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Vatican City, Apr 24, 2014 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis rebuked Christians who are “afraid of joy” and “mournful,” encouraging them to remember that Jesus Christ accompanies them.

“We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy,” he said in his homily during Easter Thursday Mass at the Santa Marta Residence in the Vatican, Vatican Radio reports.

He said there are Christians whose lives “seem to be a perpetual funeral” and who “prefer sadness to joy.”

“They move about in the shadows, not in the light of joy,” he said, comparing them to night-time animals like bats.

The Pope joked that there are “Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.”

Instead, the Pope advised, Christians should look to the joy of the Resurrection.

“Do you talk with Jesus? Do you say to Jesus: ‘I believe that You are alive, that You are risen, that You’re near me. That You will never abandon me’?” the Pope asked.

“A Christian life should be this: a dialogue with Jesus, because – this is true – Jesus is always with us, always there alongside us with our problems and our difficulties, with our good works.”

He suggested that mournful Christians have been “burnt by the drama of the Cross” and feel that it is better to keep God at a distance.

“We ask the Lord to do for all of us what he did for the disciples who were afraid of joy: to open our minds,” Pope Francis said, citing the Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus opened their minds “to understand the Scriptures.”

“Let Him open our minds and help us understand that He is a living reality, that He has a body, that He is with us, that He accompanies us and He has won,” the Pope said.

“We ask the Lord for the grace to not be afraid of joy.”

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Vatican City, Apr 24, 2014 / 05:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Media frenzy over an alleged phone call Pope Francis made to a divorced and remarried woman allowing her to receive Communion has seen a rise in conflicting details – and has been lamented by the Vatican as causing “confusion.”

Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said today that the Holy See will not officially comment on the alleged phone call Pope Francis made to an Argentinean woman this week, as the pontiff's “personal pastoral” relationships “do not in any way form part of the Pope's public activities.”

“That which has been communicated in relation to this matter,” he stressed in an April 24 statement, “and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is a source of misunderstanding and confusion.”

The story of a woman in Argentina that allegedly received a phone call from Pope Francis on Easter Monday, giving her “permission” to receive Communion since she is married with a divorced man, has become more complex and doubtful in some of its details.

The situation involves Jaquelina Lisbona, 47, and Julio Sabetta, 50, of San Lorenzo – a small city 185 miles North West from Buenos Aires.

Sabetta was married into the Catholic church in 1985, but got legally divorced in 1992. In 1994, he was re-introduced to Jaquelina – they had been boyfriend and girlfriend in their teens – and the two started to live together in a civil union. Since then, they had two children, Candela and Josefina, aged 17 and 14, respectively.

Six years ago, during Candela's preparation for her confirmation – both daughters have been baptized, received first Holy Communion and have been confirmed – the local pastor at that time, who has been erroneously described as having left the priesthood by some news sources, told Jaquelina that she could not receive Communion because of her marital status.

Last September, encouraged by a friend, she decided to write Pope Francis about her situation and her desire to receive Communion.

The story of the Pope's “permission” to Jaquelina to receive Communion was first posted on Monday evening by Sabetta on his Facebook Page when he wrote: “Today one of the most beautiful things happened to me since the birth of my two daughters, I got a call in my home from none other than Pope Francis, it was a big emotion, we cannot figure it out yet, this call was originated by my wife who sent him a letter and he took his time to call her and talk to her and I can assure you that when he talks, he gives you total peace. Thanks God for this blessing!”

The story was originally picked up by local radio station “La Red,” and local newspaper “La Capital.” It was then mentioned by the national Argentinean News Agency TELAM and by Wednesday the news story spread globally, including the Drudge Report.

What the Pope exactly told Jaquelina is a matter of controversy. Speaking to La Red, Jaquelina said that after talking for about ten minutes with the Pope, he allegedly told her that there are some priests that are “more Papist than the Pope” and that she should “go to confession and start taking Communion at a different parish.”

In a second interview, overwhelmed by the international attention and the phone calls from around the world, she confirmed that she received “permission” to receive Communion by the Pope, but she complained: “this was supposed to be discrete, now I don't think I will be able to go anywhere now.”

Since Wednesday, Jaquelina has not been available for comments.

A call from CNA at their home was responded by her daughter Candela, who confirmed that “Pope Francis called, we are overjoyed and humbled as a family.” But she said that her mother was overwhelmed and was neither taking calls nor working at the small grocery store that the family owns across the street.

Sabetta instead has been happy to respond to the press. According to his version: “Francisco told my wife that she was free from all sin, that she should go to communion, that she should go with peace of mind, since a divorced who goes (to Communion) is doing nothing wrong.”

“He only told her to go to communion to another parish to avoid frictions (with the pastor.)”

But the pastor of San Lorenzo's church, Fr. José Ceschi, said late on Wednesday that the alleged “permission” to receive communion given by the Pope is “absurd.”

Speaking to local radio station La Ocho, Fr. Ceschi said that “first of all, I am very happy to know that the Pope called someone in San Lorenzo, the Pope surprises with these calls and people are so surprised, and that makes me happy. I do believe in the call, but what is hard to believe is that he gave her permission to go to Communion.”

“The Pope would never do that, (it) is impossible. If he is coming from a previous sacrament and they are living together (it) is absolutely impossible,” Fr. Ceschi told the radio station.

“What happens is that the Pope, like all bishops and priests, needs to be father, mother and teacher, always with an open heart, while telling things as they are.”

Speaking of his predecessor, who told Jaquelina that she could not receive communion, the priest noted that “Fr. Sergio was right, if a previous sacrament of marriage is involved, the Church cannot go beyond what Jesus has taught.”

“If Fr. Sergio would have given absolution, it would have been like someone writing you a check for an empty bank account, (it) is worthless!” he said.

“Again, I believe that the call happened, I just don't believe the Pope would go over the head of the (local) bishop – it is absurd,” he reiterated.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi concluded his statement Thursday emphasizing that “consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from these occurrences.”

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Easter Sunday
4/24/2014 12:00:00 AM
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year. To have a correct idea of the Easter celebration and its Masses, we must remember that it was intimately connected with the solemn rite of baptism. The preparatory liturgical acts commenced on the eve and were continued during the night. When the number of persons to be baptized was great, the sacramental ceremonies and the Easter celebration were united. This connection was severed at a time when, the discipline having changed, even the recollection of the old traditions was lost. The greater part of the ceremonies was transferred to the morning hours of Holy Saturday. Commemorating the slaying of the true Lamb of God and the Resurrection of Christ, the corner-stone upon which faith is built, it is also the oldest feast of the Christian Church, as old as Christianity, the connecting link between the Old and New Testaments.   The connection between the Jewish Passover and the Christian feast of Easter is real and ideal. Real, since Christ died on the first Jewish Easter Day; ideal, like the relation between type and reality, because Christ's death and Resurrection had its figures and types in the Old Law, particularly in the paschal lamb, which was eaten towards evening of the 14th of Nisan. In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration; the liturgy (Exsultet) sings of the passing of Israel through the Red Sea, the paschal lamb, the column of fire, etc.   The connection between the Jewish and the Christian Pasch explains the movable character of this feast. Easter has no fixed date, like Christmas, because the 15th of Nisan of the Semitic calendar was shifting from date to date on the Julian calendar. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, immolated the figurative lamb, the Jewish Christians in the Orient followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of St. John and St. Philip. 
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First Reading - Acts 3:11-26
4/24/2014 12:00:00 AM
11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran to them to the porch which is called Solomon' s, greatly wondering.12 But Peter seeing, made answer to the people: Ye men of Israel, why wonder you at this? or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk?13 The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released.14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you.15 But the author of life you killed, whom God hath raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.16 And in the faith of his name, this man, whom you have seen and known, hath his name strengthened; and the faith which is by him, hath given this perfect soundness in the sight of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I know that you did it through ignorance, as did also your rulers.18 But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.19 Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.20 That when the times of refreshment shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send him who hath been preached unto you, Jesus Christ,21 Whom heaven indeed must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world.22 For Moses said: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: him you shall hear according to all things whatsoever he shall speak to you.23 And it shall be, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.24 And all the prophets, from Samuel and afterwards, who have spoken, have told of these days. 25 You are the children of the prophets, and of the testament which God made to our fathers, saying to Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.26 To you first God, raising up his Son, hath sent him to bless you; that every one may convert himself from his wickedness. 
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