Pope Francis has often repeated the need to read a passage of the Gospels every day, whether on the bus or waiting for a train. But this Sunday, he's going one step further by giving all the faithful in St. Peter's Square a free pocket-sized book containing the texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles.
Several thousand copies will be distributed at this Sunday's Angelus in a bid to help the faithful get into the habit of reading a short passage daily.
“At the weekly Sunday Angelus and on various other occasions, Pope Francis has, many times, called the faithful to always have with themselves a small book of the Gospels," Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters Friday. "He calls on the faithful to keep taking it out, re-reading it and and to meditate on the words and actions of Jesus, especially those related to the daily liturgy and which the Pope has developed in his reflections.”
The initiative, similar to the distribution of the “Misericordinas” some months ago when thousands of rosaries were handed out to the faithful, will be implemented by the Almoner of His Holiness together with 150 scouts, seminarians from the Roman Seminary, sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, other religious, and individual volunteers. The Vatican stressed it is the role of the Almoner to distribute not only material but spiritual charity on behalf of the Pope.
The book is printed by the Vatican Typography in a special edition which will not be available for sale. Containing the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, it begins with the Pope's words from his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”. On the inner cover leaf there are instructions on how to recite the “Chaplet of Mercy” and it ends, on the inner back cover, with Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman's prayer: “Dear Jesus...”, that Mother Teresa advised her nuns to recite every day.
Although Fr. Lombardi said the Gospels would be in Italian because the majority of those present are Italian-speaking, perhaps in the future there will be multilingual editions.