Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More Photos From Beautiful Lisbon . . .

Join Us: Exploring The Iberian Peninsula!

Yes, the Dan Cirucci Blog is on the move once again.
We promised we'd be visiting lots of places and taking you along -- and that's exactly what we're doing.
We have now just begun exploring the Iberain peninsula. "What's that?" you say. Quite simply, Spain and Portugal. Or, in this case Portugal and then Spain. We begin right here in one of the most beautiful (and for US tourists, most economical) cities in Europe: Beautiful Lisbon, the enchanting, historical, nautical capital of Portugal. The natives call this place Leesczboa and it's melodic when you hear in pronounced in the native Portuguese tongue.
We will post as many photos as we can on this tour and try to give you a real visual sense of each place that we visit us. We'll capture both some of the big highlights as well as some of the small details and everything else that attracts our eye.
Come back every day as we will be updating as much as we can.
We're going to be covering Iberia for awhile, so stay with us!

A Glorious Food Tour In The Big Apple!

Neighborhood food tours are all the rage in cities across the country.
But nowhere do they seem to be more successful than within the boundaries of that gastronome's mecca known as New York City.
And one of the reasons why this is so is the original Foods of New York Tours(FNYT). For more than15 years now Foods of New York has been treating visitors and natives alike to some of the best food and neighborhood combos available anywhere in the world.
Not too long ago FNYT celebrated its 15th birthday and we joined the festivities by taking an Original Greenwich Village Food Tour savoring the old Italian section and the quaint surroundings of one of the most historic areas on Manhattan. Yes, we did use "quaint" and "Manhattan" in the same sentence, if you can believe that. And if you had been with us for this tour you would understand why.
We decided to take this tour for three reasons:
1) We hadn't been in the storied Greenwich Village area of the Big Apple for years and we longed to discover it anew, beyond the touristy environs of Washington Square.
2) We previously took a FNYT journey through the Chelsea Market and meatpacking district area and we loved it, so we were longing to return.
3) The tour was offered at less than half price to commemorate FNYT's birthday.
And so, there we were eating our way through picturesque area of The Village with our superbly informative and delightfully entertaining tour guide Raheem as we wandered in and out of small and medium-sized locally owned business and restaurants, all of which offer up the freshest culinary treats.
We started at the famous Joe's Pizza (a New York landmark) and ventured throughMurray's Cheese and Gourmet FoodsPalma Italian RestaurantO & C Olive Oil ShopMilk and Cookies American BakeryRafele Italian RestaurantRocco's Italian Pastry Shop and Faicco's Italian Specialty Shop. We wish had the time to tell you about each delectable stop but that wouldn't do justice to our marvelous journey and it would only tease you.
Well, anyway -- did you know that there are more Italian restaurants in this one section of Greenwich Village than there are in all of New York's famed Little Italy? And this area contains several Italian eateries that are rated among the very best that the city has to offer.
Plus, this is where you will also find cozy, narrow tree-lined streets, Manhattan's oldest wooden house, a magical New Orlean's type courtyard of charming town homes, the building that posed as the apartment house where the characters in NBC'S F*R*I*E*N*D*S lived and the narrowest house in little old New York -- a place that once belonged to Cary Grant. Yep, they're all here in a section of the city where you will find few if any buildings exceeding four stories in height.
Take a look at our photos and then go to FNYT and book a tour for yourself. There are six different tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn to choose from. Mangia!

In the heart of the old Italian section of Greenwich Village.

You won't wind a bookstore like this at the mall.

Just part of the selections at Murray's Cheese and Gourmet Foods.

Legions have declared Joe's "the best" for generations.

Inside the beautiful Palma Italian restaurant.

Fresh and delicious at Rafele Italian restaurant.

Yeah, they're chocolate chip -- at Milk and Cookies.

Boston or Philly? Nah! It's Manhattan, baby!

OK, so this narrow little charmer once was Cary Grant's Manhattan hideaway.

Exterior for FRIENDS apartment house on NBC.

The oldest wooden house in New York.

We're told you're liable to spot celebrities here. Shhhhh!

No, it's not Charleston of Savannah. This is tucked into
a small side street in Greenwich Village.

Above and below, Rocco's Italian Pastry Shop.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Inspiring Story - A 'Celebrity' Who Overcame The Odds

Sometimes we've talked about "the dangers of electing a celebrity President."
So, the question has arisen: "Wasn't Reagan a celebrity?"
As we're writing this we're looking at a shelf full of books about Reagan (at least a dozen of them) all of which we've have read.
Ronald Reagan certainly defied the old adage that "there are no second acts in American lives."
Ronald Reagan's life had at least three distinct acts. In fact, it's almost as if he had three different lives:
1) Ronald Reagan the radio broadcaster honed his talents as a mellow-voiced, reassuring presence who was heard throughout the broad center of the nation. He mastered the art of the soundbite before anybody even knew what it was and since he wrote most of his own radio copy he also became an accomplished writer and skilled editor. If you know anything about radio you know that you must be able to say a whole lot with very few words to adhere to the medium's time constraints. Ronald Reagan knew it and did it.
2) Ronald Reagan the Hollywood star was never the biggest star in Tinseltown but he and his films were a staple at Warner Brothers and he learned his lessons well from the studio. He was a dutiful contract player who became a favorite of the gossip columnists -- particular the legendary Hedda Hopper. And yes, Reagan did become a celebrity of sorts but he was certainly never a superstar. In fact, as a Hollywood star he was never really the object of adulation. He was far and away eclipsed by the likes of Clark Gable (earlier) and Rock Hudson (later). Reagan was rarely a leading man. He starred mostly in "B" movies and he played the best friend or jilted lover or simply the "other guy." It's safe to say that not many movie fans swooned or fainted over Ronald Reagan.
3) Ronald Reagan the politician did have his roots in Reagan the Hollywood union leader but the real career switch came when Reagan decided to run for Governor of California. By that time Reagan's image as a "star" had clearly faded and, indeed, he was joked about as "a forgotten, old 'B' movie actor." When he began his political career Ronald Reagan was no celebrity. To the contrary, he was the butt of jokes.
To his credit, Reagan seemed to make clean, clear breaks between the three important acts of his life but he always took everything he learned with him.
Was Reagan, the leader charismatic? Damned right he was.
But there was more than image to Reagan. Though he enjoyed being underestimated, the man was never an empty suit.
And any Hollywood star who's thinking about entering politics today (and a few immediately come to mind) would do well to study the life and careers of Reagan.
Ronald Reagan understood that fame was fleeting and that Celebrityland was shallow. He worked his whole life to be more than just a "star" -- even a forgotten one -- and more than a household name. He defied the odds. And in the end, he had both depth and heft.
What he accomplished was nothing short of remarkable.
Ronald Reagan was the real deal.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Francis' Closing Homily: Small Gestures Define Faith

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the concluding Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families celebrated by Pope Francis in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway yesterday at 4 p.m. local time (10 p.m. in Rome). During the event, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, announced that the next Meeting will be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2018.

In his homily, Pope Francis commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy, which present the scandal of the people before the miracles and the unexpected prophecies. In the first reading, Joshua tells Moses that two members of the people are prophesying, speaking God’s word, without a mandate. In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that the disciples had stopped someone from casting out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. “Here is the surprise”, remarked the Pope. “Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!”

Jesus encountered “hostility from people who did not accept what He said and did. For them, His openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable. The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalised by the freedom of God, Who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith. Hence it must be vigorously rejected. Once we realise this, we can understand why Jesus’ words about causing 'scandal' are so harsh. For Jesus, the truly 'intolerable' scandal consists in everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit”.

“Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and He continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of His presence in our world, for 'love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that He loved us' first. That love gives us a profound certainty: we are sought by God; He waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, 'Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!' To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not 'part of our group', who are not 'like us', is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith”.

“Faith opens a 'window' to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. 'Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded', says Jesus. These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith”.

“Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, He wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of His own living and active presence in our world. So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. May our children find in us models and incentives to communion! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown”.

“We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us!” exclaimed Francis. “How many of us are here at this celebration. This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world. Would that we could all be prophets. Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others”.

“How beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle”, concluded the Holy Father. “May God grant to all of us, as the Lord’s disciples, the grace to be worthy of this purity of heart which is not scandalised by the Gospel”.

Following the Eucharist, Pope Francis gave the Gospel of St. Luke to five families representing the five continents, from, respectively, Kinshasa (Africa), Havana (America), Hanoi (Asia), Syney (Australia) and Marseilles (Europe).

Pope Sees Church, State At Odds On Marriage

Shortly after his meeting with a group of victims, the Holy Father returned to the issue of sexual abuse at the beginning of his address to the three hundred bishops attending the World Meeting of Families, held in the great Chapel of the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

“I am deeply pained by the stories, the sufferings and the pain of minors who were sexually abused by priests. I continue to be ashamed that persons charged with the tender care of those little ones abused them and caused them grave harm. I deeply regret this. God weeps. The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors may no longer be kept secret; I commit myself to ensuring that the Church makes every effort to protect minors and I promise that those responsible will be held to account. Survivors of abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy; humbly we owe our gratitude to each of them and to their families for their great courage in shedding the light of Christ on the evil sexual abuse of minors. I say this because I have just met with a group of persons abused as children, who are helped and accompanied here in Philadelphia with particular care by Archbishop Chaput, and we felt that I should communicate this to you”.

Moving on to the issue of the family, he pronounced a discourse, at times improvised, in which he focused on the characteristics of families in today's society and the mission of bishops, reiterating that as pastors they must not be afraid to stay in the midst of families, with all their problems and their capacities, as “ A Christianity which does little in practice, while incessantly explaining its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced”.

The following are extensive extracts from the Pope's address:

“For the Church, the family is not first and foremost a cause for concern, but rather the joyous confirmation of God’s blessing upon the masterpiece of creation. Every day, all over the world, the Church can rejoice in the Lord’s gift of so many families who, even amid difficult trials, remain faithful to their promises and keep the faith! I would say that the foremost pastoral challenge of our changing times is to move decisively towards recognising this gift. For all the obstacles we see before us, gratitude and appreciation should prevail over concerns and complaints. The family is the fundamental locus of the covenant between the Church and God’s creation. Without the family, not even the Church would exist. Nor could she be what she is called to be, namely 'a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race'. Needless to say, our understanding, shaped by the interplay of ecclesial faith and the conjugal experience of sacramental grace, must not lead us to disregard the unprecedented changes taking place in contemporary society, with their social, cultural – and now juridical – effects on family bonds. These changes affect all of us, believers and non-believers alike. Christians are not 'immune' to the changes of their times. This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe and proclaim”.

“Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case.

To describe our situation today, I would use two familiar images: our neighborhood stores and our large supermarkets. There was a time when one neighborhood store had everything one needed for personal and family life. The products may not have been cleverly displayed, or offered much choice, but there was a personal bond between the shopkeeper and his customers. … They trusted one another. They built up trust”.

“Then a different kind of store grew up: the supermarket. Huge spaces with a great selection of merchandise. The world seems to have become one of these great supermarkets; our culture has become more and more competitive. Business is no longer conducted on the basis of trust; others can no longer be trusted. There are no longer close personal relationships. Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust. … Today consumerism determines what is important. Consuming relationships, consuming friendships, consuming religions, consuming, consuming... Whatever the cost or consequences. A consumption which does not favor bonding, a consumption which has little to do with human relationships. Social bonds are a mere 'means' for the satisfaction of 'my needs'. The important thing is no longer our neighbor, with his or her familiar face, story and personality”.

“The result is a culture which discards everything that is no longer 'useful' or 'satisfying' for the tastes of the consumer. We have turned our society into a huge multicultural showcase tied only to the tastes of certain 'consumers', while so many others only 'eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table'. This causes great harm. I would say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of loneliness. ... Loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized”.

“Should we blame our young people for having grown up in this kind of society? Should we condemn them for living in this kind of a world? Should they hear their pastors saying that 'it was all better back then'. … No, I do not think that this is the way. As shepherds following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time. To look at things realistically, with the eyes of one who feels called to action, to pastoral conversion. The world today demands this conversion on our part. 'It is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. ... The Gospel is not a product to be consumed; it has nothing to do with consumerist culture”.

“We would be mistaken, however, to see this culture of the present world as mere indifference towards marriage and the family, as pure and simple selfishness. … We must not fall into this trap. Many young people, in the context of this culture of discouragement, have yielded to a form of unconscious acquiescence. They are paralyzed when they encounter the beautiful, noble and truly necessary challenges which faith sets before them. Many put off marriage while waiting for ideal conditions, when everything can be perfect. Meanwhile, life goes on, without really being lived to the full. In Congress, a few days ago, I said that we are living in a culture that drives and convinces young people not to form a family, some through lack of material means to do so, and others because they have the means but are comfortable as they are, but this is the temptation – not to form a family”.

“As pastors, we bishops are called to collect our energies and to rebuild enthusiasm for making families correspond ever more fully to the blessing of God which they are! We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family”.

“A Christianity which 'does' little in practice, while incessantly 'explaining' its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle. A pastor must show that the 'Gospel of the family' is truly 'good news' in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme! We are not speaking about some romantic dream: the perseverance which is called for in having a family and raising it transforms the world and human history. The world and history is transformed by families”.

A pastor serenely yet passionately proclaims the word of God. He encourages believers to aim high. He will enable his brothers and sisters to hear and experience God’s promise, which can expand their experience of motherhood and fatherhood within the horizon of a new 'familiarity' with God.

A pastor watches over the dreams, the lives and the growth of his flock. This 'watchfulness' is not the result of talking but of shepherding. Only one capable of standing 'in the midst of' the flock can be watchful, not someone who is afraid of questions, contact, accompaniment. … Naturally, experiencing the spirit of this joyful familiarity with God, and spreading its powerful evangelical fruitfulness, has to be the primary feature of our lifestyle as bishops: a lifestyle of prayer and preaching the Gospel. The bishop is charged to be a pastor, but to be a pastor first and foremost by his prayer and preaching, because everything else follows, if there is time”.

“By our own humble Christian apprenticeship in the familial virtues of God’s people, we will become more and more like fathers and mothers ... and less like people who have simply learned to live without a family. Our ideal is not to live without love! A good pastor renounces the love of a family precisely in order to focus all his energies, and the grace of his particular vocation, on the evangelical blessing of the love of men and women who carry forward God’s plan of creation, beginning with those who are lost, abandoned, wounded, broken, downtrodden and deprived of their dignity. This total surrender to God’s agape is certainly not a vocation lacking in tenderness and affection. We need but look to Jesus to understand this”.

“For faith, this is a most valuable sign. Our ministry needs to deepen the covenant between the Church and the family. Otherwise it becomes arid, and the human family will grow irremediably distant, by our own fault, from God’s joyful good news, and will go to the latest supermarket to buy whatever product suits them then and there”.

“If we prove capable of the demanding task of reflecting God’s love, cultivating infinite patience and serenity as we strive to sow its seeds in the frequently crooked furrows in which we are called to plant, then even a Samaritan woman with five 'non-husbands' will discover that she is capable of giving witness. And for every rich young man who with sadness feels that he has to calmly keep considering the matter, an older publican will come down from the tree and give fourfold to the poor, to whom, before that moment, he had never even given a thought”.

“My brothers, may God grant us this gift of a renewed closeness between the family and the Church. Families need it, the Church needs it, and we pastors need it”.

Papelbon Attacks Harper As Nats Sink - Video

Bryce Harper and Jonathan Paelbon got into a dugout fight on Sunday afternoon.
Yes, the Nationals' disaster of a season continued Sunday with closer Jonathan Papelbon deciding to take it upon himself to go after the likely NL MVP, Bryce Harper.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

US, France, Germany, Ireland Top Week's Blog Visits

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States

Dan Cirucci Blog - Week's Top Five Stories

Pope Celebrates Final US Mass - Video

Pope Francis ends his U.S. trip with an enormous outdoor Mass on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Video - Pope Francis Visits Philly Prison

Pope Francis meets with prisoners at a Philadelphia correctional facility Sept. 27, the final day of his U.S. visit.

Pope In Philly: God Weeps For Those Abused

Pope Francis told the world's bishops Sept. 27 the church must protect youth from sexual abuse, spread the Gospel and proclaim the important role of the family during a meeting at Philadelphia's St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

The Pope In Philly - A First-Hand Account

Sharla Feldscher, a dear friend of ours, gives us this on-the-ground account of Pope Francis' historic visit to Philadelphia:

I came into Philly around 10 a.m. (I was supposed to arrive at 8 a.m. and work as a Media Volunteer but since there was a change on Friday night from Secret Service, no Media Volunteers were being credentialed. Darn.)

I was surprised that the Lindenwold train station wasn’t crowded. Got a good spot in the parking lot. Lots of police, checkpoint, too, but not a crowded train – some people, all pleasant and an easy ride. Fascinated to pass an empty Ben Franklin Bridge except for some walkers, police and military. Got to the city at 10th and Locust and saw lots of empty streets.

As I walked closer to PA Convention Center to get my “standing room only” ticket, it got more crowded and animated and I loved it – got my ticket, hung out in the Media Filing Center (I had my credential for that), took another photo with Flat Francis (as I heard someone call the cutout), signed a Pope poster outside Reading Terminal Market for $1. Later I bought a button that had a cheesesteak for “I”, a HEART, and Pope Francis.

In order to get into Independence Mall, the crowds could enter at the checkpoint at 6th and Race. I wandered down Arch and Race and spoke to all kinds of people – a Moroccan and I spent lots of time together. He said he had Jewish friends back in Morocco. I got in the checkpoint because of my ticket but he didn’t. He would go to Franklin Square to watch a giant TV with the crowds there, a Jumbotron. Then I went to meet my friend Barbara Alton, who used to work at The POPS. Her husband is the Priest at St. Clement’s Church at 20th and Arch and she was bringing a pilgrimage of 40 with some friends who helped her. I joined them. It was great. 

I sat on the lawn on the block of the IVC between Market and Arch, behind the press riser and in view of a big Jumobotron. I could see the top of Independence Hall. My “standing room only ticket” was pretty far from the festivities. I e-mailed and talked to the President of The Philly POPS and Michael, the Conductor, but I could only see Michael on the screen. 

I was so proud of how wonderful The POPS played Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”– absolutely perfect. Then, after 3 ½ hours of waiting on the lawn, we heard the Pope speak. At first we saw him in the Popemobile – that was amazing. He was a distance, but I saw him live and on the big screen! When he gave his speech, I was initially so disappointed that he spoke only in Spanish because the crowd was on their feet the whole time and covered the translation on the bottom of the screen. But then we all scattered to find a Jumbotron where we could read the translation and the Pope’s words were magical. 

Now, I understood why he spoke in his native language – he encouraged all people to be proud of their heritage, to always remember the lessons of their elders. It was so appropriate. I stood next to a man who was, well, I’m not sure what ethnicity, but we smiled together and equally valued the Pope’s words. I was proud to tell people I was Jewish as they shared their history.

I left with thousands – had to walk all the way back to 6th and Race to exit. It was very crowded and very pleasant. We walked past Chinatown. (I was getting hungry but on my way home.) I had to walk to 11th to get through the streets. 11th was a thoroughfare. I got to Locust, to the High Speed Line, on a crowded (not too crowded) train and I watched a family get off at Ferry Avenue who seemed to have a wonderful day. So did I. I wished I could have shared it with my family – but I only I had a ticket and they weren’t interested in the crowds.

I will always remember it – but I will remember so much of the images on television – the Pope arriving in Philly, the amazing Festival of Families and how gorgeous Philadelphia looked and his speech and his smiles and laughter as he joked about mothers-in-law. I loved the mural and was so proud and happy for my Mural Arts friends and he signed that gorgeous panel. Now, I want to buy a commemorative book.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sneak Peek: What Philly Pope Show Will Look Like

We're told that this is what the area in front of Philadelphia's famed Museum of Art will look like tonight when entertainers from all over the world celebrate Pope Francis at the World festival of Families.
Quite dazzling, huh?

PA GOP Welcomes Pope Francis

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement welcoming His Holiness Pope Francis to Pennsylvania.

“I want to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis and everyone who is visiting our area for the 2015 World Meeting of Families to our wonderful Commonwealth,” Gleason said. “We are blessed to have a summit on such critical issues here in Pennsylvania. It is my hope that Pope Francis and our visitors will come to love our Commonwealth.

“On behalf of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, I would like to wish Pope Francis and all of the visitors coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families a safe visit that’s steeped in faith, hope and love.”

Video - Pope Departs Philly Cathedral

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. He spoke about building communities of worship, education, charity and service to the larger society. At the end of Mass, Francis was thanked for his support, and he blessed those who attended as he left.

Pope In NYC - Reach Out To City's Forgotten Ones

The Pope concluded his day in New York yesterday with a Holy Mass for peace and justice in Madison Square Garden, a place synonymous with the city, as Francis recalled: “The site of important athletic, artistic and musical events” representing “both the variety and the common interests of so many different people”. It isa place where “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”, as yesterday's reading from the prophet Isaiah tells. The Holy Father dedicated his homily to this light.

“The people who walked – caught up in their activities and routines, amid their successes and failures, their worries and expectations – have seen a great light”, affirmed the Pontiff, remarking that the People of God is invited in every historical age to contemplate this light, since one of the special qualities of the faithful is the capacity to see, amid the shadows, the light that Christ comes to bring. “With the prophet today we can say: the people that walks, breathes, lives amid the smog, has seen a great light, has experienced the air of life”.

“Living in a big city is not always easy”, commented the Pope. “A multicultural context presents many complex challenges. Yet big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world: in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences. … Big cities bring together all the different ways which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be. But big cities also conceal the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath 'the rapid pace of change', so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly. These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts”.

However, “knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with … hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city. … A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city”.

“The prophet Isaiah can guide us in this process of 'learning to see'”, continued Francis. “He presents Jesus to us as 'Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace'”. The Pope went on to explain each of these appellations.

“Wonderful Counsellor. The Gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask: 'Master, what must we do?' The first thing that Jesus does in response is to propose, to encourage, to motivate. He keeps telling his disciples to go, to go out. He urges them to go out and meet others where they really are, not where we think they should be. … The Mighty God: In Jesus, God himself became Emmanuel, God-with-us, the God who walks alongside us. ... The Everlasting Father: Go out and proclaim, go out and show that God is in your midst as a merciful Father who himself goes out, morning and evening, to see if his son has returned home and, as soon as he sees him coming, runs out to embrace him. … Prince of Peace: Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness, and brings us to the school of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters”.

“God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities, and she wants to be like leaven in the dough”, concluded Pope Francis. “She wants to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side, as she proclaims the marvels of the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace. 'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light'. And we ourselves are witnesses of that light”.

Today, 26 September, the Holy Father travels to Philadelphia where he will celebrate Mass with the clergy and religious of Pennsylvania in the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, attend a meeting with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in Independence National Historical Park, and will pronounce a discourse in Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the eve of the World Meeting of Families.

Francis' Arrival At Philly Cathedral - Full Video

Pope Francis arrived at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul to celebrate Mass shortly after his arrival in Philadelphia, the last city on his U.S. tour.

Pope's Philly Homily: "What About YOU?"

While celebrating mass in Philadelphia, Pope Francis recalled a local saint's exchange with one of his papal predecessors and reminded parishioners of their duty to build up the church "as best we can."

Highlights Of Pope's Remarks At Ground Zero

The Memorial at Ground Zero, built at the site where on 11 September 2001 the Twin Towers collapsed after being struck by two aircraft in a terrorist attack that caused 2,896 deaths, was the second stop of the Pope's visit to New York.

The Memorial is now a park of almost 33,000 square metres with a grove of white oak trees and two artificial waterfalls that flow into two large pools where the Twin Towers were previously located. These are surrounded by a low bronze wall on which there are engraved the names of all the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 26 February 1993 and 11 September 2001.

Below ground, where the foundations of the Twin Towers lay, there is a museum commemorating the tragic events.

Upon arrival Francis, accompanied by Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York, left a flower near the waterfall and at the Memorial building where he was awaited by a rabbi and an imam of New York. He said a prayer for peace, which was followed by five meditations on peace (Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Muslim) and a Jewish prayer for the deceased, after which the Pope pronounced a discourse.

“I feel many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge. A mindset which can only cause pain, suffering, destruction and tears. The flowing water is also a symbol of our tears. Tears at so much devastation and ruin, past and present. This is a place where we shed tears, we weep out of a sense of helplessness in the face of injustice, murder, and the failure to settle conflicts through dialogue. Here we mourn the wrongful and senseless loss of innocent lives because of the inability to find solutions which respect the common good. This flowing water reminds us of yesterday’s tears, but also of all the tears still being shed today”.

He also recalled his meeting with some of the families of the fallen first responders, and emphasised that this “made me see once again how acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material. They always have a face, a concrete story, names. In those family members, we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven”. However, he added, “those family members showed me the other face of this attack, the other face of their grief: the power of love and remembrance. A remembrance that does not leave us empty and withdrawn. The name of so many loved ones are written around the towers’ footprints. We can see them, we can touch them, and we can never forget them”.

Remembering the firefighters who, on 11 September entered the crumbling towers shortly before they fell, without considering the risk to their own lives, he spoke about “the palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw”. He added, “This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division”.

“It is a source of great hope that in this place of sorrow and remembrance I can join with leaders representing the many religious traditions which enrich the life of this great city. I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world. For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity. Together we are called to say 'no' to every attempt to impose uniformity and 'yes' to a diversity accepted and reconciled”.

Francis invited all those present to pray in silence for peace: “Peace in our homes, our families, our schools and our communities. Peace in all those places where war never seems to end. Peace for those faces which have known nothing but pain”.

“In this way”, he concluded, “the lives of our dear ones will not be lives which will one day be forgotten. Instead, they will be present whenever we strive to be prophets not of tearing down but of building up, prophets of reconciliation, prophets of peace”.