The priest celebrating Mass is speaking, in a sense, on behalf of the entire material creation.
I write these words from the Nuremore Hotel in Monaghan, Ireland, where I am conducting a retreat for the good priests of the Dublin Archdiocese. As I look out at these men, I am reminded of so many of my own relatives on both sides of my family (“Gosh, he looks like Uncle Charlie” and “That one is the spitting image of my cousin Terry”), for I am Irish all the way through. Many of the priests who are making the retreat are retired, and it is edifying to see so many who have bravely borne the heat of the day. Do say a prayer for them.
The theme that I have chosen for my talks is “Pope Francis Speaks to Priests.” I have culled a number of motifs from the pope’s numerous talks, sermons, and lectures to priests, seminarians, and bishops. Allow me, in the course of this brief article to say just a few words about each one.
The first is “encountering Christ.” Drawing from the writings of Padre Luigi Giussani and others, Pope Francis emphasizes that the single most important feature of Christianity is a personal friendship with the Lord Jesus. The Christian faith is not a philosophy or a social theory or an ideology, but rather a living relationship with Jesus. Therefore, I have told the priests of Dublin, make Christ the center of your lives and let every aspect of your life and ministry revolve around your friendship with the Lord.
The second theme is “living simply.” Nothing about Pope Francis has so captivated the popular imagination than his gestures in the direction of simplicity of life: paying his own bill at the clerical residence just after his election as pope, riding in the unpretentious Fiat rather than a limo, dining with the homeless, residing in the Santa Marta Hotel rather than the Apostolic Palace, etc. In an address to consecrated religious in 2015, the pope cited his spiritual father Ignatius of Loyola to the effect that poverty is the “wall and the mother of the consecrated life,” mother because it gives birth to greater confidence in God and wall because it keeps out worldliness.
The third motif I am exploring is preaching, which Pope Francis emphasizes time and again when he addresses priests and seminarians. The pope once remarked that everyone suffers from preaching, the priests from having to give sermons and the faithful from having to listen to them! In my presentation, I’m stressing that there should always be an element of the surprising and the novel in good Christian preaching, for the preacher is trading in Good News. Something utterly unexpected has happened—namely the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead—and the preacher wants to grab his audience by the shoulders and tell them about it. If he is simply sharing bland spiritual truisms, he is not really preaching.
Fourthly, I’m urging the priests of Dublin to be what the pope calls “missionary disciples.” Vatican II was, first and foremost, a missionary council, whose purpose was to push the Church outward, bringing the lumen of Christ to the gentes. Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI all followed this impulse in stressing the centrality of the new evangelization. Pope Francis has rung the same bell in his insistence that the Church must go out to the periferia, to the margins both economic and existential. He offers a funny and wise commentary on the famous scene from the book of Revelation in which Jesus stands at the door and knocks. This represents, says Francis, not so much the Lord’s desire to enter into our hearts as his longing to get out into the world!
The fifth topic is perhaps the interpretive key to the Francis papacy, namely, mercy. The Church, he has memorably commented, is like a field hospital, where those deeply wounded by our postmodern society come to be treated. Misericordia (a suffering heart) is therefore prerequisite number one for those who would aspire to serve in that treatment center. Whatever else the Church says and does, I told the Dublin presbyterate, must return to, and be conditioned by, the attitude of mercy.
Finally, I am sharing some reflections on the pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si. I realize that many tended to read this text as Francis’s treatise on “global warming,” and whether one celebrates or bemoans the pope’s view on that particular topic, to read the encyclical from that perspective alone is to miss a lovely forest for one tree. What Francis accomplishes in Laudato Si is the placing of the Christian life into a properly cosmic context, and this brings him close to all of the great pre-modern figures in Christian spirituality and theology. Modernity has tended to construe the human being as, in Descartes’s famous phrase, the “master of nature,” whereas the Biblical, patristic, and medieval commentators saw the human being as stewards of creation, indeed, as the one who has the privilege and responsibility of leading all of creation in an act of praise. I have shared with the priests of Dublin the ancient notion that the priest celebrating Mass is speaking, in a sense, on behalf of the entire material creation. This explains why pre-modern Churches, such as the great Gothic Cathedrals, were decorated, inside and out, with images of plants, animals, sun, moon, stars, and planets. Curiously, an excessive anthropocentrism has actually undermined our attempts to evangelize the contemporary culture.
Again, please pray for the priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin, and indeed for all priests, as we strive to fulfill our mission. 2:04:48 PM
Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you ... Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death ... When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between my Father and the dying person, not as the Just Judge but as the Merciful Savior ... Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from my infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy ... Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.
Jesus Said: "I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world - mercy triumphed over justice. My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. I claim veneration for My mercy from every creature, but above all from you, since it is to you that I have given the most profound understanding of this mystery". (1572) 8:39:27 PM
"The heart of man, it is said, is measured by the welcoming he
gives to suffering, for it is in him the imprint of someone other
than himself ... Even when suffering comes out of ourselves to
enter with its penetrating sting into the consciousness, it is
always in spite of the spontaneous wish and the primitive impulse
of the fullness of the will. However predictable it may be, so
resigned in advance that one offers himself to her blows, so avid,
so enamored that one can be of its austere and vivifying charm, it
nevertheless remains a foreigner and an importune, it is always
different from what we expected, and under its reach, the very one
who confronts it energetically, who desires and loves it, cannot
at the same time prevent himself from trembling at its approach.
Suffering kills something from us to put back something there that
is not us. And that is why it reveals to us this scandal of our
freedom and of our reason: we are not what we want to be, and to
want all that we are, all that we must be, we must understand,
that we accept its lesson and its benefits. Thus suffering is in
us like a divine seed, like the grain of wheat that must die
before germinating, it is the basis for a fuller oeuvre (work).
Who has not suffered of a thing, neither knows it, nor loves it.
The sense of pain is to reveal to us what escapes knowledge and
selfish will, it is to be the way of effective love, because it
detracts us from ourselves and of our human tendencies, to give us
our brothers and to give us to all. For suffering does not hope in
us for its divine effect without an active and pure concurrence on
our part. It is an ordeal because it forces the secret
dispositions of the will to manifest themselves. Breaking the
equilibrium of an indifferent life, it allows us to choose between
this personal feeling which leads us to withdraw into ourselves by
violently excluding any intrusion, and this goodness which opens
up to the fertile sadness and to the seeds which the great waters
of trial carry. Support me, O Jesus. Here below, the pain never ends; when
it has bruised the body and the heart, it bruises the soul; when
it has bruised the heart, it again bruises the soul and the body.
It is the spring that raises from the earth, it makes the soul
celestial. God inclines towards it to sustain it, and the angel of
the holy hopes descends to strengthen and console it". Translated from the French - Marthe Robin : le
voyage immobile (english: the still journey), Jean-Jacques
Texte original Français
"Le coeur de l'homme, dit-on, se mesure à l'accueil qu'il fait à
la souffrance, car elle est en lui l'empreinte d'un autre que
lui... Même quand elle sort de nous pour entrer avec son aiguillon
pénétrant dans la conscience, c'est toujours malgré le souhait
spontané et l'élan primitif du plein vouloir. Quelque prévue
qu'elle soit, si résigné d'avance qu'on s'offre à ses coups, si
avide, si épris qu'on puisse être de son charme austère et
vivifiant, elle n'en demeure pas moins une étrangère et une
importune, elle est toujours autre qu'on ne l'attendait, et sous
son atteinte, celui même qui l'affronte énergiquement, qui la
désire et l'aime ne peut en même temps s'empêcher de trembler à
son approche. Elle tue quelque chose de nous pour y mettre quelque
chose qui n'est pas nous. Et voilà pourquoi elle nous révèle ce
scandale de notre liberté et de notre raison : nous ne sommes pas
ce que nous voulons, et pour vouloir tout ce que nous sommes, tout
ce que nous devons être, il faut que nous comprenions, que nous
acceptions sa leçon et ses bienfaits. Ainsi la souffrance est en
nous comme une semence divine, comme le grain de froment qui doit
mourir avant de germer, elle est la base nécessaire à une oeuvre
plus pleine. Qui n'a pas souffert d'une chose, ni ne la connaît,
ni ne l'aime. Le sens de la douleur, c'est de nous révéler ce qui
échappe à la connaissance et à la volonté égoïste, c'est d'être la
voie de l'amour effectif, parce qu'elle nous déprend de nous et de
nos tendances humaines, pour nous donner nos frères et nous donner
à tous. Car elle n'espère pas en nous son divin effet sans un
concours actif et pur de notre part. Elle est une épreuve parce
qu'elle force les secrètes dispositions de la volonté à se
manifester. Rompant l'équilibre de la vie indifférente, elle met
en mesure d'opter entre ce sentiment personnel qui nous porte à
nous replier sur nous-mêmes en excluant violemment toute
intrusion, et cette bonté qui s'ouvre à la tristesse fécondante et
aux germes qu'apportent les grandes eaux de l'épreuve.
Soutenez-moi, ô Jésus. Ici-bas, la douleur ne finit jamais ; quand
elle a meurtri le corps et le coeur, elle meurtrit l'âme ; quand
elle a meurtri le coeur, elle meurtrit de nouveau l'âme et le
corps. Elle est le ressort qui soulève de la terre, elle rend
l'âme céleste. Dieu se penche vers elle pour la soutenir, et
l'ange des saintes espérances descend pour la fortifier et la
consoler". Marthe Robin : le voyage
immobile, Jean-Jacques Antier 7:53:46 PM
Local bishop gives permission for publication of Alicja Lenczewska's conversations with Jesus.
Alicja Lenczewska received an unusual gift from Jesus — she spoke with him not in the usual way of prayer, but in mystical conversations. Now, the bishop of Szczecin, Poland, has authorised the publication of the notes from these conversations.
Such an account, and from Poland, might bring to mind the great saint of Divine Mercy, St Faustina. But Lenczewska was born only on Dec. 5, 1934, in Warsaw and died less than 15 years ago. Raised in suffering
Alicja’s father passed away in 1939 and so, along with her elder brother, Alicja was raised by her mother. When the Nazis invaded Poland and took control of Warsaw, the family moved in with relatives near the city of Rzeszów.
With the War ended in 1946, they moved to Szczecin, where Alicja completed primary and high school. Despite the hard times, her mother ensured the religious upbringing of the children, making sure they always attended Sunday Mass and prayed together daily.
When Alicja graduated from high school, she started to work as a teacher in the village of Bana. Before long, she was promoted to the position of school inspector in Gryfino. Around this time, she became a member of the Communist party. As she later admitted, at that time her life was at variance with the teaching of the Church.
Lenczewska earned an MA in Pedagogy in Gdansk and between 1966 and 1975 she worked as a high school teacher of Home Economics and Mechanics in Szczecin.
When Alicja’s mother fell ill, she became her caretaker, attending to her until her death in 1984. Losing her mother was traumatic for Alicja, but her sorrow led her, along with her brother, to become involved with the Renewal in the Holy Spirit. She began to discover Jesus and soon realized she wished to dedicate herself to Him.
A retreat in Gostyn in 1985 marked the beginning of an astonishing series of graces: During Communion, she was granted the gift of conversations and mystical meetings with Jesus. This gift continued from 1985 to 2012, until her death.
She recorded the spiritual advice received and the contents of her conversations with Jesus in two texts, Testimony [Swiadectwo] and A Word of Instruction [Slowo pouczenia].
She wrote of the “magnitude of the great, unique love” of God, which could only make one “cry over one’s ingratitude.” She spoke to Jesus about the role of a confessor in the sacrament; Jesus replied that he is: “My lips, my hands and my heart beating amongst you.”
“Everything you have and everything you are is my gift of Love,” Jesus told Alicja. He stressed the significance of the Eucharist, reminding her that He wants to be invited to every person’s life. Moreover, He warned against abusive reception of Holy Communion and its desecration.
Alicja’s relationship with Our Lord came to define her whole life. Nothing but his presence and love mattered to her any more; her money and time were spent in service. A spiritual director supported and guided her during these years.
Journal entries provide the words of Jesus asking people to pray and have trust. He taught her to work on patience and compassion, so as to react with love to others. As she wrote down in her notebook, “The greatest love is to accept part of My suffering by participating in it.”
The conversations with Jesus, as accounted for in the notes, are marked by the simplicity of the message and love.
Alicja dedicated herself completely to Jesus and to helping other people. She did voluntary work in the office of the Corpus Christi Parish and was a member of the Family of the Heart of Crucified Love, where in 2005 she took perpetual vows. Gradually, her “meetings” with Jesus became less and less frequent, and eventually ended completely. On Dec. 7, 2011, Alicja learned that she had cancer and was admitted to a hospice. She died in Szczecin on Jan. 5, 2012.
In her notes, Lenczewska continuously urges conversion. Each person is called to sanctity, she explains, in recounting Christ’s teachings, yet one needs love and trust in order to walk in holiness. “We should love Jesus in other people, as He wants to be loved there. We should not seek love in abstractions . The fullness of evil will come, as it happened to Me two millennia ago This will be followed by the miracle of the resurrection of faith and love ” 1:01:36 PM
We all know the importance of Confession, but yet so few take advantage of it. Here Elder Paisios shows us why it is so important.
A young man went to see the Elder. I arrived the moment he was ringing the bell, and waited behind him. After a while, Father Paisios opened the door and came to the fence.
- What's up, young man, what do you want? asked the Elder.
- Father, I would like to see you and get your advice on something.
- Have you gone to confession? Do you have a spiritual father?
- No, Father, I don't have a spiritual father and I haven't gone to confession.
- Well, then you better go to confession and then come to see me.
- Why can't I see you, Father?
-I will explain to you, so you can understand. Your mind is confused and troubled by the sins you have fallen into; as a result, you cannot realize the situation you are in. So, you will not be able to give me a clear picture of your problem. However, if you confess your sins, your mind will clear up and you will see things very differently. Note how he relates confession to a clearing of the mind. So often we think of it as having our names taken off the list for breaking some kind of law. Elder Paisios is lifting this sacrament to its true value, one of clearing our mind so we can more clearly see God, receive His grace, follow His commandments and understand the spiritual nature of our life.
The story continues as the young man does not take heed of the Elder's advice.
Father, maybe I am confused and troubled and unable to tell you what exactly is wrong with me, but you yourself can understand the nature of my problem and tell me what to do.
- Listen, even if I can see with a certain clarity what is wrong with you, you still have the problem inside you. Since your mind is troubled, you will neither understand, nor remember what I will say to you. If you go to confession and you are tuned in the same spiritual frequency with us, then we will be ale to communicate. So, go to a spiritual father for confession and I will wait for your visit. Without the cleansing that comes with confession, all the counseling we receive will fall on deaf ears and without the right understanding. We also need to take responsibility for our troubles and be willing to take them to our spiritual father and to offer them to God seeking forgiveness and direction about how to change our lives. Only then will we be able to listen and do something with the advice we receive. In this way the Holy Spirit works to cleanse our mind. It is only when the mind is cleared of our troubles are we able to be open to hear the wisdom of an Elder like Paisios.
Source: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 120 12:01:53 PM
“If we do not cultivate this
silence, how can we find God?”
Ours is a loud age … ours is a restless age.
We know the landscape well: the raucous media circus that
blurs the line between power politics and viewing pleasure;
the teeming internet jungle of tweets about jeremiads and
jeremiads about tweets; and a digital presence that multiples
itself exponentially, without end. We even internalize it,
drawing it into ourselves in greater doses until we not only
make noise, but are noise, plugged into the agitation
and clamor of the world and unable to watch or click or share
our way out of it.
Robert Cardinal Sarah of Guinea touched on the subject in his
first interview with Nicolas Diat, God or Nothing,
where he concluded that for many of us, the “disturbing” sound
of silence just doesn’t feel like an option. “We ceaselessly
need to hear the noise of the world: today logorrhea is a sort
of imperative, and silence is considered a failure.” The
Power of Silence, another interview with Diat, unpacks
the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of silence,
including our reticence to even begin engaging it.
The interview unfolds with a numbered series of philosophical
fragments, much like the Pensées of the philosopher
Blaise Pascal (whom Sarah quotes). “What will become of our
world if it does not look for intervals of silence?” Sarah
asks. “Interior rest and harmony can flow only from silence.
Without it, life does not exist. The greatest mysteries of the
world are born and unfold in silence.” In silence, where so
many of us see an unsettling absence, Sarah challenges his
readers to discover instead the presence of the greatest
mystery there is, one which, like the gaze of a lover, the
growth of a plant, or the motion of the stars, communicates
itself in and through its own silence. “Nothing will make us
discover God better than his silence inscribed in the center
of our being,” Sarah writes. “If we do not cultivate this
silence, how can we find God?”
The postmodern world cuts itself off from God precisely to the
degree to which its cuts itself off from silence and solitude.
“Without silence,” he writes, “God disappears into the noise.”
But Sarah also makes it clear that cultivating silence is not
just a matter of quieting speech and sounds; it also means
quieting our judgments, passions, and thoughts. In fact, the
path of exterior silence can painfully reveal the depths of
interior noise into which we’ve been plunged – which is
precisely why we tend to avoid it. “With its festive
appearance, noise is a whirlwind that avoids facing itself,”
he writes. “Agitation becomes a tranquilizer, a sedative, a
morphine pump, a sort of reverie, an incoherent dream-world.
But this noise is a dangerous, deceptive medicine, a diabolic
lie that helps man avoid confronting himself in his interior
emptiness. The awakening will necessary be brutal.”
Sarah invokes various beautiful images – a temple, a melody, a
light, and a flame – to capture the glory of silence, but also
invokes more disquieting imagery to capture its power – a
burnt offering, a shadow, a wave, a violent seizure. The
necessary practice of silence means an encounter with God, and
the encounter can take us to “fearsome shores.” But Sarah
encourages us to venture on, discovering the same great peace
and fortitude that so many holy men and women have found in
It would’ve been easy for Sarah to devolve into an indictment
of political, economic, and social powers – and while Sarah is
certainly not silent on their culpability, his focus is more
on revealing and inviting us into the great sources of silence
in the Catholic tradition. He returns to the Old Testament
again and again, but finds the greatest scriptural odes to
silence in the life of the Holy Family. Joseph never utters a
single word in the Gospels; Mary’s words are few – the Gospels
of Mark and Matthew have no mention of her words either – and
her entire life is swallowed up in faithful obedience and
prayerful attentiveness. But it’s in the life of her Son that
silence takes on a whole new meaning. “The whole life of Jesus
is wrapped in silence and mystery,” Sarah writes. “If man
wants to imitate Christ, it is enough for him to observe his
silences. The silence of the crib, the silence of Nazareth,
the silence of the Cross, and the silence of the sealed tomb
are one. The silences of Jesus are silences of poverty,
humility, self-sacrifice, and abasement; it is the bottomless
abyss of his kenosis, his self-emptying.”
For Sarah, who is also the Prefect of the Congregation for
Divine Worship, the Church has to protect and foster this
silence in its prayers, in its sacraments, and in its liturgy.
The Cardinal made headlines last
year when he called for a return to “ad orientem”
celebration of Mass (in which the priest faces the same
direction as the congregation), and in The Power of
Silence, doesn’t hesitate to call once more for a
“reform of the reform” of the liturgy, adding that “the future
of the Church is at stake.” He makes a compelling case, and
it’s clear that he’s driven not by any ideological commitment,
but a burning love for the Church and sacred silence, “a small
anticipation of eternity” that can uniquely open a heart to
After a probing discussion of God’s apparent silence in the
face of evil – Diat hammers Sarah with various examples of the
horror unfolding in various parts of the world – the book
closes where it opened: at the Carthusian monastery of the
Grande Chartreuse in France, memorialized in the documentary Into Great Silence. The
Carthusians aren’t presented as a universal standard of
silence, but as exemplars of its vital importance – and Sarah
doesn’t necessarily call his readers to eliminate speech and
action, but on the contrary, to give them greater depth and
breadth by grounding them in that silence.
The Power of Silence is an eminently wise, rich, and
timely piece of writing, one that meets the mind both like a
quiet nighttime meditation and a rousing call to revolution.
Sarah’s voice has the freshness and liveliness of a springtime
of faith, and reflects the ongoing boom of Catholicism in
Africa. It’s a voice that the West desperately needs to hear.
It challenges us to return to the essentials of Christian
life, where our lifeblood isn’t the artificiality, egotism,
and endless chatter of the world, but the wordlessness,
humility, and eternal silence of God.
There we find our happiness, because there we find our
EGYPT — One the second day of his apostolic visit to the land where Christian monasticism first flourished, with spiritual giants such as St. Anthony the Great, St. Paul the Hermit, and St. Mary of Egypt, Pope Francis urged priests and religious to look to the Desert Fathers to fight 7 great temptations.
Addressing clergy, religious and seminarians during a prayer meeting at the Coptic Catholic seminary in Maadi, the Pope thanked priests and consecrated men and women for their witness among “many challenges and often few consolations.”
He encouraged them to be “a positive force” amid many “prophets of destruction and condemnation,” by not succumbing to 7 great temptations in daily life that can lead priests and religious to become “neither fish nor fowl.”
“Resisting these temptations is not easy,” the pope acknowledged, “but it is possible if we are grafted on to Jesus: ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me’ (Jn 15:4).”
“The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we are alive and fruitful! Only in this way can we preserve the wonder and the passion of our first encounter with God, and experience renewed excitement and gratitude in our life with God and in our mission.”
The quality of our consecration depends on the quality of our spiritual life,” he said.
Pope Francis therefore urged priests and religious to “draw upon to the example of Saint Paul the Hermit, Saint Anthony, the holy Desert Fathers, and the countless monks and nuns who by their lives and example opened the gates of heaven to so many of our brothers and sisters.”
“We venerate the Holy Cross, the instrument and sign of our salvation. When we flee the Cross, we flee the resurrection!” he said.
Here are the 7 great temptations Pope Francis proposed:
1. The temptation to let ourselves be led, rather than to lead. The Good Shepherd has the responsibility of guiding the sheep (cf. Jn 10:3-4), of bringing them to fresh pastures and springs of flowing water (cf. Ps 23). He cannot let himself be dragged down by disappointment and pessimism: “What can I do?” He is always full of initiative and creativity, like a spring that flows even in the midst of drought. He always shares the caress of consolation even when he is broken- hearted. He is a father when his children show him gratitude, but especially when they prove ungrateful (cf. Lk 15:11-32). Our faithfulness to the Lord must never depend on human gratitude: “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:4, 6, 18).
2. The temptation to complain constantly. It is easy to always complain about others, about the shortcomings of superiors, about the state of the Church and society, about the lack of possibilities. But consecrated persons, though the Spirit’s anointing, are those who turn every obstacle into an opportunity, and not every difficulty into an excuse! The person who is always complaining is really someone who doesn’t want to work. It was for this reason that the Lord said to the pastors: “Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Heb 12:12; cf. Is 35:3).
3. The temptation to gossip and envy. It is a great danger when consecrated persons, instead of helping the little ones to grow and to rejoice in the successes of their brothers and sisters, allow themselves to be dominated by envy and to hurt others through gossip. When, instead of striving to grow, they start to destroy those who are growing; instead of following their good example, they judge them and belittle their value. Envy is a cancer that destroys the body in no time: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mk 3:24-25). In fact, “through the devil’s envy death entered the world” (Wis 2:24). Gossip is its means and its weapon.
4. The temptation to compare ourselves to others. Enrichment is found in the diversity and uniqueness of each one of us. Comparing ourselves with those better off often leads to grudges; comparing ourselves with those worse off often leads to pride and laziness. Those who are always comparing themselves with others end up paralyzed. May we learn from Saints Peter and Paul to experience the diversity of qualities, charisms and opinions through willingness to listen and docility to the Holy Spirit.
5. The temptation to become like Pharaoh, that is to harden our hearts and close them off to the Lord and our brothers and sisters. Here the temptation is to think that we are better than others, and to lord it over them out of pride; to presume to be served rather than to serve. It is a temptation that, from the very beginning, was present among the disciples, who – as the Gospel tells us – “on the way argued with one another who was the greatest” (Mk 9:34). The antidote to this poison is: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).
6. The temptation to individualism. As a well-known Egyptian saying goes: “Me, and after me, the flood!” This is the temptation of selfish people: along the way, they lose sight of the goal and, rather than think of others, they are unashamed to think only of themselves, or even worse, to justify themselves. The Church is the community of the faithful, the Body of Christ, where the salvation of one member is linked to the holiness of all (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-27; Lumen Gentium, 7.) An individualist is a cause of scandal and of conflict.
7. The temptation to keep walking without direction or destination. Consecrated men and women can lose their identity and begin to be “neither fish nor fowl.” They can live with a heart between God and worldliness. They can forget their first love (cf. Rev 2:4). Indeed, when they lose clear and solid identity, consecrated men and women end up walking aimlessly; instead of leading others, they scatter them. Your identity as sons and daughters of the Church is to be Copts – rooted in your noble and ancient origins – and to be Catholics – part of the one and universal Church: like a tree that, the more deeply rooted it is in the earth, the higher it reaches to the heavens!
Pope Francis concluded his meeting with priests and religious, saying: “May the Holy Family protect and bless all of you, your country and its entire people. You are always in my heart and in my prayers. Take heart and keep moving forward with the help of the Holy Spirit! “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice in him!” And please, don’t forget to pray for me!” 8:04:02 PM
Une quinzaine de soeurs bénédictines vivent, travaillent et prient à Martigné-Briand, non loin d´Angers, dans un ancien corps de ferme magnifiquement rénové. Une confiturerie et l´hôtellerie constituent leur principal gagne-pain. Leur charisme ? L´ouverture aux autres, aspect très important pour la fondatrice de l´ordre de Ste Bathilde, auxquelles elles appartiennent, une vie intérieure forte, une vraie simplicité et un véritable esprit de liberté ...
The following interview with Robert Cardinal Sarah appeared in the October 2016 issue of the French newspaper La Nef; it was given on the occasion of the publication of his new book La Force du silence (The Strength of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise).The interview appears exclusively here in English by kind permission of Cardinal Sarah. The translation is by Michael J. Miller, who translated Cardinal Sarah's 2015 book God or Nothing (Ignatius Press). 10:05:36 AM
Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ, born in Regensburg, Germany in 1966, is a member of the Society of Jesus, currently serving as Academic Vice Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Fr. Zollner, a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist is professor in the Gregorian University’s Institute of Psychology. He is also Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion of the University of Durham (England) and serves as President of the “Centre for Child Protection” at the Gregorian. He is also a Member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Over the past decade, Fr. Zollner has become an articulate, leading, sought after expert and prolific author in the area of the Safeguarding of Minors and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention as well as in the area of Spirituality of Priesthood and Consecrated Life. He has visited over 35 countries and addressed the ecclesial leadership of each country on these topics.
«Comme il serait beau si toutes les confessions religieuses disaient: ”Tuer au nom de Dieu est satanique!”» A quelques jours de la rencontre d’Assise où, trente ans après Jean-Paul II, il retrouvera mardi des responsables de toutes les religions pour parler de paix, le pape François a tenu, mercredi 14 septembre dans son homélie à la chapelle de la Maison Sainte-Marthe, des mots particulièrement durs pour condamner la violence religieuse.
«Tuer au nom de Dieu est satanique», a-t-il répété devant une assistance toute particulière: 80 fidèles du diocèse de Rouen en pèlerinage à Rome, dont deux sśurs et un neveu du P. Jacques Hamel, le prêtre français assassiné par deux jeunes islamistes le 26 juillet dans son église de Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray (Seine-Maritime). 5:55:38 PM
“The longer we remain without confessing, the worse it is for us, the more entangled we become in the bonds of sin, and therefore the more difficult it is to give an account.”
“He who is accustomed to give account of his life at confession here will not fear to give an answer at the terrible judgment-seat of Christ. It is for this purpose that the mild tribunal of penitence was here initiated, in order that we, being cleansed and amended through penitence here below, may give an answer without shame at the terrible judgment-seat of Christ.”
St John of Kronstadt
My Life in Christ: Part II, Holy Trinity Monastery pg.280 10:04:49 AM
Francis mandates wide changes for contemplative women religious, requests revision of all constitutions Francis mandates wide changes for contemplative women religious, requests revision of all constitutions
In a new apostolic constitution titled Vultum Dei Quaerere (“Seek the Face of God”) and addressed to Catholic women religious in contemplative communities, the Pope calls for changes to be implemented in 12 diverse areas from prayer life to work habits. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo says contemplative men’s communities have not been considered in such a manner by the Pope and that the document replaces the 1999 instruction Verbi sponsa
Nuns during a moment of prayer.
Pope Francis has issued a new wide-ranging set of guidelines for how the tens of thousands of Catholic women religious living in contemplative communities around the world should regulate their lifestyles, calling on them to implement changes in 12 diverse areas from prayer life to work habits.
The Pontiff has also mandated that each of the global communities of contemplative women religious will need to adapt their various governing constitutions or rules to the new changes and send new versions of their documents to the Vatican for approval.
Francis makes the changes in a new apostolic constitution released Friday titled Vultum Dei Quaerere (“Seek the Face of God.”) The document is addressed only to Catholic women religious in contemplative communities, such as those that live in cloisters or whose lives are marked by a lifestyle devoted mainly to prayer instead of evangelical outreach or work.
While the Pontiff uses the new document to issue effusive praise for such women -- especially lauding their ability to serve as an example of stability in a contemporary world often marked by temporary commitments -- he also calls for them to begin to institute changes particularly in their prayer lives.
In one example, the Pope mandates that all contemplative women religious communities should practice Eucharistic adoration. He also stresses the use of Lectio divina, the traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, meditation, and prayer.
Addressing his reason for writing to the women with the new norms at this time, Francis states: “In these past decades, we have seen rapid historical changes that call for dialogue. At the same time, the foundational values of contemplative life need to be maintained.”
“Through these values -- silence, attentive listening, the call to an interior life, stability -- contemplative life can and must challenge the contemporary mindset,” the pope continues.
The Pontiff then calls on the women worldwide to implement changes after reflecting upon 12 aspects of the monastic tradition: Formation, prayer, the word of God, the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation, fraternal life in community, autonomy, federations, the cloister, work, silence, the communications media and asceticism.
The Pope ends the document with 14 articles establishing new canonical norms for how contemplative women religious should live, saying he is setting aside any canons from the Code of Canon Law that “directly contradict any article of the present Constitution.”
Among the most direct changes are orders that every contemplative community:
Review its prayer life “to see if it is centered on the Lord” and “set aside appropriate times for Eucharistic adoration, also inviting the faithful of the local Church to take part;”
Be a part of some sort of federation with other communities, unless obtaining Vatican permission to not do so;
Request Vatican approval “whenever a different form of cloister from the present one is called for;”
Disallow "recruitment of candidates from other countries solely for the sake of ensuring the survival of a monastery," stating it should be "absolutely avoided;
"Wait for further instruction from the Vatican’s congregation for religious life on how to implement changes in the 12 specified areas of life and “once they have been adapted to the new regulations, the articles of the constitutions or rules of individual institutes are to be submitted for approval by the Holy See.”
Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said at a press conference presenting the new document Friday that his office would now be working on drafting a new instruction to specify how communities are to make the changes in their lifestyles.
The new document will replace the congregation’s 1999 instruction Verbi sponsa and will regulate the “formation, autonomy and seclusion” of contemplative communities, Rodriguez said.
The archbishop also said that contemplative men’s communities had not been considered in such a manner by the Pope or the religious congregation at the moment, adding that the types of religious life lived by Catholic men and women are different.
Francis begins his news document with praise for the contemplative communities, stating: “The Church greatly esteems your life of complete self-giving.”
“The Church counts on your prayers and on your self-sacrifice to bring today’s men and women to the good news of the Gospel,” the pope states. “The Church needs you!”
“The world needs you every bit as much as a sailor on the high seas needs a beacon to guide him to a safe haven,” he continues. “Be beacons to those near to you and, above all, to those far away. Be torches to guide men and women along their journey through the dark night of time.”
The pontiff then addresses each of the 12 aspects the communities are to reflect on in order, focusing especially on formation for younger nuns and the role of prayer in the nuns' daily lives.
On formation, Francis states that communities “need to pay great attention to vocational and spiritual discernment, without yielding to the temptation to think in terms of numbers and efficiency.”
For prayer, the Pope uses an evocative image of Moses raising his arms in prayer to God to implore help for his people.
“It strikes me that this is a most eloquent image of the power and efficacy of your own prayer on behalf of all humanity and the Church, especially of the vulnerable and those in need,” states the pontiff. “Now, as then, we can conclude that the fate of humanity is decided by the prayerful hearts and uplifted hands of contemplative women.”
Francis then asks the contemplative communities to see their cloisters or convents as places to show the wider world how people can live together in community and fellowship.
“You who have embraced the monastic life must never forget that today’s men and women expect you to bear witness to an authentic fraternal communion that, in a society marked by divisions and inequality, clearly demonstrates that life in common is both possible and fulfilling, despite differences of age, education and even culture,” states the Pope.
“Your communities ought to be credible signs that these differences, far from being an obstacle to fraternal life, actually enrich it,” he continues. “Remember that unity and communion are not the same as uniformity, and are nourished by dialogue, sharing, mutual assistance and profound compassion, especially towards the most frail and needy.”
But Francis also warns the contemplatives from becoming too isolated in their own autonomy from others.
“Autonomy favors the stability of life and internal unity of each community, ensuring the best conditions for contemplation,” states the Pope. “But autonomy ought not to mean independence or isolation, especially from the other monasteries of the same Order or the same charismatic family.”
“Take care to avoid ‘the disease of self-absorption’ and to preserve the value of communion between different monasteries as a path of openness towards the future and a means of updating and giving expression to the enduring and codified values of your autonomy,” he exhorts.
Francis ends that portion of the document with a call for the contemplatives “to be beacons of light for the journey of the men and women of our time.”
“This should be your prophetic witness,” states the Pontiff. “You have chosen not to flee the world out of fear, as some might think, but to remain in the world, while not being of the world.”
Citing the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et spes, he continues: “Although you live apart from the world, through the signs of your belonging to Christ, you tirelessly intercede for mankind, presenting to the Lord its fears and hopes, its joys and sufferings.”
Concluding with a citation of his own apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Pope calls on the contemplatives to “hear the cry of your brothers and sisters who are victims of the throwaway culture” and to “practice the art of listening ‘which is more than simply hearing.’”
[Joshua J. McElwee is Vatican Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.] 10:26:24 AM
“If anyone wants to go to confession, I’m available before Mass!”
I was in Nicaragua traveling up to Guatemala when I heard this rushed invitation yelled in Spanish from a church sanctuary... 10:18:55 AM
Samedi le 9 juillet 2016
John Cassian - on Contemplation'You will note that the Lord establishes as the prime good contemplation, that is the gaze turned in the direction of the things of God. Hence we say that the other virtues, however useful and good we may say they are, must nevertheless be put on a secondary level, since they are all practiced for the sake of this one. "You are full of worry and are upset over many things when actually it should be over a few or even one." In saying this the Lord locates the primary good not in activity, however praiseworthy, however abundantly fruitful, but in the truly simple and unified contemplation of Himself.' St. John Cassian 9:42:07 AM
Our current approach to marriage preparation is failing catastrophically
The Pope’s recent comments on marriage, which have raised a few eyebrows, do at least contain one statement with which I wholeheartedly agree. It is this: “Marriage is the most difficult area of pastoral work.”
By the time the engaged couple present themselves, saying they want to get married in Church, it is already too late to start preparation. Preparation for marriage needs to start before the couple have met; it needs to start in childhood, or even, to be on the safe side, at birth. After all, whom you marry is the most important decision you will ever make.
Young children need to be educated in such a way that, when they grow up, they will make good choices of future spouses. They need to be educated to spot moral worth in other people, and to have a reasoned, balanced and healthy appreciation of sexuality and a proper understanding of what marriage is about, and, in particular, that it is designed for the raising of children. 9:28:46 AM
En complément au Chapelet de la Miséricorde Divine; le Rosaire de notre Confiance en Jésus, c'est notre Rosaire habituel, mais auquel à la fin de chaque Je vous Salue Marie…, nous ajouterons toujours les paroles : " Jésus j'ai confiance en toi " en union filiale avec Marie qui intercède alors pour nous... 10:17:40 AM