Wednesday, April 25, 2018



Festa ta' SAN MARK
Evanġelista: l-Ewwel Seklu
San Mark aktarx li kien it-tifel ta’ Marija, dik il-mara armla prominenti fil-komunita’ Nisranija ta’ Ġerusalemm, li kienet iżżomm laqgħat ta’ l-Insara fid-dar tagħha: u li San Pietru meta ġie meħlus mill-ħabs mar dritt għandha (Atti 12:13).
Probabbilment San Mark ġie mgħammed minn San Pietru stess.
Meta San Pawl u San Barnaba, li kien kugin ta’ Mark, ġew Ġerusalemm bil-karita’ li kienu ġabru minn Antjokja, Mark issieħeb magħhom u mar magħhom fl-ewwel vjaġġ missjunarju ta’ San Pawl, iżda għal xi raġuni meta kienu f’Perge tal-Pamfilja telaqhom u rritorna Ġerusalemm (Atti 13:13). Minħabba f’hekk San Pawl ma riedx lil Mark jakkompanjah fit-tieni vjaġġ tiegħu, u floku ħa lil Silas. Fuq hekk San Barnaba ma marx ma’ San Pawl, iżda flimkien ma' Mark mar Ċipru, art twelidu.
Fis-sena 61, insibu li Mark kien ma’ San Pawl f’Ruma, l-ewwel darba li San Pawl kien fil-ħabs.
Minn Ruma x’aktarx li mar Kolossi, fl-Asja żgħira. Dan nafuh mill-ittra ta’ San Pawl lill-Kolossin fejn talabhom jaqgħtuh merħba (Kol. 4:10).
Meta San Mark reġa’ mar Ruma, ħadem ma San Pietru, u kien f’dan iż-żmien li kiteb il-Vanġelu tiegħu, l-iqsar vanġelu, u kitbu bil-Grieg, għax x’aktarx li kien għall-Ġentili kkonvertiti ta’ Ruma. Ħafna minn dak li kiteb sar jafu mingħand San Pietru li kien isejjaħlu ”ibni”. L-iljun bil-ġwienaħ hu s-simbolu tal-Vanġelu tiegħu għax fih iddeskriva ’l San Ġwann Battista bħala ”vuċi tgħajjat fid-deżert”, vuċi ta’ ljun; u l-ġwienaħ għax Eżakiel kien ra viżjoni ta’ erba’ annimali bil-ġwienaħ. Mar Efesu. Dan nafuh mill-ittra ta’ San Pawl lil San Timotju fejn talbu jġib lil Mark miegħu (2 Tim. 4:11). Tradizzjoni tgħid li wara l-mewt ta’ L-Appostli, San Mark mar waqqaf il-Knisja f’Lixandra fejn x’aktarx miet martri.
Illum hu kważi ċert li dak iż-żgħażugħ li ħarab għarwien mill-Ġetsemani meta arrestaw lil Ġesù , li hu jsemmi fil-Vanġelu tiegħu, kien hu nnifsu.
Kristu bagħatni nxandar l-Evanġelju mhux bi kliem il-għerf sabiex ma jiġix fix-xejn is-salib ta’ Kristu. Il-predikazzjoni tas-salib hija bluha għal dawk li jintilfu: imma għal dawk li jsalvaw, għalina, hi l-qawwa ta’ Alla. (1 Kor. 1:17)


5 Things We Can Learn From St. Mark the Evangelist

On April 25, is the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist. The gospel that bears his name is similar in some respects to those of Matthew and Luke, and biblical scholars believe these three accounts of the public life of Jesus’ have a common source, known as the Q document. However, each of these gospels are still distinct. So what can we learn from St. Mark?
  • Mark shows Jesus in a very natural and human light. His gospel tells of Jesus being angry (3:5) and sympathetic (5:36, 6:34.) Mark also tells us that Jesus admits to things He doesn’t know, such as the appointed time for the end of the world (13:32.) [St. Joseph Edition of the New American Bible, 1970]
  • “This shortest of all New Testament gospels is likely the first to have been written, yet it often tells of Jesus’ ministry in more detail than either Matthew or Luke.”
  • Even though Mark recounts the miracles and healings Jesus performed, Jesus’ messianic identity isn’t revealed until his entrance into Jerusalem (on the day we refer to as Palm Sunday.)
  • Mark concentrates one half of his short account  to just one week of Jesus’ life: from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection. “The storyline of Mark begins on the banks of the River Jordan in the wilderness, moves into Galilee then across the Jordan to Jericho and then up to Jerusalem, where Jesus’ identity is fully revealed as Messiah, Suffering Servant and Eucharistic Lord.”
  • Unlike most of the other disciples, Matthew was not a fisherman, but a tax collector. Just as today, tax collectors were not exactly popular folks. And for Mark, his job gave him the opportunity to steal money. Yet all it took for Matthew to become a disciple was for Jesus to speak two words: “Follow me.” (Mt. 10:3) Matthew immediately answered that call, and he did it wholeheartedly.
So what can we learn from St. Mark?  We learn that our relationship with Christ should be very personal, and remember that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. We learn from Mark that, in an incredibly short time, the world can change. And Mark’s life illustrates for us that even sinners and outcasts are welcomed by Jesus.

St. Mark the Evangelist, you gave yourself completely to Christ and left behind sinful ways. Pray that we too can give ourselves to Christ with our whole hearts. Your witness to Jesus’ public life is a treasure for us; pray that we can stand grounded in the Gospel truth. We know, just as you did, that the life of a Christian is one meant to share the Good News. Pray that we may do that in every moment, every day of our life. Good St. Mark, pray for us! Amen.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

MASS ATTENDANCE: A REALITY CHECK - Vicar General, Fr Joe Galea Curmi - from: The Sunday Times of Malta on April 15, 2018

Mass attendance: a reality check
An article by the Vicar General, Fr Joe Galea Curmi, published on The Sunday Times of Malta
The Church in Malta, through Discern (the Institute of the Church for research),  commissioned a research by means of a census that took place during the first weekend of December 2017,  as well as a survey that was carried out in the following days. The Church has done this reality check because it wants to be aware of the true picture of contemporary society in order to be more pastorally effective in the coming years.
This helps us to avoid two pitfalls – one is self delusion, that is fooling ourselves by seeing what in actual fact does not exist and thus falling into complacency; the other is self flagellation, beating ourselves up and letting our pessimism hinder us from seeing what is good. We are interested in the real picture.
The preliminary results of this research show that a great number of Maltese profess the Catholic faith – 92%. Of these, a substantial number attended Mass when the census was carried out – 122,000. When children under the age of 7, the elderly and the sick in hospitals or housebound are deducted, the percentage of those who attend Mass every Sunday amounts to around 40%.
The findings of the survey also reveal that a substantial number of respondents have some contact with the Church but go to Mass less regularly, once or twice a month. Therefore, the percentage of Maltese Catholics who go to Mass at least once a month stands at around 70%. The study also deals with other matters, such as prayer, that are related to the religious life of the Maltese people.
In the light of this research, particularly with regards to Mass attendance, the believer rightly asks what will be the response of the Church? For this reason, the Archbishop is in the process of establishing a pastoral commission that will work with experts to help the Church answer such questions. I will list three points that I consider as being central to the pastoral work of the Church in the coming months.
Firstly, we must work hard so that the celebration of Mass will truly be a meaningful celebration that helps people in their encounter with the Risen Christ. Efforts  are already in place in several parishes, where we find many examples of good practice with the participation of several lay people. These efforts must be more widely known, appreciated and encouraged. We must put more heart in our endeavours so that the people who come to church are made to feel welcome. We must work hard so that the people do not deem going to Mass as something tedious and boring, but as a source of energy and life. Above all, we must underscore the intimate bond of the celebration of the Eucharist to the daily life of believers. The challenges are great, especially when one considers that, as the census has indicated, there are close to one thousand Masses held in Malta every weekend.
Secondly, we must work hard to see that young Maltese Catholics  recognise the duty, the necessity and the value of the weekly Sunday Mass. A great deal depends on how strong this conviction is from a very young age. Therefore it is the Christian family that has to sow the seed of conviction in the young ones. A striking factor that emerges from the survey is the large number of respondents who go to Mass on Sunday not regularly but every so often. This phenomenon is not unique to Malta but is prevalent in other countries around the world. These people enjoy some sort of bond but sadly it is not consistent. They are truly missing out on their journey of faith. If one is convinced about going to Mass, one will make time for it.
Thirdly, we must strive to reach out to those who have severed all contact with the Church. It emerges very clearly from the study that there are a number of Maltese people who profess to be Catholic but do not come to church. In our pastoral work, we must never be only content with those who show up, but we must also include in our hearts and prayers those that never do, those who are in the periphery, and reach out to them. While totally respecting their free life choices, we must also show these people the great value of the Mass in life and show them that they are missing an essential link to their life of faith.
In conclusion, the fundamental question about why we should go to Mass every Sunday was answered by Pope Francis himself last December: “Without Christ we are condemned to be dominated by the fatigue of everyday life, with its preoccupations and the fear of tomorrow. Meeting the Lord on Sunday gives us the strength to live today with trust and courage, and to move forward with hope. …We do not go to Mass in order to give something to God, but to receive what we truly need from him” (13.12.17). May this reality check help us to always search for the truth and drink from this life-giving source.

Fr Joe Galea Curmi
Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Malta

This article was published today, 15th April 2018, on The Sunday Times of Malta. Link:


Monday, April 16, 2018

At this Pastoral Visit to the Roman Parish of San Paolo della Croce a Corviale, Pope Francis answered questions from children in their Catechism class. One child, Emanuele, at the moment to address his question, burst into tears at the microphone. Then the Pope invites him to get closer. As soon as the child is near the Pope he falls into his arms. Emanuele asks Pope Francis, if his father, an atheist but who had his four sons baptized (Emanuele, two other brothers and a sister), after his death went to Heaven, and is not in hell. Here's what Pope Francis answers (explaining that he asked Emanuele permission to publicly report the question, which the child had whispered in his ear):
"Maybe we could cry like Emanuele when we have pain in our heart. He cries for his father who died and has had the courage to do it in front of us because there is love in his heart - he underlines - his father was an atheist but he had his four children baptized, he was a good man. It's nice that a son says his dad was "good." If that man was able to make children like that he was a good man, God is proud of your father. God has a father's heart, your dad was a good man, he's in heaven with him, I'm sure. God has a father's heart and before an unbelieving father who was able to baptize his children, would God be able to abandon him? God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier to be a believer and to have children baptized than to be a NON-believer and to have children baptized. Pray for your dad, talk to your dad. This is the answer ".


- A no-God upbringing ?
- A bullied environment ? 
- A terrible, tragic experience ?
- No one took interest to encourage you to attend to catechism meetings on the eternal existence of God ?
- Misinformation of the Bible and about God ? 




Saturday, April 14, 2018

Vatican, 8th April 2018 - Pope Francis' letter to Chilean bishops - L-ittra tal-Papa Franġisku lill-Isqfijiet taċ-Ċilì

Pope Francis' letter to Chilean bishops

The letter by Pope Francis to the Bishops of Chile, following the submission of the report by Mgr Charles J. Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta. This unofficial translation to English has been provided by Catholic News Agency
Dear brothers in the episcopate,
The reception last week of the final documents which complete the report delivered to me by my two special envoys to Chile on March 20, 2018, with a total of more than 2,300 pages, moves me to write this letter. I assure you of my prayers and I want to share with you the conviction that the present difficulties are also an occasion to re-establish trust in the Church, a trust broken by our errors and sins and in order to heal the wounds that do not cease to bleed in the whole of Chilean society.
Without faith and without prayer, fraternity is impossible. Thus, on this second Sunday of Easter, on the day of mercy, I offer you this reflection with the desire that each one of you accompany me on the inner journey that I have been traveling in recent weeks, so that it would be the Spirit who would guide us with his gift, and not our interests, or even worse, our wounded pride.
Sometimes when so many evils frighten the soul and throw us listlessly into the world buttoned up in our comfortable “winter palaces,” the love of God comes out to meet us and purifies our intentions in order to love as free, mature, and judicious men. When the media shames us, presenting a Church almost always in the darkness of the new moon, deprived of the Sun of justice, we have the temptation of doubting the Paschal victory of the Risen One. I believe that like Saint Thomas the Apostle we must not fear doubt but rather fear the pretension of wanting to see without trusting the testimony of those who heard from the lips of the Lord the most beautiful promise.
Today I want to speak to you not of assurances, but rather of the one thing that the Lord offers us to experience every day: the joy, the peace of forgiveness of our sins and the action of his grace.
In that regard I wish to express my gratitude to His Excellency Charles Scicluna, the Archbishop of Malta and to Rev. Jordi Bertomeu Farnós, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for his prodigious work in considerately and empathetically listening to the 64 testimonies he recently gathered both in New York and Santiago de Chile. I sent them to listen from the heart and with humility. Later on, when they delivered to me the report and, in particular, its juridical and pastoral assessment of the gathered information, they acknowledged before me of having felt overwhelmed with the pain of so many victims of grave abuses of conscience and power and, in particular, of the acts of sexual abuse committed by various consecrated men of your country against minors, those who were not taken seriously then and were even robbed of their innocence.
The most heartfelt and cordial gratitude we must express as pastors to those who with honesty, courage and the sense of the Church requested a meeting with my envoys and showed them the wounds of their souls. Bishop Scicluna and Rev. Bertomeu have told me how some bishops, priests and deacons, lay men and women of Santiago and Osorno came to Holy Name parish in New York or to the office of Sotero Sanz, in Providencia, with a maturity, respect and kindness that was overwhelming.
In addition, the days following that special mission, have witnessed another meritorious fact that we should keep very much in mind for other occasions, because not only has the climate of confidentiality achieved during the visit been maintained, but at no time has the temptation been yielded to to turn this delicate mission into a media circus. In that regard, I wish to thank the different organizations and media for their professionalism in treating such a delicate case, respecting the right of citizens to the information and the good reputation of the declarants.  
Now, after a careful reading of the proceedings of this “special mission,” I believe I can affirm that the collected testimonies speak in a stark way, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and I confess to you that that causes me pain and shame.
Taking all this into account, I am writing to you, meeting together in the 115th Plenary Assembly, to humbly request your collaboration and assistance in discerning the short, mid and long term measures that must be adopted to re-establish ecclesial communion in Chile, with the goal of repairing as much as possible the scandal and re-establishing justice.
I plan to call you to Rome to discuss the conclusions and the aforementioned visit and my conclusions. I have thought of that meeting has a fraternal moment, without prejudices or preconceived ideas, with the only goal of making the truth shine forth in our lives. Regarding the date, I entrust it to the Secretary of the Bishops' Conference to show me the possibilities.
As for my own responsibility, I acknowledge, and I want you to faithfully convey it that way, that I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially because of the lack of truthful and balanced information. Right now I ask forgiveness from all those I offended and I hope to be able to do so personally, in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have with representatives of the people who were interviewed.
Abide in me: these words of the Lord resound again and again in these day. They speak of personal relationships, of communion, of fraternity which attracts and summons. United to Christ as the branches are to the vine, I invite you graft into your prayers in the coming days a magnanimity that prepares us for the aforementioned meeting and will then allow what we will have reflected on to be translated into concrete actions.
It maybe even be opportune to have the Church in Chile be in ongoing prayer. Now more than ever we cannot fall back into the temptation of verbiage or dwell in “generalities.” These days, let us look at Christ. Let us look at his life and his gestures, especially when he shows compassion and mercy to those who have erred. Let us love in truth, let us ask for wisdom of heart and let us be converted.
Waiting for news from you and asking His Excellency Santiago Silva Retamales, President of the Chilean Conference of Bishops, to publish this letter as quickly as possible, I impart my blessing and ask you to please keep praying for me.
Vatican, 8th April 2018




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8th, 2018 - 'The greatest mercy is to forgive your enemies' - The Archbishop on the feast of the Divine Mercy

"The greatest mercy is to forgive your enemies" - The Archbishop on the feast of the Divine Mercy

The Archbishop celebrating Mass organised by the Pope John Paul II Foundation, on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the institution of the Divine Mercy Feast

L-omelija tal-Arċisqof Charles J. Scicluna

Il-Katidral ta' San Pawl, l-Imdina
8 ta’ April 2018
L-Evanġelju li għadna kemm smajna jgħaqqad il-Ħadd tal-Għid ma’ dak li ġara tmint ijiem wara bħal-lum. Qegħdin niċċelebraw dan il-Ħadd bħala l-Ħadd tal-Ħniena Divina għaliex Ħadd fuq l-Għid, fit-tieni Ħadd tal-Għid, meta l-imgħammdin il-ġodda għall-ewwel darba jmorru għall-Ewkaristija tal-Ħadd bħala membri sħaħ tal-komunità, minn dejjem jinqara l-Evanġelju fejn il-Mulej jagħti l-aqwa don lid-dixxipli tiegħu: “Il-paċi magħkom, is-sliem għalikom” (Ġw 20, 19).

Jekk hemm rigal li l-Mulej jagħti u li huwa verament tiegħu, kif jgħid hu stess, huwa din il-paċi “mhux bħalma tagħtihielna d-dinja imma kif jagħtihielna hu” (ara Ġw 14, 27). Hija paċi li għandha prezz għażiż u għoli: il-pjagi tiegħu. Fil-fatt, it-tislima tiegħu tagħtina l-paċi imma hu jurina wkoll idejh u ġenbu biex aħna u nħarsu lejn il-pjagi qaddisa tiegħu, nifhmu kemm hu għażiż dan ir-rigal, beix nifhmu l-prezz għoli li l-Mulej kellu jħallas għar-rikonċiljazzjoni tagħna għax din il-paċi hija frott tal-maħfra li jagħtina.

Hu qalgħalna l-maħfra; seta’ jsejjaħ lil Alla tiegħu, Alla tagħna, seta’ jsejjaħ lill-Missieru tas-sema, Missierna. Aħna nistgħu nitolbu t-talba tal-Missierna għaliex aħna tassew ulied il-Missier u fl-istess talba l-Mulej jgħallimna nitolbu maħfra ta’ dnubietna u jgħallimna wkoll naħfru lil min hu ħati għalina “Aħfrilna dnubnietna bħalma naħfru lil min hu ħati għalina” (Lq 11, 3).  
It-triq tal-fidi hija t-triq li ma tibżax mill-pjagi tal-Mulej, li qegħdin fostna fit-tbatija ta’ min hu magħkus.
Tmint ijiem wara, Tumas, li ma kienx hemm fl-ewwel Ħadd filgħaxija, jiltaqa’ mal-Mulej u jkollu l-opportunità jmiss il-pjagi ta’ Ġesù. Il-Mulej stess jgħidlu: “Ġib sebgħek hawn u ara jdejja, ressaq idek u qegħedha fuq ġenbi”. Aħna u mmissu l-pjagi ta’ Ġesù, il-Mulej ukoll ifejjaqna min-nuqqas ta’ fidi. “Tkunx bniedem bla fidi, iżda emmen” (ara Ġw 20, 27-29).  

It-triq tal-fidi hija t-triq li ma tibżax mill-pjagi tal-Mulej, li qegħdin ukoll fostna fit-tbatija ta’ min hu magħkus. Fl-inġustizzji ta’ madwarna hemm il-pjagi ta’ Ġesù u l-Mulej ikompli jgħidilna biex inressqu jdejna u npoġġuhom fuq il-pjagi ta’ madwarna għaliex jekk aħna ma nħarsux lejn il-proxxmu kif jilmħu hu, ma nistgħux ngħidu li l-fidi tagħna hija vera. Għax il-fidi tagħna, li titqanqal bl-immaġini ta’ Ġesù fl-istatwi, fil-purċissjonijiet tagħna, fid-devozzjonijiet kollha tagħna li għaddejna minnhom fil-ġranet qaddisa tal-Ġimgħa Mqaddsa, trid tkun ukoll fidi, li meta tiltaqa’ mal-pjagi ħajja ta’ Ġesù fis-sofferenza tal-bnedmin tal-lum, titqanqal ukoll fl-istess sentimenti ta’ ħniena, il-ħniena mhux biss biex nitolbu l-maħfra ta’ dnubietna, imma l-ħniena hija wkoll espressjoni tal-imħabba lejn il-proxxmu. U l-ikbar ħniena hija li taħfer lill-għedewwa u ta’ dan nitolbu l-grazzja speċjali mingħand il-Mulej.    

Jekk inħarsu lejn il-figura straordinarja ta’ San Ġwann Pawlu II, naraw eżempji qawwija u ħajjin ta’ dawn il-virtujiet. Min jista’ jinsa dik ix-xena tal-Papa Ġwanni Pawlu II jiltaqa’ ma’ Ali Agca fil-ħabs? Meta waqt li jitkellem miegħu jurih li fil-konfront ta’ min ried joqtlu għandu sentimenti ta’ ħniena u ta’ maħfra? Kemm-il darba talab maħfra tal-inġustizzji li aħna l-Insara stess nagħmlu lil xulxin u lill-proxxmu tagħna? Kemm-il darba l-kliem tiegħu qawwihom bl-eżempju?! U l-qdusija tiegħu hija kewkba kbira fil-firmament tal-Knisja.      

Illum nitolbu l-interċessjoni ta’ San Ġwann Pawlu II, li miet propju lejlet il-Ħadd tal-Ħniena Divina fl-2005, biex jieqaf mal-Knisja tiegħu u nimxu fuq il-passi li fihom jindikalna u li qiegħed jindikalna l-Papa Franġisku li sejjaħ is-Sena tal-Ħniena biex jagħti t-togħma, mhux biss lill-Pontifikat tiegħu, imma lill-missjoni imġedda tal-Knisja li twassal il-ħniena lil kulħadd u li tkun ukoll eżempju ta’ maħfra u ta’ rikonċiljazzjoni. 


I would like to share a few thoughts about the feast we are celebrating today after the Second Sunday in Easter and it is a very special Sunday. It is the Sunday when the catechumens that were baptized at the Easter Vigil, return to their communities wearing the white shawl or white dress of Baptism and are welcomed by the community as fully fletched Christians, members of the community participating at the Word of God and the Eucharist for the first time as full members of the Catholic Church. And we pray for them. 
All around the world we have hundreds of new Christians. In Malta, I had the blessing of baptizing seven adults who are now being received in their communities this morning as we speak.

But today is also Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast instituted by St John Paul II and it reminds us that Jesus in the Gospel today breathes his Spirit on the apostles and gives them his own divine power, the divine power to forgive sins. And this is something we really need to be grateful for, this divine power which is in the Church for the reconciliation of human kind.

Today, Thomas touches the wounds of Jesus and, touching the wounds of Jesus, he is healed of his unbelief. If we need to be strong in our faith, we need to touch the wounds of Jesus in people who suffer, where there is injustice, where there is war and so many wounds are there gaping at our own hearts asking to be approached to be healed in order to be strong in our faith. As Thomas, we need to touch the wounds of Jesus today and that is what we pray on this blessed Sunday.

 Charles J. Scicluna    Arċisqof ta’ Malta


Il-Qari tal-Quddiesa:

Qari I: Atti 4, 32-35

Salm: 117 (118), 2-4.16ab-18.22-24

Qari II: 1 Ġw 5, 1-6

Evanġelju: Ġw 20, 19-31