Sunday, July 31, 2016

The founder of the Redemptorists; patron of theologians

St. Alphonsus

Image of St. Alphonsus


Feastday: August 1
Patron of Theologians
Death: 1787

St. Alphonsus was born in the village of Marianella near Naples, Italy, September 27, 1696. At a tender age his pious mother inspired him with the deepest sentiments of piety. The education he received under the auspices of his father, aided by his own intellect, produced in him such results that at the early age of sixteen, he graduated in law. Shortly after, he was admitted to the Neopolitan bar. In 1723, he lost a case, and God made use of his disappointment to wean his heart from the world. In spite of all opposition he now entered the ecclesiastical state. In 1726, he was ordained a priest. He exercised the ministry at various places with great fruit, zealously laboring for his own sanctification. In 1732, God called him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, with the object of laboring for the salvation of the most abandoned souls. Amid untold difficulties and innumerable trials, St. Alphonsus succeeded in establishing his Congregation, which became his glory and crown, but also his cross. The holy founder labored incessantly at the work of the missions until, about 1756, he was appointed Bishop of St. Agatha, a diocese he governed until 1775, when broken by age and infirmity, he resigned this office to retire to his convent where he died. Few saints have labored as much, either by word or by writing, as St. Alphonsus. He was a prolific and popular author, the utility of whose works will never cease. His last years were characterized by intense suffering, which he bore with resignation, adding voluntary mortifications to his other pains. His happy death occurred at Nocera de Pagani, August 1, 1787.

August Prayer Intentions of Pope Francis

Pope Francis prayer intentions for August are..

Universal:  Sports
That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.

Evangelization:  Living the Gospel
That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.

My annual August rant; but I'm trying to deal with and keep it in perspective

August 1st comes in these parts as the clock strikes midnight and I've declared August my least favorite month of the year.  The primary catalyst for this declaration is the incredible weather that suffocates us and leaves us physically & mentally exhausted.  Yes, I am primarily talking about the double H: heat & humidity.  Beyond any doubt, August brings both our highest temperatures and humidity.  Sometimes in August we get heat indexes well above 110 degrees.  Now if it is not hot that's only because it's pouring rain.  To date, the summer of 2016 has been somewhat tolerable because it's been wetter than usual.  Of course that brings non-stop grass growing which = non-stop grass cutting.

August also begins that 6 week period within hurricane season when we really need to be on guard.  Traditionally, our worst storms come between August 15 thru end of September; Katrina and Betsey come to my mind.  Already, as we begin August, we are looking east at one tropical system that may make it's way all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

August in these parts also brings the incredibly stupid distinction of starting school back in force.  I believe the schools in my neighborhoods begin on August 8th or 9th.  Why?  We let our kids out too early in May and they begin way too early in August.  I don't like either of these decisions.

Now over the years I've tried to mellow and demonstrate some wisdom.  I've also made peace with the fact that God made August too and rules over all of my days so I can't hate August.  Let's figure out some good things about August.  It is one month closer to the fall season and cooler weather.  It is the start of some competitive football, if you can call pre-season NFL football competitive.  But since we love the Saints and LSU football in these parts, we can point to the start of the season even in early August.  This August we will have a huge distraction that I absolutely love: the summer Olympics.  I can not wait to begin the viewing which begins next Friday!  This is a good thing happening in August.

I do love some of the liturgical activities in August.  Locally, we have the feast of our patron saint, Jane de Chantal and then we have the Solemnity of the Assumption.  Incredibly, since it falls on a Monday this year, the Bishops tell us we do not have to celebrate the Assumption as a holy day of obligation. 

Most years I always look forward to the start of another "semester" for our diaconate candidates in the Archdiocese.  I have kind of backed off my active involvement in this process but I'm just as excited for our class of 2018 and will hold them in my prayers!

So yes, it will be hot, hopefully quiet though on the storms and hurricane front, and I'll have plenty of grass to cut.  But I will try to remember all the positive points I just made and celebrate little victories along the way and hopefully, August passes fast.  So here we go; welcome to August!

Pro Life Democrats like Louisiana's Gov John Bel Edwards tells Dems: you can't win without us

Pro-life Democrats have message for party: ‘Bring us into your big tent’

Pro-life Democrats have message for party: ‘Bring us into your big tent’
Executive director Kristen Day of the Democrats for Life of America, standing, center, poses with other members July 27 during an event the group held in Philadelphia. (CNS/Elizabeth Evans)
Pro-life Democrats, many of them Catholics, believe that the party will recover its roots and broaden its electoral base if it embraces the pro-life cause. Pro-life, they say, is not just about being anti-abortion.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has called for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funding for most abortions and continues to be included in many federal appropriations bills for abortions. Her stance has been endorsed in the party platform, which also calls for eliminating the Helms Amendment, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid from being used to fund abortion-related activities.
But Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, notes that since 2008, when President Barack Obama launched his first term, the party has lost 11 governorships, 30 state chambers, 69 house seats, 13 seats in the U.S. Senate and 912 seats in state legislatures.
While the pro-life Democrats agree with 99 percent of their party’s views on issues like paid maternity leave and a living wage, Day said the Democrats have become a party of the Northeast and the West.
“We’ve got to open up the big tent,” she said in an interview with Catholic News Service. “Voters want to come back to the Democratic Party, but the party platform and the extreme positions we have been taking prevent them from doing so.”
Day has been buoyed by a recent Dallas gathering of approximately 500 women who identify as pro-life feminists. “We think we are doing this alone but we have this whole network of women out there,” she said. “A lot of them (are) doing this work on the ground to provide the support we are talking about. They know what women want and what we women need. We’re the fourth wave of feminism, and we are pro-life.”
As the Democratic National Convention played out at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, she said she had some revealing, encouraging conversations while sitting at the Democrats for Life table in a bustling hallway at the city’s convention center.
“So many of those who think they are pro-choice are actually pro-life,” she told CNS July 27.
Christian Matuzzo, a Temple University student who describes himself as a “dedicated pro-life Democrat from Philadelphia,” said he had some positive and some “tougher” conversations at the convention. “I enjoy the dialogue. It’s been great to promote the message that we do exist in great numbers, and that we are not being represented by the party.”
The stumbling block for many, he said, is that many equate the pro-life cause with a lack of compassion and concern for helping women facing unplanned pregnancies.
“I vehemently disagree with that,” Matuzzo said. “I want to provide for women as much as they do, but I don’t feel that you need to abort an unborn child to do so.”
At a reception honoring Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Catholic, who is the only Democratic governor in the South, for his support of the pro-life cause, Day underlined that idea from the podium: “We choose the mother. We choose the child. We choose both.”
Matt Tuman, an organization volunteer, is hopeful that the supporters of keeping abortion legal and the pro-life advocates in his party can find common ground and reduce the number of abortions by advocating for paid maternity leave, a 20-week ban on abortions and Medicaid expansion to help the economically disadvantaged.
He agrees with Day that the party’s hardening stance on abortion has contributed to its loss of electoral clout.
“When we don’t have pro-life Democrats in the House, we can’t hold the House,” he said. “There are a lot of pro-life areas out there in the deep South, where pro-life Democrats have a better opportunity to win (those seats.)”
Day and honoree Edwards, who said that his Catholic Christian faith informs his views, both argued that pro-life beliefs aren’t limited to abortion.
“There is a difference between being anti-abortion and pro-life,” said Edwards in accepting the Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership Award. Rejecting the label of “liberal” or “conservative,” Edwards suggested that people listen to what he has to say, and make up their own minds.
He noted that with the party’s embrace of such an outspoken supporter of legal abortion like Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock - who addressed the convention July 27 - the prospects for pro-life Democrats could dim. Schriock’s organization focuses on electing “pro-choice” Democratic women to office.
“It’s going to be increasingly difficult to navigate these waters if the party doesn’t moderate,” Edwards said.
“I almost started to cry when he spoke,” said Day. “We’ve needed an outspoken leader like this.’
She characterizes Louisiana as her new favorite state “ground zero” in progress made in reclaiming ground lost to supporters of legal abortion.
Louisiana state Rep. Katrina Jackson, who introduced Edwards as a friend and colleague, said that while many of her colleagues acknowledge that a fetus is a human being, they emphasize what will happen to children after they are born.
“The majority of those I meet aren’t as concerned about promoting abortion as they are concerned about how the child will live out its life. But everything is connected,” Jackson said.
While the role of faith in shaping her decisions is “overarching,” she said, she has found that other Democrats have many different reasons for being pro-life.
Many of those at the meeting where Edwards was honored represented younger voters, including a Life Matters group from Pittsburgh.
“According to statistics, ours is the most pro-life generation,” said Aimee Miller, a young adult with that group, “but also the most secular generation.”
In conversations they had with attendees at the convention, her group’s members found most people were genuinely interested and respectful, she told, the news website of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
As the DNC neared its close July 28, Day reflected on what she had gleaned from days of interacting with delegates and visitors.
“We’re right. Our position is right, and it’s given me so much encouragement,” she said.
“The platform was discouraging and I felt the party went too far, but being here, and finding that more people agree with me than not has given me more encouragement to keep fighting the fight. People are cheering for us and saying, keep it up.
“We’re bringing the Democratic Party back to its roots to protect all living beings.”

Final remarks at WYD by Pope Francis; next: Panama

Pope to Youth: Being Hope for the Future Has Some Pre-Reqs
“Peter will be in Panama”
Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 10.56.42 AM
It was his last official discourse of WYD2016 — and perhaps given confidence by the Panamanian volunteers for #WYD2019, Pope Francis gave his first off-the-cuff address (not counting his evening reflections from the window of the archbishop’s residence).
Speaking in Spanish, the Holy Father told the youth that they are to be hope for the future, but that there are conditions for this.
The first, the Pope said, is that the young people have to have “memory” of where they come from.
“If you want to be hope for the future,” he said, “you have to receive the ‘torch’ from your grandfather and grandmother.”
To prepare for Panama, for World Youth Day 2019, he said, you must speak more to your grandparents, and if they are already gone, to other elderly people.
To have ‘memory’ is the first condition to be hope for the future, he said.
The second condition, he said, applies to the present, and that is that you must be brave and have valor.
Pope Francis referenced the witness of the volunteer who passed away from cancer on July 2. In today’s ceremony, his brother read the testimony that the young man had prepared to give, about his dream to be present at the WYD to greet the Pope.
He is not here, the Pope said, but he showed bravery. “He sowed hope for the future.”
So, memory and bravery, the Holy Father emphasized. These are the conditions for being hope for the future.
“Is that all clear?” he asked, then adding: “I don’t know if I will be in Panama, but I can assure you of something, that Peter will be in Panama. And Peter will ask you if you spoke to your grandparents to prepare, if you’ve had courage and valor.
“To Peter, you will respond.”

This past Friday a court victory for the Diocese of Baton Rouge

Court upholds priests 'seal of confession' in sexual abuse case
                     July 29, 2016       

Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A win for the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Baton Rouge today in a legal case that centered around a church doctrine prohibiting a priest from revealing what is said inside a confessional.
A state appeals court affirmed that Father Jeff Bayhi does not have to reveal any conversation between him and a woman who claims she was sexually abused by a now deceased parishioner.
Rebecca Mayeux claimed in a lawsuit against the Church that she told Bayhi about the alleged behavior in 2008 and that those statements between the two should be included during any trial proceedings.  Mayeux was 14 at the time.
However, attorneys for Mayeux say the court ruling today allows her to testify what was said in the confessional.
 The ongoing court case has been the subject of a series of reports by the News 2 Investigative Unit
The Roman Catholic Church maintains that conversations between a priest and a confessor are prohibited under any circumstance and would subject a priest to automatic ex-communication.  

Mayeux’s attorneys are still seeking a higher court ruling that would force Father Bayhi to testify what was said in the confessional.

Homily for this 18th week in Ordinary Time

Well I won't back down, no I won't back down; you can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down.  No, I'll stand my ground, won't be turned around and I'll keep this world from dragging me down, I'll stand my ground, and I won't back down!
Great lyrics today from the amazing Tom Petty.

Anyone else feel like I do this week; it sure seems that events over the past few weeks and months, coupled with what promises to be one of the nastier politcal seasons in our nation's history have collided to back us down, to push us around.  And yes, I'm talking about individually and collectively as people of faith.

Week after week, almost day after day, we awake or retire for the evening with noise ringing in our ears of another terrorist attack or unspeakable violence in our streets.  Dozens if not hundreds of innocents lose their lives on a day they never expected would be their last.  Just this past week, since we last gathered to worship together on the Lord's Day, an elderly Catholic Priest, at the altar where he had celebrated Mass, was brutually murdered by a radical hate-filled terrorists who then rejoiced over his brutally beheaded body.  Despite his advanced age, I doubt Father Hamel went to that altar expecting that day to be his last; the act of blessing, breaking and giving the Body of Christ followed by the brutality visited upon his own body in such a brutal murder.

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel, "you fool, this night your life will be demanded of you".  In the context of the lesson that Jesus was teaching and in the broader of context of all our lives, we can never know when our earthly pilgrimmage will end.  Jesus calls us to always be prepared.  Too many of us, like the rich fool in today's Gospel, we spend way too much time accumulating more and more and more.  Now riches and wealth, of their own accord, may not be condemnable, but the insatiable appetitte for them indeed may be.  Jesus continues, "thus it will be for all who store treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God".  And St. Paul even reminds us to think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

For us gathered here in worship, for all of us who shudder at the violence and terrorism that dominates our lives, the political vitriol, the outright disrespect of human life, it's high time we stand our ground.  How are we, Christians living in a world where Christianity is under attack from all sides, going to stand our ground and not back down?

It is more than cliche brothers and sisters but it starts with giving ourselves over completely to the only one who can save us from the evil of this world, Jesus the Christ!  We must all pray more, love more, speak up more, defend our Church more, pray and support our clergy, especially our Priests more and we all must replace the clutter in our lives with a humble and contrite heart.  We must never respond to the evil that surrounds us with bitterness or hate, but we are not called to be weak either.  A Christian, who follows Jesus totally, is not weak; no, the Christian is strong.  And if we, the Christians of this world, would truly come together and be a prayerful force for good in this world, we will defeat terrorism, we will overcome violence, murder and racism of all kinds.  Let me mention World Youth Day in Poland, just finishing as we speak.  Over 2 million youth and other pilgrims from every continent traveled, despite the threats of terrorism, to witness thier faith and worship God together with Pope Francis right there with them.  This is hopeful, this is defeating evil, this is being strong.  These pilgrims were not pushed around.  And the media was not going to report on this except in passing.  Imagine, despite all the turmoil in this world, 2 million youth and others gathered in one place to pray and promote peace!

If we believe we can just handle things by ourselves, by accumulating more of this worlds stuff as opposed to more of Jesus in our lives, by focuses our time and energy on everything but God,  this is vanity of vanities.  No, we can do nothing apart from Jesus and we can do more when we pray and serve and love together.  This is how we stop this world from dragging us down.
Begin where you are planted.  Right here, in our own parish, in this Church, get more involved.  We have a call out right now for more PSR teachers, adult volunteers needed to teach, to hand on our faith, to our young people.  We have a call out right now for more servers at our altar, adults or children, we need more volunteers to assist at the table of the Lord.  We have a call out right now for adults in our parish to take advantage of 3 different Bible study opportunities.  We have a call out right now for more adorers for our 1st Friday Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and to be present, with the Eucharistic Lord, at Benediction, now held at 7 PM at both St. Jane's and St. Michael's.  And the Church always has a call out for volunteers to feed the hungry, visit the lonely, be a light to someone being overcome and overwhelmed by darkness.  Yes, these things and so much more, will turn a violent and hate filled world around.  And one last reminder about the lesson Jesus was teaching today and the lesson learned so tragically by so many innocents in San Bernardino, Orlando, Paris, Munich, Nice and at the altar in Normandy.  Are we prepared.? If today our life was demanded of us, are we prepared? If today we hear his voice will we harden not our hearts?  Dear brothers and sisters, there is no greater force for good, who can help us in being prepared, in this life and the eternal life to come, than Holy Mother Church, in her mission, in her service and in her Sacraments, most especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We must persevere together, we must not back down, we must not be pushed around, stand us up even at the gates of hell, still, we will not back down. 

Oh Lord, prosper the work of hands, prosper the work of our hands.  Amen.

Why WYD 2016 was the perfect antidote for the wave of terror and violence recently witnessed across the world

In the face of terror, Catholic youth delivered the answer

In the face of terror, Catholic youth delivered the answer
Pilgrims hold candles at an evening vigil with Pope Francis at the Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi, near Krakow, Poland, Saturday, July 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
July 2016 has been one of the bloodiest on record for terrorist incidents, with a body count reaching almost 2,000 innocent lives, but it also brought the answer in the form of a vast army of positive, loving young people, invested in friendship and faith, who gathered in Krakow, Poland.
KRAKOW, Poland - World Youth Day, a massive gathering of Catholic youth from all across the planet that’s sometimes tongue-in-cheek been dubbed the “Catholic Woodstock,” took place in Krakow, Poland, July 25-31, bringing together what organizers estimated at two million people for a festival of fun, food and faith.
Consider what had taken place in the world in just the month before those young people descended on Krakow. This, by the way, is merely a partial list.
  • In Bahrain on July 1, militants detonated a bomb that killed a woman and three children.
  • Also on July 1, gunmen on the West Bank fired at a passing vehicle, killing a Jewish yeshiva head and injuring his wife and children.
  • On July 2, gunmen linked to the radical Islamic group al-Shabaab launched 11 mortars at civilian targets in Somalia, killing two young girls aged four and five and injuring 19 civilians.
  • On July 3, at least 325 people were killed and 245 injured in a series of coordinated bombings in Baghdad.
  • On July 4, Islamic State militants kidnapped 40 civilians in a Syrian town in Aleppo province and later executed them for trying to escape.
  • Five police officers in Dallas were killed and seven others wounded on July 7, in an attack motivated by rage over police shootings of black males by police in various U.S. locales.
  • At least 36 people were killed on July 9 and 143 people injured after mortar and other attacks in Aleppo, Syria, carried out by rebel terrorist groups.
  • On July 14, 84 people were killed and 308 injured when a 31-year-old Tunisian man drove a truck through a crowd celebrating France’s Bastille Day, in an incident that also left the attacker dead.
  • In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a July 17 ambush on police left three people dead and three others injured.
  • The next day, an assault on a police station in Almaty, Kazakhstan, left six people dead and eight others injured.
  • In Würzburg, Germany, an attack on a train carried out by an axe-wielding 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker left five people injured, two of them critically, and the attacker dead.
  • On July 26, a 26-year old broke into a Japanese hospital and stabbed 44 people, killing 19, almost all of them disabled, and then surrendered to the police claiming that people with disabilities need to disappear.
  • On the same day, Islamic State-inspired assassins slit the throat of a Catholic priest and seriously wounded a woman in a church in Normandy, France, and were themselves killed by French security forces.
In all, 1,843 people have perished as a result of terrorist actions in July, according to statistics collected by Wikipedia, and that doesn’t count the totals from incidents in which the number of dead are listed as “unknown.”
Thus when Pope Francis talks about a world war being fought today in piecemeal fashion, one understands that the image isn’t fanciful but a brutally accurate description of contemporary reality.
In the context of such carnage, such an apparent contagion of madness, where can hope be found? In all honesty, the last week of July made the case for hope in eloquent fashion with the World Youth Day gathering in Krakow.
For one thing, the spirit in Krakow was relentlessly upbeat. While the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations are able to recruit small numbers of young people into their deadly campaigns, hundreds of thousands of Catholic youth from all across the planet came together in the streets of a major European city this week and left no destruction behind, but rather indelible images of friendship and fraternity.
For another, World Youth Day went ahead despite apprehensions about security threats. The presence of police and military throughout the week was palpable but never overweening or distracting, and every night, late into the night, young revelers filled up the squares and parks of the city as if their team had just won the Super Bowl or the World Cup.
In effect, this was a vast throng of loving, caring, positive young people saying to the Islamic State and the other wreakers of havoc in the early 21st century, “We refuse to be terrorized.”
As opposed to other scenarios of large-scale mobilizations one might imagine, crime rates in Krakow plummeted last week, garbage collections declined as these young pilgrims picked up after themselves, and locals were left smiling and delighted with the positive energy coursing through the city.
Finally, these young people exuded a different vision for the future of humanity, one based on a global solidarity, respecting differences of class, race and culture without viewing them as divisive, and embracing religion not as the problem but as the wellspring of the solution.
“Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family,” Pope Francis told the roughly one million youth gathered for a prayer vigil Saturday night.
“We celebrate the fact that coming from different cultures, we have come together to pray. Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer,” he said.
That might sound like hollow rhetoric, but if you had been in the streets and squares of Krakow in late July, you would understand that it’s not artifice or a pious aspiration, but the living, beating heart of an honest-to-God youth army - in this case, an army dedicated not to violence or hatred, but to hope.

In response to the brutal killing of a Priest this week, across France peaceful Muslims attend Mass in show of solidarity

Muslims Go to Catholic Mass Across France to Show Solidarity

PARIS — In a gesture of solidarity following the gruesome killing of a French priest, Muslims on Sunday attended Catholic Mass in churches and cathedrals across France and beyond.
Reporters on the scene said that between 100 and 200 Muslims gathered at the towering Gothic cathedral in Rouen, only a few kilometers (miles) from Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where the 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel was killed by two teenage attackers on Tuesday.
"We're very touched," Archbishop Dominique Lebrun told broadcaster BFMTV. "It's an important gesture of fraternity . They've told us, and I think they're sincere, that it's not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel."
Outside the church, a group of Muslims were applauded when they unfurled a banner: "Love for all. Hate for none."
Similar interfaith gatherings were repeated elsewhere in France, as well as in neighboring Italy.
At Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral, Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Mosque of Paris, said repeatedly that Muslims want to live in peace.
"The situation is serious," he told BFMTV. "Time has come to come together so as not to be divided."
In Italy, the secretary general of the country's Islamic Confederation, Abdullah Cozzolino, spoke from the altar in the Treasure of St. Gennaro chapel next to Naples' Duomo cathedral. He said there was a "need of dialogue, more affirmation of shared values of peace, of solidarity, of love, out of respect for our one God, merciful and compassionate."
Three imams also attended Mass at the St. Maria Church in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood, donning their traditional dress as they entered the sanctuary and sat down in the front row.
Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, said that he called on faithful in his sermon Friday "to report anyone who may be intent to damage society. I am sure that there are those among the faithful who are ready to speak up."
"Mosques are not a place in which fanatics become radicalized. Mosques do the opposite of terrorism: They diffuse peace and dialogue," he added.
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni thanked Italian Muslims for their participation, saying they "are showing their communities the way of courage against fundamentalism."
Like in France, Italy is increasing its supervision of mosques. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told the Senate this week that authorities were scrutinizing mosque financing and working with the Islamic community to ensure that imams study in Italy, preach in Italian and are aware of Italy's legal structure.

Pope Francis homily at the Closing Mass of WYD 2016

Pope’s Homily at Closing Mass at Campus Misericordiae
‘People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid’
Closing Mass - CTV Screenshot
Here is a Vatican translation of the text of Pope Francis’ prepared homily this morning at the closing Mass he celebrated in Krakow at Campus Misericordiae for the occasion of World Youth Day:
Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus. Today’s Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v. 1). In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.
An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief “publican” or tax collector. Zacchaeus was thus a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has changed, and can daily still change, each of our lives. But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. At least three of these can also say something to us.
The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn’t see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself. For faith tells us that we are “children of God… that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God!
That is our real “stature”, our spiritual identity: we are God’s beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.
At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But such brooding is unworthy of our spiritual stature! It is a kind of virus infecting and blocking everything; it closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over. God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful! He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. Because we are always his beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day. It will do us good to pray every morning: “Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.
Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle – on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all. Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing. Something similar took place in the heart of Zacchaeus, when he realized that Jesus was so important that he would do anything for him, since Jesus alone could pull him out of the mire of sin and discontent. The paralysis of shame did not have the upper hand. The Gospel tells us that Zacchaeus “ran ahead”, “climbed” the tree, and then, when Jesus called him, he “hurried down” (vv. 4, 6). He took a risk, he put his life on the line. For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or “texting” a few words!
Dear young friends, don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him! Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.
After his small stature and the paralysis of shame, there was a third obstacle that Zacchaeus had to face. It was no longer an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him: How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner! How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a “God who is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4)! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!
That day the crowd judged Zacchaeus; they looked him over, up and down. But Jesus did otherwise: he gazed up at him (v. 5). Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person. He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion. In no case does it halt at appearances, but looks to the heart. With this gaze of Jesus, you can help bring about another humanity, without looking for acknowledgement but seeking goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice. Don’t stop at the surface of things; distrust the worldly cult of appearances, cosmetic attempts to improve our looks. Instead, “download” the best “link” of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary. The joy that you have freely received from God, freely give away (cf. Mt 10:8): so many people are waiting for it!
Finally let us listen to the words that Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, which to be seem meant for us today: “Come down, for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5). Jesus extends the same invitation to you: “I must stay at your house today”. We can say that World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on. The Lord doesn’t want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone. He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life!
In asking to come to your house, Jesus calls you, as he did Zacchaeus, by name. Your name is precious to him. The name “Zacchaeus” would have made people back the think of the remembrance of God. Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a “hard disk” that “saves” and “archives” all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in “erasing” in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days. In silence, let us remember this encounter, let us preserve the memory of the presence of God and his word, and let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as he calls us by name. So let us now pray silently, remembering and thanking the Lord wanted us to be here and has come here to meet us.
© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pope Francis at Saturday Vigil in Poland at WYD


Pope Francis: “We didn’t come into this world to take it easy, but to leave a mark!”

Papal address at the World Youth Day Vigil, Krakow, Campus Misericordiae

POPE FRANCIS Campus Misericordiae
© Marcin Mazur/

Following the public testimonies of three witnesses delivered to the Pope and all attending World Youth Day, Pope Francis made this address to the pilgrims:
It is good to be here with you at this Prayer Vigil!
At the end of this powerful and moving witness, Rand asked something of us.  She said: “I earnestly ask you to pray for my beloved country.”  Her story, involving war, grief and loss, ended with a request for prayers.  Is there a better way for us to begin our vigil than by praying?
We have come here from different parts of the world, from different continents, countries, languages, cultures and peoples.  Some of us are sons and daughters of nations that may be at odds and engaged in various conflicts or even open war.  Others of us come from countries that may be at “peace”, free of war and conflict, where most of the terrible things occurring in our world are simply a story on the evening news.  But think about it.  For us, here, today, coming from different parts of the world, the suffering and the wars that many young people experience are no longer anonymous, something we read about in the papers.  They have a name, they have a face, they have a story, they are close at hand. Today the war in Syria has caused pain and suffering for so many people, for so many young people like our good friend Rand, who has come here and asked us to pray for her beloved country.
Some situations seem distant until in some way we touch them.  We don’t appreciate certain things because we only see them on the screen of a cell phone or a computer.  But when we come into contact with life, with people’s lives, not just images on a screen, something powerful happens.  We feel the need to get involved.  To see that there are no more “forgotten cities”, to use Rand’s words, or brothers and sisters of ours “surrounded by death and killing”, completely helpless.  Dear friends, I ask that we join in prayer for the sufferings of all the victims of war and for the many families of beloved Syria and other parts of our world.  Once and for all, may we realize that nothing justifies shedding the blood of a brother or sister; that nothing is more precious than the person next to us.  In asking you to pray for this, I would also like to thank Natalia and Miguel for sharing their own battles and inner conflicts.  You told us about your struggles, and about how you succeeded in overcoming them.  Both of you are a living sign of what God’s mercy wants to accomplish in us.
This is no time for denouncing anyone or fighting.  We do not want to tear down.  We have no desire to conquer hatred with more hatred, violence with more violence, terror with more terror.  We are here today because the Lord has called us together.  Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family.  We celebrate the fact that coming from different cultures, we have come together to pray. Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer.  Let us take a moment of silence and pray.  Let us place before the Lord these testimonies of our friends, and let us identify with those for whom “the family is a meaningless concept, the home only a place to sleep and eat”, and with those who live with the fear that their mistakes and sins have made them outcasts.  Let us also place before the Lord your own “battles”, the interior struggles that each of your carries in his or her heart.
As we were praying, I thought of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.  Picturing them can help us come to appreciate all that God dreams of accomplishing in our lives, in us and with us.  That day, the disciples were together behind locked doors, out of fear.  They felt threatened, surrounded by an atmosphere of persecution that had cornered them in a little room and left them silent and paralyzed.  Fear had taken hold of them.  Then, in that situation, something spectacular, something grandiose, occurred.  The Holy Spirit and tongues as of fire came to rest upon each of them, propelling them towards an undreamt-of adventure.
We have heard three testimonies.  Our hearts were touched by their stories, their lives.  We have seen how, like the disciples, they experienced similar moments, living through times of great fear, when it seemed like everything was falling apart.  The fear and anguish born of knowing that leaving home might mean never again seeing their loved ones, the fear of not feeling appreciated or loved, the fear of having no choices.  They shared with us the same experience the disciples had; they felt the kind of fear that only leads to one thing: the feeling of being closed in on oneself, trapped.  Once we feel that way, our fear starts to fester and is inevitably joined by its “twin sister”, paralysis: the feeling of being paralyzed. Thinking that in this world, in our cities and our communities, there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons – in a word to live – is one of the worst things that can happen to us in life.  When we are paralyzed, we miss the magic of encountering others, making friends, sharing dreams, walking at the side of others.
But in life there is another, even more dangerous, kind of paralysis.  It is not easy to put our finger on it.  I like to describe it as the paralysis that comes from confusing happiness with a sofa.  In other words, to think that in order to be happy all we need is a good sofa.  A sofa that makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe.  A sofa like one of those we have nowadays with a built-in massage unit to put us to sleep.  A sofa that promises us hours of comfort so we can escape to the world of videogames and spend all kinds of time in front of a computer screen.  A sofa that keeps us safe from any kind of pain and fear.  A sofa that allows us to stay home without needing to work at, or worry about, anything.  “Sofa-happiness”!  That is probably the most harmful and insidious form of paralysis, since little by little, without even realizing it, we start to nod off, to grow drowsy and dull while others – perhaps more alert than we are, but not necessarily better – decide our future for us.  For many people in fact, it is much easier and better to have drowsy and dull kids who confuse happiness with a sofa.  For many people, that is more convenient than having young people who are alert and searching, trying to respond to God’s dream and to all the restlessness present in the human heart.
The truth, though, is something else.  Dear young people, we didn’t come into this work to “vegetate”, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on.  No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark.  It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark.  But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom.
This is itself a great form of paralysis, whenever we start thinking that happiness is the same as comfort and convenience, that being happy means going through life asleep or on tranquilizers, that the only way to be happy is to live in a haze. Certainly, drugs are bad, but there are plenty of other socially acceptable drugs, that can end up enslaving us just the same.  One way or the other, they rob us of our greatest treasure: our freedom.
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From soldier to the beloved founder of the Jesuits and the spiritual exercises

St. Ignatius Loyola


Image of St. Ignatius Loyola


Feastday: July 31
Patron Dioceses of San Sebastian and Bilbao, Biscay & Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, Society of Jesus, soldiers, Educators and Education.
Birth: 1491
Death: 1556
Beatified By: July 27, 1609 by Paul V
Canonized By: March 12, 1622 by Gregory XV

Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491, the man known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world in Loiola, Spain. At the time, the name of the village was spelled "Loyola," hence the discrepancy. Inigo came of age in Azpeitia, in northern Spain. Loyola is a small village at the southern end of Azpeitia.
Inigio was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother died when he was just seven, and he was then raised by Maria de Garin, who was the wife of a blacksmith. His last name, "Loyola" was taken from the village of his birth.
Despite the misfortune of losing his mother he was still a member of the local aristocracy and was raised accordingly. Inigio was an ambitious young man who had dreams of becoming a great leader. He was influenced by stories such as The Song of Roland and El Cid.
At the age of sixteen, he began a short period of employment working for Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of Castile. By the time he was eighteen, he became a soldier and would fight for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre.
Seeking wider acclaim, he began referring to himself as Ignatius. Ignatius was a variant of Inigio. The young Ignatius also gained a reputation as a duelist. According to one story, he killed a Moor with whom he argued about the divinity of Jesus.
Ignatius fought in several battles under the leadership of the Duke of Najera. He had a talent for emerging unscathed, despite participating in many battles. His talent earned him promotions and soon he commanded his own troops.
In 1521, while defending the town of Pamplona against French attack, Ignatius was struck by a cannonball in the legs. One leg was merely broken, but the other was badly mangled. To save his life and possibly his legs, doctors performed several surgeries. There were no anesthetics during this time, so each surgery was painful. Despite their best efforts, Ignatius' condition deteriorated. After suffering for a month, his doctors warned him to prepare for death.
On June 29, 1521, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Ignatius began to improve. As soon as he was healthy enough to bear it, part of one leg was amputated which while painful, sped his recovery.
During this time of bodily improvement, Ignatius began to read whatever books he could find. Most of the books he obtained were about the lives of the saints and Christ. These stories had a profound impact on him, and he became more devout.
One story in particular influenced him, "De Vita Christi" (The life of Christ). The story offers commentary on the life of Christ and suggested a spiritual exercise that required visualizing oneself in the presence of Christ during the episodes of His life. The book would inspire Ignatius' own spiritual exercises.
As he lay bedridden, Ignatius developed a desire to become a working servant of Christ. He especially wanted to convert non-Christians.
Among his profound realizations, was that some thoughts brought him happiness and others sorrow. When he considered the differences between these thoughts, he recognized that two powerful forces were acting upon him. Evil brought him unpleasant thoughts while God brought him happiness. Ignatius discerned God's call, and began a new way of life, following God instead of men.
By the spring of 1522, Ignatius had recovered enough to leave bed. On March 25, 1522, he entered the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Before an image of the Black Madonna, he laid down his military garments. He gave his other clothes away to a poor man.
He then walked to a hospital in the town of Manresa. In exchange for a place to live, he performed work around the hospital. He begged for his food. When he was not working or begging, he would go into a cave and practice spiritual exercises.
His time in prayer and contemplation helped him to understand himself better. He also gained a better understanding of God and God's plan for him.
The ten months he spent between the hospital and the cavern were difficult for Ignatius. He suffered from doubts, anxiety and depression. But he also recognized that these were not from God.
Ignatius began recording his thoughts and experiences in a journal. This journal would be useful later for developing new spiritual exercises for the tens of thousands of people who would follow him. Those exercises remain invaluable today and are still widely practiced by religious and laity alike.
The next year, in 1523, Ignatius made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His goal was to live there and convert non-believers. However, the Holy Land was a troubled place and Church officials did not want Ignatius to complicate things further. They asked him to return after just a fortnight.
Ignatius realized he needed to obtain a complete education if he wanted to convert people. Returning to Barcelona, Ignatius attended a grammar school, filled with children, to learn Latin and other beginning subjects. He was blessed with a great teacher during this time, Master Jeronimo Ardevol.
After completing his primary education, Ignatius traveled to Alcala, then Salamanca, where he studied at universities. In addition to studying, Ignatius often engaged others in lengthy conversations about spiritual matters.
These conversations attracted the attention of the Inquisition.
In Spain, the Inquisition was responsible for ferreting out religious dissent and combating heresy. The Inquisition was not as it has long been depicted in the media.
The Inquisition accused Ignatius of preaching without any formal education in theology. Without this training, it was likely that Ignatius could introduce heresy by way of conversation and misunderstanding.
Ignatius was questioned three times by the Inquisition, but he was always exonerated.
Ignatius eventually decided he needed more education, so he traveled north, seeking better schools and teachers. He was 38 years old when he entered the College of Saint Barbe of the University of Paris. This education was very structured and formalized. Later, Ignatius would be inspired to copy this model when establishing schools. The ideas of prerequisites and class levels would arise from the Jesuit schools, which here heavily inspired by Ignatius' experience in Paris.
Ignatius earned a master's degree at the age of 44. When he subsequently applied for his doctorate, he was passed over because of his age. He also suffered from ailments, which the school was concerned could impact his studies.
While at school in Paris, Ignatius roomed with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier. Faber was French and Xavier was Basque. The men became friends and Ignatius led them in his spiritual exercises. Other men soon joined their exercises and became followers of Ignatius. The group began to refer to themselves as "Friends in the Lord," an apt description.
The circle of friends, shared Ignatius' dream of traveling to the Holy Land, but conflict between Venice and the Turks made such a journey impossible. Denied the opportunity to travel there, the group then decided to visit Rome. There, they resolved to present themselves to the Pope and to serve at his pleasure.
Pope Paul III received the group and approved them as an official religious order in 1540. The band attempted to elect Ignatius as their first leader, but he declined, saying he had not lived a worthy life in his youth. He also believed others were more experienced theologically.
The group insisted however, and Ignatius accepted the role as their first leader. They called themselves the Society of Jesus. Some people who did not appreciate their efforts dubbed them "Jesuits" in an attempt to disparage them. While the name stuck, by virtue of their good work the label lost its negative connotation.
Ignatius imposed a strict, almost military rule on his order. This was natural for a man who spent his youth as a soldier. It might be expected that such rigor would dissuade people from joining, but it had the opposite effect. The order grew.
The Society of Jesus soon found its niche in education. Before Ignatius died in 1556, his order established 35 schools and boasted 1,000 members. The order was responsible for much of the work of stopping the spread of the Protestant Reformation. The Society advocated the use of reason to persuade others and combat heresy.
Today, the Society of Jesus is known for its work in educating the youth around the world. Several universities have been founded in the name of Ignatius and in the traditional Jesuit spirit. The Jesuits also perform many other important works around the globe.
Ignatius' passed away on July 31, 1556, at the age of 64. He was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609 and canonized on March 12, 1622. His feast day is July 31. He is the patron saint of the Society of Jesus, soldiers, educators and education.

Pope Francis preaches at Shrine of Saint Pope JPII

Pope’s Homily at John Paul II Shrine
“Jesus sends. From the beginning, he wants his to be a Church on the move, a Church that goes out into the world”
SS. Papa Francesco - Viaggio Polonia GMG-Messa Santuario S. Giovanni Paolo II


@Servizio Fotografico - L'Osservatore Romano
L'Osservatore Romano
Here is a Vatican translation of the text of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at a Mass he celebrated in Krakow at the Shrine of St John Paul II with priests, seminarians and religious of Poland. At the Shrine, he passed through the Holy Door of Mercy, as well as heard the confessions of some young people.
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass with Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons and Seminarians
Krakow, 30 July 2016
The words of the Gospel we have just heard (cf. Jn 20:19-31) speak to us of a place, a disciple and a book.
The place is where the disciples gathered on the evening of Easter; we read only that its doors were closed (cf. v. 19).  Eight days later, the disciples were once more gathered there, and the doors were still shut (cf. v. 26).  Jesus enters, stands in their midst and brings them his peace, the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins: in a word, God’s mercy.  Behind those closed doors there resounds Jesus’ call to his followers: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (v. 21).
Jesus sends.  From the beginning, he wants his to be a Church on the move, a Church that goes out into the world.  And he wants it to do this just as he did.  He was not sent into the world by the Father to wield power, but to take the form of a slave (cf. Phil  2:7); he came not “to be served, but to serve” (Mk  10:45) and to bring the Good News (cf. Lk 4:18).  In the same way, his followers are sent forth in every age.  The contrast is striking: whereas the disciples had closed the doors out of fear, Jesus sends them out on mission.  He wants them to open the doors and go out to spread God’s pardon and peace, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
This call is also addressed to us.  How can we fail to hear its echo in the great appeal of Saint John Paul II: “Open the doors”?  Yet, in our lives as priests and consecrated persons, we can often be tempted to remain enclosed, out of fear or convenience, within ourselves and in our surroundings.  But Jesus directs us to a one-way street: that of going forth from ourselves.  It is a one-way trip, with no return ticket.  It involves making an exodus from ourselves, losing our lives for his sake (cf. Mk 8:35) and setting out on the path of self-gift.  Nor does Jesus like journeys made halfway, doors half-closed, lives lived on two tracks.  He asks us to pack lightly for the journey, to set out renouncing our own security, with him alone as our strength.
In other words, the life of Jesus’ closest disciples, which is what we are called to be, is shaped by concrete love, a love, in other words, marked by service and availability.  It is a life that has no closed spaces or private property for our own use.  Those who choose to model their entire life on Jesus no longer choose their own places; they go where they are sent, in ready response to the one who calls.  They do not even choose their own times.  The house where they live does not belong to them, because the Church and the world are the open spaces of their mission.  Their wealth is to put the Lord in the midst of their lives and to seek nothing else for themselves.  So they flee the satisfaction of being at the centre of things; they do not build on the shaky foundations of worldly power, or settle into the comforts that compromise evangelization.  They do not waste time planning a secure future, lest they risk becoming isolated and gloomy, enclosed within the narrow walls of a joyless and desperate self-centredness.  Finding their happiness in the Lord, they are not content with a life of mediocrity, but burn with the desire to bear witness and reach out to others.  They love to take risks and to set out, not limited to trails already blazed, but open and faithful to the paths pointed out by the Spirit.  Rather than just getting by, they rejoice to evangelize.
Secondly, today’s Gospel presents us with the one disciple who is named: Thomas.  In his hesitation and his efforts to understand, this disciple, albeit somewhat stubborn, is a bit like us and we find him likeable.  Without knowing it, he gives us a great gift: he brings us closer to God, because God does not hide from those who seek him.  Jesus shows Thomas his glorious wounds; he makes him touch with his hand the infinite tenderness of God, the vivid signs of how much he suffered out of love for humanity.
For us who are disciples, it is important to put our humanity in contact with the flesh of the Lord, to bring to him, with complete trust and utter sincerity, our whole being.  As Jesus told Saint Faustina, he is happy when we tell him everything: he is not bored with our lives, which he already knows; he waits for us to tell him even about the events of our day (cf. Diary, 6 September 1937).  That is the way to seek God: through prayer that is transparent and unafraid to hand over to him our troubles, our struggles and our resistance.  Jesus’ heart is won over by sincere openness, by hearts capable of acknowledging and grieving over their weakness, yet trusting that precisely there God’s mercy will be active.
What does Jesus ask of us?  He desires hearts that are truly consecrated, hearts that draw life from his forgiveness in order to pour it out with compassion on our brothers and sisters.  Jesus wants hearts that are open and tender towards the weak, never hearts that are hardened.  He wants docile and transparent hearts that do not dissimulate before those whom the Church appoints as our guides.  Disciples do not hesitate to ask questions, they have the courage to face their misgivings and bring them to the Lord, to their formators and superiors, without calculations or reticence.  A faithful disciple engages in constant watchful discernment, knowing that the heart must be trained daily, beginning with the affections, to flee every form of duplicity in attitudes and in life.
The Apostle Thomas, at the conclusion of his impassioned quest, not only came to believe in the resurrection, but found in Jesus his life’s greatest treasure, his Lord.  He says to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28).  We would do well each day to pray these magnificent words, and to say to the Lord: You are my one treasure, the path I must follow, the core of my life, my all.
The final verse of today’s Gospel speaks of a book: it is the Gospel that, we are told, does not contain all the many other signs that Jesus worked (v. 30).  After the great sign of his mercy, we could say that there is no longer a need to add another.  Yet one challenge does remain.  There is room left for the signs needing to be worked by us, who have received the Spirit of love and are called to spread mercy.  It might be said that the Gospel, the living book of God’s mercy that must be continually read and reread, still has many blank pages left.  It remains an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practise.  Let me ask you this: What are the pages of your books like?  Are they blank?  May the Mother of God help us in this.  May she, who fully welcomed the word of God into her life (cf. Lk  8:20-21), give us the grace to be living writers of the Gospel.  May our Mother of Mercy teach us how to take concrete care of the wounds of Jesus in our brothers and sisters in need, those close at hand and those far away, the sick and the migrant, because by serving those who suffer we honour the flesh of Christ.  May the Virgin Mary help us to spend ourselves completely for the good of the faithful entrusted to us, and to show concern for one another as true brothers and sisters in the communion of the Church, our holy Mother.
Dear brothers and sisters, each of us holds in his or her heart a very personal page of the book of God’s mercy.  It is the story of our own calling, the voice of the love that attracted us and transformed our life, leading us to leave everything at his word and to follow him (cf. Lk 5:11).  Today let us gratefully rekindle the memory of his call, which is stronger than any resistance and weariness on our part.  As we continue this celebration of the Eucharist, the centre of our lives, let us thank the Lord for having entered through our closed doors with his mercy, for calling us, like Thomas, by name, and for giving us the grace to continue writing his Gospel of love.
© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Friday, July 29, 2016

The golden throated; Bishop, Doctor, Saint

Image of St. Peter Chrysologus


Feastday: July 30
Birth: 380
Death: 450

St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Feast-July 30) Born at Imola, Italy in 406, St. Peter was baptized, educated, and ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola. St. Peter merited being called "Chrysologus" (golden-worded) from his exceptional oratorical eloquence. In 433, Pope Sixtus III consecrated him bishop of Ravenna. He practiced many corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ruled his flock with utmost diligence and care. He extirpated the last vestiges of paganism and other abuses that had sprouted among his people, cautioning them especially against indecent dancing. "Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil," he remarked, "cannot rejoice with Christ." He also counseled the heretic Eutyches (who had asked for his support) to avoid causing division but to learn from the other heretics who were crushed when they hurled themselves against the Rock of Peter. He died at Imola, Italy in 450 and in 1729 was made a Doctor of the Church, largely as a result of his simple, practical, and clear sermons which have come down to us, nearly all dealing with Gospel subjects.