By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Let us pray for the anonymous victims of coronavirus…. Let us also remember that prayer opens the Father’s heart…

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed today, April 30th, during his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta.

At the start of the Mass, while remembering all victims of Coronavirus, Francis prayed for its ‘anonymous’ victims, as quarantine restrictions start to ease during the so-called ‘Phase two’ in Italy set to begin gradually on May 4th.

In his homily, the Holy Father commented on a passage from today’s Gospel passage, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.”

The Pope then asks what we can do “so that the Father will make it His business to draw people” to Jesus.

The answer he gives is simple: Prayer.

“Witness and prayer go together”, the Pope said.

“Without witness and prayer,” he said, “you cannot do the work of apostolic preaching. One’s preaching might be very beautiful, but without the Father’s action, people will not be attracted to Christ.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying: “Let us ask the Lord for the grace to live our work with witness and prayer, so that He, the Father, might draw people to Jesus.”

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.

Likewise, the Pope had a private Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, with very limited participation by others, at the Roman Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. One could watch via streaming.

It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.

In Italy where more than 25,000 people have died from coronavirus, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been eleven cases of coronavirus in the Vatican, confirmed a statement today from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.

The Vatican Museums are closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.

For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is available below:

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FULL HOMILY [translated by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]

“No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him”: Jesus reminds that the Prophets also pre-announced this. “And they shall all be taught by God.” It is God who draws to knowledge of the Son. Without this, cannot know Jesus. Yes, yes, one can study, also study the Bible, also know how He was born, what He did: this yes. However, to know Him from within, to know the mystery of Christ is only for those that are drawn by God to this.

This is what happened to the Minister of the economy of the Queen of Ethiopia. One sees that he was a pious man, and that he took the time, amid his many affairs, to go and adore God. He was a believer. And he was returning to his homeland, reading the Prophet Isaiah. The Lord takes Philip, he sends him to that place and then says to him: “Go next to him, approach that carriage,” and he hears the Minister who is reading Isaiah. He gets close to him and asks him a question: “Do you understand?” – “But how can I understand if no one guides me!”, and he asks the question: “of whom does the Prophet say this?” “Please, get into the carriage,” and during the journey — I don’t know how much time, I think at least a couple of hours — Philip explained, he explained Jesus to him.

That anxiety that this gentleman had in the reading of the Prophet Isaiah was in fact from the Father, who was attracting him to Jesus: He had prepared him, He had taken him from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to adore God and then, with this reading, He had prepared his heart to reveal Jesus , to the point that as soon as he saw the water, he said: “Can I be baptized?” And he believed.

And this fact, that no one can know Jesus without the Father drawing him — is valid for our apostolate, for our apostolic mission as Christians. I think also of the missions. “What are you going to do in the missions?” – “I’m to convert the people –. “But stop, you won’t convert anyone! It is the Father who draws hearts to recognize Jesus.” To go on mission is to witness one’s own faith; without witness, you’ll do nothing. To go on mission — and the missionaries are good! — doesn’t mean to erect great structures, things and stop like that. No, the structures must be testimonies. You can erect a hospital structure, an educational one of great perfection, of great development; however, if a structure is without Christian witness your work there won’t be the work of a witness, a work of true preaching of Jesus. It will be a very good, very good charity society, but no more!

If I want to go on mission, and I say this, if I want to engage in the apostolate, I must go with the willingness that the Father draw the people to Jesus, and witness does this. Jesus Himself says it to Peter, when he confesses that He is the Messiah: “Happy are you, Simon Peter, because the Father has revealed this to you.” It’s the Father that draws, and He draws also with our witness. “I’ll do many works, here and there and beyond, of education, of this and that . . .” however, without witness they are good things but they aren’t the proclamation of the Gospel; they aren’t posts that give the possibility that the Father will draw to knowledge of Jesus. Work and witness .

“But what can I do so that the Father is able to draw those people?” Prayer. And this is the prayer for missions: to pray that the Father will draw people to Jesus. Witness and prayer go together. Without witness and prayer apostolic preaching can’t be done, proclamation can’t be done. You do a good moral homily, do many good things — all good; however, the Father won’t have the possibility to draw the people to Jesus. And this is the center; this is the center of our apostolate, that the Father be able to draw people to Jesus. Our witness opens the doors to the people and our prayer opens the doors to the heart of the Father to draw the people — witness and prayer. And this not only for the missions, it’s also for our work as Christians. Do I truly give witness of the Christian life with my lifestyle? Do I pray that the Father may draw the people to Jesus?

This is the great rule for our apostolate everywhere, and, in a special way, for the missions; to go on mission not to engage in proselytism. Once a lady, a good lady one could see she had good will — approached me with two youngsters, a boy and a girl, and she said to me: This [boy], Father, was Protestant and he converted, I convinced him. And this [girl] was . . . “I don’t know, animist, I don’t know what she said to me, “and I converted her.” And the lady was good, good. But she was mistaken. I lost my patience somewhat and said: “But listen, you haven’t converted anyone. It’s God who touches people’s heart. And, don’t forget: witness, yes, proselytism, no.”

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to live our work with witness and prayer, so that He, the Father, can draw people to Jesus.

The Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting the faithful to make a Spiritual Communion.

Here Is the Prayer Recited by the Pope:

My Jesus, I believe You are really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. As I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As if You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.

Before leaving the Chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon “Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide.

Regina caeli laetare, alleluia.

Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

(Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.

Christ, whom You bore in your womb, alleluia,

Is Risen, as He promised, alleluia.

Pray for us to the Lord, alleluia).

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