Papal Mass: Open to Miracles of Love

In his own words:
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Homily
Holy Mass concluding the World Meeting of Families

Today the word of God surprises us with powerful and thought-provoking images. Images that challenge us but also stir our enthusiasm.

Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!

Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and he continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of his presence in our world, for love consists in this:  not that we have loved God but that he loved us first. That love gives us a profound certainty:  we are sought by God; he waits for us.

Do not hold back anything that is good. Instead, help it to grow. To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us”, is a dangerous temptation.

Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded,” says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. 

Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.

Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, he wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of his own living and active presence in our world.

Question of the Day 1

How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?

Pointedly, yet affectionately, Jesus tells us: “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:13).

It is true that, as far as goodness and purity of heart are concerned, we human beings don’t have much to show! But Jesus knows that, where children are concerned, we are capable of boundless generosity. So he reassures us: if only we have faith, the Father will give us his Spirit.

We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us! How many of us are here at this celebration! This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world. Would that we could all be prophets! Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others!

Question of the Day 2

In my house, do people yell? Or do you speak with love and with tenderness?

This is a good way to measure our love.

And how beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle! We renew our faith in the word of the Lord which invites faithful families to this openness. It invites all those who want to share the prophecy of the covenant of man and woman, which generates life and reveals God. May he help us to participate in the prophecy of peace, of tenderness and family affection. May he help us to participate in this prophetic gesture of caring for our children and our grandparents with tenderness, patience and love.

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Pope to Bishops: “Waste” Time; Be Present

In his own words:
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Address to Bishops
at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia

It continues to be on my mind that people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones violated that trust and caused them great pain. God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These cannot be maintained in secret, and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and that all responsible will be held accountable. Those who have survived this abuse have become true heralds of mercy. Humbly, we owe each of them our gratitude for their great value as they have had to suffer terrible abuse, sexual abuse of minors.

For the Church, the family is not first and foremost a cause for concern, but rather the joyous confirmation of God’s blessing upon the masterpiece of creation. 

I would say that the foremost pastoral challenge of our changing times is to move decisively towards recognizing this gift. For all the obstacles we see before us, gratitude and appreciation should prevail over concerns and complaints.The family is the fundamental locus of the covenant between the Church and God’s creation. Without the family, not even the Church would exist. Nor could she be what she is called to be, namely “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

Christians are not “immune” to the changes of their times. This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe and proclaim.
Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case.

There was a time when one neighborhood store had everything one needed for personal and family life. The products may not have been cleverly displayed, or offered much choice, but there was a personal bond between the shopkeeper and his customers. Business was done on the basis of trust, people knew one another, they were all neighbors. They trusted one another. They built up trust. These stores were often simply known as “the local market”.

Then a different kind of store grew up: the supermarket. Huge spaces with a great selection of merchandise. The world seems to have become one of these great supermarkets; our culture has become more and more competitive. Business is no longer conducted on the basis of trust; others can no longer be trusted. There are no longer close personal relationships. Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust. The most important thing nowadays seems to be follow the latest trend or activity. This is even true of religion. Today consumerism determines what is important. Consuming relationships, consuming friendships, consuming religions, consuming, consuming… Whatever the cost or consequences. A consumption which does not favor bonding, a consumption which has little to do with human relationships. Social bonds are a mere “means” for the satisfaction of “my needs”. The important thing is no longer our neighbor, with his or her familiar face, story and personality.

The result is a culture which discards everything that is no longer “useful” or “satisfying” for the tastes of the consumer. We have turned our society into a huge multicultural showcase tied only to the tastes of certain “consumers”, while so many others only “eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Mt 15:27).

This causes great harm. I would say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of loneliness. Running after the latest fad, accumulating “friends” on one of the social networks, we get caught up in what contemporary society has to offer. Loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized.

As shepherds following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time. To look at things realistically, with the eyes of one who feels called to action, to pastoral conversion. The world today demands this conversion on our part. “It is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear.The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded” (Evangelii Gaudium, 23).

The gospel is not a product for consumption. It is not part of the culture of consumerism.

We would be mistaken, however, to see this “culture” of the present world as mere indifference towards marriage and the family, as pure and simple selfishness. Are today’s young people hopelessly timid, weak, inconsistent? We must not fall into this trap. Many young people, in the context of this culture of discouragement, have yielded to a form of unconscious acquiescence and fear. They are paralyzed when they encounter the beautiful, noble and truly necessary challenges which faith sets before them. Many put off marriage while waiting for ideal conditions, when everything can be perfect. Meanwhile, life goes on, and they live it without really being lived to the full. For knowledge of life’s true pleasures only comes as the fruit of a long-term, generous investment of our intelligence, enthusiasm and passion.

In Congress a few days ago, I said we are living in a culture that pushes and convinces our youth to not create families. Some because they don’t have the means at their disposal… and others because they have so much at their disposal, that they are very comfortable as they are. That is the temptation to not create a family.

As pastors, we bishops are called to collect our energies and to rebuild enthusiasm for making families correspond ever more fully to the blessing of God which they are! We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family.

In Buenos Aires, how many women telling me:  my son is 30, 34 years old and not getting married, and I don’t know what to do. And I say:  don’t iron his shirts anymore. We have to encourage our youth that they take that risk, because they need to move toward fruitfulness in life.

Question of the Day

Why aren’t you getting married?

A Christianity, which does little in practice while incessantly explaining its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. A pastor must show that the “Gospel of the family” is truly “good news” in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme! We are not speaking about some romantic dream: the perseverance which is called for in having a family and raising it transforms the world and human history.

A pastor serenely yet passionately proclaims the word of God. He encourages believers to aim high. He will enable his brothers and sisters to hear and experience God’s promise, which can expand their experience of motherhood and fatherhood within the horizon of a new “familiarity” with God (Mk 3:31-35).

We might well ask whether in our pastoral ministry we are ready to “waste” time with families. Whether we are ready to be present to them, sharing their difficulties and joys.

We have two things to do:  prayer and preaching. What is the first job of a bishop? To pray. The second job that goes hand in hand is to preach. This dogmatic definition helps us …because it defines what the role of a bishop is. …to shepherd, but first with prayer, and then with …proclaiming the Gospel. And if you have time, you do the rest.

Our ideal is not to live without love. A good pastor renounces the love of a family precisely in order to focus all his energies, and the grace of his particular vocation, on the evangelical blessing of the love of men and women who carry forward God’s plan of creation, beginning with those who are lost, abandoned, wounded, broken, downtrodden and deprived of their dignity. This total surrender to God’s agape is certainly not a vocation lacking in tenderness and affection! 

We must develop the covenant between the Church and the family.

…and we do need to sow in these crooked furrows…

May God grant us this gift of a renewed closeness between the family and the Church. The Church needs it. We, the shepherds, need it. The family is our ally, our window to the world, and the evidence of an irrevocable blessing of God destined for all the children who in every age are born into this difficult yet beautiful creation which God has asked us to serve!

Papal Visit: Family, An Expression of Love

In his own words:
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Address
at Festival of Families, Philadelphia

Beauty. This is the path that leads to God. Beauty leads us to God. And a true witness takes us to God, because God also is truth. Beauty and truth.

God is good. God is beautiful. God is true. Thank you all, those who’ve offered their witness and for the presence of all of you, that is a great witness. A real witness that it is worth being a family.

That a society is strong, it’s solid, if it is edified on beauty, goodness, and truth.

A Child’s Question of the Day

What did God do before creating the world?

I assure you, I found real difficulty to answer the question. So I said what I am now going to say to you:

Before creating the world God loved, because God is love. And so much love, between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it was so overflowing …

it was so big this love… it had to be poured out of him, so as to share that love with those out of himself, and then God created the world. God made this marvelous world in which we live.

Sometimes we’re a bit confused, we are destroying it. But the most beautiful thing that God did, says the Bible, was the family.

He created man, and he created woman.

And he gave them everything. He gave them the world.

Grow, multiply, cultivate the land

All that love that he made in creation, he gave it and shared it, and bestowed it upon a family.

Let us go back further:  all the love that God has in himself, all the beauty he has in himself, all the truth, he gives it to the family. He gives it to the family when it is able to open its arms and receive all that love.

Of course, it’s not quite earthly paradise. There are still problems. Men and women, through the astuteness of the devil, have learned, unfortunately, how to divide themselves. All that love that God gave almost was lost.

In a little period of time, the first crime. The first instance of fratricide. A brother kills another brother, and war. Love, beauty, and truth of God and destruction and war, and between them,  we walk ahead.

It’s up to us to choose. …to decide which path we want to take forward.

Let us go back. When man and his wife made a mistake, God did not abandon them. So great was his love, that he began to walk with humanity, with his people, until the right moment came, and he made the highest expression of love:  his own son. And where did he send his son? To a palace? To a city? No, he sent him to a family. God sent him and in a family. He could do this because it was a family that had a truly open heart.

Mary, she couldn’t believe it. How can this happen? But when the angel explained it to her, she agreed. Saint Joseph. He finds himself in the surprising situation that he does not understand, and he accepts. He obeys. In obedience, he loved this woman. She loved this man.

There is a family in which Jesus is born.

God plans that our hearts be opened. He likes to bring his love to open hearts. It comes out from him.

We are celebrating the Feast of the Family. Families have a citizenship, which is divine. The identity card that they have is given to them by God, so that within the heart of the family, truth, goodness, and beauty can truly grow.

Some of you might say of course… Father, you speak like that because you’re not married.

Families have difficulties. Families, we quarrel. Sometimes plates can fly. And children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws.

But in families, there is always light. Because the love of God, the Son of God opened also that path for us.

Just as there are problems in families, we have to remember that there is the light of the resurrection afterwards, because the Son of God created that path.

In family, there are indeed difficulties, but those difficulties are overcome with love.

Hatred is not capable of dealing with any difficulty and overcoming any difficulty. Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love is able to overcome.

Love is about celebration. Love is joy. Love is moving forward.

Two things that we really have to take care of:  children and grandparents.

Children… we place our hope in them. Grandparents… are the living memory of the family. They passed on the faith. They transmitted the faith to us.

To look after grandparents, to look after children, is the expression of love. It promises the future.

The family is beautiful, but there is effort involved, and there are problems. …Never let the day end without making peace.

May God bless you. May God give you hope. May God give you the strength to move forward. Let us look after the family. Let us protect the family.

Please pray for me.

2015 National 54 Day Rosary Novena

54day

What:  The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate invites everyone to pray the rosary for 54 days (27 days for petition and 27 days of thanksgiving)

Intention: For family and marriage, peace, sanctity of human life, and religious freedom

When:  August 15–September 10, 2015 (prayers of petition) and September 11– October 7, 2015 (prayers of thanksgiving)

Where:  At home individually, with family and friends, in parish communities, bible study groups, or with other groups

Event: The Meaning of Marriage

What:  Professor Alice von Hildebrand, author of The Privilege of Being a Woman, speaks about The Meaning of Marriage:  Understanding the Mystery of Faithful Love

When:  May 17, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

Where:  Our Lady of Hope Church Hall and broadcast live online

Presented by:  The Institute of Catholic Culture

VonHildebrand_Marriage

Bonus 1:  Read Dr von Hildebrand’s Letter to a Young Girl

Bonus 2:  Watch Dr von Hildebrand’s talk on Restoring the Dignity and Vocation of Women (another ICC event from 2013)

Quotes of the Day
from Dr Alice von Hildebrand’s talk Restoring the Dignity and Vocation of Women

If I say something true in my talk, it is not mine; it is ours, because truth is essentially catholic, which means universal.  Whereas if I say something false, or truly stupid, give me a patent, because it is truly mine.

God has given women a mission of crucial importance, and one, you can say, is the cornerstone of society.

If you truly understand and respect the mystery of your sex, it gives you the key to the other sex.

Speaking of Simone de Beauvoir and her book The Second Sex, von Hildebrand says:

It just shows you the tragedy of a talented, intelligent woman whose pride is such she becomes totally blind.

Quoting Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), von Hildebrand says:

Edith Stein says the mission of women, therefore, is to foster life, to serve life.

Event: March for Marriage DC 2015

What:  Third annual March for Marriage DC

When:  Today, April 25 2015

Where:  Washington, DC

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Learn more:  https://www.marriagemarch.org/ and https://nationformarriage.org/


Question of the Day 1:  Is it discrimination to not allow a same sex couple to file a joint tax return, which a married man and woman are permitted to do?

Question of the Day 2:  What is marriage? (and when was the meaning and purpose of marriage ever about taxes?)

Question of the Day 3:  In your life, what do you seek, day in and day out? Is it Truth? Is it Self? Is it family? Is it work? Is it pleasure or a dream? Is it ideas or material goods? Is it your daily bread? Do you seek with your mind? your body? your spirit? Do these seek together or fight each other to achieve different goals? In your seeking, what, if anything, do you ask of others? And in your daily seeking and striving, what have you found?


Rules for the New Life in Christ:  Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. — Ephesians 4:25


Discussion and Viewpoints and Related Material