Saturday, June 30, 2018

First Saint of Day for July; he was canonized at Washington DC

St Junipero Serra

Image of St. Junipero Serra


Feastday: July 1
Patron of Vocations
Birth: 1713
Death: 1784
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: September 23, 2015, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., by Pope Francis

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.

Pope Francis hanging and dining with the poor and homeless

Pope dining with the poor and homeless of Rome on June 29. Pope dining with the poor and homeless of Rome on June 29. 

Pope Francis surprises poor and homeless at new cardinal’s dinner

As new Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the pope’s alms giver, was treating the poor and homeless of Rome to a dinner Friday night, Pope Francis surprised them with a visit and joined their celebration as a guest.

There was great celebration on Friday in the Vatican when some 280 poor people were invited to a dinner by new Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the official almsgiver of the Pope, who was made cardinal by Pope Francis at the Consistory the previous day, June 28th.

The Pope's surprise visit

Pope Francis surprised Cardinal Krajewski, his guests and volunteers with a visit and joined them at table at the Vatican employees’ canteen.  "I came for the poor, not for you," a smiling Pope told Cardinal Krajewski, popularly known as Fr. Corrado (instead of Konrad) to the poor he serves on behalf of the Pope.
The Holy Father dined with the poor and spent about two hours chatting with them as if in a family, listening to their stories that often told of suffering but also of hope.

Volunteers of Sant’Egidio

There were about 60 volunteers serving dinner to the poor, including Carlo Santoro of the Community of Sant'Egidio of Rome, who collaborates with Cardinal Krajewki’s Office of Papal Charities, to assist the homeless in Rome.  
"It was a specially warm visit because it was a dinner of the new cardinal with the poor,” Santoro said.  “To the surprise of all, the Holy Father arrived. We thought it was a simple greeting and he would be off soon,” he said.  The new cardinal turned to Santoro asking him to make room close to him for the Pope. 
Santoro said the Pope greeted everyone with great affection.  At the Pope’s table were several Syrian refugees who had arrived through the efforts of  the Sant'Egidio Community.  One of them travelled to Rome with the Pope after his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos on April 16, 2016.  The man told the Pope he is now working and is integrated in Italy.

Talking with refugees

Santoro heard the Pope saying that several times in recent months he has met refugees from Lebanon and was struck by the fact that children were the first to speak Italian.  For the Pope, integration is fundamental which is not just welcome.  Where there is no job, the Pope said, there is no integration because without job there is no future.  
Santoro said that at the table there was another refugee who narrated to the Pope how he arrived in Italy.  It was an 11-month journey through the desert, a journey full of dangers and pitfalls.  He has been in Italy for some years and he too has been integrated.
Another guest from Senegal, a Muslim, told him that this was the third time at a meal with the Pope.    He had been with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for lunch, and this was the third time. Pope Francis jokingly told him, “Make a collection of Popes!”

The Pope's neighbours

Santoro said that they introduced to the Pope some of the homeless who sleep around St. Peter’s Square at night and collaborate with them every day.  Santoro said the Pope was very affectionate to his neighbours.  Cardinal Krajeswki explained to the Pope that they collaborate a lot such as for the funeral of someone who dies in the streets.   

Pope worry for children in Texas

The volunteer of Sant’Egidio Community noted the Pope was touched by and enjoyed the presence of children around him.  The Pope blessed a Syrian baby girl, born a few months ago, who was baptized on June 28.  Talking with the volunteers, the Holy Father expressed his worry over the issue of children being separated from their mothers in Texas, United States. 
The Pope repeated that Europe was on the verge of suicide because by not accepting immigrants and not having children gave the continent no hope for the future.  He noted this worrying trend in other parts of the world, particularly in the US.

Ex-prisoners, alcoholics

Santoro, the Sant’Egidio Community volunteer said the Pope also talked to some former prisoners, repeating something that he has often said: “But why not me?”, meaning he could have been in their shoes. 
When the volunteers told Pope Francis the story of a homeless, alcoholic man, the Holy Father said, “Alcohol could affect any of us because it's an evil that kidnaps you, an evil that doesn't leave you, it's an evil that you can only get out of with the help of others.”  Our problem, even as a Church, is to help people come out of difficult situations and do so together, the Pope said.

Poor helping poor

The Holy Father was very moved to hear that many homeless people help the volunteers help others like them.  The Pope heard how during severe cold snap early this year, many a homeless helped in distributing blankets. 

Praying with the special intentions of the Holy Father; June ends, July begins

With June ending today it is time to prepare for the Pope's monthly prayer intention for July 2018:


Evangelization – Priests and their Pastoral Ministry
That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.

And since today is still June, even the last day, prayer with the Holy Father one more time for his June special intention:


Universal – Social Networks
That social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects other for their differences.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The early Christian Martyrs of Rome

First Martyrs of the See of Rome

Image of First Martyrs of the See of Rome


Feastday: June 30
Death: 64

The holy men and women are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

Another Friday night update with some additional reflections/thoughts

Wendy's mom is resting comfortably after successful surgery that included inserting a chest tube to get fluid away from the heart.  In fact, doctors told us they removed about 2 lbs. of fluid from the pericardium.  Her blood pressure and heart rate have stabilized and some of the swelling in her body has improved.  Make no mistake, the war is not over, by a long shot, but tonight we won a battle.  After this long struggle, we take any victory.  Lynn has been hospitalized in one way or another since June 2nd and we are surprised at how far things spiraled out of control.  In short, she is a sick yet fighting woman.  I really have appreciated your prayers.

I've learned many lessons over these past 4 weeks.  It's good that we continue to learn even as we grow older.  There are so many wonderful dedicated medical professionals out there; we have been blessed to encounter many.  In fact Lynn's doctors this week have been phenomenal and also very kind.  All of you too are very generous with prayers, offers to help and that is so much appreciated.

Family too deserves mention as so many cousins and aunts and others have been very helpful.  Wendy, and I, for that matter have very little family left.  Her mom is the last remaining parent and Wendy really only has one sister and I have two.  Not too many folks left from our parents generation.  I, like all of you, love my children and we cherish our grandchildren.  Tonight, despite all going on, I snuck a visit in to see my little Brennan.  Of all our sisters there is only 3 children and 2 grandchildren.  By most standards we are a small family.

Families can be complicated huh.  But this week I want to be more focused on family, staying connected, being more engaged, healing hurts, forgiving and being forgiven.  I need to be stronger at the forgiving part and thankful that others have forgiven me.

My life is a busy life and I believe one with much purpose.  As an ordained minister, sealed by the Holy Spirit and forever changed ontologically, I'm called to serve, to minister to charity, to be a gift of sacramental presence, to teach, to listen, to help, to guide, to be generous and to serve some more.  My family members deserve no less.

Life, I believe, if lived right, never quits teaching you lessons.  I hope I will always be a willing student.  And I hope I can be present to more to even my family.  And I so pray that I will always be generous and kind because I know that I have not always been generous and kind.

I've often said that I believe in loving others with a love that helps the other get to heaven.  And I always believed that some times that may require a tough love, a love informed by truth.  But I learned tonight that love, especially among family, should be unconditional.  Yes, we may disagree, or be diametrically opposed on certain things but my love must be unconditional.  Maybe the one I love unconditionally is not always my best pal, maybe I struggle sometimes with the "liking" but the love must be unconditional.

To all reading this, please continue to pray for Wendy's mom and be a person of unconditional love, kindness, forgiveness and generosity!

Friday night update

Prayers still requested for my wife's mom Lynn.  Today she had a surgical procedure to insert a chest tube to get rid of massive amounts of fluid around the heart.  Procedure was successful and we await hopeful good results.  Lot's of challenges and struggles ahead.  I just want to thank you for your concerns and prayers and humbly ask that they continue!

Pope Francis offers an Angelus Address on today's Feast of Sts Peter & Paul

Vatican Media Screenshot

Pope Francis: Today, Church Goes to Roots of its Faith

‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’

Pope Francis on June 29, 2018, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, spoke of the “roots” of the Christian faith, proclaimed by Peter to Christ in the 16th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).
The Holy Father spoke in St. Peter’s Square before praying the noonday Angelus with a crowd of pilgrims estimated at 30,000 by Vatican police.
“Over the centuries, the world has defined Jesus in different ways: a great prophet of justice and love; a wise master of life; a revolutionary; a dreamer of the dreams of God … and so on,” the Pope explained. But he affirms that it was Peter who proclaimed the truth.
“Jesus is the Son of God: therefore He is perennially alive as His Father is eternally alive,” the Holy Father continued. “This is the novelty that grace ignites in the heart of those who open themselves to the mystery of Jesus: the non-mathematical certainty, but even stronger, interior, of having met the Source of Life, the Life itself made flesh, visible and tangible in our midst.
“This is the experience of the Christian, and it is not the merit of us Christians, it is not our merit, but it comes from God, it is a grace of God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. All this is contained in Peter’s answer: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’.”
Responding to Peter, Jesus calls him “the rock” upon which he will build His Church – and against which the gates of the underworld will not prevail. Francis points out that this is the first time Jesus uses the word “Church” and He defines Her as “My Church.”

Pope Francis and all the new Cardinals visit Pope Emeritus Benedict

© Vatican Media

Pope Francis and New Cardinals Visit Benedict XVI

Visit After Consistory Creating 14 New Cardinals

Few can forget the images of the newly elected Pope Francis boarding the bus to return to his room with the Cardinals who had just elected him Pope.
On June 28, 2018, Francis took another short road trip, this time by van, escorting the new cardinals just created in a call on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
After the Consistory Meeting at the monastery “Mater Ecclesiae” between Francis and the new cardinals and the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. In the chapel, all together they recited the Ave Maria. After a brief greeting and the blessing of Pope Benedict, the 14 new cardinals returned to Paul VI Hall.

Homily of Pope Francis for the Feast of Sts Peter & Paul


Pope Francis’ Homily for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

‘Once we turn our back on the Cross, even though we may attain the heights of glory, we will be fooling ourselves, since it will not be God’s glory, but the snare of the enemy’

Here is the Vatican provided translation of the Pope’s homily during the Mass of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, today, June 29, 2018, which was celebrated in St Peter’s Square this morning.
* * *
The readings we have just heard link us to the apostolic Tradition. That Tradition “is not the transmission of things or words, an assortment of lifeless objects; it is the living stream that links us to the origins, the living stream in which those origins are ever present” (BENEDICT XVI, Catechesis, 26 April 2006) and offer us the keys to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 16:19). A Tradition ancient yet ever new, that gives us life and renews the joy of the Gospel. It enables us to confess with our lips and our heart: “ ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).
The entire Gospel is an answer to the question present in the hearts of the People of Israel and today too dwells in the hearts of all those who thirst for life: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:3). Jesus takes up that question and asks it of his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15).
Peter speaks up and calls Jesus by the greatest title he could possibly bestow: “You are the Christ” (cf. Mt 16:16), the Anointed, the Holy One of God. It is good to think that the Father inspired this answer because Peter had seen how Jesus “anointed” his people. Jesus, the Anointed One, walked from village to village with the sole aim of saving and helping those considered lost. He “anointed” the dead (cf. Mk 5:41-42; Lk 7:14-15), the sick (cf. Mk 6:13; Jas 5:14), the wounded (cf. Lk 10:34) and the repentant (cf. Mt 6:17). He anointed with hope (cf. Lk 7:38.46; 10:34; Jn 11:2; 12:3). By that anointing, every sinner – the downcast, the infirm, pagans, wherever they found themselves – could feel a beloved part of God’s family. By his actions, Jesus said in a very personal way: “You are mine”. Like Peter, we too can confess with our lips and our heart not only what we have heard, but also concretely experienced in our lives. We too have been brought back to life, healed, renewed and filled with hope by the anointing of the Holy One. Thanks to that anointing, every yoke of slavery has been shattered (cf. Is 10:27). How can we ever lose the joyful memory that we were ransomed and led to proclaim: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Mt 16:16).
It is interesting to see what follows this passage in the Gospel where Peter confesses his faith: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). God’s Anointed kept bringing the Father’s love and mercy to the very end. This merciful love demands that we too go forth to every corner of life, to reach out to everyone, even though this may cost us our “good name”, our comforts, our status… even martyrdom.
Peter reacts to this completely unexpected announcement by saying: “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you” (Mt 16:22). In this way, he immediately becomes a stumbling stone in the Messiah’s path. Thinking that he is defending God’s rights, Peter, without realizing it, becomes the Lord’s enemy; Jesus calls him “Satan”. To contemplate Peter’s life and his confession of faith also means learning to recognize the temptations that will accompany the life of every disciple. Like Peter, we as a Church will always be tempted to hear those “whisperings” of the evil One, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission. I speak of “whispering” because the devil seduces from hiding, lest his intentions be recognized. “He behaves like a hypocrite, wishing to stay hidden and not be discovered” (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, n. 326).
To share in Christ’s anointing, on the other hand, means to share in his glory, which is his cross: Father, glorify your Son… “Father, glorify your name” (Jn 12:28). In Jesus, glory and the cross go together; they are inseparable. Once we turn our back on the cross, even though we may attain the heights of glory, we will be fooling ourselves, since it will not be God’s glory, but the snare of the enemy.
Often we feel the temptation to be Christians by keeping a prudent distance from the Lord’s wounds. Jesus touches human misery and he asks us to join him in touching the suffering flesh of others. To proclaim our faith with our lips and our heart demands that we – like Peter – learn to recognize the “whisperings” of the evil one. It demands learning to discern and recognize those personal and communitarian “pretexts” that keep us far from real human dramas, that preserve us from contact with other people’s concrete existence and, in the end, from knowing the revolutionary power of God’s tender love (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 270).
By not separating his glory from the cross, Jesus wants to liberate his disciples, his Church, from empty forms of triumphalism: forms empty of love, service, compassion, empty of people. He wants to set his Church free from grand illusions that fail to sink their roots in the life of God’s faithful people or, still worse, believe that service to the Lord means turning aside from the dusty roads of history. To contemplate and follow Christ requires that we open our hearts to the Father and to all those with whom he has wished to identify (cf. SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49), in the sure knowledge that he will never abandon his people.
Dear brothers and sisters, millions of people continue to ask the question: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:3). Let us confess with our lips and heart that Jesus Christ is Lord (cf Phil 2:11). This is the cantus firmus that we are called daily to intone. With the simplicity, the certainty and the joy of knowing that “the Church shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ. Her light is drawn from the Sun of Justice, so that she can exclaim: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Gal 2:20)” (SAINT AMBROSE, Hexaemeron, IV, 8, 32).