POPE FRANCIS VISIT TO CYPRUS
2-4 DECEMBER 2021
Dear brothers and sisters
Parishioners and faithful,
We are waiting with joy for Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus from 2 to 4 December; wishing that it may bear spiritual fruits to all of us, so that lead by the Holy Spirit we can be instruments of God's Love and Peace.
In preparation for this blessed visit, we chose some quotes from Encyclical and Apostolic Letters of the Holy Fathers, for 31 days, to be meditated before, during and after this visit, to go deeper in our spiritual life, and to feel the presence of God in our lives.
May these meditations spread joy, hope, love and fraternal unity in our Christian society.
God bless you.
† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus
Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we can allow ourselves to be guided by three words: memory, passion and comfort.
Memory. To remember means "to return with the heart". It is good for us to nurture our memory with those who have loved us, taken care of us, lifted us up. The Heart of Jesus reminds us that whatever happens to us in life, we are loved.
Passion. The Heart of Christ is an impassioned heart, wounded by love, torn open for us on the cross. That tenderness and suffering, that Heart reveals what God's passion is: man.
Comfort. It is a strength that does not come from us, but from him who is with us: Jesus, the God-with-us. Let us encourage ourselves with that certainty, with the comfort of God. And asked the Sacred Heart for the grace to be able to comfort in our turn.
Pope Francis, November 5, 2021
Contemplation of the Heart of Christ
“REJOICE AND BE GLAD” (Mt 5:12), Jesus tells those persecuted or humiliated for his sake. The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1).
The Letter to the Hebrews presents a number of testimonies that encourage us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us”. It speaks of Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Gideon and others Above all, it invites us to realize that “a great cloud of witnesses” impels us to advance constantly towards the goal. These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.
Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate”- March 19, 2018
Meditation on the call to Holiness
“ I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!
Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”- November 24, 2013
Meditation on the love of Jesus Christ.
God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself “became poor” (2 Cor 8:9). The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor. Salvation came to us from the “Yes” uttered by a lowly maiden from a small town on the fringes of a great empire. The Saviour was born in a manger, in the midst of animals, like children of poor families; he was presented at the Temple along with two turtledoves, the offering made by those who could not afford a lamb (cf. Lk 2:24; Lev 5:7); he was raised in a home of ordinary workers and worked with his own hands to earn his bread. When he began to preach the Kingdom, crowds of the dispossessed followed him, illustrating his words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). He assured those burdened by sorrow and crushed by poverty that God has a special place for them in his heart: “Blessed are you poor, yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk 6:20); he made himself one of them: “I was hungry and you gave me food to eat”, and he taught them that mercy towards all of these is the key to heaven (cf. Mt 25:5ff.).
Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”- November 24, 2013
Meditation on the poor
Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God’s wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.
Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”- November 24, 2013
Meditation on the Spirit-filled evangelizers
In union with Jesus, we seek what he seeks and we love what he loves. In the end, what we are seeking is the glory of the Father; we live and act “for the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph 1:6). If we wish to commit ourselves fully and perseveringly, we need to leave behind every other motivation. This is our definitive, deepest and greatest motivation, the ultimate reason and meaning behind all we do: the glory of the Father which Jesus sought at every moment of his life. As the Son, he rejoices eternally to be “close to the Father’s heart” (Jn 1:18). If we are missionaries, it is primarily because Jesus told us that “by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (Jn 15:8). Beyond all our own preferences and interests, our knowledge and motivations, we evangelize for the greater glory of the Father who loves us.
Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”- November 24, 2013
Meditation on the evangelization
We have come to believe in God's love: in these words, the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16). In acknowledging the centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel's faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The pious Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed the heart of his existence: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). Jesus united into a single precept this commandment of love for God and the commandment of love for neighbor found in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31). Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.
Pope Benedictus XVI, “Encyclical Letter”- December 25, 2005
Meditation on the God’s Love
We all have ears, but very often we cannot hear. There is, in fact, an interior deafness worse than the physical one: the deafness of the heart that we can ask Jesus to touch and heal today.
This is the medicine: fewer useless words and more of the Word of God. Let us hear the words of the Gospel addressed to us: “Ephphatha, be opened!” Jesus, I want to open myself to your Word, open myself to listen. Heal my heart.
Pope Francis, Tweet of September 05, 2021
Meditation on Listening to the Word of God
In the Gospel (Mk 6:1-6), Jesus invites us to have eyes and hearts free of prejudices and open to be amazed at God’s surprises, at His humble and hidden presence in daily life.
Like Jesus' fellow villagers, we risk not recognizing him. An abstract and distant God who doesn't get himself involved in situations is more comfortable. God incarnated Himself: humble, tender, hidden, drawing near to us, living the normality of our daily life.
Pope Francis, Tweet of July 04, 2021
Meditation on Recognizing the presence of God in our life
To celebrate the Eucharist, we need first to recognize our thirst for God, to sense our need for him, to long for his presence and love, to realize that we cannot go it alone.
We cannot break bread on Sunday if our hearts are closed to our brothers and sisters. We cannot partake of that Bread if we do not give bread to the hungry. We cannot share that Bread unless we share the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in need.
The Eucharist gives us the courage to reach out with love toward the fragility of others. As God does with us. This is the logic of the Eucharist: we receive Jesus who loves us and heals our fragilities in order to love others and help them in their fragilities.
Pope Francis, Tweet of June 07, 2021
Meditation on Eucharist
May the Holy Spirit teach us to view the world with God’s eyes and to treat our brothers and sisters with the gentleness of His heart.
The Holy Spirit impels us to love not only those who love us and think as we do, but to love everyone, even as Jesus taught us. He enables us to forgive our enemies and the wrongs we have endured. He inspires us to be active and creative in love.
Pope Francis, Tweet of May 28-29, 2021
Meditation on the Holy Spirit
The unity of all divided humanity is the will of God. For this reason he sent his Son, so that by dying and rising for us he might bestow on us the Spirit of love. On the eve of his sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus himself prayed to the Father for his disciples and for all those who believe in him, that they might be one, a living communion.
This is the basis not only of the duty, but also of the responsibility before God and his plan, which falls to those who through Baptism become members of the Body of Christ, a Body in which the fullness of reconciliation and communion must be made present. How is it possible to remain divided, if we have been "buried" through Baptism in the Lord's death, in the very act by which God, through the death of his Son, has broken down the walls of division? Division "openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature".
St John Paul II, Encyclical Letter - May 25, 1995
Meditation on the Unity
The Incarnate Word has left us an example of how to communicate with the Father and with humanity, whether in moments of silence and recollection, or in preaching in every place and in every way.
He explains the Scriptures, expresses himself in parables, dialogues within the intimacy of the home, speaks in the squares, along the streets, on the shores of the lake and on the mountaintops. The personal encounter with him does not leave one indifferent, but stimulates imitation: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops,” (Mt 10:27).
St John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, January 24, 2005
Meditation on the communication
The wounds of Jesus are open channels between him and us, shedding mercy upon our misery. They are pathways that God has opened up for us to enter into his tender love and actually “touch” who he is. Let us never again doubt his mercy.
Mercy is made tangible, it becomes closeness, service, care for those in difficulty. I hope you will always feel you have been granted mercy, so as to be merciful to others in turn.
So let us be renewed by the peace, forgiveness and wounds of the merciful Jesus. Only in this way will our faith be alive. Only in this way will we proclaim the Gospel of God, which is the Gospel of mercy.
Pope Francis, Tweets of April 11, 2021
Meditation on the Mercy
How many times have we told the Lord: “Lord, I will come to you later... I can’t come today. Tomorrow I will begin to pray and do something for others”. In this life, we will always have things to do and excuses to offer, but right now is the time to return to God
May we not let this time of grace pass in vain, in the foolish illusion that we can control the times and means of our conversion to the Lord!
Pope Francis, Tweets of April 23, 2021
Meditation on the Conversion
“In imitation of the Holy Family, we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit: it must be founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope,” the Pope said.
“Within the family, one can experience sincere communion when it is a house of prayer, when the affections are serious, profound, pure, when forgiveness prevails over discord, when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will. In this way, the family opens itself to the joy that God gives to all those who know how to give joyfully.”
Pope Francis, Zenit December 27, 2020
Meditation on the Family
The sacred liturgy of these days reechoes the same message: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, after His resurrection stood in the midst of His disciples and said: Peace be upon you, alleluia. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord." It is Christ, therefore, who brought us peace; Christ who bequeathed it to us: "Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you."
Let us, then, pray with all fervor for this peace which our divine Redeemer came to bring us. May He banish from the souls of men whatever might endanger peace. May He transform all men into witnesses of truth, justice and brotherly love. May He illumine with His light the minds of rulers, so that, besides caring for the proper material welfare of their peoples, they may also guarantee them the fairest gift of peace.
St John XXIII, Encyclical Letter “Pacem in Terris” –April 11, 1963
Meditation on Peace
The Apostles held undeviatingly to the principles of their divine Master. When the Holy Spirit had descended on them in the form of fiery tongues, Peter expressed his invitation to the multitudes to seek rebirth in Christ and to accept the gifts of the most holy Paraclete in these words: "Do penance and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Paul too, the teacher of the Gentiles, announced to the Romans in no uncertain terms that the kingdom of God did not consist in an attitude of intellectual superiority or in indulging the pleasures of sense.
It consisted in the triumph of justice and in peace of mind. "For the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
St John XXIII, Encyclical Letter “Paenitentiam Agree” –July 1, 1962
Meditation on Penance
Dear brothers and sisters, at our age it is natural to revisit the past in order to attempt a sort of assessment. This retrospective gaze makes possible a more serene and objective evaluation of persons and situations we have met along the way. The passage of time helps us to see our experiences in a clearer light and softens their painful side. Sadly, struggles and tribulations are very much a part of everyone's life. Sometimes it is a matter of problems and sufferings which can sorely test our mental and physical resistance, and perhaps even shake our faith. But experience teaches that daily difficulties, by God's grace, often contribute to people's growth and to the forging of their character.
Beyond single events, the reflection which first comes to mind has to do with the inexorable passage of time. “Time flies irretrievably”, as the ancient Latin poet put it. Man is immersed in time; he is born, lives and dies within time. Birth establishes one date, the first of his life, and death another, the last: the “alpha” and the “omega”, the beginning and end of his history on earth. The Christian tradition has emphasized this by inscribing these two letters of the Greek alphabet on tombstones.
St John Paul II, Letter to the Elderly– 1999
Meditation on Elderly
Jesus said: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (Jn 4,34). With these words, he reveals that the personal project of existence is written in the provident plan of the Father. To discover it we have to abandon a too earthly interpretation of life, and place in God the foundation and meaning of our own existence.
Above all, vocation is a gift of God: it is not about choosing, but being chosen; it is the response to a love that precedes and accompanies. For the one who bows to the will of the Lord, life becomes a good received, which by its very nature tends to transform itself into an offering and a gift.
St John Paul II, Messages “Message for the XXXVI World Day of Prayer for Vocations” –April 25, 1999
Meditation on Vocation
Prior to every word of ours about God, there is His word to us, His Word who continues to tell us: “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I am at your side and I will always be there”.
May the Word of God sown in the soil of our hearts, lead us in turn to sow hope through closeness to others. Just as God has done with us.
Let us not ignore God’s word! It is a love letter, written to us by the One who knows us best. In reading it, we again hear his voice, see his face and receive his Spirit
Pope Francis, tweets of January 24, 2021
Meditation on Word of God
Charity is love received and given. It is “grace” (cháris). Its source is the wellspring of the Father's love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Love comes down to us from the Son. It is creative love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated. Love is revealed and made present by Christ (cf. Jn 13:1) and “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5). As the objects of God's love, men and women become subjects of charity, they are called to make themselves instruments of grace, so as to pour forth God's charity and to weave networks of charity.
Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter “Caritas in Veritate” - 2009
Meditation on Charity
We believe that this only God is absolutely one in His infinitely holy essence as also in all His perfections, in His omnipotence, His infinite knowledge, His providence, His will and His love. He is He who is, as He revealed to Moses; and He is love, as the apostle John teaches us: so that these two names, being and love, express ineffably the same divine reality of Him who has wished to make Himself known to us, and who, "dwelling in light inaccessible," is in Himself above every name, above everything and above every created intellect.
God alone can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light. The mutual bonds which eternally constitute the Three Persons, who are each one and the same divine being, are the blessed inmost life of God thrice holy, infinitely beyond all that we can conceive in human measure. We give thanks, however, to the divine goodness that very many believers can testify with us before men to the unity of God, even though they know not the mystery of the most holy Trinity.
Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter “Solemni Hac Liturgia” –June 30, 1968
Meditation on Faith
Mother and Teacher of all nations—such is the Catholic Church in the mind of her Founder, Jesus Christ; to hold the world in an embrace of love, that men, in every age, should find in her their own completeness in a higher order of living, and their ultimate salvation. She is "the pillar and ground of the truth." To her was entrusted by her holy Founder the twofold task of giving life to her children and of teaching them and guiding them—both as individuals and as nations—with maternal care. Great is their dignity, a dignity which she has always guarded most zealously and held in the highest esteem.
Christianity is the meeting-point of earth and heaven. It lays claim to the whole man, body and soul, intellect and will, inducing him to raise his mind above the changing conditions of this earthly existence and reach upwards for the eternal life of heaven, where one day he will find his unfailing happiness and peace.
St John XXIII, Encyclical Letter “Mater Et Magistra” –May 15, 1961
Meditation on Church
Around Christ in the Eucharist the Church grows as the people, temple and family of God: one, holy, Catholic and apostolic. At the same time she understands better her character of universal sacrament of salvation and visible reality with a hierarchical structure. Certainly "no Christian community can be built up unless it has its basis and centre in the celebration of the most Holy Eucharist " (ibid., 33; cfr Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6). At the end of every Mass, when the celebrant takes leave of the assembly with the words "Ite, Missa est", all should feel they are sent as "missionaries of the Eucharist" to carry to every environment the great gift received.
In fact anyone who encounters Christ in the Eucharist cannot fail to proclaim through his or her life the merciful love of the Redeemer.
St John Paul II, Message “Eucharist and Mission” – 2004
Meditation on Mission
To understand God's plan for our lives better, let us seek to strengthen our relationship with Him through Prayer. Thus we will discover that God is a compassionate Father who always takes care of us.
The person who prays is like someone in love with the beloved in his or her heart wherever they go.
So we can pray at any moment, and during what happens every day: on the street, in the office, on public transportation, through words and in the silence of our hearts.
Pope Francis – Tweets of February 10, 2021
Meditation on Prayer
Organized and efficient structures will not suffice to improve our life as a human community. We need the flavour of solidarity: society rediscovers its flavor through the gratuitous generosity of those who spend their lives for others.
None can stand apart, either as individuals or as a nation. Cultivate the beauty of the whole. It requires patience and effort, courage and sharing, enthusiasm and creativity. Yet it is the human work blessed by heaven above.
Pope Francis – Tweets of September 13, 2021
Meditation on solidarity
Prayer is vital for life: just as we cannot live without breathing, so we cannot be Christians without praying.
There is no better way to pray than to place oneself like Mary in an attitude of openness, with a heart open to God: ‘Lord, what you want, when you want, and how you want’.
Mary’s secret is humility. It is her humility that attracted God’s gaze to her. Today, looking at Mary assumed into heaven, we can say that humility is the way that leads to Heaven.
Pope Francis – Tweets of August 13-15, 2021
Meditation on pray like Mary
Chosen in advance to be the Mother of the incarnate Word, Mary is at the same time the first fruits of His redeeming action. The grace of Christ the Redeemer acted in her in anticipation, preserving her from original sin and from any contagion of guilt.
This is why Mary is "full of grace" (Lk 1: 28), as the Angel affirms when he brings her the announcement of her divine motherhood. The human mind cannot claim to understand so great a miracle and mystery. It is faith which reveals to us that the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin is a pledge of salvation for every human creature, a pilgrim on this earth. Again, it is faith which reminds us that by virtue of her unique position, Mary is our steadfast support in the arduous struggle against sin and its consequences.
St John Paul II – Angelus of December 8, 2003
Meditation on Mary
“Rejoice in the Lord always.... The Lord is near" (Phil 4: 4-5).
With these words of the Apostle Paul the liturgy invites us to be joyful. It is the Third Sunday of Advent and is known as "Gaudete" Sunday for this very reason. These are the words the Servant of God Pope Paul VI chose for his memorable Apostolic Exhortation on Christian joy: "Gaudete in Domino!".
To know that God is not distant but close, not indifferent but compassionate, not aloof but a merciful Father who follows us lovingly with respect for our freedom: all this is a cause of deep joy which the alternating ups and downs of daily life cannot touch.
An unmistakable feature of Christian joy is that it can go hand in hand with suffering, since it is based entirely on love. Indeed, the Lord who "is near", to the point of becoming man, comes to fill us with his joy, the joy of loving. Only in this way can we understand the serene joy of the martyrs even amid trial, or the smile of saints, full of charity for those who are suffering: a smile that does not offend but consoles.
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Lk 1: 28). The Angel's announcement to Mary is an invitation to rejoice. Let us ask the Holy Virgin for the gift of Christian joy.
St John Paul II – Angelus of December 14, 2003
Meditation on Joy
The image of Christ the Teacher was stamped on the spirit of the Twelve and of the first disciples, and the command "Go...and make disciples of all nations" set the course for the whole of their lives. St. John bears witness to this in his Gospel when he reports the words of Jesus: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." It was not they who chose to follow Jesus; it was Jesus who chose them, kept them with Him, and appointed them even before His Passover, that they should go and bear fruit and that their fruit should remain. For this reason He formally conferred on them after the resurrection the mission of making disciples of all nations.
The whole of the book of the Acts of the Apostles is a witness that they were faithful to their vocation and to the mission they had received. The members of the first Christian community are seen in it as "devoted to the apostles" teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Without any doubt we find in that a lasting image of the Church being born of and continually nourished by the word of the Lord, thanks to the teaching of the apostles, celebrating that word in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and bearing witness to it before the world in the sign of charity.
St John Paul II – Apostolic Exhortation “Catechesi Tradendae” - October 16, 1979
Meditation on Apostolate
Do not be afraid: these are words the Lord addresses to you, dear sister and brother, whenever you feel you can no longer delay your desire to give your life to him. It is a refrain accompanying all who say yes to God with their lives, through daily fidelity.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus consoles his shepherds. If you remain close to the Lord, to the bishop, among yourselves, and to the people of God; if you maintain God's style - nearness, compassion and tenderness - you need not be afraid: everything will go well.
Jesus the Good Shepherd defends, knows, and above all loves his sheep. This is why He gives His life for them. Love for his sheep, for each one of us, would lead him to die on the cross. For this is the Father’s will: that no one should be lost.
Pope Francis – Tweets of April 25, 2021