09 December 2013


Grace seldom appears as grace.  So seldom, in fact, that one should be suspicious when it does. 

17 November 2013

A Fourth Order?

by: Ernest Raymond

And as I stood there thinking this, the fancy came to me there there cleaves always to Francis, whether he approves or not, a Fourth Order.  It is the Order of those who do not abjure their fighting and their oaths, who cannot abandon their comfort or their fame, who still like the top table at the feasts and are not in the least eager to return their excess profits, but who, in spite of all this weakness, love Francis of Assisi and wish they were more like him.  Perhaps, in a small way, limp after him, loose fellows though they are.  They look wistfully after his disappearing figure, and wish they were not so like Brother Fly, in that they do not pray too much nor work too hard, but do eat bravely.  The Limping Quaternaries, shall we call them?  I have been a member of the Order for a long time, limping on as well as I may; and I suspect that most of my readers are too, or I should have lost them long before this.  God bless them all, and lead them on to better things. 

16 November 2013


"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell

11 November 2013


Prayer - Mother Theresa

...which always gives us more time...

“In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.
–Pope Francis
Homily at the Possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome
Archbasilica of St John Lateran
7 April 2013

21 September 2013

You have to trust God

“God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life.

You can, you must try to seek God in every human life.

Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow.

You have to trust God.”

17 September 2013

Pope Francis reportedly considering denim vestments

...and other reforms under consideration


"You gotta kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight..."

“The more you get involved in the groups that are doing wonderful work in the church the more you will be filled with joy in being a Catholic. The corruption, scandal and heresy will fade away like shadows. You will see clearly what you should be doing and it will be positive, life filled and life giving. You will soon see all the good that is going on and the bad you see will fade in importance.

Finally, remember this, we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Why did you think that the church would be free from corruption, scandal, indifference and heresy? It has always been like this and it always will be. Read church history. The complainers and protesters never accomplished very much. The saints did. The saints confronted corruption with radiant lives of simplicity and power. They skewered scandal with radiant lives of purity and goodness. They overwhelmed indifference with radiant lives of zeal and joy. At times they spoke out against the scandal, indifference and corruption, but they always did so based on the authority of their own powerful sanctity.

In other words, overwhelm the world with the light, life and beauty of Christ alive in you.

Don’t curse the dark.

Set alight a life ablaze with glory and goodness.”

– Fr. Dwight Longenecker

11 September 2013

St. Peter Claver

“We must speak to them with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.”

Not a day

Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows.

-- Charles Reade

06 September 2013

Elie Wiesel...

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.


Beauty is rarely soft or conciliatory.  Quite the contrary.  Genuine beauty is always quite alarming."  from Donna Tart's "Secret History"

04 September 2013

Mother Teresa

"Love begins at home. Everything depends on how we love each other. Do not be afraid to love until it hurts, for this is how Jesus loved."

Let the stumbling block become the corner stone...

God has done everything possible to make you the unique saint that our world needs right now. The only thing that is in your way is probably yourself.

02 September 2013

Good Theology

If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, of self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God's name, it was bad theology.

~ Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

01 September 2013

Door of Integrity

Once you get to know them...

Far too smart...

Raw Love

Time and pressure...

If I've learned...

If I’ve learned anything from video games, it is that when you meet enemies, it means that you’re going in the right direction.

Keep the darkness at bay...



5 in white...

Try to imagine...

Only if it's the right things...

Sign at the Grand Canyon...


Once They All Believed In Dragons
Once they all believed in dragons
When the world was fresh and young,
We were woven into legends,
Tales were told and songs were sung,
We were treated with obeisance,
We were honored, we were feared,
Then one day they stopped believing--
On that day, we disappeared.
Now they say our time is over,
Now they say we've lived our last,
Now we're treated with derision
Where once we ruled unsurpassed.
We must make them all remember,
In some way we must reveal
That our spirit lives forever--
We are dragons! We are real!
~ © Jack Prelutsky

06 August 2013

Mother Teresa

Without out suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption. All the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution, must be redeemed. And we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem them by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God.

30 July 2013

Saint Catherine of Sienna

"Speak the truth with a thousand voices – it is silence that kills the world.”

23 July 2013

Saint Augustine

Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.

We need saints...

"We need saints without cassocks, without veils. We need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies, that listen to music, that hang out with friends.

We need saints who put God in first place, ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints who look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity, and all good things. We need saints, Saints of the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time.

We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it.

We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends.

We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.

–Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013, Rio

11 April 2013

A Saint...

...is someone who knows how much God loves them. 

04 April 2013

To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts...

“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs.  No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” - Roger Ebert

29 March 2013

Study: Famous Adults offer Clues to Identify Gifted Teenagers

From Mark Twain to Woody Allen, creative adults often say they were uncomfortable in school, and educators have struggled for decades to find a reliable way to identify gifted, but often quirky or rambunctious, creative students.  A study published last month in Creative Research Journal describes a University of Kansas project that mined the biographies of such notable creative adults to develop tools to help teachers identify and support creative adolescents.  

Researchers Barbara Kerr and Robyn McKay analyzed biographies and interviews of famous creative types to distill the characteristics of creative giftedness at age 16.  They then grouped those into six profiles in five areas of creative giftedness: verbal and linguistic skills, mathematics and science, spatial and visual skills, interpersonal and emotional skills, and music and dance. 

"Very often these traits that feed their creativity, like openness to experience and impulsivity, get them into trouble," Ms.Kerr said.  "And many of them said that they're only noticed in school when they're in trouble.

Creative kids tend to be a particular type of outsider, admired by their small cadre of friends for their art or coding abilities, but avoided by many because of their eccentricities."  The researchers worked with academic counselors in schools across Kansas to identify 485 students who matched the profiles and brought them to the counseling laboratory for additional testing and interviews.  A third of the students who fit the profiles for creative giftedness had never been identified for gifted programs, largely because their grade point averages were not higher than average, in part because those students tended to focus only on subjects that interested them. Those students also tended to respond better to academic counseling that encouraged a do-it-yourself approach, such as pairing science classes with technical classes for a student interested in becoming an inventor. 

Business First, 3/13/13.

24 March 2013

...and the day after...

Family Vacation to WDW

The Touch-Screen Generation

Young children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development? 

from: The Atlantic

"...What, really, would Maria Montessori have made of this scene? The 30 or so children here were not down at the shore poking their fingers in the sand or running them along mossy stones or digging for hermit crabs. Instead they were all inside, alone or in groups of two or three, their faces a few inches from a screen, their hands doing things Montessori surely did not imagine. A couple of 3-year-old girls were leaning against a pair of French doors, reading an interactive story called Ten Giggly Gorillas and fighting over which ape to tickle next. A boy in a nearby corner had turned his fingertip into a red marker to draw an ugly picture of his older brother. On an old oak table at the front of the room, a giant stuffed Angry Bird beckoned the children to come and test out tablets loaded with dozens of new apps. Some of the chairs had pillows strapped to them, since an 18-month-old might not otherwise be able to reach the table, though she’d know how to swipe once she did.

 Not that long ago, there was only the television, which theoretically could be kept in the parents’ bedroom or locked behind a cabinet. Now there are smartphones and iPads, which wash up in the domestic clutter alongside keys and gum and stray hair ties. “Mom, everyone has technology but me!” my 4-year-old son sometimes wails. And why shouldn’t he feel entitled? In the same span of time it took him to learn how to say that sentence, thousands of kids’ apps have been developed—the majority aimed at preschoolers like him. To us (his parents, I mean), American childhood has undergone a somewhat alarming transformation in a very short time. But to him, it has always been possible to do so many things with the swipe of a finger, to have hundreds of games packed into a gadget the same size as Goodnight Moon...."


“We live in a screen age, and to say to a kid, ‘I’d love for you to look at a book but I hate it when you look at the screen’ is just bizarre. It reflects our own prejudices and comfort zone. It’s nothing but fear of change, of being left out.”


the world's problem...

"If (Benedict) wasn't what the modern world wanted -- if he wasn't prepared to bend every principle or rule to appease all the people all the time -- then that's the world's problem rather than his."


Benedict: A pope aware of his flaws

by:  Sister Mary Ann Walsh

(CNN) -- One of the Bible's paradoxical statements comes from St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: "Power is made perfect in infirmity."

The poetic statement proclaims that when we are weak, we are strong. Pope Benedict XVI's stepping down from what many consider one of the most powerful positions in the world proves it. In a position associated with infallibility -- though that refers to formal proclamations on faith and morals -- the pope declares his weakness.

His acceptance of frailty speaks realistically about humanity: We grow old, weaken, and eventually die. A job, even one guided by the Holy Spirit, as we Roman Catholics believe, can become too much for us. 

Acceptance of human frailty has marked this papacy. We all make mistakes, but the pope makes them on a huge stage.


Peter's failures... enabled him

"...And after some days of reflection, they will enter the Sistine Chapel to elect a successor to Peter.

What keeps me going these days is a remembrance of Peter, a personal friend of Jesus of Nazareth, who had to remember his own failures as he undertook leadership within the church.

Rather than incapacitating him, his remembrance enabled him to be a merciful and compassionate leader.  Peter learned his lesson well; he would imitate Jesus the rest of his life even to the point of giving that life as a martyr, dying upside down on a cross on the Vatican hill.  The last thing Peter would have seen before dying was the obelisk that now stands in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.

This reality we call Catholicism does not rest on some kind of pious myth, a pie-in-the sky story from long ago.

It is a story that has weathered many storms, and withstood the fury of the gates of hell.

It is a story about real people and real things that happened to them.  People who staked their lives, and continue to do so, not on fables and fantasies, but on what they came to understand as the truth.

It is that same truth that we are trying to serve these days as we tell the world an ancient, at times incredible story that continues to excite and entice the whole world.  It’s ultimately about Peter and the one he loved so much that he gave up everything to follow him."


Humble, Authentic.... Credible

 By Christopher M. Bellitto

(CNN) -- For an institution that moves glacially, instant analysis is as impossible as it is unwise. Yet first impressions are important. Our initial glimpse of the new pope was curiously disconcerting. He stood there impassive and unemotional. He looked stunned, without almost any reaction at all except, perhaps, awe or even fear of the moment.

Suddenly, his eyes seemed to open wide, as if he was really seeing the position for which he had been chosen less than an hour before. And then he spoke, not with the power of physical force or energy but with something stronger: humility.

With the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as pope, the Roman Catholic Church enters the next chapter of her history. And yet, as often happens in the church, she turns to her past for inspiration and even innovation...


For most popes...

Eternal Consequences

"Never lose hope. 
Never get discouraged.
And be willing to fight. 
Because your love has consequences, 
and those consequences are eternal."
~Fr. John Hopkins 


23 March 2013

Worth a second look...

by Paul Elie
The Atlantic.   Jan 1, 2006. 

The Year of Two Popes 

How Joseph Ratzinger stepped into the shoes of John Paul II—and what it means for the Catholic Church 

 I. A Pope After Lunch
The cardinals took their seats in long rows on two sides of the Sistine Chapel, tucking their cassocks beneath them. A hymn was sung, a prayer said, an oath taken. The doors were locked. Then, with ritual solemnity, the cardinals rose one by one to cast their ballots in the first "scrutiny." Each man stepped to the front of the room, declared that he was voting for the man he believed to be God's choice as the next pope, and then dropped a paper ballot into an urn.

It was Monday, April 18, 2005. Two weeks earlier the body of John Paul II had been laid out beneath the great dome of St. Peter's Basilica, the feet (in old brown shoes) pointing straight upward in a final expression of earthly vigor. Now 115 cardinals were meeting to elect his successor—to find out which of them would be next to lie in state in St. Peter's.

Three cardinals counted the ballots. Three others checked their work. Seventy-seven votes were needed for election: two thirds plus one. In this first scrutiny perhaps fifty cardinals had cast their ballots for Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Perhaps ten had cast ballots for Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit and the archbishop of Buenos Aires; nine for Carlo Maria Martini, another Jesuit and the retired archbishop of Milan; six for Camillo Ruini, the vicar of Rome; four for Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state; and many for scattered others. The ballots were burned in the chapel furnace; black smoke issued from a chimney visible from St. Peter's Square. The doors of the chapel were unlocked and the cardinals descended a grand staircase. A small fleet of minibuses awaited them; they clambered aboard and were taken to the Domus Santa Marta, a $20 million guesthouse a few hundred yards away. The conclave's first day was over, and Cardinal Ratzinger, for a quarter century one of John Paul's closest advisers, was something like a presumptive pope.

At the Santa Marta the cardinals ate supper in the refectory. Afterward they prayed, read, paced, or smoked, stepping outside to avoid the ban on smoking indoors, enforced even for cardinals electing a new pope. Some cardinals paid a visit to Cardinal Martini. Some visited with Cardinal Bergoglio. At least one wrote in his diary, which he would show to a reporter after the conclave. They went to sleep, rose, washed, prayed, dressed, and celebrated mass all together in the modern chapel of the Santa Marta. They ate breakfast, were dressed again in red and white, and were taken back to the Sistine Chapel, where they cast their ballots in the second scrutiny.

This time more than sixty of them voted for Ratzinger. Perhaps thirty-five voted for Bergoglio. Not one voted for Martini. In the night the votes for the one Jesuit had passed to the other, and the unassuming Bergoglio had emerged as the candidate of those who opposed the formidable Ratzinger. The cardinals voted again. In the third scrutiny Ratzinger gained votes, to seventy or more. Bergoglio also gained, climbing to perhaps forty votes. The ballots were burned. The chimney smoked black. From Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment, Jesus Christ stared down impassively, separating the saved from the damned; cleansed of soot, the scene was a good deal clearer than at the time of the previous conclave, when Karol Wojtyla was elected pope on the eighth ballot.

The cardinals left the chapel, boarded the minibuses, and were taken to the Santa Marta for lunch—all except Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, who went on foot through the lush Vatican gardens. Was Ratzinger unbeatable? No; but his hour seemed to have come.

In the refectory Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo of Colombia buttonholed other cardinals, especially those from Latin America. An ardent supporter of Ratzinger, he urged them to consider the tally for Bergoglio. A vote for the Argentine was not really the vote of regional solidarity they might think, he said. Many of the votes for Bergoglio were probably coming from scandal-ridden North Americans or from Western Europeans whose flocks could fit onto the head of a pin. Coffee was served. The cardinals boarded the minibuses once more.

The chapel doors were locked for a fourth scrutiny. The cardinals strode to the front of the room one by one. This time two dozen votes went to Bergoglio. More than eighty went to Ratzinger. The prefect had been elected pope. The ballots were burned in the chapel furnace. Smoke guttered up gray and then white. The bells of St. Peter's tolled, setting off a ringing of bells across Rome. A text message—"fumata bianca"—was forwarded from one mobile phone to the next, and tens of thousands of people in the city hastened to the square to see the new pope, whoever he was.

It was just past 6:00 p.m. in Rome when Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, a Chilean, emerged on the loggia over the big central doors of St. Peter's and declared, "Habemus papam"—"We have a pope."



“Simplicity is not about making something without ornament, but rather about making something very complex, then slicing elements away, until you reveal the very essence.” From “The Story of My App,” by Christoph Niemann.

17 March 2013

Grace Always Comes First

We offer here excerpts from the talk given by His Eminence Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the book presentation, April 27, 2001 (via)

I agreed to present this book by Father Giussani for two reasons. The first and more personal one is the good that this man has done me, in my life as a priest, through the reading of his books and articles. The second reason is that I am convinced that his thought is profoundly human and reaches man’s innermost longings. I dare say that this is the most profound, and at the same time understandable, phenomenology of nostalgia as a transcendental fact. There is a phenomenology of nostalgia, nóstos algos, feeling called home, the experience of feeling attracted to what is most proper for us, most consonant with our being. In the context of Fr. Giussani’s reflections, we encounter instances of a real phenomenology of nostalgia.

The book presented today, El atractivo de Jesucristo, is not a theological treatise, it is a dialogue of friendship; these are table conversations between Father Giussani and his disciples. It is not a book for intellectuals, but for people who are men and women. It is the description of that initial experience, which I shall refer to later on, of wonder which arises in dialogue about daily experience that is provoked and fascinated by the exceptionally human and divine presence and gaze of Jesus Christ. It is the story of a personal relationship–intense, mysterious, and concrete at the same time–of an impassioned and intelligent affection for the person of Jesus, and this enables Fr. Giussani to come to the threshold, as it were, of Mystery, to speak familiarly and intimately with Mystery.

Everything in our life, today just as in Jesus’ time, begins with an encounter. An encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth, a man like all men and yet different. The first ones, John, Andrew, and Simon, felt themselves to be looked at into their very depths, read in their innermost being, and in them sprang forth a surprise, a wonder that instantly made them feel bound to Him, made them feel different.

When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?”, “his ‘Yes’ was not the result of an effort of will, it was not the fruit of a ‘decision’ made by the young man Simon: it was the emergence, the coming to the surface of an entire vein of tenderness and adherence that made sense because of the esteem he had for Him–therefore an act of reason;” it was a reasonable act, “which is why he couldn’t not say ‘Yes.’”

We cannot understand this dynamic of encounter which brings forth wonder and adherence if it has not been triggered–forgive me the use of this word–by mercy. Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord. I beg the theologians who are present not to turn me in to the Sant’Uffizio or to the Inquisition; however, forcing things a bit, I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.

In front of this merciful embrace–and I continue along the lines of Giussani’s thought–we feel a real desire to respond, to change, to correspond; a new morality arises. We posit the ethical problem, an ethics which is born of the encounter, of this encounter which we have described up to now. Christian morality is not a titanic effort of the will, the effort of someone who decides to be consistent and succeeds, a solitary challenge in the face of the world. No. Christian morality is simply a response. It is the heartfelt response to a surprising, unforeseeable, “unjust” mercy (I shall return to this adjective). The surprising, unforeseeable, “unjust” mercy, using purely human criteria, of one who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me just the same, appreciates me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, and expects from me. This is why the Christian conception of morality is a revolution; it is not a never falling down but an always getting up again.

As we shall see, this authentic, in a Christian sense, conception of morality which Giussani presents has nothing to do with the spiritualistic-type quietisms of which the shelves of the religious supermarkets of today are full. Trickery. Nor with the Pelagianism so fashionable today in its different, sophisticated manifestations. Pelagianism, underneath it all, is a remake of the Tower of Babel. The spiritualistic quietisms are efforts at prayer and immanent spirituality which never go beyond themselves.

Jesus is encountered, just as 2,000 years ago, in a human presence, the Church, the company of those whom He assimilates to Himself, His Body, the sign and sacrament of His Presence. Reading this book, one is amazed and filled with admiration at the sight of such a personal and profound relationship with Jesus, and thinks it is unlikely to happen to him. When people say to Fr. Giussani, “How brave one has to be to say ‘Yes’ to Christ!” or, “This objection comes to my mind: it is evident that Fr. Giussani loves Jesus and I don’t love Him in the same way,” Giussani answers, “Why do you oppose what you think you don’t have to what you think I have? I have this yes, only this, and it would not cost you one iota more than it costs me.… Say “Yes” to Jesus. If I foresaw that tomorrow I would offend Him a thousand times, I would still say it.” Thérèse of Lisieux says almost exactly the same thing: “I say it, because if I did not say ‘Yes’ to Jesus I could not say ‘Yes’ to the stars in the sky or to your hair, the hairs on your head…” Nothing could be simpler: “I don’t know how it is, I don’t know how it might be: I know that I have to say ‘Yes.’ I can’t not say it,” and reasonably; that is to say, at every moment in his reflections in this book, Giussani has recourse to the reasonableness of experience.

It is a question of starting to say “You” to Christ, and saying it often. It is impossible to desire it without asking for it. And if someone starts to ask for it, then he begins to change. Besides, if someone asks for it, it is because in the depths of his being he feels attracted, called, looked at, awaited. This is the experience of Augustine: there from the depths of my being, something attracts me toward Someone who looked for me first, is waiting for me first, is the almond flower of the prophets, the first to bloom in spring. It is the quality which God possesses and which I take the liberty of defining by using a Buenos Aires word: God, in this case Jesus Christ, always primerea, goes ahead of us. When we arrive, He is already there waiting.

He who encounters Jesus Christ feels the impulse to witness Him or to give witness of what he has encountered, and this is the Christian calling. To go and give witness. You can’t convince anybody. The encounter occurs. You can prove that God exists, but you will never be able, using the force of persuasion, to make anyone encounter God. This is pure grace. Pure grace. In history, from its very beginning until today, grace always primerea, grace always comes first, then comes all the rest.

16 March 2013


"When we walk without the cross…"

"When we walk without the cross…"

"...we are worldly. We are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord." The first homily of Pope Francis, Thursday, March 14, in the Sistine Chapel with the cardinals who elected him (via)

by Jorge Mario Bergoglio

In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement in walking; in the second reading, movement in the building up of the Church; in the third, in the Gospel, movement in confession.

To walk, to build up, to confess.

To walk. “House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing that God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and be without reproach. To walk: our life is a journey and when we stop it is no good. To walk always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that irreproachability which God asked of Abraham, in his promise.

To build up. To build up the Church. Stones are spoken of: the stones have substance; but living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. To build up the Church, the bride of Christ, on that cornerstone which is the Lord himself. This is another movement of our lives: to build up.

Third, to confess. We can walk as much as we wish, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, it is no good. We will become a humanitarian NGO, but not the Church, bride of the Lord.

When one does not walk, one halts. When one does not build on stone what happens? That happens which happens to children on the beach when they make sand castles, it all comes down, it is without substance. When one does not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the expression of Léon Bloy: "He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.” When one does not confess Jesus Christ, one confesses the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon.

To walk, to build/construct, to confess. But the matter is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in confessing, at times there are shocks, there are movements that are not properly movements of the journey: they are movements that set us back.

This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who has confessed Jesus Christ says to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the cross. This has nothing to do with it. I will follow you with other possibilities, without the cross.

When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like that everyone, after these days of grace, should have the courage, truly the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the cross of the Lord; to build up the Church upon the blood of the Lord that was shed upon the cross; and to confess the only glory: Christ crucified. And in this way the Church will move forward.

I hope for all of us that the Holy Spirit, through the prayer of the Virgin Mary, our Mother, may grant us this grace: to walk, to build up, to confess Jesus Christ crucified. So may it be.


The three readings of the Mass “pro Ecclesia," on which Pope Francis commented, were taken from the book of Isaiah (2:2-5), from the first letter of Peter (2:4-9), and from the Gospel according to Matthew (16:13-19)

The pope delivered the homily in Italian, without any written text. What is reproduced here is the complete transcription of his words.


The Name of Francis, the Rule of St. Ignatius, and the Example of Jonah

The new pope tells how and why he chose to go by the name of the saint of Assisi. But already he has recalled the founder of the Society of Jesus as well. And like the prophet, he wants to preach to the modern Nineveh the forgiveness of God. A revealing interview

by Sandro Magister

ROME, March 16, 2013 – For the six thousand journalists packed into the audience hall this morning, Jorge Mario Bergoglio had news.

He recounted how and why it came into his mind to select as pope the name of Francis, precisely as in the conclave the votes were falling to him:

"At the election, I had beside me the archbishop emeritus of São Paulo and also prefect emeritus of the congregation for the clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a great friend, a great friend! When the thing was becoming a bit dangerous, he comforted me. And when the votes rose to two thirds, the usual applause came, because the pope had been elected. And he embraced me, he kissed me and said: 'Do not forget the poor!' And that word entered here: the poor, the poor. Then I thought of the wars, while the scrutiny continued, until the last of the votes. And in this way the name came, in my heart: Francis of Assisi. He is for me the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and cares for creation; at this time we as well have with creation a relationship that is not so good, no? He is the man who gives us the spirit of peace, the poor man... Ah, how I would like a Church that is poor and for the poor!”

And he concluded:

"Afterward, some [cardinals] made various remarks. ' But you should have called yourself Adrian, because Adrian VI was the reformer, there must be reform. . . .' And another told me: 'No, no: your name should be Clement.' But why? 'Clement XV: this is how you avenge yourself against Clement XIV, who suppressed the Society of Jesus!'"

By the irony of fate, Clement XIV, the pope who in the eighteenth century closed the order of the Jesuits to which Bergoglio belongs, was a Franciscan.


Pope Francis, in his first days as pope, has not however neglected to recall also the founder of his order, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

On March 15, at the Mass that he celebrated early in the morning in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Martae together with a few cardinals, he improvised a brief homily.

In it he cited St. Ignatius where in the rules of discernment he advises that “in the time of desolation changes should never be made, but one should remain firm and constant in the resolutions and decisions that one made in the time of consolation.”

Otherwise - he added - if one gives in and withdraws, when the Lord again makes himself visible “one risks being found no more.”

Shortly before, during the Mass, there had been a reading from the book of Wisdom in which the wicked want to put to the test the just man “with violence and torment, to know his meekness and try his patience.” But they “do not know the mysterious secrets of God, nor do they believe in a reward for a life irreproachable.”

On the demand contained in this last word, “irreproachable,” the pope insisted strongly.

This brief homily has not been made public. But it was reported by Cristiana Caricato on ilsussidiario.net, employing the confidence of a cardinal who had celebrated Mass with the pope.


But in addition to Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius, in the “heaven” of Jorge Maria Bergoglio there also shines the prophet Jonah.

In a 2007 interview with the international magazine “30 Days,” highly revealing on how he sees his mission as pastor of the Church, the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires suddenly asked the interviewer, Stefania Falasca:

"Do you know the biblical episode of the prophet Jonah?".

"I don’t remember it. Tell us", the interviewer replied.

And Bergoglio:

"Jonah had everything clear. He had clear ideas about God, very clear ideas about good and evil. On what God does and on what He wants, on who was faithful to the Covenant and who instead was outside the Covenant. He had the recipe for being a good prophet. God broke into his life like a torrent. He sent him to Nineveh. Nineveh was the symbol of all the separated, the lost, of all the peripheries of humanity. Of all those who are outside, forlorn. Jonah saw that the task set on him was only to tell all those people that the arms of God were still open, that the patience of God was there and waiting, to heal them with His forgiveness and nourish them with His tenderness. Only for that had God sent him. He sent him to Nineveh, but he instead ran off in the opposite direction, toward Tarshish".

"Running away from a difficult mission…" said the interviewer.

"No. What he was fleeing was not so much Nineveh as the boundless love of God for those people. It was that that didn’t come into his plans. God had come once… 'and I’ll see to the rest': that’s what Jonah told himself. He wanted to do things his way, he wanted to steer it all. His stubbornness shut him in his own structures of evaluation, in his pre-ordained methods, in his righteous opinions. He had fenced his soul off with the barbed wire of those certainties that instead of giving freedom with God and opening horizons of greater service to others had finished by deafening his heart. How the isolated conscience hardens the heart! Jonah no longer knew that God leads His people with the heart of a Father".

"A great many of us can identify with Jonah", the interviewer remarked.

Bergoglio: "Our certainties can become a wall, a jail that imprisons the Holy Spirit. Those who isolate their conscience from the path of the people of God don’t know the joy of the Holy Spirit that sustains hope. That is the risk run by the isolated conscience. Of those who from the closed world of their Tarshish complain about everything or, feeling their identity threatened, launch themselves into battles only in the end to be still more self-concerned and self-referential".

"What should one do?"

Bergoglio: "Look at our people not for what they should be but for what they are and see what is necessary. Without preconceptions and recipes but with generous openness. For the wounds and the frailty God have spoken. Allowing the Lord to speak… In a world that we can’t manage to interest with the words we say, only His presence that loves us, saves us, can be of interest. Apostolic fervor renews itself in order to testify to Him who has loved us from the beginning".

Last question: "For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the Church?"

Bergoglio: "It is what De Lubac calls 'spiritual worldliness'. It is the greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. 'It is worse', says De Lubac, 'more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes'. Spiritual worldliness is putting oneself at the center. It is what Jesus saw going on among the Pharisees: 'You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to yourselves, the ones to the others'".


The word “worldliness” was used several times, as a danger also for “priests, bishops, cardinals, popes,” in the first homily delivered by Bergoglio after his election as pope, in the Sistine Chapel:

> "When we walk without the cross…"

But in the interview cited above there is also another passage in which the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires delineated the mission of the Church and denounced its “gnostic and self-referential” threats.

To the question about what Bergoglio would have said to the pope and the cardinals at the consistory of November 24, 2007, in which he was unable to participate, the interviewee continued as follows:

A: I would have spoken about two things of which there is need in this moment, there is more need: mercy and apostolic courage.

Q: What do they mean to you?

A: To me apostolic courage is disseminating. Disseminating the Word. Giving it to that man and to that woman for whom it was bestowed. Giving them the beauty of the Gospel, the amazement of the encounter with Jesus… and leaving it to the Holy Spirit to do the rest. It is the Lord, says the Gospel, who makes the seed sprout and bear fruit.

Q: In short, it is the Holy Spirit who performs the mission.

A: The early theologians said: the soul is a kind of sailing boat, the Holy Spirit is the wind that blows in the sail, to send it on its way, the impulses and the force of the wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Without His drive, without His grace, we don’t move forward. The Holy Spirit lets us enter the mystery of God and saves us from the danger of a gnostic Church and from the danger of a self-referential Church, leading us to mission.

Q: That means also overthrowing all your functionalist solutions, your consolidated plans and pastoral systems…

A: I didn’t say that pastoral systems are useless. On the contrary. In itself everything that leads by the paths of God is good. I have told my priests: 'Do everything you should, you know your duties as ministers, take your responsibilities and then leave the door open.' Our sociologists of religion tell us that the influence of a parish has a radius of six hundred meters. In Buenos Aires there are about two thousand meters between one parish and the next. So I then told the priests: 'If you can, rent a garage and, if you find some willing layman, let him go there! Let him be with those people a bit, do a little catechesis and even give communion if they ask him.' A parish priest said to me: 'But Father, if we do this the people then won’t come to Church.' 'But why?' I asked him: 'Do they come to Mass now?' 'No,' he answered. And so! Coming out of oneself is also coming out from the fenced garden of one’s own convictions, considered irremovable, if they risk becoming an obstacle, if they close the horizon that is also of God.

Q: This is valid also for lay people…

A: Their clericalization is a problem. The priests clericalize the laity and the laity beg us to be clericalized… It really is sinful abetment. And to think that baptism alone could suffice. I’m thinking of those Christian communities in Japan that remained without priests for more than two hundred years. When the missionaries returned they found them all baptized, all validly married for the Church and all their dead had had a Catholic funeral. The faith had remained intact through the gifts of grace that had gladdened the life of a laity who had received only baptism and had also lived their apostolic mission by virtue of baptism alone. One must not be afraid of depending only on His tenderness.

12 March 2013

Thank you

"Help each other to live and to grow in the Christian faith so as to be valiant witnesses of the Lord. Be united, but not closed. Be humble, but not fearful. Be simple, but not naive. Be thoughtful, but not complicated. Enter into dialogue with others, but be yourselves."   ~ Pope Benedict XVI 

via WR


Jesus put church in hands of erring humans, not angels, says cardinal

Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, arrives for a general congregation meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican March 8. The world's cardinals are meeting for several days in advance of the conclave to elect a new pope. (CNS/Paul Haring)
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If Jesus had wanted a church free of scandal or problems, he would have put it in the hands of angels, not a humanity he loved, said Nigeria's newest cardinal elector.

"If you say the church needs to reform and improve, it would be the first to admit it, because the church has never reached the end of its journey; the church is always under reform," Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, told Catholic News Service.

Even successful changes or improvements don't signal the job of conversion "is done and finished once and for all, because every generation has to go through its own reforms," he said on the sidelines of pre-conclave meetings March 6.

Elevated to the College of Cardinals less than three months ago, Cardinal Onaiyekan, 69, downplayed the media's focus on some cardinals reportedly being concerned about the findings of an internal investigation of charges of corruption and financial mismanagement within the Vatican. Retired Pope Benedict XVI said the dossier compiled by a three-cardinal commission should be seen only by the next pope.

Cardinal Onaiyekan said, "I do believe that very often there's a tendency to exaggerate the gravity and even the moment (importance) of the problems we have in our house today. Anyone who has read church history knows that there is nothing new on that."

Problems or accusations of scandal or corruption should be addressed, he said, "but that only proves that the church is made of human beings."

"Jesus Christ could have left this church in the hands of angels; there were enough in heaven to do the job," he said.

Instead, with his love and hope for humanity, he put the church in the hands of 12 ignorant men, who included simple fishermen and a tax collector, he said.

He said the church shouldn't be concerned with being "credible," in the sense of its message being believed or accepted by everyone.

"There are people to whom my message will never be credible, because they will never believe me because they don't believe" in God.

"You can't be credible to everybody. Authentic, yes, but authentic means a message that is as close as possible to the message of Jesus; that I'm worried about," he said.

"The church cannot go around, obviously, all the time trying to be popular, to be acceptable" to the views, positions and opinion of journalists and the dominant culture, he said.

But that "doesn't mean that we go out of our way to be difficult to understand, no. We do our best to explain as much as we can" and face the challenge of making the message seem as relevant as possible.

"Even Jesus didn't have it easy explaining to the people of his day what his message was about," he said.

Cardinal Onaiyekan said he was not going into the conclave clearly decided on for whom he would cast his vote.

"We believe firmly that the period of the conclave is a special period of grace and that the Holy Spirit will lead us," he said.

The Holy Spirit, too, will inspire or guide the new pope in discerning how he will carry out his ministry and what "is most required in our days," he said.

"One pope is different from another. When the pope comes, he will (take) his own path, he will do his work, carry out his ministry according to the way he is led by the spirit," the cardinal said.

The College of Cardinals does not "democratically" represent the face of church on the ground, he said.

But church leaders from all over the world come together at synods or other large gatherings to share the hopes and concerns of their local churches "and that is what makes the church catholic" and helps everyone get "on board," he said.

That means the nationality of a new pope is not important, he said.

"What is important is that whoever is the pope should be a pope for all of us" not just his own nation or continent of origin, he said.

The conclave to elect a new successor of Peter "is one of the highest points of our faith in the church as (led) by the Lord Jesus."

"If we really want to live up to that, then we should keep as close as we can to Jesus throughout this process," especially through prayer, he said.


04 March 2013

proof of love

"The proof of love is in the works.  Where love exists, it works great things.  But where it ceases to act, it ceases to exist."  - St. Gregory the Great

11 February 2013