Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bishop, hermit, exegete, Saint

St. Melito of Sardis

Image of St. Melito of Sardis


Feastday: April 1
Death: 180

Little is known about the life of St. Melito of Sardis, a II Century exegete and apologist who served as bishop of Sardis near Lydia, Asia Minor (near modern Izmir, ancient Smyrna). Thought to have been a hermit and a eunuch, he travelled in Palestine, but the reasons for his journey and the details of his itinerary are lost. Most of his work is also lost. What little survives exists in quotations in the works of others or in fragments. Eusebius preserves Melito's list of Old Testament scriptures, the first such list known to scholars, and fragments of his discourse recommending that Marcus Aurelius adopt Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. Melito's best-known work is the Peri-Pascha, a Holy (Good) Friday sermon pieced together from manuscript fragments in the XX Century which shows parallels between Easter (the new passover) and the Passover haggadah. Melito's contemporaries praise his skill in exegesis and comment on his ability to demonstrate parallels between the Old and New Testaments. His contemporaries also called Melito a prophet or a beacon, but his rhetorical style caused later writers to question the soundness of his theology, some of which seems to akin to the philosophy of the Stoics. Melito's work, which fell out of favor in the IV Century, influenced the thinking of Irenćus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian.

Congratulations to Bishop Fernand Cheri; one year anniversary as Auxillary Bishop of New Orleans

Bishop Cheri: Model ‘spirit of the living God’ to others

When Jesus informs his apostles that he will be condemned to death, crucified and raised from the dead, his startled friends begin jockeying for their presumptive places in his kingdom.

Their reaction prompts Christ to remind them that greatness does not spring from titles, power or wealth, but from service alone. “The son of man
“I wonder what ever happened to the good old, down-home service to God and others that we’ve been called to,” said Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri, reflecting on the apostles’ wake-up call in Matthew’s Gospel at the March 23 Mass marking the first anniversary of his ordination to the episcopacy.

“Aren’t we called to service? Aren’t we made for service? Don’t we realize that serving is the key to ministry?” Bishop Cheri asked. “Service is essential to our discipleship!”

Thankful for helpers

During his inaugural year as a bishop, Bishop Cheri said he learned that a major part of becoming the best possible servant leader was humbling himself to accept direction from others. Those around us help us “stir the flame” – the gifts of God – that are locked inside each of us, he said.

“When I came to this archdiocese a year ago, I was overwhelmed by the spirit of the living God that existed not only in the people that were there for my installation, but the number of people I worked with who have touched my life throughout this year and have led and guided me as a bishop,” Bishop Cheri told congregants inside St. Katharine Drexel (Holy Ghost) Church in New Orleans. “As a bishop I’ve never been told so many things ‘you gotta do,’ and I really appreciate the beautiful brothers and sisters that I’ve worked with at the chancery office.

“It’s not just my anniversary; it’s your anniversary of how you have accepted and led and guided me as a bishop,” he added.

Synod goals close to heart

Bishop Cheri recalled feeling the great weight of his episcopal call to service at his ordination as each bishop laid hands on his head and the Book of the Gospels hovered over him. He said the episcopacy had enlivened and expanded his calling as a Franciscan, adding that the “friar” in him was looking forward to working with Archbishop Aymond and others to “make real” the goals of the Ninth General Archdiocesan Synod. He said three goals, in particular, excited him because of their outreach to the disenfranchised and disaffected and their relevance to the Franciscan call to be “penitent people of mercy and forgiveness.” Those goals are:

• Nourishing more youth and young adults as servant leaders in today’s church. “I think young adults are on the crest of what it means for us to be relevant (and to be) the kind of Christ-like people we are called to be,” Bishop Cheri said.

• Encouraging Catholics of all ages to take more vocal stands on pro-life issues “from womb to tomb.” Bishop Cheri said such opportunities abound, whether it is counseling a woman contemplating an abortion; helping an at-risk teen find his way back to Christ; lovingly challenging those who focus on building “walls of separation and alienation” rather than of reconciliation; and advocating for true rehabilitation of the imprisoned.

• Stirring the flame of parish and family life in a way that moves the laity “beyond just volunteering for ministry” and toward becoming “active and alive ministers in the name of Jesus Christ” with the sole mission of giving glory to God.

“I know I am not alone in my desire to do God’s will,” Bishop Cheri said. “I have worked in several dioceses around this country, and the beauty of this archdiocese is that we have a tremendous Catholic community that has yet to reach its potential, that has yet to fully allow the power of Christ to be so within us, that we will be the kind of people that will stand at the cross and for the cross in the lives of people around us.”

Flock thankful for shepherd

Before the Mass’ conclusion, several congregants came forward to offer Bishop Cheri words of encouragement. Cynthia Cheri-Woolridge, Bishop Cheri’s first cousin, noted that Bishop Harold Perry would be proud to see someone he mentored as a young priest follow in his footsteps, while Sister of the Holy Family Greta Jupiter recalled Bishop Cheri’s kinship with her fellow women religious, who were among his first teachers.

Henri Reed, a former parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in New Orleans, thanked Bishop Cheri for encouraging more African-American

“You brought to our services hope,” Reed recalled. “Even though we had Bishop Perry (as our pastor), you were a young man with a kind of spirit and a kind of walk-and-dance that we had not witnessed before! I am grateful that our Lord allowed you to be a part of us, to come work with us, and now lead us as auxiliary bishop of New Orleans.”

Funmilayo Smallwood spoke of the Bishop Cheri’s transformative effect on her faith life when he was pastor of St. Francis de Sales Church.

“I’m still a work in progress,” Smallwood said. “It’s because of your leadership that God is directing me to where I am today. May the God of love continue to be with you, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, and that you continue to inspire women and men to be the best that they can be!”

Franciscan Brother Benedict Kelley thanked Bishop Cheri, his mentor and friend of 16 years, for supporting his own vocation and that of a young Nigerian seminarian who had traveled to New Orleans to attend the Mass.

“To be able to walk behind this man in whatever he does – to be corrected by him, to be taught by him, to be encouraged by him – has been a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Brother Benedict said. “I want to thank you for being a perfect example of what a Franciscan friar is.”

Beth Donze can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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Pray with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, throughout the month of April

April Prayer Intentions of the Holy Father

Universal: Small Farmers
That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.

Evangelization: African Christians
That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.

More tributes remembering the life of Mother Angelica

We asked and you answered: How Mother Angelica touched your lives

Mother Angelica. Credit: Eternal Word Television Network.
Mother Angelica. Credit: Eternal Word Television Network.
.- Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, founder of EWTN, passed away Easter Sunday after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old.
Mother Angelica founded EWTN out of a garage in Alabama in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. Her work touched the lives of many people across the world. We asked our readers to share their stories of how Mother Angelica influenced them, and we were overwhelmed by the flood of responses. Here are just a few of the stories from our readers, edited for clarity:

“I remember about seven years ago, I was suicidally depressed. I did not want to live, I could not even think of a reason to go on. Just utter blackness all around. I came across one of Mother Angelica's books. She helped bring me out of the darkness with her firm faith, wisdom and love. It made all the difference and with the Virgin Mary's help, I have a whole new life in Christ today. A solid joyful life! Thank you Mother Angelica!”
“I was going through a difficult time physically (I became disabled with a chronic med problem), emotionally, and spiritually - I had lost my way and was floundering. Mostly in bed for many months, I began channel surfing and found EWTN. Mother Angelica began leading me back to the Church. EWTN is one of the main reasons I returned to the Church, and my faith has never been stronger. I went to Confession in 2009 for the first time in decades. I sponsored my son-in-law when he converted and my daughter finally made her confirmation - they were married in the Church after being married civilly for 10 years. My husband also returned after decades and my grandson made his Communion at the age of 10. I am so grateful to Mother and EWTN, and she has provided much inspiration via her books also. RIP Mother.”

“My mom first saw Mother Angelica on TV in 1989 as she was flipping through the channels to find her soap operas. My mother would tell you that she felt compelled to watch because she hadn't seen a nun in a habit in so long, and it rekindled in her the spark that helped our entire family become more faithfully practicing Catholics. I can honestly say that I don't know who or where I would be today if it wasn't for Mother Angelica, EWTN, and the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration who prayed for me at my mother’s behest through many challenging years.”

“I met her at EWTN, attending her show. After the show, my wife told her it was my birthday. She held my hands with such tenderness and said: ‘Oh it's your birthday - Happy Birthday.’ She looked at me as if I was the only person in the room. I've never forgotten that experience.”

“The Praying the Rosary devotion, it was either a Tuesday or a Friday and I turned on EWTN to watch the Sorrowful mysteries. That was a day that changed my life and that's the day where I began a greater devotion to Our Lady.”

“In the Spring of 2014, I was in a confused state of my life. My husband left our matrimonial home and without my knowing, he began another relationship in our country home, Nigeria. I was plunged into despair. But before my discovering this, I had the opportunity of hearing The Word, The Eternal Word from Mother and all of EWTN. Mother did not just teach me to forgive, trust and love until it hurts, she made me grow deeply in my faith every day. Today, though my husband is still in the wilderness, I have not stopped believing, and this is because of my love and dedication to our Catholic devotion preserved by Mother Angelica through this cable television network. I love Mother and everyone else God is using through this channel. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, Amen.”

“When I was born again, I came back to the Church and got sober. I would often watch her on EWTN when I was anxious or depressed. I remember reciting the rosary along with her one night and gaining a great deal of strength and comfort. I also read a book of hers during that time. God rest her soul.”
“My daughter wrote a letter to her when I had cancer, and drew a few yellow roses to her, and she answered back. It was a lovely surprise!”

“In 2008, my twin daughters at 5 years old were taken by the state due to false allegations…. I was misrepresented. I couldn't even function for a year. Everything was a blur as I had no control over my life or my children's anymore. My mother had always prayed the rosary with Mother Angelica. I started praying again, two sometimes three times a day. Mother Angelica became my stronghold. I had no idea how important a role Christ and His Mother would play in my life. She brought me there. She helped me put my armour back on...My story is not over yet, but thank you Mother Angelica for your spirit, your determination, your insight. For bringing me back to the church. To Christ and His Mother. It's been eight years and I am on the cusp to one child coming home permanently (she has cerebral palsy) and so far joint custody with the other. I just sent an email to Mother Angelica two weeks ago telling her how much my disabled daughter loves her. I hope she got it. She has been absolutely infatuated with her for a year now. She laughs with her and just listens with a big smile. We watch her together. God Bless you Mother Angelica. We love you so much. You are so loved and missed. You are Home.”

“Ten years ago, I moved to Texas. It was a very hard move. As I was settling down, I turned on our T.V. and to my surprise I saw a Catholic channel! It was EWTN, and seeing this nun talking about Jesus' love just took my heart and gave me so much understanding, and I fell in love with her cute personally. Mother Angelica pray for us.”

“She was the coolest nun. When I was little, we would watch her on EWTN and I was so amazed that there was a nun with her own television show, an incredible sense of humor, and a true understanding of the Faith. An inspiration.”

The impact of Mother Angelica from those who came to mourn her passing & celebrate her life

Mourners Agree: Mother Angelica Touched Many Hearts — and Changed Many Lives  

Visitors to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala., share their stories of the EWTN foundress.

by Joseph Pronechen 03/31/16
HANCEVILLE, Ala. — As the mourning period for Mother Angelica officially began on Tuesday, people arrived at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville to be close to her and pray.
Their hearts and minds were focused on the numerous ways Mother affected them over the years.
“Mother Angelica was a spiritual mother to the Church and a mother to us,” said visitor Sharon Willoughby. “She saw us though difficult spiritual times, and she gave us hope to become that Church the gates of hell will not prevail against.”
Willoughby saw in Mother Angelica what many others also experienced over the years, as they watched her witty wisdom on EWTN: “She spoke to each of us as if there were only one of us before her. And she guided children to see the beauty and truth of the faith and to live for the truth.”
Rene and Gina Valdez drove up from Texas with Gina’s mother, Georgina Resendiz.
When they heard the news of Mother Angelica’s death, they made the trip, said Gina Valdez, to be pilgrims, as well as mourners, at the shrine.“My mother-in-law watches the Mass every day, and she loves the priests,” Rene Valdez said. Mrs. Resendiz, who does not speak English, is a devotee of EWTN programming in Spanish.
“Mother Angelica had a vision and never gave up on her vision,” Rene observed. “It teaches us all a lesson: to have faith. She never gave up in her trials and tribulations and gave us the example to follow.”

New Orleans
On the piazza in front of the shrine, Rachel Rojo was outside with three of her four children. The family had driven up with a friend from just outside New Orleans.
Nine-year-old Catalina, 7-year-old Mateo, 4-year-old Rosario and 2-year-old Valentino were dressed in their Sunday best. They would have been an instant hit with Mother Angelica, who loved children.
Rojo had found memories of Mother growing up, which became more important as she got older.
“Ever since I was a child, my grandmother used to listen to Mother Angelica,” she recalled. “We used to pray the Rosary every night with her. Mother really sustained my faith.”
Rojo shared how, as a teen, she fell away from the Catholic faith for a little while. But the early example from her grandmother and Mother Angelica paid off.
“That stayed in my heart,” she said. “I came back to the Church, having said the Rosary with my grandmother every night. That sustained my faith, and I’m so grateful to be here today.”
As young as they are, the Rojo children are praying the Rosary regularly along with EWTN. “One day we do the Rosary, and one day we do the Divine Mercy Chaplet,” their mother said, adding about the media matron, “She has affected so many lives.”
Nearby, walking across the plaza were three women making up three generations touched deeply by Mother Angelica — Mercedes Mosek, her daughter Mercedes Nisbett and Nisbett’s daughter Tonja — from Florida.
“We were just here two and a half weeks ago,” said Mosek.
“We felt we needed to come back to say good-bye to Mother,” added Nisbett.
The family shared how, over the years, they have visited the shrine and EWTN several times and have enjoyed watching and learning from Mother Angelica.

Meeting Mother Angelica
Locals came to pay their respects as well. Lisa Fuchs lives near the shrine in Hanceville. Daughter Angela, one of the Fuchs’ five girls and four boys, was with her mother.
Being so close, the family regularly attends services and events at the shrine. Lisa reminisced about one of their experiences — the time the young girls were in the May-crowning procession. They were all invited back to the parlor to see the sisters and Mother Angelica.
“We saw her through the grill. She was in her wheelchair,” Lisa said. “She was very, very joyful and wanted to meet all the girls.”
She added, “She kept saying, ‘Oh boy!’ and was really excited to see the girls.”
Fuchs said, that because they live close to the shrine, Mother Angelica and the sisters have had a major impact on her family. “The reverence here has really edified the family,” she explained. “Living here has strengthened our faith.”
The sisters and the priests “are inspirations to our children for vocations,” she continued. The priests whose congregation was founded by Mother Angelica — the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word — bring “a real human quality to the priesthood for our boys to love holy vocations.”
With each story, the effects of Mother’s vision and guidance are quite clear: She touched and changed many lives. Now, those same souls want to pay tribute to the TV nun who meant so much to them.
Joseph Pronechen is a Register staff writer.
He is reporting from Alabama this week to cover the funeral of Mother Angelica

Read more:

The Synod's Final Report from Pope Francis just a week away from release

Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to Be Released Next Friday
Cardinal Schönborn, Cardinal Baldisseri, and Married Couple to Present Widely Anticipated ‘Amoris Laetitia’ on Love in the Family
Pope Francis’ widely-anticipated post-synodal document will be released next Friday.
During an unexpected briefing in the Holy See Press Office this morning, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, its director, informed journalists present that next Friday, April 8th at 11:30 a.m. the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’  (Latin for ‘Joy of Love’)  will be presented.
The panel presenting will include Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna; and the married couple Professor Francesco Miano, lecturer in moral philosophy at the University of Rome at Tor Vergata, and Professor Giuseppina De Simone in Miano, lecturer in philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples.
A simultaneous translation service will be available in Italian, English and Spanish.
The press conference can also be seen via live streaming on the site: and will subsequently remain there, available on demand.

A Catholic Reads the Bible week 28; the Psalms

A Catholic reads the Bible, Week 28: Hearing the music of Psalms

This is Week 28 of a yearlong series: A Catholic Reads the Bible. Read Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3. Laura Bernardini is director of coverage in CNN's Washington Bureau. The views expressed in this column belong to Bernardini.
Laura Bernardini
(CNN)Psalms reminds me that I will never be one of those people who can effortlessly quote Bible verses. There is just too much to remember. I wish I could, but it's never going to happen.
But I did enjoy reading all 150 of the psalms. I could see why many people quote these little chunks of wisdom and praise of God, even embroider a few words on their pillows or hang them on their walls.
    Thousands of years later, we are still reading them, and they are still relevant. Heck, most people may not even realize that you sing them each week between the first and second reading in Mass. (It's the "responsorial psalm.")
    How many writings can say they remain that relevant after thousands of years?
    Psalms is a book divided into five parts that were intended to be sung in Jewish Temple. In my Bible, each has a title, and some are attributed to King David. They are devotional.
    This also explains why the messages of Psalms have permeated so many parts of the Catholic Mass. As I read through them, I could actually hear music in my head. The language was just that beautiful.
    For example, rather than saying "Forgive me for sinning," Psalm 51 says: "Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me." It sounds so much nicer.
    Or how about this meditation on faith from Psalm 62? "Only in God is my soul at rest; from him comes my salvation."
    And I want to return the use of "smite" to regular language as the best way to describe getting rid of your enemies.
    While reading Psalm 98, I could hear a song often sung at Mass that starts: "Sing to the Lord a new song."
    Another riddle was solved by Psalm 34. After singing "Taste and See" all the way through Catholic school -- "Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord" -- I had no idea what that meant. The Eucharist, when Catholics receive the body and blood of Christ? That seems a bit -- literal. Fortunately my Bible had a footnote to Pslam 34: Taste and see isn't literal. It means knowing the Lord "by experience." That's a lovely explanation.
    There was a minor disappointment in my psalm-reading, though.
    I kept waiting for the famous line: "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" because that is the only psalm I can quote. Thank you, Coolio and "Gangsta's Paradise"!
    I didn't know the psalm number, but I kept waiting. Sadly, my Bible had a different translation: "Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil." I almost missed it, and "dark valley" seems to miss some of the profound poetry of "valley of the shadow of death."
    Still, Psalm 23 begins with probably my favorite line in the whole book: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
    I can see myself going back to the Psalms later and rereading them. It's the first time in my exercise where I didn't feel like one reading and done. I wanted to read more and more.

    Day 64 with the Baltimore Catechism


    Are there any other virtues besides the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity? Besides the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity there are other virtues, called moral virtues.

    Why are these virtues called moral virtues? These virtues are called moral virtues because they dispose us to lead moral, or good lives, by aiding us to treat persons and things in the right way, that is, according to the will of God.

    Further reading: CCC 1803-1804

    Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    Deacon, Martyr, Saint

    Image of St. Benjamin


    Feastday: March 31
    Death: 424

    St. Benjamin, Martyr (Feast Day - March 31) The Christians in Persia had enjoyed twelve years of peace during the reign of Isdegerd, son of Sapor III, when in 420 it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian Bishop who burned the Temple of Fire, the great sanctuary of the Persians. King Isdegerd threatened to destroy all the churches of the Christians unless the Bishop would rebuild it.
    As Abdas refused to comply, the threat was executed; the churches were demolished, Abdas himself was put to death, and a general persecution began which lasted forty years. Isdegerd died in 421, but his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with great fury. The Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures.
    Among those who suffered was St. Benjamin, a Deacon, who had been imprisoned a year for his Faith. At the end of this period, an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople obtained his release on condition that he would never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
    St. Benjamin, however, declared it was his duty to preach Christ and that he could not be silent. Although he had been liberated on the agreement made with the ambassador and the Persian authorities, he would not acquiesce in it, and neglected no opportunity of preaching. He was again apprehended and brought before the king. The tyrant ordered that reeds should be thrust in between his nails and his flesh and into all the tenderest parts of his body and then withdrawn. After this torture had been repeated several times, a knotted stake was inserted into his bowels to rend and tear him. The martyr expired in the most terrible agony about the year 424.

    Thomas Merton inspired Pope Francis love for the environment

    Environmentalist monk inspired Pope Francis, website explains

    Pope Francis
    Pope Francis stands on a praying platform on the banks of the Rio Grande in Juarez, Mexico, as he blesses a group of migrants sitting along the border fence in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Pope Francis offered a prayer for the migrants who have died crossing the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay)
    Kim Chatelain, | The Times-Picayune By Kim Chatelain, | The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune    
    on March 30, 2016 
    More than half a century ago, long before climate change became part of the American consciousness, a prolific poet and author began calling attention to it. Today the writings of Catholic monk Thomas Merton are being re-examined for their forward-thinking look at the environment -- and have even served to inspire Pope Francis, according to
    In September, while urging lawmakers in the United States to join other countries in addressing global warming, the pope described Merton as "a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time." In the 1950s, Merton traveled the globe to explore Zen Buddhism in Sri Lanka and to meet with the Dalai Llama in India. He was very worldly with his environmental views long before others, according to the website.
    Merton died accidentally in 1968 when an electric fan electrocuted him.

    Summary of Pope Francis Wednesday Weekly General Audience

    English Summary of Pope’s General Audience
    ‘Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may we become ever more convincing witnesses to that divine mercy which forgives our sins, creates in us a new heart, and enables us to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the world.’
    Pope at Audience CTV
    CTV Pope - General Audience
    Here is the English-language summary of Pope Francis’ General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square:
    Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now conclude our treatment of the Old Testament with a consideration of Psalm 51, the Miserere. This Psalm is traditionally seen as King David’s prayer for forgiveness following his sin with Bathsheba. Its opening words: “Have mercy on me, O God in your kindness”, are a moving confession of sin, repentance and confident hope in God’s merciful pardon. Together with a heartfelt plea to be cleansed and purified of his sin, the Psalmist sings the praise of God’s infinite justice and holiness. He asks for the forgiveness of his great sin but also for the gift of a pure heart and a steadfast spirit, so that, thus renewed, he may draw other sinners back to the way of righteousness. God’s forgiveness is the greatest sign of his infinite mercy. Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may we become ever more convincing witnesses to that divine mercy which forgives our sins, creates in us a new heart, and enables us to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the world.
    I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States. In the joy of the Risen Lord, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!

    Pope Francis says Mother Angelica is in Heaven

    'She's in heaven' – Pope Francis on Mother Angelica

    by Elise Harris


    Pope Francis offers a special blessing for the repose of Mother Angelica's soul during his general audience March 30, 2016. Credit: EWTN.
       Pope Francis on Wednesday offered a special blessing for Mother Angelica following her death on Easter Sunday, expressing his confidence that she is already in heaven.

    “She’s in heaven.” The Pope pointed to the sky as he spoke these words to members of EWTN’s Rome bureau, who brought an image of the late Poor Clare nun to his March 30 general audience as a sign of affection and remembrance.

    Francis saw the framed photo in the crowd, and blessed it when asked by EWTN’s Executive TV Producer in Rome, Martha Calderon, for a blessing for Mother Angelica’s soul.

    Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She passed away March 27 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old.

    Pope Francis offered his prayers for Mother Angelica Feb. 12 while on his way to Cuba, and asked for her prayers in return.

    But he isn’t the only one who is confident in the nun’s holiness. Several other prelates have voiced their admiration and appreciation for Mother’s contribution to the faith, to the Catholic Church in the U.S., and to the world of Catholic communications, including retired pontiff Benedict XVI and the Vatican’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi.

    Although Francis has expressed his belief that Mother Angelica is already in heaven, the formal process for declaring her a saint has yet to begin.

    Once a cause for her canonization officially opens, the facts and details of her life, as well as the testimonies from those around her, must be obtained and gathered into a lengthy report called a “positio” or “position” and presented to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

    The congregation must then study the records to determine Mother’s heroic virtue, and eventually look into miracles attributed to her intercession. Only when one miracle has been officially approved can she be declared a Blessed. A second is then required for her canonization as a saint.

    However, the Pope could decide to take the route of what’s called an “equipollent,” or “equivalent” canonization, in which he waives the requirement for one or both of the miracles and canonizes the person without them.
    This was the case with St. Pope John XXIII in 2014, for whom the Popedecided to waive the second miracle required for his canonization, and proclaimedhim a saint with just one.

    In his general audience speech, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on mercy as understood in scripture, finishing his segment on the Old Testament.

    He focused on Psalm 51, also referred to as “the Miserere” and which is traditionally understood as King David’s prayer asking for forgiveness following his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.

    Francis pointed to the psalm’s opening words “Have mercy on me, O God in your kindness,” saying they are “a moving confession of sin, repentance and confident hope in God’s merciful pardon.”

    Alongside his “heartfelt plea” to be cleansed and purified of his sin, King David also praises God’s infinite justice and holiness, the Pope observed.

    Not only does he ask to be forgiven of his sin, but he also prays “for the gift of a pure heart and a steadfast spirit, so that, thus renewed, he may draw other sinners back to the way of righteousness.”

    “God’s forgiveness is the greatest sign of his infinite mercy,” Francis said, and in off-the-cuff remarks had the pilgrims present at the audience repeat three times that “God's forgiveness is greater than our sin!”

    He closed his audience by praying that Mary, the “Mother of Mercy,” would intercede so that all would become “ever more convincing witnesses to that divine mercy which forgives our sins, creates in us a new heart, and enables us to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the world.”

    Week 27; A Catholic reads the Bible

    A Catholic reads the Bible, Week 27: Back on the Job

    The Book of Job reminds Laura Bernardini of some childhood advice from her mother.

    This is week 27 of a yearlong series: A Catholic Reads the Bible. Read Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3. Laura Bernardini is director of coverage in CNN's Washington Bureau. The views expressed in this column belong to Bernardini.
    (CNN)Bring on the Wisdom books! After the bloody battles of the two books of the Maccabees, it was time to pivot into the poetic books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom and Sirach.
    Laura Bernardini

      I have been waiting for these books!!
      Job focuses on the story of a wealthy man who loses everything -- his wealth and his health (think lots of boils described very vividly). His friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar speak to him and want him to give up his faith in God. Even his own wife tells Job to "curse God, and die."
      Still, Job stands fast to his faith in God.
      To this point in the Bible, it was largely about the physical challenges of war. Job is about the intellectual and spiritual war within believers.
      Job's "friends" assault him with what they see as common sense.
      As each one of them offers his reasons for Job to leave behind his faith in God, he replies back. We get up to 10 replies. They are insistent.
      In my head, I imagined some sort of poetry slam with all the back and forth.
      But, as Job defends his faith in God, it also made me think: Would I be able to do this?
      One of his statements hit home. When I was a kid, my Mom would quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt and tell me "there is nothing to fear but fear itself" when I would be scared to go to third grade.
      I thought of my third-grade self and that phrase to keep when I read this, "For what I fear overtakes me, and for what I shrink from comes upon me. I have no peace nor ease, I have no rest, for trouble comes!" (Job 3: 25-26).
      I wanted to hug Job like my mom hugged me.
      And the wisdom of not dwelling on your trials is also something that makes me really like this book. I was recently having a bad day at work, and it kept getting worse with different people not realizing the struggle I was having. It felt like it was all being piled on at once.
      In Job's third reply, he says: "So with old age is wisdom, and with length of days understanding." I could have used that meditation at work that day. It would have helped me to realize -- I have got this.
      I also loved this sharp-witted response about Job's tormentors, "Oh, that you are all together silent! This for you would be wisdom." Sometimes, you just want people to cease and desist.
      The flow of Job's story will stay with me for a while. If I were to judge it by notebook, there were a lot of stars next to favorite passages.
      And in case you were wondering, God rewards Job for his steadfast faith with a long and healthy life and more riches than before.
      Now, onto the Book of Psalms.