Virgin Mary, model of every vocation, did not fear to utter her 'fiat' in response to the Lord’s call. She is at our side and she guides us. With the generous courage born of faith, Mary sang of the joy of leaving herself behind and entrusting to God the plans she had for her life. Let us turn to her, so that we may be completely open to what God has planned for each one of us, so that we can grow in the desire to go out with tender concern towards others. May the Virgin Mary protect and intercede for us all”.

Holy Father's calendar for April to June 2015

Vatican City, 14 April 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside from April to June 2015:


Sunday 26, Fourth Sunday of Easter: at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, priestly ordinations and Holy Mass.


Sunday 3, Fifth Sunday of Easter: at 4 p.m., pastoral visit to the parish of “Santa Maria Regina Pacis”, Ostia.

Tuesday 12: at 5.30 p.m., at the Altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica, Holy Mass to inaugurate the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

Sunday 17, Seventh Sunday of Easter: at 10 a.m. St. Peter's Basilica, Holy Mass for the canonisation of Blesseds Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve; Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception Brando; Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas; and Marie of Jesus Crucified Baouardy.

Sunday 24: Pentecost. At 10 a.m. Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica.


Thursday 4: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. At 7 p.m., Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica; procession to St. Mary Major and Eucharistic blessing.

Saturday 6: Apostolic trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Sunday 21 – Monday 22: Pastoral visit to Turin.

Saturday 27: At 10 a.m. in the Consistory Hall, consistory for various causes for canonisation.

Monday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. At 9.30 in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass and blessing of the Pallia of the new metropolitan archbishops.

Programme of the Pope's visit to Sarajevo

Vatican City, 14 April 2015 (VIS) – On 6 June the Pope will make an apostolic trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He will leave from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 7.30 a.m., and will arrive at Sarajevo International Airport an hour later. A welcome ceremony will be held in the square adjacent to the presidential palace, during which he will meet with the presidency of the country and the local authorities, to whom he will address his greetings.

At 11 a.m., in the Kosevo Stadium, he will celebrate Holy Mass, after which he will transfer to the apostolic nunciature where he will lunch with bishops. Following a short rest, at 4.20 p.m. he will meet with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians. An hour later he will participate in an ecumenical and interreligious meeting in the International Centre for Franciscan students.

He will meet with young people at 8.30 in the “John Paul II” diocesan youth centre, and at around 8 p.m. will return to the airport to embark on his return flight for Rome, where he is expected to arrive at 9.20 p.m.

Presentation of the Holy See Pavilion at EXPO 2015

Vatican City, 14 April 2015 (VIS) – A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the Holy See Pavilion at “EXPO Milan” 2015, Italy, to be held from 1 May to 31 October this year, which will take as its theme: “Not by bread alone”. The Pavilion was promoted, constructed and organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Italian Episcopal Conference, the diocese of Milan and the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.

The speakers at the conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and commissioner general for the Holy See for EXPO 2015; Msgr. Domenico Pompili, under-secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) and Msgr. Luca Bressan, episcopal vicar for culture, charity, the mission and social action in the diocese of Milan.

Cardinal Ravasi explained that “the presence of the Holy See Pavilion at EXPO Milan 2015 is not a novelty, considering that from the papacies of Pius IX to Benedict XVI the Holy See has taken part in international exhibitions to demonstrate the Church's desire to make her voice heard and to offer her testimony regarding the delicate themes, relevant to the future, that are from time to time proposed by the Expositions, especially in recent decades. The cultural policy of the Holy See therefore remains coherent in confirming the importance of being present and taking part in debates on crucial matters regarding the ways in which we inhabit our planet and safeguard the future”.

In particular, for EXPO 2015, the Holy See intends to guide visitors' attention towards the symbolic relevance of nourishment and the potential for the anthropological development of the theme in all its breadth and complexity. The Holy See Pavilion will take as its title two short Biblical phrases: 'Not by bread alone' and 'Give us today our daily bread', which lead towards a broad and full rather than a reductive view of human needs, and to a concrete approach mindful of daily life, with its demands and emergencies”.

Msgr. Domenico Pompili affirmed that “the intention of EXPO 2015 is to imagine another form of food justice, thereby providing the opportunity for world Countries to share ideas on how to improve food security. Its purpose is also to reconsider the role of science and research, crucial to the development of risk management technology. In the meantime, it is important to acknowledge the ongoing commitment of Italian churches to ensuring food to those in need. The participation of the Italian Episcopal Conference, alongside the Holy See and the diocese of Milan, thus represents a commitment that extends beyond the timeframe of Milan's Universal Exhibition. Over 4,000,000 people in Italy (70 per cent of whom are Italian citizens) currently live below the poverty line while the number of the most deprived requiring food aid in Italy continues to rise. These people are supported in their primary needs by almost 15,000 territorial charitable structures. Through food parcels, soup kitchens or other more innovative forms of intervention, such structures offer support to the most needy”.

Msgr. Luca Bressan commented that the Holy See Pavilion will offer to help tourists and citizens encounter “the mystical dimension, openness to God”. He added that the method to be followed will be that of posing problems and making suggestions to solve them, “used with success by Pope Francis, to show that the Church is not a sour schoolmistress but rather a sister who shares our path with lucidity and a vision of the future, a devoted mother able to show the ways and the resources of the future”. On 18 May, the Church's presence at Expo Milan 2015 will be inaugurated with a show demonstrating that the relationship with food is the place in which man's lack of harmony with Creation and with other human beings is made most tangible; “where, more than any other place, the throwaway culture is most glaringly evident”.

The feast day of Corpus Christi will be celebrated during Expo Milan 2015, offering an opportunity to show to the world that “the nourishment and future of man and of Creation are protected and generated by this bread that is, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, Who died for us and rose again, God's love made flesh. … We will be able to show how, in Jesus Christ, God makes us able to be in solidarity with all these hungers”. Expo will also serve to highlight that Christians cannot fail to be environmentally aware, since the consequences of consumerism and wastefulness that obscure the original role linked to food and the act of nourishing are clearly visible in “emergencies such as the waste of resources and the enormous inequalities in their distribution, … and in the phenomenon of pollution and the unchecked exploitation of the planet's resources”. All this “is contrary to the Creator's original plan and is the sign of a still very immature way of undertaking our task of inhabiting the planet like a garden able to nourish everyone”. Therefore, in the streets of Milan, in the abbeys that surround the city and in the “Sacri Monti” of the Alps, the feast day of Creation, a traditional event for Eastern Christians, will be celebrated and will become for the visitors of Expo Milan 2015 a form of “sentinel” for nature.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 14 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Msgr. Luigi Misto, secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as secretary of the Administrative Section of the Secretariat for the Economy;

- appointed Msgr. Mauro Rivella as secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See;

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archieparchy of Petra of Philadelphia of the Greek-Melkites, Jordan, presented by Bishop Yasser Ayyash, in accordance with canon 210 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

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