The pope is setting aside a special day for those in their ‘Golden Years’

VATICAN CITY — Celebrate Grandparents’ Day with Pope Francis at the Vatican!

The Vatican is inviting the world’s older generation to a special day and Mass with the pope in St. Peter’s Square.

All you have to do is “apply” to request attendance by writing to events@family.va or by sending a fax to +39.06.698.87272.poster elderly

 

“The Blessing of Long Life” event will be held Sunday Sept. 28 — the world day of prayer for the synod of bishops on the family — and a few weeks after National Grandparents’ Day in the U.S. (a number of countries celebrate Grandparents’ Day sometime in September or October).

The Pontifical Council for the Family, which is organizing the event, has chosen verse 18 from Psalm 71 as the theme for the day:

“Now that I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, God,
That I may proclaim your might
to all generations yet to come…”

 

Pope Francis very forcefully reminds people of the untapped riches our elders have to offer with their life experiences, faith and wisdom. He has said communities that do not care for and respect the elderly don’t have a future because they’ll be rootless without their memories.

Pope accepts kiss from elderly woman during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets an elderly woman in a wheelchair during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 5, 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope once said that, when he is feeling blue, he loves to read chapter 26 of Deuteronomy, which talks about God’s plan of letting new generations reap the fruits of their elders.

“To look at the elderly is to recognize that that man made his life’s path toward me…to realize that I am just one more link, that I have to honor those who have preceded me and that I have to allow myself to be honored by those who are going to follow.

…The wisdom of the elderly has helped me a lot and that’s why, time and again, I tend to venerate them.”

– then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in the book, “On Heaven and Earth”

 

Planting seeds of hope

agreet

Screengrab of Vatican TV footage of today’s private audience between Pope Francis and U.S. President Barack Obama.

VATICAN CITY — One of the many moments pool reporters look forward to when a head of state meets the pope is the gift exchange.

The Vatican most often offers a unique piece of artisan art with a spiritual or Vatican theme. But when it comes to gifts from visiting dignitaries, it’s anything goes: chess sets, sacred or secular art, traditional and native crafts, books and rare manuscripts or teddy bears.

Today U.S. President Barack Obama gave Pope Francis a small chest full of fruit and vegetable seeds that are used in the White House Gardens.

“If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well,” the president said.

“Como no!” the pope replied in Spanish, “Why not?” or “Of course.”

agift2

The seeds were inside individual blue velvet pouches.

“These I think are carrots,” the president said as he opened one of the pouches.

The president said the idea for the seeds came after he heard that Pope Francis had decided to open to the public the gardens at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

The custom-made box the seeds came in is made from reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore — the first cathedral in the United States and an international symbol of religious freedom.  [UPDATE: read this story by the Archdiocese of Baltimore's The Catholic Review for more interesting background on the box!]

The basilica’s cornerstone was laid by Jesuit Father John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop and archbishop in the United States.

According to the White House, the inscription on the chest reads:

Presented to His Holiness Pope Francis
by Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
March 27, 2014

In addition to the seeds for the papal gardens, the U.S. president was also passing on a donation from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which is donating enough seeds to yield several tons of produce to any charity the pope chooses.

“The gift honors the commitment of your Holiness to sow the seeds of global peace for future generations,” a White House statement said.

 

agifts3

The gifts the president received from the pope included a large bronze medallion of an angel representing solidarity and peace. The angel is “embracing and bringing together the northern and southern hemispheres of the earth, while overcoming the opposition of a dragon,” the Vatican said.

However, Pope Francis specified that the gift was actually a personal gesture from him, “from Jorge Bergoglio. When I saw it, I said: ‘I’ll give it to Obama; it’s the angel of peace,” he told the U.S. president.

The other medal, which the pope said, “is from the pope,” is a replica of a 17th-century medallion commemorating the laying of the first stone of Bernini’s colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

“I will treasure this,” Obama said.

He also received a copy of the pope’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, “Evangelii Gaudium,” a gift the pope has been giving visiting heads of state.

The president said with a smile: “I actually will probably read this in the Oval Office when I’m deeply frustrated. I’m sure it will give me strength and calm me down.”

When the remark was interpreted for the pope, he smiled, said “I hope,” and chuckled, too.

 

 

A special blessing in Rome

VATICAN CITY — Catholic News Service was proud to have U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford bless the new office of the Rome bureau, which is now just a short sprint from St. Peter’s Square.

CNS' new office at Via della Conciliazione 44

CNS Rome bureau’s new office on the Via della Conciliazione near the Vatican in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CNS has had a presence in Rome since the 1920s and the bureau’s new location, with a view of the basilica, places us “on the final leg of the pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter,” the cardinal said, a pilgrimage in search of the truth and communicating that truth.

Here is a an excerpt from the cardinal’s lovely and reflective remarks to us during the office blessing March 3. His full text will be republished by CNS’ documentary service, Origins.

“You are engaged in communication. Within the church your work on behalf of the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops would be described as ministry, a holy calling, a response to a divine welcome. Communications is your sacred profession. It requires an inner spiritual maturity and a search for more than hard facts. It requires a seeking after the truth.”

– Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, retired head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, former bishop of Baltimore, Memphis and archbishop of Denver

office blessing stafford

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford blessing the CNS Rome bureau’s new office March 3. He is surrounded by CNS director and editor-in-chief Tony Spence, the staff of the Rome bureau and family members. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

 

After the blessing, CNS hosted a small party, inviting Vatican officials, religious involved in communications, journalists and friends from the United States and around the world.

Here is one of the many distinguished guests who stopped by:

cardinal burke spence rocca

From left, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signature; Tony Spence, CNS director and editor-in-chief; Francis X. Rocca, Rome bureau chief.

An intern’s farewell to CNS & Rome

By Caroline Hroncich

1240457_10151633937698951_618053725_n

During my first week in Rome, I attended Pope Francis’ Prayer for Peace in Syria (CNS Photo/ Caroline Hroncich)

VATICAN CITY — When I got off the bus before heading into the office on Thursday, I walked down Via della Conciliazione and ended up in St. Peter’s Square. I stopped for a while in front of the Christmas tree, and looked around the square. Over the past four months I’ve been in St. Peter’s Square on many occasions, but there’s something about doing it for one last time that really makes you think.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in my professor’s office at Villanova University discussing the possibility of interning with the Catholic News Service Rome bureau for the semester. I’d never so much as been outside of the United States before, and was unsure what to expect when I set foot in Rome for the first time. But four months later, I can safely say I’ve learned so much about journalism, the Vatican and myself.

jlo2

My “paparazzi” photo of Jennifer Lopez leaving a store near the Vatican (CNS Photo/Caroline Hroncich)

I felt truly welcomed by the CNS staff and honestly felt like this was a place where I could be creative and explore my own ideas. I’ve met so many wonderful people and explored so many new things I could go on for hours about how great each opportunity has been. I took paparazzi shots of Jennifer Lopez, I sat in the ‘VIP’ section at the papal audience, I helped out with the office move, just to mention a few of my many adventures.

When I arrived at Villanova two and a half years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to be. With so much pressure to decide, the infamous “undeclared” loomed on my transcript until about the last possible second. Once I decided on communications I faced a bigger challenge: What exactly did I want to do with my life? I’d tried my hand in a few areas, but none seemed to fit.

Writing has always been something that I’ve enjoyed, and interning at CNS really helped me realize that. With the help of the entire CNS staff, I conducted my first interview, wrote my first news story, and my first blog post.

Capture

A photo I took of Pope Francis arriving at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 20 (CNS Photo/Caroline Hroncich)

This semester has made me realize that regardless of what I end up doing in the future, if I don’t get to write, I won’t truly be happy. I’m thrilled that I’ve been one of the lucky few to have had this experience.

When I board my flight back to the United States on December 21, I will be filled with many mixed emotions. When I think about the things I will miss about Rome (most of which will involve food), CNS trumps it all. In the future, if I return to Rome, I know one of the first places I will visit is the CNS office on Via della Conciliazione.

Editor’s note: Caroline Hroncich is a student at Villanova University and she interned at Catholic News Service’s Rome bureau for the semester.

- – -

Be sure to check out some of the other stories Caroline wrote during her time here:

English photographer strives to capture spirituality of the homeless

A Jesuit promotes human dignity, from Central America to the Holy See

Vatican official says not to expect papal encyclical on poverty

From New Jersey to the Vatican, opening a dialogue with the Gospel

A trip down under: Exploring the Vatican necropolis

Analog popes taking tentative taps in a digital age

POPE READS BOOK AT CASTEL GANDOLFO

Retired Pope Benedict XVI working at a desk at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, July 23, 2010. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Though he prefers to use pencil and paper, the pope emeritus is fascinated by high-tech tools.

Retired Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, told reporters yesterday that the pope shows great interest in the archbishop’s iPad.

“When I show him something on the iPad, and I’m making the information slide by on the screen with my fingers, these new technologies pique his interest from time to time,” he said.

The 57-year-old archbishop said the retired pope “doesn’t think these things are ruled out for an elderly person” like himself.

In fact, some may remember, Pope Benedict became the first pope in history to own an iPod when Vatican Radio staff gave him a 2-gigabyte white nano in 2006.

When the head of the radio’s technical and computer services department identified himself and handed the pope the boxed iPod, the pope was said to have replied, “Computer technology is the future.”

It’s doubtful he’s ever used the iPod, even though it was loaded with works by his favorite composers, like Mozart.

He never used the laptop he got as a gift just a few days after he broke his right wrist in 2009, preferring to use a voice recorder instead to put down his thoughts and ideas.

POPE SENDS FIRST TWITTER MESSAGE DURING GENERAL AUDIENCE AT VATICAN

Pope Benedict posting his first tweet on his Twitter account @Pontifex Dec. 12, 2012. (CNS photo/L ‘Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

But he tapped away with no problems when presented with a tablet launching the very first @Pontifex Twitter accounts and tweets almost exactly one year ago today, and when he inaugurated the Vatican’s online news portal, news.va in 2011.

POPE BENEDICT LIGHTS UP ELECTRONIC CHRISTMAS TREE IN ITALIAN TOWN USING TABLET AT VATICAN

Pope Benedict lights up one of the world’s largest electronic Christmas trees in Gubbio, Italy, using an electronic tablet at the Vatican Dec. 7, 2011. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

He also lit the world’s largest electronic Christmas “tree” from a Sony S Tablet two years ago from his papal apartment.

Though he isn’t immersed in the digital world, Pope Benedict repeatedly endorsed it as the new frontier for evangelization.

Pope Francis, too, is no digital native. As most people know, he prefers phonecalls and letters to IM and email.

Pope Francis launches smartphone app Missio featuring Catholic news, papal homilies, missionary efforts

Pope Francis launching the Missio app with national directors of pontifical mission societies May 17 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo)

Though he launched the Pontifical Mission Societies’ Missio App in May, he, like his predecessor, needed close coaching to figure out what to press on the iPad’s smooth button-less screen.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he once said that he would try to start using the Internet when he retired.  Obviously a plan that now may be delayed.

Most mentions? Check out our ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ wordcloud

Wordle: The Joy of the GospelVATICAN CITY — “God,” “church,” and “people” get the most mentions in Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel.”  Click on either image to enlarge.

With this handy word cloud, you can see “life,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “new,” “one,” and “Gospel” are all close behind. In case you’re wondering what “AAS” is, it’s for “Acta Apostolicae Sedis,” which appears often in the footnotes in reference to other official texts. SnipImage

book coverIf you haven’t got your copy of “The Joy of the Gospel” yet, remember you can:

And in case you missed it, yesterday we posted:

Happy reading! And a have blessed Thanksgiving!

Pope Francis ranks #1 most talked about name on the net

VATICAN CITY — Of the 1.83 billion people chatting and posting in English on the Internet, guess what they’ve been talking about most ?

Pope leads general audience at Vatican

Crowd captures Pope Francis on their mobile devices as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square May 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Not only is Pope Francis the most talked about name of 2013, his twitter handle @Pontifex ranks in the top-five “top words” on the World Wide Web.

The Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor combs the web and ranks the words, phrases and names that get the heaviest and widest usage in the English language worldwide.

The results of their annual survey of top terms used during 2013 rank “Pope Francis” as the #1 proper name most talked about on the web ahead of “ObamaCare” and “NSA” — the U.S. National Security Agency.

@Pontifex ranked fourth in the list of top words being used.

http 404Coming in first for top words on the Internet, according to GLM, was “404” — an HTTP code that appears after trying to follow a broken link; second  goes to “fail,” which was a popular catchphrase and Internet meme depicting failed outcomes; and third is “hashtag” — the pound sign that turns any word or phrase into a kind of metadata tag #LookItUp.

Some past top words and names from other years include “Apocalypse,” “Occupy,” “Newtown,” and “Steve Jobs.”

GLM said it determines the top words, names and phrases by analyzing “global discourse” on the Internet, blogs, media outlets and social media.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 750 other followers