VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- This Lent, Christians should become "seekers of light" by keeping their sights set on the light of Jesus through prayer and participating in the sacraments, Pope Francis said. "This is a good Lenten resolution: cultivating a welcoming outlook, becoming 'seekers of light,' seekers of the light of Jesus, both in prayer and in people," he told visitors in St. Peter's Square before praying the Angelus with them Feb. 25.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Saying Pope Francis was continuing to experience "mild flu-like symptoms," the Vatican announced he had canceled his appointments again Feb. 26. The 87-year-old pope had led the recitation of the Angelus prayer as usual Feb. 25 and seemed to have no difficulty speaking or breathing, and he did not cough. The previous day, though, he canceled a meeting with transitional deacons from the Diocese of Rome. The Vatican press office had put out a note Feb. 24 saying, "Due to a mild flu-like condition, as a precautionary measure, the pope canceled his audiences scheduled for today."
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During Lent, Pope Francis said, Catholics -- and especially Catholic seminarians -- should rediscover the joy of simplicity, pay less attention to their appearance than to their prayer lives and make a special effort to get along with everyone they live with. Progress on the Lenten "path of conversion and renewal," the pope said, starts with "allowing oneself to be conquered by renewed awe at God's love," the foundation of every vocation.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Faith can help musicians, poets, sculptors, directors and other artists transmit truth and beauty to their audiences, Pope Francis said. "Believing in God the creator can only encourage a being to surpass him- or herself, to project him- or herself into divine life through artistic inspiration," the pope said Feb. 15 during a meeting with representatives of the Diakonia of Beauty, a French organization founded in 2012 to promote exchange between artists and the Catholic Church.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will go to Venice in April to visit a women's prison where the Holy See has set up its pavilion for the Venice Biennale, a major international contemporary art exhibition. The pope will make the one-day trip April 28, according to a joint press release Feb. 13 from the Dicastery for Culture and Education and the Patriarchate of Venice. He will visit the Holy See pavilion at the Giudecca women's prison, and he will meet with the church community of the patriarchate, it said. Details of the final program were to be "announced soon."
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Artisans teach the world that every material thing contains beauty, and that work gives people a little share in the creative action of God, Pope Francis said. Artisans bring together "the abilities of the hands, the passions of the heart and the ideas of the mind," the pope said Feb. 10 as he met with some 7,000 members of Confartigianato Imprese, an Italian confederation of artisans and small businesses.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Lent is a time to free oneself from slavery and take action to free others suffering from the multiple forms of slavery that afflict the world, Pope Francis said. Even though baptism has begun a process of liberation, "there remains in us an inexplicable longing for slavery. A kind of attraction to the security of familiar things, to the detriment of our freedom," the pope said in his message for Lent, which begins Feb. 14 for Latin-rite Catholics. Echoing the tragedy of the ancient Israelites, a modern-day Pharaoh "stifles dreams, blocks the view of heaven, makes it appear that this world, in which human dignity is trampled upon and authentic bonds are denied, can never change," the pope wrote.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic universities are called to contribute to the growth of the intellectual tradition of the church as well as the hearts of their students, forming them into agents of good, Pope Francis told the University of Notre Dame's board of trustees. "The educational efforts undertaken by Catholic institutions, in fact, are based on a firm belief in the intrinsic harmony between faith and reason," the pope told members of the board and the university's president during a meeting at the Vatican Feb. 1.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People who are terminally ill and their families should always receive the care and assistance they need, Pope Francis said. Incurable does not mean "un-care-able," the pope said in a video message from the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, released Jan. 30. The pope's prayer intention for the month of February is dedicated to people who are terminally ill, and in his video message, he said, "Even when little chance for a cure exists, every sick person has the right to medical, psychological, spiritual and human assistance."
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Seeing young people involved in ecumenical initiatives is a sign of the Holy Spirit at work, Pope Francis said. The Holy Spirit is the one "who rejuvenates the church in harmony, inspires paths of communion and grants wisdom to the young and prophecy to the old," he told members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.