Continuing his weekly series of catechetical addresses on Christian hope, Pope Francis devoted his February 1 general audience to “the helmet of hope.”
“Today we turn to the earliest writing of the New Testament, Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians,” Pope Francis recalled in his address, which he delivered in Paul VI Audience Hall.“
The Apostle writes to confirm this young Christian community in its faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, but he also speaks of the meaning of this mystery for the life of each believer,” he continued. “For Christ is the first fruits of the future resurrection.”
The Pope added:
Before the mystery of death, and the loss of our loved ones, we Christians are challenged to hope more firmly in the Lord’s promise of eternal life. Paul tells the Thessalonians to wear the hope of salvation like a helmet (1 Thess 5:8), in the knowledge that, because Christ is risen, the object of our hope is certain.
Christian hope, then, is a way of life; we live daily in expectation of the resurrection. In that same hope, and in the communion of the Church, we pray too that those who have gone before us will live for ever in Christ. Let us ask the Lord to strengthen us in the sure expectation that one day we will be united with him, and all our loved ones, in the joy of the resurrection.
The prayer intention of Pope Francis for February 2017 is “that all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.”
In a video message, the Pope remarks that while new developments grow in cities, “they abandon a part of themselves to marginal settlements on the periphery.” He says that “great sections of the population are excluded and marginalized: without a job, without options, without a way out.”
“Don’t abandon them,” the Pope urged, calling the faithful to join in prayer for those who are suffering.
This year the Vatican has inaugurated a new system for announcing the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. Rather than announcing two intentions (one general intention, one for the missions) in advance each month, the Pope is working with the Apostleship of Prayer to create a video message promoting one intention each month.
An Iraqi archbishop has welcomed the new US policy—set in an executive order by President Trump—that gives preference to religious minorities in applications for refugee status.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that the policy would preferential treatment would be a boon to suffering Christians in the Middle East. He made a point of saying that this would be true only if the policy offered support fo all religious minorities, not only Christians. Earlier this week another Iraqi prelate, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, had said that a preference for Christians could ultimately harm Iraqi Christians, by increasing resentments among their Muslim neighbors.
Archbishop Warda said that Iraqi Christians “celebrated when Trump won,” hoping that the new American leader would change policies that had ignored the suffering of Christians.
Ironically, the archbishop was denied permission to visit the US, for a scheduled discussion of religious persecution, because of another policy set by the controversial Trump executive order. (See today’s separate CWN headline story.)
“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~ G.K. Chesterton