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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pope Francis washes feet of Youth prison Inmates

Pope Francis Offers Holy Thursday Foot Washing To Inmates In Casal Del Marmo Jail
Pope Francis Foot Washing
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis washes the foot of an inmate at the juvenile detention center of Casal del Marmo, Rome, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. Two of the 12 were young women, an unusual choice given that the rite re-enacts Jesus' washing of the feet of his male di
ROME — Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. Two of the 12 were young women, a remarkable choice given that the church's current liturgical law says only men should participate.
The Mass was held in the Casal del Marmo facility in Rome, where 46 young men and women currently are detained. Many of them are Gypsies or North African migrants, and the 12 selected for the foot-washing rite included Orthodox and Muslim detainees, news reports said.
Because the inmates were mostly minors – the facility houses inmates aged 14-to-21 – the Vatican and Italian Justice Ministry limited media access inside. But Vatican Radio carried the Mass live, and Francis told the detainees that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service.
"This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service," Francis told the youngsters. "Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service."
Later, the Vatican released a limited video of the ritual, showing Francis washing black feet, white feet, male feet, female feet and even a foot with tattoos. Kneeling on the stone floor as the 12 youngsters sat above him, the 76-year-old Francis poured water from a silver chalice over each foot, dried it with a simple cotton towel and then bent over to kiss each one.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would celebrate the ritual foot-washing in jails, hospitals or hospices – part of his ministry to the poorest and most marginalized of society. It's a message that he is continuing now that he is pope, saying he wants a church "for the poor."
Previous popes would carry out the foot-washing ritual on Holy Thursday in Rome's grand St. John Lateran basilica. The 12 people chosen for the ritual would always be priests to represent Christ's 12 apostles.
That Francis would include women in this re-enactment is remarkable given current liturgical rules that restrict the ritual to men.
Canon lawyer Edward Peters, who is an adviser to the Holy See's top court, noted in a blog that the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1988 said in a letter to bishops that "The washing of the feet of chosen men ... represents the service and charity of Christ who came `not to be served, but to serve.'"
Peters noted that bishops over the years have successfully petitioned Rome for an exemption to allow women to participate, but that the law on the issue is clear.
"By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive," Peters wrote Thursday. "What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example."
Others welcomed the example he set.
"The pope's washing the feet of women is hugely significant because including women in this part of the Holy Thursday Mass has been frowned on – and even banned – in some dioceses," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of "The Jesuit Guide."
"It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile," he said.
After the Mass, Francis greeted each of the inmates and gave each one an Easter egg.
"Don't lose hope," he said. "Understand? With hope you can always go on."
One of the inmates then asked him why he had come to visit them. Francis said it was to "help me to be humble, as a bishop should be." He said he wanted to come "from my heart. Things from the heart don't have an explanation," he said.
Italian Justice Minister Paola Severino, who has made easing Italy's woefully overcrowded prisons a priority, attended the Mass.
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On Humility: St. Therese of Lisieux

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), Carmelite, Doctor of the Church
Prayer for acquiring humility (trans. ©Washington province of Discalced Carmelites Inc. 1997)

« This is my Body, that is for you » (1Co 11,24)

O Jesus! when you were a Pilgrim on earth (Heb 11,13), you said: "Learn of Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls" (Mt 11,29). O Mighty Monarch of Heaven, yes, my soul finds rest in seeing you, clothed in the form and nature of a slave (Phil 2,7), humbling yourself to wash the feet of your apostles. I recall your words that teach me how to practice humility: "I have given you an example so that you may do what I have done. The disciple is not greater than the Master. If you understand this, happy are you if you put them into practice." Lord, 1 do understand these words that came from your gentle and humble Heart and I want to practice them with the help of your grace...

O my Beloved, no one had this right over you and yet you obeyed not only the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph but even your executioners. Now in the Sacred Host I see you at the height of your annihilation. How humble you are, O divine King of Glory, to subject yourself to all your priests without making any distinction between those who love you and those who are, alas! lukewarm or cold in your service. At their word you come down from heaven... O my Beloved, how gentle and humble of heart you seem under the veil of the white Host! To teach me humility you cannot humble yourself further...

But, you know my weakness, Lord. Every morning I make a resolution to practice humility and in the evening I recognize that 1 have committed again many faults of pride. At this I am tempted to become discouraged but I know that discouragement is also pride. Therefore, O my God, I want to base my hope in you alone. Since you can do everything, deign to bring to birth in my soul the virtue I desire. To obtain this grace of your infinite mercy I will very often repeat: "O Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart like yours!"


Evangelical Catholic Pope ?

Pope Francis Is an Evangelical Catholic, Catholic Theologian Says
  • (Photo: Ethics and Public Policy Center)
    George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church.
March 20, 2013|12:54 pm
Pope Francis can be described as an "evangelical Catholic," theologian George Weigel told The Christian Post Tuesday.
Weigel is a Catholic theologian and distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He has written many books on Catholicism, including a biography of Pope John Paul II. His most recent book, published last month by Basic Books, is Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church.
In an email interview, Weigel talked about the new pope, Pope Francis, and how he compares to his predecessors. Here is a transcript of that interview.
CP: You wrote a book about evangelical Catholics. What is an evangelical Catholic and is Pope Francis one?
Weigel: An evangelical Catholic is a Catholic who has absorbed the deep reform of the Church that was begun in the late 19th century under Pope Leo XIII, a reform that was accelerated at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and given its authoritative interpretation for the 21st century by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Evangelical Catholics understand themselves as members of a communion of disciples, formed by friendship with Jesus, by Word, and by sacrament, for the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). By that definition, Pope Francis is most certainly an evangelical Catholic.
CP: MSNBC host Chris Matthews compared Pope Francis to a conservative Democrat in American politics, meaning he will be conservative on abortion and marriage and liberal on economic issues. Is that a helpful way to think about the new pope?
Weigel: No. It's a stupid way to think about this pope or any pope, but it's the way that people who can't think in anything other than political categories try to seem clever in discussing the Catholic Church. If Chris Matthews thinks that Pope Francis is going to be Paul Krugman in a white cassock, he is likely to be sorely disappointed. And, while we're at it, there's nothing "conservative" about the Catholic Church's settled teaching on the right to life (a deeply feminist position) or marriage (a true "liberal" position, in the sense that classic liberalism understood the limits of what states can do – and states can't decide that Adam can "marry" Steve any more than they can repeal the law of gravity).
CP: If we were to compare Pope Francis to his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI, in what ways is he similar, and in what ways is he different. Can you highlight some important similarities and differences?
Weigel: He's very much a John Paul II man in the sense of his dynamic orthodoxy, his evangelical fervor, and his social vision. Like Benedict XVI, he is steeped in the Bible and preaches a very richly biblical message. He's obviously less effervescent than John Paul II and no one in the Church is as theologically gifted as Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis has his own gifts as a pastor and leader and the world and the Church will, I think, come to appreciate those gifts for what they are.
CP: How do you think Pope Francis will be received by evangelical Protestants in the U.S.?
Weigel: I hope he's received warmly as a brother in Christ, a fellow-disciple, and a fellow witness to the truth of the Gospel.
Contact:, @NappNazworth (Twitter)

Pope Francis: Newly modified papal coat of arms

The modified papal coat of arms

The modified papal coat of arms

New evidence confirms age of Shroud of Turin

New evidence confirms age of Shroud of Turin

54 27 1Google +2Delicious2

CWN - March 27, 2013

New experiments conducted at the University of Padua have confirmed that the Shroud of Turin dates back to the time of Christ.

Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement, cooperated with Saverio Gaeta to produce a new book, Il Mistero della Sindone ("The Mystery of the Shroud"), which cites the evidence of the new tests, conducted on fibers taken from the Shroud.

The latest experiments add to the growing body of evidence that suggests the Shroud is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. One group of researchers, after making Carbon-14 tests, claimed that the cloth was manufactured in medieval times. Several questions had already been raised about the accuracy of that Carbon-14 study; now the new tests provide separate confirmation of a much earlier date.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting for the Father

Waiting for the Father

2013-03-27 L'Osservatore Romano
Forty-nine young people, the inmates of the Roman borstal, Casal del Marmo, are preparing to receive an extraordinary gift. Pope Francis will go there in the afternoon of Holy Thursday, 28 March, to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper. A joyful atmosphere of expectation pervades the institute.  Such an important visit had certainly not been on the cards. Above all, there had been no expectation of so suddenly touching the heart of the Pope whom they do not yet know. "The young people's enthusiasm", Liana Giambartolomei, the principal, told us, "must be linked to the very fact that they feel they will be playing the lead on a historic day. Moreover, this is exactly what Pope Francis wanted. He expressly asked us to make sure that there were no other young people here. He wants to be certain that they know he is coming solely for them, because he loves them, he carries them in his heart and considers them important, very important". A Caritas worker in the penal institute says that one of them, having heard the news, exclaimed: "At last I shall get to meet someone who says he is my father!".
Fr Greco, the chaplain, does not conceal the fact that he was somewhat perplexed, at least to start with, "because", he told our paper, "only eight of our residents are Italian: six boys and two girls. The others are all foreigners. And most of them are Muslim. Then there are some who have no religious belief at all. Therefore many of them don't even know who the Pope is. For this reason too, it was far from easy to explain to them the importance of the Pope's visit". "A young Neapolitan", the chaplain confided, "who has been here for a while came to my help. He gathered them all together, to try to make them understand above all what the Pope's act, which is an act of love for them, actually meant. I was upset for a moment by the first looks, that were either blank or only faintly curious about my enthusiasm. Then our friend broke the silence with that most classic of Neapolitan expressions: "Maronna mia, o Papa accà!" [good heavens! The Pope here!] and he ran his hand through his hair, his face betraying emotions mingled with happiness. At that very instant all the others, seeing his amazement, realized that it must really be something very special and began to question me. Little by little, I saw their enthusiasm growing.

Muslim Youth are vast majority in Rome prison where Pope Francis will pray Holy Thursday Mass

Pope Francis' Holy Thursday Mass: most youth at prison are foreign Muslims

CWN - March 27, 2013

The Casal del Marmo juvenile prison, where Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, has a population that is mostly foreign-born and Muslim.
"Only eight of our residents are Italian: six boys and two girls," said Father Gaetano Greco, the prison's chaplain. "The others are all foreigners. And most of them are Muslim. Then there are some who have no religious belief at all. Therefore many of them don't even know who the Pope is. For this reason too, it was far from easy to explain to them the importance of the Pope's visit."
Father Greco added:

A young Neapolitan who has been here for a while came to my help. He gathered them all together, to try to make them understand above all what the Pope's [coming], which is an act of love for them, actually meant. I was upset for a moment by the first looks, that were either blank or only faintly curious about my enthusiasm. Then our friend broke the silence with that most classic of Neapolitan expressions: "Maronna mia, o Papa accà!" [good heavens! The Pope here!] and he ran his hand through his hair, his face betraying emotions mingled with happiness. At that very instant all the others, seeing his amazement, realized that it must really be something very special and began to question me. Little by little, I saw their enthusiasm growing.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Re: MUSIC (Video) 'Holocene' - Bon Iver :)

Hey JC,
Yes, I love that video and I love Bon Iver ....
He also has a great song, not well know called Coming Down which is a pretty intense video but another heartfelt song ... YouTube it.

And I love his version of I can't make you love me.

As well, he has a song called Sides which is a moving song about someone struggling with being gay and his unfortunate response from the church ... it's not on any of his albums but you can hear it on YouTube and you can Google the lyrics ... quite powerful.

Anyway, I'm a fellow fan of Bon Iver ... glad you found his music

On Mar 26, 2013 4:21 PM, "[JC] John Charles Schmidt" <> wrote:

'Let us Old Folks give youth life's wisdom' - Pope Francis

Vatican City, 15 March 2013 (VIS) – "Courage, dear brothers! Probably half of us are in our old age. Old age, they say, is the seat of wisdom. The old ones have the wisdom that they have earned from walking through life. Like old Simeon and Anna at the temple whose wisdom allowed them to recognize Jesus. Let us give with wisdom to the youth: like good wine that improves with age, let us give the youth the wisdom of our lives."

This is how Pope Francisco addressed the cardinals this morning in the Clementine Hall at his first meeting with the entire College of Cardinals, electors and non-electors. The pontiff improvised at several times during his talk, such as when he informed them that, the day before yesterday, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist emeritus of the Vatican Secret Archives, suffered a heart attack and is now recovering at the Pius XI private clinic. "His condition is stable and he sent his greetings to us all."

Before beginning his address, the Pope listened to the greeting that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, read to him on behalf of the entire College. "We give thanks to the Lord our God. This is the liturgical invitation that we, the Cardinal Fathers address to one another, between the 'seniors' and the 'juniors', to thank the Lord for the gift that He has made to His Holy Church, giving us a new Shepherd. … Know, Holy Father, that all of us, your cardinals, are at your full disposal, seeking to build with you the apostolic cenacle of the nascent Church, the Upper Room of Pentecost. We will try to keep 'an open mind and a believing heart', as you wrote in your book of meditations."

During his address, Pope Francis affirmed that today's encounter "seeks to be almost an extension of the intense ecclesial communion experienced in this period. Enlivened by a profound sense of responsibility and supported by a great love for Christ and the Church, we have prayed together, sharing our fraternal feelings, our experiences and reflections. A mutual understanding and openness has brown in this climate of great cordiality. This is good because we are brothers. Someone said to me: 'The cardinals are the Holy Father's priests.' But we are that community, that friendship, that closeness that will do us all well. And this knowledge, this mutual openness have facilitated our docility to the Holy Spirit. He, the Paraclete, is the supreme protagonist of every initiative and expression of faith." He then added: "It's curious: It makes me think that the Paraclete makes all the differences in the Churches and seems to be an apostle of Babel. But, on the other hand, [the Holy Spirit] is the one who makes unity of these differences, not in equality, but in harmony. I remember the Church Father who defined it thus: 'Ipse harmonia est.' This Paraclete who gives, to each of us, different gifts, unites us in this Church community that worships the Father, the Son, and Him, the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Father noted that "the period of the Conclave was full of meaning, not only for the College of Cardinals, but also for all the faithful. In these days we felt, almost tangibly, the affection and solidarity of the universal Church, as well as the attention of many people who, although they do not share our faith, look to the Church and the Holy See with respect and admiration." At the same time he expressed his gratitude to all the cardinals for their cooperation in the Church's functions during the Sede Vacante. He especially thanked Cardinal Sodano for "his words of devotion and for the well wishes that he extended to me [on behalf of the cardinals]" and Cardinal Camerlengo Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., "for his thoughtful work in this delicate phase of transition". He also thanked Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, cardinal dean of the Conclave "who was our boss in the Conclave: thank you very much!"

He then continued: "I think with great affection and deep gratitude of my venerable predecessor, Benedict XVI, who during these years of his pontificate has enriched and strengthened the Church with his teaching, his goodness, his guidance, his faith, his humility, and his gentleness, which will remain a spiritual heritage for all. He noted that, "as Pope Benedict XVI reminded us so often in his teachings and most recently with his brave and humble gesture, Christ is the one who guides the Church through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church, with his life-giving force that unifies one body from many: the mystical Body of Christ."

"Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day. Do not give in to pessimism and discouragement. We have the firm certainty that the Holy Spirit gives the Church with His mighty breath, the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the only Saviour of the whole person and of all persons. This announcement is as valid today as it was at the beginning of Christianity when there was a great missionary expansion of the Gospel.

"Now," he finished, "return to your Sees to continue your ministry enriched by the experience of these days that have been so full of faith and ecclesial communion. This unique and incomparable experience has allowed us to understand in depth the beauty of ecclesial reality, which is a reflection of the splendour of the Risen Christ. One day we'll look upon that beautiful face of the Risen Christ."

On finishing his address, the Pope greeted, one by one, all the cardinals present in the Clementine Hall personally.

Published by VISarchive 02 - Friday, March 15, 2013



Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2013 16:07:52 -0600


Vatican City, 16 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father greeted over 6,000 journalists and those working in the media as well as for the Holy See, accredited either permanently or temporarily, to cover the events related to the Conclave. He addressed them with the following words:

"Dear friends, I am pleased, at the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, to meet with you who have worked here in Rome at this very intense period that began with the surprising announcement of my venerated predecessor Benedict XVI, this past 11 February. I warmly greet each of you."

"The role of the mass media has been continuously growing in recent times," he said, "so much so that it has become essential to narrate the events of contemporary history to the world. I therefore especially thank you for your distinguished service these past few days—you have had a bit of work to do, haven't you?—when the eyes of the Catholic world, and not only, were turned toward the Eternal City, in particular to this area that has St. Peter's tomb as its focal point. In these past few weeks you've gotten a chance to talk about the Holy See, the Church, her rites and traditions, her faith, and, in particular, the role of the Pope and his ministry."

"A particularly heart-felt thanks goes to those who have been able to observe and present these events in the Church's history while keeping in mind the most just perspective in which they must be read, that of faith. Historical events almost always require a complex reading that, at times, can also include the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly not more complicated than political or economic ones. But they have one particularly fundamental characteristic: they answer to a logic that is not mainly that of, so to speak, worldly categories, and this is precisely why it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wide and varied audience. In fact, the Church, although it is certainly also a human, historical institution with all that that entails, does not have a political nature but is essentially spiritual: it is the people of God, the holy people of God who walk toward the encounter with Jesus Christ. Only by putting oneself in this perspective can one fully explain how the Catholic Church works."

"Christ is the Church's Shepherd, but His presence in history moves through human freedom. Among these, one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, Successor of the Apostle Peter, but Christ is the centre, the fundamental reference, the heart of the Church! Without Him, neither Peter nor the Church would exist or have a reason for being. As Benedict XVI repeated often, Christ is present and leads His Church. In everything that has happened, the protagonist is, ultimately, the Holy Spirit. He has inspired Benedict XVI's decision for the good of the Church; He has guided the cardinals in their prayers and in their election. Dear friends, it is important to take due account of this interpretive horizon, this hermeneutic, to bring the heart of the events of these days into focus."

"From this is born, above all, a renewed and sincere thanks for your efforts in these particularly challenging days, but also an invitation to always seek to know more the Church's true nature and the spiritual motivations that guide her and that are the most authentic for understanding her. Rest assured that the Church, for her part, is very attentive to your precious work. You have the ability to gather and express the expectations and needs of our times, to provide the elements necessary to read reality. Like many other professions, your job requires study, sensitivity, and experience but it bears with it a particular attention to truth, goodness, and beauty. This makes us particularly close because the Church exists to communicate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty 'in person'. It should be clear that we are all called, not to communicate ourselves, but rather this existential triad that shapes truth, goodness, and beauty."

Then, putting aside his written text, the Pope said: "Some people didn't know why the Bishop of Rome wanted to call himself 'Francis'. Some though of Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, even Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. At the election I had the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo next to me. He is also prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [O.F.M.]: a dear, dear friend. When things were getting a little 'dangerous', he comforted me. And then, when the votes reached the two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the Pope had been elected. He hugged me and said: 'Do not forget the poor.' And that word stuck here [tapping his forehead]; the poor, the poor. Then, immediately in relation to the poor I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of war, while the voting continued, until all the votes [were counted]. And so the name came to my heart:: Francis of Assisi. For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation. In this moment when our relationship with Creation is not so good—right?—He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor! Afterwards, people were making various comments: 'You should call yourself Hadrian because Hadrian VI was a reformer. We need reform.' And someone else said to me: 'No, no, your name should be Clement.' …'But why?' 'Clement XV so you can pay back Clement XIV who suppressed the Society of Jesus!' These were the jokes."

"I wish the best for you, I thank you for everything that you have done. And I think of your work: I wish you to work fruitfully and with serenity and to always know better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Church. I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization. I I wish the best for you and your families, for each of your families, and I wholeheartedly impart to all of you the blessing."

After personally greeting some of the journalists present, Pope Francis, in Spanish, concluded: "I told you I wholeheartedly imparted my blessing. Many of you don't belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers. From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one, but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you."
Published by VISarchive 02 - Saturday, March 16, 201

MUSIC (Video) 'Holocene' - Bon Iver :)

ROME: Pope Francis to live in Vatican guesthouse, not papal apartments

Pope Francis to live in Vatican guesthouse, not papal apartments

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

"He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple," but allows him "to live in community with others," both the permanent residents -- priests and bishops who work at the Vatican -- as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Father Lombardi said March 26.

The spokesman said Pope Francis has moved out of the room he drew by lot before the conclave and into Suite 201, a room that has slightly more elegant furnishings and a larger living room where he can receive guests.

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, the official name of the guesthouse, was built in 1996 specifically to house cardinals during a conclave.

Celebrating Mass March 26 with the residents and guests, Pope Francis told them he intended to stay, Father Lombardi said. The permanent residents, who had to move out during the conclave, had just returned to their old rooms.

Pope Francis has been there since his election March 13, taking his meals in the common dining room downstairs and celebrating a 7 a.m. Mass with Vatican employees in the main chapel of the residence.

He will be the first pope in 110 years not to live in the papal apartments on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace.

In 1903, St. Pius X became the first pope to live in the apartments overlooking St. Peter's Square. The apartments were completely remodeled by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and have undergone smaller modifications by each pope since, according to "Mondo Vaticano," a Vatican-published mini-encyclopedia about Vatican buildings, offices and tradition.

The large living room or salon of the apartment is located directly above the papal library where official audiences with visiting bishops and heads of state are held.

Pope Francis will continue to use the library for official audiences and to recite the Angelus prayer on Sundays and holy days from the apartment window overlooking St. Peter's Square, Father Lombardi said.

The apartments contain a chapel, an office for the pope and a separate office for his secretaries, the pope's bedroom, a dining room, kitchen and rooms for two secretaries and for the household staff.

When Pope Francis returned to the guesthouse after his election, Father Lombardi had said the move was intended to be short-term while a few small work projects were completed in the papal apartments. He said March 26 that all the work had been completed, but at least for the foreseeable future, Pope Francis would not move in.

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, named after St. Martha, is a five-story building on the edge of Vatican City.

While offering relative comfort, the residence is not a luxury hotel. The building has 105 two-room suites and 26 singles; about half of the rooms are occupied by the permanent residents. Each suite has a sitting room with a desk, three chairs, a cabinet and large closet; a bedroom with dresser, night table and clothes stand; and a private bathroom with a shower.

The rooms all have telephones and access to an international satellite television system.

The building also has a large meeting room and a variety of small sitting rooms. In addition to the dining room and the main chapel, it also has four private chapels, located at the end of hallways on the third and fifth floors of each of the building's two wings.


Pope Francis: Youth Penitentiary 'Mass of the Lord's Supper' to be very simple


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – The Mass of the Lord's Supper that Pope Francis will celebrate on Holy Thursday in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors (IPM) will be, by his express desire, very simple, as reported by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. Concelebrating with the Holy Father will be Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Fr. Gaetano Greco, chaplain of the Institute.
Around 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the Mass. The Pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also say the readings and the prayers of the faithful.
After the Mass, the Pope will meet with the youth and the IPM's personnel in the Institute's gym. Around 150 persons are expected to attend, including the Minister for Justice, Paola Severino, accompanied by the Head of the Department of Justice for Minors, Caterina Chinnici, the Commander of the Institute's Penitentiary Police, Saulo Patrizi, and the Institute's director, Liana Giambartolomei.
The youth will give the Pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler, which they made themselves in the Institute's workshop. The Holy Father will bring Easter eggs and "colomba" (the traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove) for all.
Given the intimate nature of the pastoral visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building and no live coverage will be transmitted.

MISSION / Church in Libya: Amid persecution offering ‘silent testimony’ of worship, charity

Amid persecution, Church in Libya offers 'silent testimony' of worship, charity

CWN - March 26, 2013

Bishop Sylvester Carmel Magro, the Maltese Franciscan who serves as apostolic vicar of Benghazi, has told Aid to the Church in Need that the Church in Libya is maintaining its "silent testimony" of worship and charity amid increasing persecution.
"Notwithstanding the difficulties that may crop up every now and then, we strive to continue with our silent testimony of worship, of faith, of trust, of confidence and growth in the Word of God," Bishop Magro said.
"He was very stoic, very humble about the whole thing," John Newton of Aid to the Church in Need told Vatican Radio. "There was this sense of him just trusting in God."
"It was very humbling to hear that, in the midst of all these troubles, there was this sense of calm and trust in God that seems to be just carrying them through," Newton added.
97% of Libya's 5.6 million people are Muslim; because of foreign workers, nearly 2% of Libya's residents are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

Monday, March 25, 2013

High profile Muslim convert quits Catholic Church

High profile Muslim convert quits Catholic Church

25 March 2013

Magdi Cristiano Allam, an Egyptian-born Muslim whom Pope Benedict publicly baptised at Easter five years ago in St Peter's Basilica has announced that he is leaving the Church because it has taken too soft a stand against Islam.
"My conversion to Catholicism, which came at the hands of Benedict XVI during the Easter Vigil on 22 March 2008, I now consider finished in combination with the end of his pontificate," Mr Allam wrote on Monday in the right-wing Milan daily, Il Giornale.
The 61-year-old journalist and right-wing politician has long been an Italian citizen. He said he had pondered his decision to leave the Church for some time. However, he affirmed that the "last straw" was the election of Pope Francis, which he said was proof that the Church is "troppo buonista" - excessively tolerant.
"The 'papolatry' that has inflamed the euphoria for Francis I and has quickly archived Benedict XVI was the last straw in an overall framework of uncertainty and doubts about the Church," he wrote.
"The thing that drove me away from the Church more than any other factor was religious relativism, in particular the legitimisation of Islam as a true religion," he said. Mr Allam said Islam was "an intrinsically violent ideology" that had to be courageously opposed as "incompatible with our civilisation and fundamental human rights". "I am more convinced than ever that Europe will end up being subjugated to Islam just like what happened beginning in the seventh century on the other side of the Mediterranean," he warned.
The journalist's baptism in St Peter's Basilica was a highly guarded secret until the day it occurred. Mr Allam said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, "personally accompanied" him to accept and be instructed in the Catholic faith. His godfather and confirmation sponsor was Maurizio Lupi, a high-ranking member of the Forza Italia party founded by former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.             

'Blue Collar Pope' celebrates Mass for Vatican’s workers

Pope celebrates Mass for Vatican's blue-collar workers

CWN - March 22, 2013

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Friday morning, March 22, for Vatican gardeners and trash collectors.
After the Mass, the Pope greeted each of the Vatican employees personally. He then took a seat in the back row of the chapel in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, joining those already there for a time in private prayer.
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Evangelicals in Argentina Say Bergoglio as Pope Francis Is 'Answer to Our Prayers'

Argentine Evangelicals Say Bergoglio as Pope Francis Is 'Answer to Our Prayers'

First Latin American pope offers opportunity to 'rethink differences' and 'join hands in mission.'
Argentine Evangelicals Say Bergoglio as Pope Francis Is 'Answer to Our Prayers'

Editor's note: CT has also gathered reactions from American evangelical leaders (mostly excited) and evangelist Luis Palau, who knows Bergoglio as a personal friend.

Argentina's evangelical leaders were just as surprised as anyone when Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, was revealed Wednesday as the new Pope Francis. But they were not surprised when his first words broke from papal tradition.

In a move that Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano called "unprecedented and shocking," before Francis offered the world the traditional papal blessing, he asked those watching to first pray for him.

Such a request is one of Bergoglio's trademarks, said Juan Pablo Bongarrá, president of the Argentine Bible Society.

"Whenever you talk to him, the conversation ends with a request: 'Pastor, pray for me," said Bongarrá. He recalls when Bergoglio once attended a weekly worship meeting organized by Buenos Aires's charismatic pastors. "He mounted the platform and called for pastors to pray for him," said Bongarrá. "He knelt in front of nearly 6,000 people, and [Protestant leaders] laid hands and prayed."

Prayer came up frequently as several of Argentina's leading evangelicals, known for their unity efforts in Buenos Aires, described their thoughts on the new pope.

"His election has been an answer to our prayers," said Norberto Saracco, rector of Buenos Aires's FIET seminary and co-leader of the capital city's Council of Pastors. "Bergoglio is a man of God. He is passionate for the unity of the Churchbut not just at the institutional level. His priority is unity at the level of the people."

Relations between evangelicals and Catholics are much better in Argentina than in other Latin American nations, said Saracco. Bergoglio has played a central role in Argentina's CRECES (Renewal Communion of Catholics and Evangelicals in the Holy Spirit) movement over the past 10 years, and has strongly supported the Bible society. "He has very good and friendly relations with leaders of other religions," he said.

Bongarrá said Bergoglio respects and promotes interfaith dialogue. The two men have worked regularly together since 2001 when members of the National Evangelical Christian Council met with members of the Bishops Conference and issued a joint statement on the eve of the nation's financial crisis.

Bongarrá last met with Bergoglio before Christmas when he wanted Catholics to participate in the Protestant churches' "Christmas Is Jesus" campaign. They shared lunch at Center Baptist Church and discussed "how to fight against the secularization of society," he said.

"We evangelical leaders that know him are very happy with his election," said Bongarrá. "Bergoglio is a great man of God. We [evangelicals] have had a good relationship with him for many years. We think that a new time is coming for the Catholic Church, because our brother wants to promote evangelism."

Argentine Catholics and evangelicals have also partnered recently on advocacy against same-sex marriage.

Greg Venables, Anglican bishop of Argentina and former archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, offered his take on Bergoglio on his public Facebook page:

"Many are asking me what Jorge Bergoglio is really like. He is much more of a Christian, Christ centered and Spirit filled, than a mere churchman. He believes the Bible as it is written. I have been with him on many occasions and he always makes me sit next to him and invariably makes me take part and often do what he as Cardinal should have done. He is consistently humble and wise, outstandingly gifted yet a common man. He is no fool and speaks out very quietly yet clearly when necessary. He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate [creating by the Catholic Church to accommodate alienated Anglicans] was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans. I consider this to be an inspired appointment not because he is a close and personal friend but because of who he is In Christ. Pray for him."

Beyond Argentina, regional Latin American leaders also expressed enthusiasm for Bergoglio's selection.

"Bergoglio is recognized as a man with a heart of a pastor, a conciliator and a friend," said David Ruiz, associate director of the World Evangelical Alliance's Mission Commission and a former international president of COMIBAM, which sparked Latin America's missions movement. "He had been working for unity and been actively involved in the dialogue between Catholics and evangelicals.

"Like most of the Christians in the world, and especially in Latin America, I am still in shock," he said. "To have a Latin American, more specifically an Argentinian Pope, was out of our scope and imagination."

In a region where Protestant communities have seen rapid growth in traditionally Catholic nations, Ruiz believes Bergoglio may change the tenor of what at times seems like sectarian competition.

"The election of [Bergoglio] opens a time for all Christians in Latin America to become actively involved in reconciliation," said Ruiz, "working together to heal the open wounds that already exist between evangelicals and Catholics and to decide for a radical option for God.

"We evangelicals in Latin America wait eagerly to see how the new pope will deal with issues that have created difficulties with evangelicalsfor example how Marian he will be, how biblical he becomes in his official role, and especially what will be his official attitude toward evangelicals," he said. "[But] I think that it is a time of reflection for the evangelical community in the Americas as well.

"We are facing a time that is demanding us to rethink our position and differences and become actively involved looking for opportunities and ways to approach [Catholics] in a time of reflection about what is the meaning of the great mystery 'Christ in you, the hope of glory,'" said Ruiz. "To learn how to join hands in the mission on behalf of the millions who never heard the name of Christ and the other millions that forgot that they had forgotten God.

"It is not a secret that the global paradigm shift taking place in Christianity is becoming more and more evident in Latin America," said Ruiz. "After spending some time looking for an identity, both Catholics and Evangelicals are particularly well positioned to take an unparalleled role in global evangelization."

Evangelicals and Pope Francis

How Will Pope Francis Work with Evangelicals?

International evangelist Luis Palau, a native of Argentina, vouched for the character of his personal friend Pope Francis and described the pope's faith in an interview with Christianity Today.

"He's a man of strong convictions. He isn't swayed by the powers that be of any kind, even political," Palau said in CT March 14. "He's very strong on moral issues."

Palau, who is roughly the same age as the pope, said that in their conversations through the years, Francis was "always especially concerned for the young people."

"Every time we talked about the state of Christianity in the world, he would bring up secularization and the distancing of the church from the young generation," Palau said. "... [Francis] said, 'Give those young people the Gospel. ... They need to hear the pure Gospel.' And he knows what he is saying when he says the Gospel."

As the Roman Catholic Church's pope, Palau acknowledged "there are issues that need to be talked about, prayed about, looked at the Bible about" regarding differences in doctrine, though Palau expects Francis to work closely with the evangelical community during his time as pope.

The financial manager for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, where Francis served as cardinal, is an evangelical Christian, Palau told CT. Francis believed he could trust the man, and they would spend hours reading the Bible and praying and drinking mate, an Argentine green tea.

Regarding the new pope's faith, Palau said, "You know he knew God the Father personally. The way he prayed, the way he talked to the Lord, was of a man who knows Jesus Christ and was very spiritually intimate with the Lord. It's not an effort [for him] to pray. He didn't do reading prayers; he just prayed to the Lord spontaneously."

When asked about his leadership style, Palau said Francis is "a very Bible-centered man, a very Jesus Christ-centered man." He added, "Personally, he is more known for his personal love for Christ. He's really centered on Jesus and the Gospel, the pure Gospel."

VIETNAM: Carmelite Friars Celebrate 15th Anniversary of Foundation

Vietnamese Friars Celebrate 15th Anniversary of Foundation


From Vox Eliae Fall 2011

On Saturday, July 16, 2011, the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Carmelite Friars of Vietnam, part of the Province of Saint Elias, marked the 15th Anni­versary of their foundation on July 16, 1996. It was a great day of joy for the Carmelite Friars, the members of Donum Dei who so helped us in the beginning, and the family and friends of Carmel.

The day began with a lecture on Carmelite history led by Father Peter Hoang Nguyen, O.Carm. and continued with a beautiful Mass and luncheon. The Church was filled to capacity and some three hundred people stayed for lunch afterward at L'Eau Vive. In addi­tion to Father Peter, the events were coordinated by Fathers Joseph Trung Tran (Regional Vicar for Viet­nam) Joseph Diep Dinh, Stephan Tuu Le, Joseph Thien Nguyen, O.Carm. and all of the professed broth­ers, candidates, and aspirants of the Order who worked to make the day such a success.

The celebrant of the Mass was Father Mario Esposito, O.Carm., Prior Provincial, and the homilist was Father Stephan Huy Tran, O.Carm., Assistant Provincial. There were representatives from the families of all of our Carmelite brothers, even those stationed in the United States and Europe, as well as priests, men and women religious, and many friends of the commu­nity.

As a special feature of the day's program, a beau­tiful new statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was designed, made and blessed so that every family repre­sented was able to take one with them, and every house in the Province received a statue. Mary has been the guiding light and patroness of Carmel from the beginning and has certainly showed her maternal care for the Carmelites in Vietnam. May the Lord continue to bless our Vietnamese foundation with vocations, faithfulness, safety and zeal!


MISSION / Carmel : Vietnamese Carmelite nuns come to Alabama to revitalize monastery

Carmelite nuns come from Vietnam to Alabama to revitalize monastery

By Benjamin Mann

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Sister Mary Assumpta greets Reverend Mother Therese Casey, the community's superior.

Credit: Mary Ann Stevens
On Feb. 20, eight Carmelite sisters from Vietnam arrived in Mobile, Alabama, where they have come to reopen a monastery that nearly shut down because of a lack of vocations.
"We welcome you home, for this is your home," said Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, celebrating the first Mass for the sisters at their new monastery on Feb. 21. "We are delighted that you are here."
Fr. Cu Minh Duong, a local pastor who preached at the Mass in English and Vietnamese, said it was "wonderful to see this monastery come alive again." The Vietnamese Carmelites are taking over the Monastery of St. Joseph and St. Teresa, which has been vacant for nearly a year.
Early in 2010, due to a combination of factors – including age, illness, and lack of vocations – the monastery's four remaining American nuns determined that they were no longer able to care for themselves and their monastery. They moved out in March 2010, but asked Archbishop Rodi's help in finding another Carmelite community that could replace them.
"I wrote to every Carmelite community in this country, and traveled to Rome to meet with the Carmelite Generalate," Archbishop Rodi recalled in a written account provided to EWTN News. For some time, his worked turned up nothing.
But eventually, through the cooperation and interconnections of four other religious orders – the Jesuits, the Sisters of Mercy, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Lovers of the Holy Cross – the Archbishop found the young Carmelite sisters from Vietnam.
In that country, where the Catholic Church is sometimes threatened and restricted, religious orders have a problem that is barely known in the West: many of them are attracting more vocations than their facilities can contain.
The international connection that brought the Carmelites to the U.S. was first made during 2010 when two sisters from the Lovers of the Holy Cross came from Vietnam to Alabama for their studies.
They spent time with the Little Sisters of the Poor – who, in collaboration with the Sisters of Mercy, were accommodating and caring for the Carmelites who had moved out of their monastery. Through this connection, they learned of the search for a new Carmelite community.
Fr. Mark Lewis, former confessor to the Little Sisters of the poor, delegated the first-generation Vietnamese-American Jesuit Brother Bao Nguyen to travel to Vietnam. There, he conveyed Archbishop Rodi's request to Church officials in Hanoi, and sought out Carmelites who might be willing to come the U.S.
Finally, Archbishop Rodi recalled, the hopes of the monastery's original group of sisters were realized.
"By the grace of God, and the able help of Brother Bao, SJ, and Mother Paul Mary of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Carmelite monastery in Vietnam offered to send 8 nuns to reopen this cloistered community."
Accompanied by Br. Bao and others, they went to the monastery for the first time on Feb. 21.
During their first week, as they settle into their new and permanent home, the sisters expect to pay a visit to the convent in which the four Carmelite nuns of the former community are now living. On Feb. 26, the new sisters will host an open house for visitors to their monastery, followed by a private visit with local Vietnamese Catholics on Feb. 27.
After Feb. 26, the monastery will be closed to the public. On Feb. 28, Archbishop Rodi will preside over the canonical enclosure of the monastery, by which the sisters will be formally bound not to leave the cloister. Their life of prayer, however, will keep them deeply connected to the surrounding community.
"The sisters came from a long distance, to this place which is now their home," Fr. Cu Minh Duong reflected in his homily at the monastery's re-opening. "What was conceived in prayer must now be continued and sustained in prayer."

Read more:

Jesuits, "be evangelical leaven to the world" - Pope Francis


Vatican City, 23 March 2013 (VIS) – Three days after beginning his pontificate, Pope Francis sent a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon. In it the Holy Father responded to the letter that the Superior General had sent to him on learning of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit in the history of the Society of Jesus to be elected Pope.

Following is the complete text of the Roman Pontiff Francis' letter, dated 16 March:

"Dear Fr. Nicolas, It is with great joy that I received the kind letter that you sent on behalf of yourself and of the Society of Jesus on the occasion of my election to the See of St. Peter, informing me of your prayers for me and my apostolic ministry along with your complete willingness to continue your unconditional service to the Church and to the Vicar of Christ, according to the precepts of St. Ignatius of Loyola."

"I thank you cordially for this token of appreciation and closeness, which I reciprocate with pleasure, asking the Lord to enlighten and accompany all Jesuits so that—faithful to the charism received and the footsteps of the saints of our beloved Order, by their pastoral activity but above all through the witness of lives entirely devoted to the service of the Church, the Bride of Christ—they may be evangelical leaven to the world, tirelessly seeking the glory of God and the good of souls."

"With these sentiments I ask all Jesuits to pray for me and entrust me to the loving protection of Mary, our Mother in Heaven, while, as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours, I impart with special fondness my Apostolic Blessing, which I also extend to all those who work with the Society of Jesus in their activities, benefit from their good works, and partake of their spirituality."

Pope Francis and the Bishop emeritus of Rome Benedict XVI: First meeting since election


Two Popes Meet

Francis and Benedict together at Castel Gandolfo

Vatican City, 23 March 2013 (VIS) – Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, called this afternoon's encounter between Pope Francis and the Bishop emeritus of Rome Benedict XVI "a moment of profound communion". Although live coverage of the historic event was not provided, recorded images of the two praying together and sitting in the library of the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace has been made available. Following are the notes Fr. Lombardi made of the historic event.

The Holy Father's helicopter landed at the heliport of Castel Gandolfo at 12:15pm and the Pope emeritus' car approached the landing site. Accompanying the Holy Father were: Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, S.C.I., regent of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household; and Msgr. Alfred Xuereb.

As soon as the Holy Father alighted, the Pope emeritus approached him and the two embraced. After briefly greeting the others present—Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, and Dr. Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas—they got into the car to take them to the Apostolic Palace. Pope Francis took the right-hand seat, traditionally reserved for the Pope, while the Pope emeritus took the left-hand seat. Aboard the same car was also Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household.

The car then brought them to the elevators of the Apostolic Palace and the two protagonists of the historic meeting ascended to the papal apartments where they went straight to the chapel for a moment of prayer. In the chapel, the Pope emeritus offered the place of honour to Pope Francis, who instead responded "We are brothers" and wanted them to share the same kneeler.

After a short time of prayer they went to the apartments' library where their private meeting began around 12:30pm. It is the library where the Pope normally receives important guests at Castel Gandolfo. Their meeting lasted around 45 minutes. Pope Francis had brought a beautiful icon as a gift to the Pope emeritus.

Regarding clothing, as previously noted, the Pope emeritus wears a simple white cassock without the fascia (sash) or shoulder cape, the two details that distinguish it from Pope Francis' clothing. The only private and confidential portion of the meeting was when the two met in the library, as the secretaries, Archbishop Gänswein and Msgr. Xuereb, were expected to attend the lunch afterward. The Pope emeritus plans to drive with the Pope to Castel Gandolfo's heliport before they take their leave of one another.

It should be noted that, although this is the first time they meet face-to-face, Pope Francis has already called the Pope emeritus to mind many times: at his first appearance at the external Loggia of the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica on the evening of his election and with two phone calls—the first that same night and the second on the Feast of St. Joseph, to send his well wishes on the Pope emeritus' saint's day. Their dialogue, therefore, had already begun before this physical meeting. Recall also that the Pope emeritus had already expressed his unconditional reverence and obedience to his successor at his final meeting with the cardinals on the last day of his pontificate, 28 March. This encounter, then—a moment of elevated and deep communion—was a chance to renew his profession of reverence and obedience. Certainly Pope Francis renewed his gratitude, and that of the whole Church, for Pope Benedict's ministry during his pontificate.

Pope Francis backs Benedict’s stand against relativism

SOCIETY: 'Stand against relativism', Pope Francis

CWN - March 22, 2013

In his first major statement on the world's political affairs, Pope Francis strongly backed a fundamental theme of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, warning against a "tyranny of relativism, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples." Speaking on March 22 to the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, the new Pope stressed his commitment to dialogue, particularly with Islam, and to the fight against poverty. Yet his most significant statement may have been clear backing of his predecessor's message: an indication that no major change is likely in the Vatican's approach to world affairs.
The Pope received the ambassadors in the Sala Regia of the apostolic palace. Greeted by Jean-Claude Michel of Monaco, the dean of the diplomatic corps at the Vatican, he began his remarks by saying that the diplomatic work of the Holy See is guided by the desire to serve all people.
The Pope went on to say that in choosing the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, he was evoking "a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith." He said that St. Francis is an outstanding model for two reasons.
First the Pope mentioned the love that St. Francis showed for the poor. "How many poor people there still are in the world!" the Pontiff interjected. He observed that the Church all around the world works to ease the suffering of the poor, and added that "I think in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just."
"But there is another form of poverty," Pope Francis continued. "It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously." In that context he mentioned the "tyranny of relativism." While the quest for peace is a top priority, the Pontiff cautioned:

But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.
The Pope reminded the diplomats that his title, "Pontiff," refers to a bridge-builder. He said that he hopes to "help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced."
Once again, however, Pope Francis underlined the spiritual nature of his mission. "It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God," he said. "But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people."
The Pope promised to promote dialogue across religious boundaries, and said "I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam."

Friday, March 22, 2013

prayer request


Please pray for Matthew and Shannon Rogers.  Their baby, Samuel, died just before birth as the result of a knotted cord.

Thank you. Jean.


Please pray for all the family in their mourning, that during the difficult time ahead they may feel the sustaining presence of the Lord. Thank you, Linda. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three Recent Popes and what they stand for...

Steve Bell: What’s in a Name - Francis

What's in a Name: Francis

Homepage, Musings, Song Stories

Posted on March 19th, 2013
Written by Steve

Scroll down to listen to song…
Like so many others, I was staggered when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose Francis for his Papal name.  It's hard to describe, but when I heard the news, a breeze blew through my soul leaving me in a momentary state of  awe-filled silence, accompanied by a strange sensation of serene happiness.
I'm not the only one.   Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image Magazine, wrote, "Francis. The perfect name. Simplicity. Poverty. Reform. I am stunned and profoundly happy."
And then, from across the ocean, English poet Malcolm Guite rhapsodised:
You woke to Christ and Christ awoke in you
And set to work through all your love and skill
To make our ruin good, to bless and heal
To wake the Christ in us and make us whole
(excerpt from 'Francis, Rebuild My Church'; a sonnet for the Saint and for the new Pope )
Of course, this enthusiasm is primarily for Francis, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio's story is yet to be written. But cause for hope may be taken from today's inaugural homily when the Pontiff presented a clear message of his vision for the church: to work to protect God's creation and the world's poor.
However, one wonders at the  wisdom of his name choice, which, more than anything else, will now be the metric against which his life will be measured and remembered. But I think he knows this, for already, every time he breaks into the crowds to touch and  be touched, he repeatedly begs, "Pray for me."
Evidently, Jorge knows well what Francis means.
Even as this name choice could be considered spectacularly courageous, it could equally be considered  foolish. But that is part of the charm. In an elegant biography of  Francis of Assisi, GK Chesterton describes the man as a "festive figure" whose life was one "riot of rash vows" which turned out right.  I think a Papacy marked by a riot of rash vows that turn out right is exactly what we need right now.  So I will not be joining the ranks of the cynical chic, but have decided to take him at his word and to do what he asks: I will pray for him.


Not surprisingly,  these events sent me to my bookshelf to pull out the several books I've read on the life of Francis.  Soon I found myself happily on my couch, dog in lap, re-reading Chesterton's grand biography of the saint. An early sentence caught me offguard and propelled me back into my childhood:
"…when, long ago in those days of boyhood my fancy first caught fire with the Glory of St. Francis of Assisi."
I was in grade two or three when, having just returned home from school, Mom and Dad whisked my sisters and I into the car, surprising us with the news that we would be making the 60 mile trek to Calgary to go and see a movie.  It's not that there wasn't an available theatre in our little town of Drumheller, Alberta, but in those days movie-going was frowned upon by the Faithful.  And so to avoid scandal, the few movies I saw as a boy were always preceded by a clandestine  journey.
You might imagine how my initial excitement was dashed to learn that the movie we were about to see was called Brother Sun, Sister Moon, which told the story a 13th century saint named Francis.  I would have much preferred something involving a car chase, heroic battle scene, or, more secretly, a romance  involving a bosomy  beauty. But alas, it was already  risqué  enough that we Baptists would be engaging a dubious Catholic legend.
That being said, my disappointment was soon disappointed.  The cinematography,  story and music (by Donovan, no less) overwhelmed me and became one of my earliest remembered spiritual experiences where I knew I was encountering something utterly beyond. And from that day on, when some kindly man or woman would ask me what I hoped to be when I grew up, I might have answered boyishly: policeman, fireman etc., because what I was too shy to say (and what would have been more truthful to say) was that I wanted to be… a saint.
As kids we learned to sing a prayer attributed to Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen – So be it.
I realize now how deeply those words have seeped into my being and shaped my understanding. What a gift.
Years later, after a concert, a friend was waiting backstage to shove a book into my hands before she ran to catch a ride home: Love Poems from God.  It was a book of mystical poetry edited by Daniel Ladinski, which included several obscure poems attributed to Francis. One, in particular, took my breath away. A song soon followed which I now post to commemorate this day: March 19/2013 – The Inauguration of Pope Francis.

May he (and we) be fertile ground for the seed of Christ, and a new flowering of love and grace.



Music by Steve Bell. Lyric adapted by Steve Bell from Daniel Ladinski's translation of St. Francis' poem "Our Need for Thee."
Darkness is an unlit wick
A single spark would vanquish it
Truly I could burst to flame
Every time you call my name
Do I do for you the same?
God is like a honey bee
Penetrates the soul of me
Dearly draws the sweetness in
Nectar of the meek, love is
He in me and I in him
In our ever present need of thee
Grant we fathom peace
Fashion instruments of souls set free
For don't the caged ones weep
Sometimes sober, sometimes bliss
Every union knows of this
But I have stood here in his rain
And bear the marks of fertile plains
Swelling streams and swollen grain
So will I console the fall
Of cheerless creatures great and small
What of sadness can endure
When love divine makes insecure
The crowing claims of shame's allure
In our ever present need of thee…


Ever Present Need can be found on Steve Bell's Sons and Daughters CD. To preview and/or  purchase click HERE…