How Do You Do Lent in a Time of Feasting?

Lent

It’s still Lent.

We’ve got a week and a half of the deepest, darkest passage in human history to relive. Jesus arrested, betrayed, beaten, tortured, shamed and murdered; that’s what lies ahead of us in these next days.

We are approaching the depths of Lent; the remembrance of humanity’s greatest crime against innocence in the flesh. And we are almost there. 

But how do you do lent in a time of feasting? 

Last week, the Papal Conclave elected the first non-European pope in 1200 years, the first American pope and the first Jesuit pope in history. That conclave turned the Catholic world upside down … and left it unchanged.

Pope francis

Pope Francis is the continuation of an unbroken line of popes going back to the moment when Jesus said “I will call you Peter.” The Church as a conduit of grace, a connection to the divine and a highway to heaven is untouched, unchanged and unchangeable. Despite the rancorous demands from some quarters that the Church re-write 2,000 years of Christian teaching to excuse the fashionable sins of our day, it will never do that. It has never done that; not for kings and princes, not for tanks and guns. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Church, despite its human failings, is like Him in that. Nothing that matters, nothing that’s central to what the Church is, changes, has changed, or will change. 

Last week, we elected a pope. Yesterday, he celebrated his inaugural mass. It has been a week of spiritual feasting, a time to get drunk on the Spirit and wave flags, cheer and experience the jubilation of this proof of His continued presence in our lives. 

How do we come down from that to Passion Week and the awful reality of the crucifixion? 

Transfiguration

Perhaps, we do it the same way Peter, James and John did when they came down from the mount of Transfiguration. They saw something that no one had ever seen before or since, at least not in this life. They saw the transfigured Christ in His glory, conversing with Moses and Elijah — the law and the prophets. They saw the promise of what is to come, of the meaning on the other side of the cross that they were to preach for the rest of their days. 

We saw a glimpse of that same promise in this election and inauguration. Not the transfiguration, of course, but the promise of what it meant when Jesus told us “I am with you until the end of the world.” He was promising us that when we are lost, He will call us without ceasing. When we are found, He will walk with us through whatever we must face. He will speak to us through the Holy Spirit in our deepest hearts. He will come to us in the Eucharist and forgive us in confession. In all the years of our lives, he will never leave us without a shepherd to guide us and teach us and show us the way to Him.

This past week of two living popes and one unchanging church has not been the same mountain-top view of the Transfiguration that the three chosen Apostles experienced. But it has been the Transfiguration that the whole wide world needed at this time in history. 

Now, we must, as the Apostles had to, come down from the mountaintop and turn our faces toward Jerusalem. It is Lent, and the way we do Lent in a time of feasting is to face the magnitude of our sins and the unbelievable mercy that God has shown us. 

This year, like no other, we have been given our own view of Transfiguration. 

White crucifixion

I Forgive You. Now Don’t Do It Again.

Cast the first stone scupture

My husband and I go to the Vigil Mass at our parish. Our pastor delivered a fine homily yesterday. It was based on the Gospel story of the woman taken in adultery.

He made a point that I’ve often thought myself, that the woman in this story was set up. You catch someone in “the very act” of adultery by being there. This outrage of the scribes and pharisees, which included demands that a woman be stoned to death, was fake outrage. 

The pharisees were so zealous to entrap Our Lord that they were willing to entrap and murder this poor woman along the way. I’ve always thought that the man with whom she had been caught in “the very act” of adultery was probably standing there with them, stones in his hand, ready to throw.

Such is the “mercy” of legal beagle clerics who care more for the trappings of religion than they do for the call to holiness that applies to every single person on this planet. They are so intent on following “the rules,” so focused on, as Jesus said, “cleaning the outside of the cup” that they leave the inside, which is their own souls, “filthy — full of greed and self-indulgence.”

I know because I’ve done it that human beings are capable of convincing themselves of anything. We can convince ourselves that we are holy. We can convince ourselves that our “personal morality” is, in fact, actual morality. We can make ourselves believe that our obsessions and fixations on the appearance of things truly are more important than their substance. We can, as these teachers of religious law did, forget our own sins and focus on the sins of others to the point of stoning them to death.

Today’s Gospel story has often been used against Christians by people who do not believe in Jesus and who do not follow Him. They confuse its meaning to say that we should go along with them in claiming that their sins are not sins and that, in fact, there is no sin. They want to twist the story to mean that their “personal morality” is, in fact, actual morality.

SwindleHeWhomIsWithoutSinCastTheFir

I don’t think that is what Jesus meant when He said, “Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” The scriptures record the tantalizing but unexplained fact that Jesus knelt and wrote in the dust while He was speaking.

What was He writing? Was He perhaps writing the name of the man who had been with the woman when she was taken “in the very act?” Perhaps this man was the one making the demand that she be stoned. We don’t know. All we do know is that something happened that doesn’t often happen and these men became convicted of their own sins instead of the woman’s.

They dropped their stones and walked away.

This was not mercy on Our Lord’s part. It was the act that precedes mercy, which is to convict of us our own sins. We can not receive mercy for sins that we do not admit. We can not be forgiven without an understanding on our part that we need forgiveness.

The pitiful scribes and pharisees did not stay around to get the mercy they needed. They did not say, as Peter did, “have mercy on me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” They dropped their stones and went away to plot other evils for other days. They were temporarily foiled in their evil, not converted to the light.

Kissing jesusfeet

But the woman, the sinful, terrified woman whose death would have been nothing more than a means to an end for these sin-sick priests, what became of her? Again, we don’t know for sure. Was she the Mary Magdalene who stood at the foot of the cross and who was the first one to see the risen Christ? Many people think so. Was she the woman who kissed Jesus’ feet and washed them with her tears while he was at dinner with a Pharisee? Maybe.

All we know for sure is what Jesus said to her. I do not condemn you, he said. Now go, and sin no more.

He didn’t tell her that what she’d been doing, how she’d been living, was right. He didn’t tell her that she was without sin. He told her, “sin no more.”

That is God’s mercy. It is the mercy that does not lie to us by letting us slide past the reality of our sins. But it is a mercy that also doesn’t equate us with our sins. We are more than the evil we do. We are the errant children of the living God Who will always forgive us when we go to Him in humility and remorse for what we have done, but who will never do us the great disservice of telling us that what we’ve done is ok.

God tells us, like I told my own children, “Don’t do it again.” Don’t run in the house and break the lamp. Don’t hit your brother with a stick. Don’t commit adultery, lie, cheat, steal, rape or kill. Don’t do it again.

That is the mercy of God. It  is not the namby-pamby self-referencing whatever-is-popular-is-not-a-sin mercy our culture teaches us to demand of Him.

To obtain God’s mercy, we have to do more than put down our stones and go away to plot more evil. We have to want to change. Because, when it comes to our sins, He will always tell us, “I forgive you. Now don’t do it again.”

The Malarky About St Malachy

But about that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Jesus Christ

Your personal end of time is coming right at you.

Maybe that’s why people are so fascinated with any “end of time” prophecy they hear about. They know that their end of time will occur on that unknown but absolutely certain day when they die. They’d rather not have to face that day alone. They want the whole wide world to go with them.

My advice to people is to stop worrying about end of time prophecies and make sure that you are right with God today and every day. No end of time prophecy will be accurate. Jesus said so. He told us that no one knows the day or the hour. If you believe Jesus, then believe that. No. One. Knows.

The latest end of time babble centers around the supposed prophecies of St Malachy. Supposedly, St Malachy made a prophecy almost 1,000 years ago in which he detailed every pope up until now. He further said that “the last pope” would be — you guessed it — the one we just elected. This supposed prophesy is enough to send chills of delight up and down the spines of the oogidy-boogidy crowd. It also sets the typing fingers working on every pundit who’s looking for a story.

St Malachy was a real person and he is a real saint. But these so-called prophecies are, like every other end-of-time, the-anti-christ-is-coming fad we latch onto, malarky. 

We have enough problems — real ones — to deal with as Christians. Let’s get to work on them.

Here’s a brief summary of the life of St Malachy from The Catholic Encyclopedia. Notice that it says the real St Malachy had the “gift of prophecy.” I don’t know what the means exactly, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean soothsayer.

StMalachyOMorgair

St Malachy

St. Malachy, whose family name was O’Morgair, was born in Armagh n 1094. St. Bernard describes him as of noble birth.

He was baptized Maelmhaedhoc (a name which has been Latinized as Malachy) and was trained under Imhar O’Hagan, subsequently Armagh. After a long course of studies/ by St. Cellach (Celsus) in 1119. In order to perfect himself in sacred liturgy and theology, he proceeded to Lismore, where he spent nearly two years under St. Malchus. He was then chosen Abbot of Bangor, in 1123. A year later, he was consecrated Bishop of Connor, and, in 1132, he was promoted to Armagh. St. Bernard gives us many interesting anecdotes regarding St. Malachy, and highly praises his zeal for religion both in Connor and Armagh. In 1127 he paid a second visit to Lismore and acted for a time as confessor to Cormac MacCarthy, Prince of Desmond. While Bishop, he continued to reside at Bangor, and when some of the native princes sacked Connor, he brought the Bangor monks to Iveragh, County Kerry, where they were welcomed by King Cormac. On the death of St. Celsus 1129, St. Malachy was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1132, which dignity he accepted with great reluctance. Owing to intrigues, he was unable to take possession of his see for two years; even then he had to purchase the Bachal Isu (Staff of Jesus) from Niall, the usurping lay primate.

During three years at Armagh, as St. Bernard writes, St. Malachy restored the discipline of the Church, grown lax during the intruded rule of a series of lay-abbots, and had the Roman Liturgy adopted.

St. Bernard continues: Having extirpated barbarism and re-established Christian morals, seeing all things tranquil he began to think of his own peace. He therefore resigned Armagh, in 1138, and returned to Connor, dividing the see into Down and Connor, retaining the former. He founded a priory of Austin Canons at Downpatrick, and was unceasing in his episcopal labours.

Early in 1139 he journeyed to Rome, Scotland, England,and France, visiting St. Bernard at Clairvaux. He petitioned Pope Innocent for palliums for the Sees of Armagh and Cashel, and was appointed legate for Ireland. On his return visit to Clairvaux he obtained five monks for a foundation in Ireland, under Christian, an Irishman, as superior: thus arose the great Abbey of Mellifont in 1142. St. Malachy set out on a second journey to Rome in 1148, but on arriving at Clairvaux he fell sick, and died in the arms of St. Bernard, on 2 November. Numerous miracles are recorded of him, and he was also endowed with the gift prophecy. St. Malachy was canonized by Pope Clement (III) on 6 July, 1199, and his feast is celebrated on 3 November.Here from The Bible Probe, is a short list of some of St Malachy’s “prophecies” about “the last pope.” This stuff has people who enjoy speculation about “the end days” enthralled. But from what I see here, you could make anybody fit these prophecies, including me, my Aunt Mattie and my cat. All we’d have to do is be elected pope, then you could rummage around in our lives and situations for something that might be stretched to the point that we could claim it “fulfilled” the “prophecy.”

St Malachy’s Prophecies

St Malachy’s Prophecies – The Last 10 Popes The Burning Fire. PIUS X. 1903-1914. This Pope showed a burning passion for spiritual renewal in the Church./p> <Religion Laid Waste (Religio Depopulata). BENEDICT XV. 1914-1922. Unfortunately, this was true.  During this Pope’s reign saw Communism move into Russia where religious life was laid waste, and World War I with the death of millions of Christians who were carnage in Flanders Field and elsewhere. Unshaken Faith. >PIUS XI. 1922-1939. This Pope faced tremendous pressure from fascist and sinister powers in Germany and Italy, but he was an outspoken critic of Communism and Fascism which enraged Hitler. An Angelic Shepherd. PIUS XII. 1939-1958. This Pope had an affinity for the spiritual world and received visions which have not been made public. Peter Bander says Pius XII “has emerged as one of the great Popes of all time,” and he “was in the truest sense of the word an Angelic Pastor to the flock…” Pastor and MarinerJOHN XXIII. 1958-1963. ” Pastor et Nauta” or “Pastor and sailor”. John was a pastor to the world, much beloved, and the Patriarch of Venice. The connection to “mariner” is thus remarkable. According to Peter Bander in The Prophecies of Malachy (TAN Books and Publisher, 1969 during the conclave which was to elect John XXIII in 1958, a certain Cardinal from the United States, (Cardinal Spellman of New York) evidently having taken Malachy’s forecast that the next pope would be “pastor and mariner” literally, rented a boat, filled it with sheep and sailed up and down the Tiber.6.  Flower of Flowers. “Flos Florum” AUL VI. 1963-1978. Paul’s coat-of-arms depicts three fleurs-de-lis, corresponding to Malachy’s prophecy. His coat of arms included three fleurs-de-lis (iris blossoms).  At the popular and controversial site of Garabandal in Spain, a seer named Conchita Gonzalez once noted: “The Blessed Virgin said in 1962 that there will only be two more popes after Paul VI.” Of the Half Moon. “De Medietate Lanae,” or “from the half moon” JOHN PAUL I. 1978-1978. John Paul I was elected Pope on August 26, 1978, when there was a half moon. He reigned 33 days, that is, about one month, when he died, although many think he was murdered. He was the 109th Pope – is “De Medietate Lunae” (Of the Half Moon). The corresponding pope was John Paul I (1978-78), who was born in the diocese of Belluno (beautiful moon) and was baptized Albino Luciani which means white light, such as that given off by the half-moon in Malachy s prophecy. He became pope on August 26, 1978, when the moon appeared exactly half full. It was in its waning phase. He died the following month, soon after an eclipse of the moon. The Labor of the Son. “De Medietate Lunae” JOHN PAUL II. 1978-2005  Amazingly, Pope John Paul II was the only pope who was both born the day of an eclipse of the sun, and entombed the day the sun was eclipsed. The Glory of the Olive. The Order of St. Benedict has said this Pope will come from their order. It is interesting that Jesus gave his apocalyptic prophecy about the end of time from the Mount of Olives.    PETER THE ROMAN - The 112th prophesy states: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.” The last pope may just cut Catholics loose from unity and the papacy, causing total disruption and confusion. See Saint Francis of Assissi’s 13th century prophecy below.  It is believed the next pope will be the last pope.

The Bible: Topping the Charts Again

I don’t watch tv very often. Too busy.

But when I do, I ignore the network channels altogether. The only exception is when we’re under a tornado alert. Then I watch Gary England on Channel 9 to learn which way to duck. 

Tornado

Other than that, I spend most of my viewing time in the bigger numbers on the viewing chart, far away from the oddball take on the world that the network channels provide. But I do read about television from time to time. (Go figure.) What I’ve read says that “viewers” are attracted to more up-to-date entertainment with lots of cursing, sex and degrading insults to women. 

Uh-huh.

Maybe the reason “viewers” tend to watch these shows is because they are the only shows being offered, and the kind of “viewers” who don’t like this trashy entertainment don’t watch at all. I can’t be the only person who doesn’t watch network programming. In fact, I know I’m not. In my circle — and that includes, family and friends — no one watches network programming.

We do however, all of us, every single one of us, watch Gary England when tornadoes are flying.

Gary england

Some of the rest of us (Not me. Not my girlfriends.) watch football. But that’s really it for our network tv viewing. The reason? There aren’t any shows on that we want to see. We aren’t entertained by what they’ve got. We tend to be insulted and disgusted by it. 

All this is a lead up to the surprising news that the series the Bible scored another hit this week. It came in first, beating out 60 Minutes, and The Walking Dead. 

Now, who, in this “post-Christian” world would have predicted that? After all, isn’t the Bible (the book, not the show) irrelevant, out-of-date and totally embarrassing? 

I remember shortly after Mel Gibson’s smash hit The Passion of the Christ came out, whoever it is that makes these decisions evidently decided that there was gold in that religion stuff. They put on a “Jesus” miniseries, presumably to try to cash in. My family tried to watch it, but we couldn’t make it through the first 15 minutes. Ever since then, “surfer Jesus” has been a joke line around our house to refer to the lame way that the networks approach our faith. 

Now that I’ve typed that line, it all comes clear. No wonder we don’t watch network tv. Except for tornadoes and football, the people who decide what to put on network tv don’t “get” us. I’m sure that they would regard me and mine as a bunch of religious fanatic, unwashed, redneck hill-billies to whom the truth has not yet come. 

The odd part is that we feel kinda the same way about them.

An article from The Baptist Press describing the success of the Bible series says in part: 

NASHVILLE (BP) — History Channel’s “The Bible” miniseries climbed back into the top slot in its third week Sunday (March 17), finishing No. 1 for the night among all broadcast and cable programs thanks to an increase in viewership. 

The episode drew 10.9 million viewers, better than its previous week of 10.8 million. It bested AMC’s “Walking Dead” (10.8 million) and CBS’ “60 Minutes” (10.2 million). 


The series was No. 1 among broadcast and cable shows in its first week but dropped to No. 3 in its second week. 

Unlike most History Channel documentaries — which generally cast a skeptical eye on the truthfulness of Scripture — the five-part, 10-hour miniseries has placed the Bible in a more positive light. The final two episodes will be broadcast over the next two weeks, wrapping up on Easter Sunday.  (Read the rest here.)

A Wee Bit About the Papal Ring

My most cherished piece of jewelry is my wedding ring. 

It’s a wide, gold band and I’ve worn it for decades now. I like the symbolism of a band, without jewels, because (to me at least) it signifies my love unbroken love for my wonderful husband.

The Papal Ring is a powerful symbol of love, also. It signifies the love and leadership of Christ in our lives, reflected in the person of the pope.

This video gives a few details about papal rings. It’s also humorous, coming as it does from the days immediately before Pope Francis was elected.

Enjoy.

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The Lord Loves Us So Much, He Gave Us This Immense Gift

“The Lord loves us so much, He gave us this immense gift.”

That’s how retired Cardinal Estanisiao Karlic of Argentina describes the election of his friend, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the Papacy.

Cardinal Karlic says that Pope Francis “carries in his heart the message of the Gospel so that it be spread throughout the world and received by all men and women, that it may infuse in us a missionary and evangelical spirit, to the ends of the earth, such that there be no place in the world where the name of Jesus is not heard.”

Francis slum feet men and women

The Holy Father “is a very simple man” who is “capable of confronting the simplest and also the most complex of issues,” Cardinal Karlic continued. 

“He is a man of reflection who puts his wisdom into action. He did so first in leading the Jesuits, later in the Diocese of Buenos Aires, and now in leading the Church as the Supreme Pontiff.”

.- The retired cardinal of Parana, Argentina, described his friend Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – as an able pastor with the heart of a missionary.

In an interview with CNA, Cardinal Estanislao Esteban Karlic said it was a “huge surprise” to see his friend appear on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica dressed in white. 

“The Lord loves us so much, he gave us this immense gift.”

“I pray to God that I will not forget that moment so that I can thank him and so that I can pray for our beloved brother Jorge whom we will now call Francis,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Karlic said Pope Francis will help everyone “understand once again that we all have something to give to others, we all have something to receive from others.”

This is true, he said, “because the truth of God, of the Church, of humanity, is communion among those who love each other as brothers and sisters, as individuals, as families, as nations.”

The Holy Father “is a very simple man” who is “capable of confronting the simplest and also the most complex of issues,” Cardinal Karlic continued. 

“He is a man of reflection who puts his wisdom into action. He did so first in leading the Jesuits, later in the Diocese of Buenos Aires, and now in leading the Church as the Supreme Pontiff.” (Read the rest here.) 

Holy Father’s Inauguration: Videos of the Day

It was a historic day in Rome!

Once again, I wish so much that I could have been there. It’s hard, being tied down with a job, isn’t it? But then, jobs that pay the bills and provide meaningful work are blessings in themselves.

Since I couldn’t be there and film with my own camera, I trolled for videos that would capture the day for all of us. My personal favorite is when the Holy Father stopped the procession and got out of the Popemobile to bless a disabled man. Look at the expression on that man’s face. It says it all.

Here, for your enjoyment, are a few videos that I hope help you feel as if you were there.

Pope Francis receives the Papal Ring. 

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Pope Francis delivers Inaugural Mass homily.

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Pope Francis greets pilgrims after Inaugural Mass.

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Festive atmosphere at St Peter’s 

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Pope leaves popemobile to bless disabled man before Inaugural Mass

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Pope’s Inaugural Homily Calls the World to the Vocation of Protector

Pope Francis was inaugurated today with a simple mass the reflected what we have already begun to realize is his way of doing things.

As many as 200,000 people attended the mass. Meanwhile, millions of others watched around the globe, including an enthusiastic crowd who watched on giant tv screens in the Plaza di Mayo in Buenos Aires.

“I want to ask you a favor. I want to ask you to walk together and to take care of one another. And don’t forget that this bishop who is very far away loves you very much. Pray for me.” the Holy Father told them in a phone call that was transmitted over loud speakers to the crowd.

During his homily today, Pope Francis spoke about Joseph, drawing a touching parallel between Joseph’s role as protector of the Mary and the child Jesus and his own role as Pope. It also extends this role to all of us, as well.

Here are a few excerpts:

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own.

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; …

 … It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.

It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness.

In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.

The full text of his homily, from Vatican radio, is below.

Read it and rejoice! Habemus paper — Francisco!

(Vatican Radio) Homily of the Holy Father at the Inauguration of his Papal Ministry 19 March 2013:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1)

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

Sources for this post are here, here.

Pope Keeps Motto Inspired by His Call to the Priesthood

Pope Francis new coat of arms Courtesy of the Vatican Press Office CNA US Catholic News 3 18 13

CNA/EWTN News

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was  a 17-year-old boy who had just finished going to confession. 

“… his heart was touched and (he) felt the descent of the mercy of God, that with eyes of tender care, he was being called to the religious life, after the example of St Ignatius of Loyola.”

The motto he adopted as bishop, “miserando atque eligendo,” means “having had mercy, he called him.” It reflects the Holy Father’s call to the priesthood when he was 17 and is based on the call that Jesus issued to Matthew the tax collector.

The Holy Father will also keep the coat of arms that he adopted in Buenos Aires. The only changes are that he will add the papal keys and the papal mitre to the image.

The following article from CNA/EWTN News has details:

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2013 CNA/EWTN News – Pope Francis decided this morning that he would keep both the motto and coat of arms that he used during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.The motto has “a particular meaning in life and spiritual journey of the Pope,” a March 18 statement from the Vatican press office says. “In fact, on the feast of St. Matthew in 1953, the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio experienced at the age of 17-years-old, in a very special way, the loving presence of God in his life. “Following a confession, his heart was touched and felt the descent of the mercy of God, that with eyes of tender love, he was being called to the religious life, after the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” the communiqué explained. The motto, “miserando atque eligendo,” was inspired by St. Bede the Venerable’s commentary on Matthew’s Gospel. The particular passage that spoke to Pope Francis was Jesus seeing Matthew the tax collector, “looked at him with love and said ‘Follow me.’” “The Latin motto stands for “having had mercy, he called him.” Mercy has been a particular theme of Pope Francis in his homilies and reflections. Most recently he spoke about mercy in his March 17 Sunday Angelus address, reminding the packed piazza that “the Lord never gets tired of forgiving, it is we that get tired of asking forgiveness.”

The Pope’s coat of arms is also the same as the one he adopted in Buenos Aires, with the exception of the papal keys and the papal mitre crowning the image. (Read the rest here.)

Jim DeMint Endorses March for Marriage

The March for Marriage will be March 26, 2013 in Washington DC. Go here for more details. If you can’t go, maybe you can contribute to the airfare for someone else to go.

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Pope Francis: Is This Seat Taken?

Francis slum feet men and women

Tomorrow is inauguration day for Pope Francis. The ceremony will take place amid the pomp and splendor of a 2,000-year-old Church. The whole world will watch.

What sort of person is this man who will wear the shoes of Peter?

Evidently, some people are flummoxed because Pope Francis has been photographed wearing ordinary black shoes, and rather worn ones at that. Where, they ask, are the red shoes that signify the Apostolic succession? When I read the — to me — stunning amount of verbiage they are churning out over the shoes, I start feeling flummoxed myself.

The Pope’s shoes??? 

Of course, I’m only a convert. My sensibilities are different from those of cradle Catholics. I’ve learned on this blog that my sensibilities are also different from East Coast Catholics. I’m an Oklahoman. We have a more informal culture here. People here consider it a compliment when they tell someone not to “stand on ceremony.” We also have a vestigial frontier attitude toward those that do “stand on ceremony.” In Oklahoma, extreme formality is rudeness. It’s dissing, or as they used to say, “cutting” the other person.

So I’m having a little trouble processing this shoe thing. 

I certainly don’t want to disrespect someone else’s deeply-held feelings, but the only way the shoe thing matters to me is that I can’t figure it out. This man is the Pope. He could wear flip-flops, and he’d still be the Pope. Actually, flip-flops are probably a lot closer to what our first pope had on his feet than hand-crafted red leather shoes. I would guess that St Peter wore homemade sandals all his days.

It’s the spirit of the law that matters. We know that because Jesus told us so. Pope Francis stands in the shoes of Peter, even when he’s barefoot.

This video may give us clues to the kind of person this man the Holy Spirit has gifted us with really is.

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Who is Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio?

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PopeFrancis@Pontifex: Continue to pray for me

Pope Francis is tweeting.

He sent his first tweet asking all of us to continue to pray for him. I think we should tweet him our love and congratulations.

 

Pope f first tweet

Pope Francis’ First Angelus

Pope francis

Pope Francis gave his first Angelus today.

Here are quotes from Vatican radio:

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast his stone.” “He has come for us,” said Pope Francis in his homily, “when we recognize that we are sinners.”
Mercy, in fact, was the key lesson and the Good News proclaimed this Sunday. “Mercy,” said Pope Francis, “is the Lord’s most powerful message.” Speaking without a prepared text, Pope Francis said, “If we are like the Pharisee before the altar, [who said], ‘Thank you, Lord, for not making me like all the other men, and especially not like that fellow at the door, like that publican…,’ well, then we do not know the heart of the Lord, and we shall not ever have the joy of feeling this mercy.”
Pope Francis went on to say, “It is not easy trust oneself to the mercy of God, because [His mercy] is an unfathomable abyss – but we must do it!” Pope Francis continued, “He has the ability to forget, [which is] special: He forgets [our sins], He kisses you, He embraces you, and He says to you, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now, on, sin no more.’ Only that counsel does He give you.” Pope Francis concluded, saying, “We ask for the grace of never tiring of asking pardon, for He never tires of pardoning.” (Read more here.)

Zenit has an English translation of the entire homily. Go here to read it. 

Habemus Papem. We have a pope!

This video captures my feelings perfectly.

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Blessed John Paul II and Children

Why did we love him?

He loved us.

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March for Marriage 3/26/13

Go if you can!

 

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Pope Says He Took Name from St Francis of Assisi, Explains Why

Francis slum feet men and women

After all the chitter chatter about the Holy Father’s choice of Francis as his name, we now have an explanation from someone who knows.

Pope Francis explained his name choice today. He verified that he chose the name because of St Francis of Assisi. He said that the intention of choosing the name Francis “came to my heart” as the voting showed that he would probably be elected pope. 

He explained that he chose the name because St Francis was “the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation and in this moment we don’t have such a great relationship with the Creator. The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the man who wanted a poor church.” 

The following article from The Guardian has details:

Pope Francis described on Saturday how he was inspired to take the name of Saint Francis of Assisi by the importance of helping the poor.

At his first press conference in the Vatican, Pope Francis broke from his prepared comments to describe the final hours of the conclave that elected him pope. He said: “Let me tell you a story.”

Francis said he was comforted by his friend, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, as it appeared the voting was favouring him and it seemed “a bit dangerous” that he would reach the two-thirds necessary to be elected.

“He hugged me. He kissed me. He said don’t forget about the poor,” Francis recalled. “And that’s how in my heart came the name Francis of Assisi.”

He said some people have asked why he took the name, Francis, since it also could suggest references to other figures including the co-founder of the pope’s Jesuit order, Francis Xavier. But he said his intention came to his heart as an inspiration immediately after the election. St. Francis of Assisi, the pope said, was “the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation and in this moment we don’t have such a great relationship with the creator. The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man who wanted a poor church.”

He then joked that some other cardinals suggested other names: Hadrian VI, after a great church reformer, a reference to the need for the pope to clean up the Vatican’s messy bureaucracy. Someone else suggested Clement XV, to counter Clement XIV who suppressed the Jesuit order. (Read the rest here.) 


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