06 December 2016

Saint Nicholas

6 DECEMBER 2016. Not a myth nor legend, St. Nicholas was a priest in Asia Minor (today Turkey) who was renowned for meeting the earthly and spiritual needs of his flock. We hang stockings today because of the earliest stories of St. Nicholas, who always wished to help those in need in a way so  that they did not know from whom the help had come. This was done out of humility, and the earliest stories relate to us that St. Nicholas placed gold coins in stockings hung out to dry so that those who received the help would not believe themselves indebted to the Church.

How can the renown of one bishop from the third century still have an impact on us today? Because kindness is always in demand. St. Nicholas, when it was found out what he was doing, only asked for prayers in return for his gifts. Are kindness and prayerfulness the way we celebrate Christmas today?

27 July 2016

Pray for Peace in Our World

27 July 2016. THE EARTH. Our world needs peace. Our people need peace. Our Lady weeps for the absence of peace in our world, yet there is always hope.

Good people and people of faith will always prevail over evil.

Pray for Peace in Our World!

IMAGE: Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

19 April 2016

Bernie at the Vatican: an Imagined Encounter

16 APRIL 2016. Today, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is currently running for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States, had an exchange with Pope Francis at the Santa Martha, where Our Holy Father resides at the Vatican. What follows is what I imagine to have been their encounter. And we pray!

BERNIE: Your Holiness! I just want you to know that I am a big supporter of the Church's social teaching and all that you have personally taught on the proper role of the economy. Your words and teaching are beautiful.

FRANCIS: Thank you Senator Sanders. It is a pleasure to meet you and your family. And, I do appreciate your kind words.

BERNIE: Thank you, the pleasure is ours.

FRANCIS: But, while I agree with you that the economy cannot make men and women its slave . . .

BERNIE: I could not say it better Holy Father.

FRANCIS: No more so can we treat the most vulnerable among us without compassion, care, or concern. Indeed, concern for their very being.

BERNIE: [Smiles and nods affirmatively.]

FRANCIS: Our God's love for us, He who created us--as the ancient scriptures tell us--extends to all life which is precious exactly because it was created by God. In protecting people from being economically used, and offending the dignity of the person by treating people as assets in the economic machine, we cannot lose sight of another, more pressing obligation. That is to protect people and the dignity and sanctity of human life from being eliminated because it is inconvenient--for the elderly, because it is expensive--for the infirm, because of a misplaced sense of revenge, which is socially pressed upon the people as justice--for prisoners, or because it is hidden in the womb--for the unborn. Even more important to Catholic social teaching than speaking out against the deification of money and profit, is speaking out against the pernicious and systematic devaluation and disregard for human life. Please remember this.

BERNIE: Thank you for your beautiful words. [smiles hesitantly]

27 March 2016

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever”

The Holy Father's message given in accord with today's Urbi et Orbi blessing. Happy Easter!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God’s mercy, out of love for us, died on the cross, and out of love he rose again from the dead. That is why we proclaim today: Jesus is Lord!

His resurrection fulfils the prophecy of the Psalm: God’s mercy endures for ever; it never dies. We can trust him completely, and we thank him because for our sake he descended into the depths of the abyss.

Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation. Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.

The glorious Easter message, that Jesus, who was crucified is not here but risen (cf. Mt 28:5-6), offers us the comforting assurance that the abyss of death has been bridged and, with it, all mourning, lamentation and pain (cf. Rev 21:4). The Lord, who suffered abandonment by his disciples, the burden of an unjust condemnation and shame of an ignominious death, now makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence. Our world is full of persons suffering in body and spirit, even as the daily news is full of stories of brutal crimes which often take place within homes, and large-scale armed conflicts which cause indescribable suffering to entire peoples.

The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict, with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord. To the power of the risen Lord we entrust the talks now in course, that good will and the cooperation of all will bear fruit in peace and initiate the building of a fraternal society respectful of the dignity and rights of each citizen. May the message of life, proclaimed by the Angel beside the overturned stone of the tomb, overcome hardened hearts and promote a fruitful encounter of peoples and cultures in other areas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, Yemen and Libya. May the image of the new man, shining on the face of Christ, favour concord between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land, as well as patience, openness and daily commitment to laying the foundations of a just and lasting peace through direct and sincere negotiations. May the Lord of life also accompany efforts to attain a definitive solution to the war in Ukraine, inspiring and sustaining initiatives of humanitarian aid, including the liberation of those who are detained.

The Lord Jesus, our peace (Eph 2:14), by his resurrection triumphed over evil and sin. May he draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world, as in the recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Iraq. May he water the seeds of hope and prospects for peace in Africa; I think in particular of Burundi, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, marked by political and social tensions.

With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all. May his Easter message be felt ever more powerfully by the beloved people of Venezuela in the difficult conditions which they are experiencing, and by those responsible for the country’s future, that everyone may work for the common good, seeking spaces of dialogue and cooperation with all. May efforts be made everywhere to promote the culture of counter, justice and reciprocal respect, which alone can guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people.

The Easter message of the risen Christ, a message of life for all humanity, echoes down the ages and invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees – including many children – fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance. May the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit not fail to be centred on the human person and his or her dignity, and to come up with policies capable of assisting and protecting the victims of conflicts and other emergencies, especially those who are most vulnerable and all those persecuted for ethnic and religious reasons.

On this glorious day, “let the earth rejoice, in shining splendour” (cf. Easter Proclamation), even though it is so often mistreated and greedily exploited, resulting in an alteration of natural equilibria. I think especially of those areas affected by climate change, which not infrequently causes drought or violent flooding, which then lead to food crises in different parts of the world.

Along with our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith and their fidelity to the name of Christ, and before the evil that seems to have the upper hand in the life of so many people, let us hear once again the comforting words of the Lord: “Take courage; I have conquered the world! (Jn 16:33). Today is the radiant day of this victory, for Christ has trampled death and destruction underfoot. By his resurrection he has brought life and immortality to light (cf. 2 Tim 1:10). “He has made us pass from enslavement to freedom, from sadness to joy, from mourning to jubilation, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption. Therefore let us acclaim in his presence: Alleluia!” (Melito of Sardis, Easter Homily).

To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning, to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: “See, I am making all things new… To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Rev 21:5-6). May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage and greater hope to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters. Of which we have great need!
Official Vatican translation from the original in Italian.
(AFP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli)

01 February 2016

Plea for Mercy from the Holy Spirit

Dear Lord, Holy Spirit,
our advocate and guide, who is with us
until the end of time,
we praise you and adore you as true God.
We honor and worship you as our Lord, with us.
We beg you for the gift of God's mercy.
Please show forth on us the Divine Mercy
of Jesus Christ, our savior.
Guide us in all things to exercise this mercy,
through charity to all others;
guide us in all moments and situations,
for we, weak sinners that we are,
are always
in need of your mercy.

May the Holy and Divine Will reign in us, always,
through the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
generously poured forth upon us.
Relying entirely on you, Holy Paracelete, we beseech
You to raise our hearts
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and
bless us by the unity of our hearts with His
Sacred Heart.

We love you and adore you.
Relying entirely on your mercy and love, we
plead to You to continuously pour forth
the mercy of God upon us, for the greater glory
and honor of the Holy Trinity,
one and true God.

Holy Mother of God,
most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit,
pray for us now and in all our needs.


08 January 2016

Prayer for Christ's Mercy

O Font of love for the world,
who was made man,
for the likes of me.
Provide for Your Mercy to pour over the world,
to pour over me;
poor sinners that we are,
so that we may love You more,
adore You more,
seek You more,
serve You more, and
follow You with the same charity
that You have shown to us.

Crucified Savior, in Your passion You became sin for us,
who are wrought and burdened by our sins.
In all our needs, have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and
send upon us Your Holy Spirit to enrich
and guide us in charity.
May we be instruments of your mercy,
for our neighbors,
through our charity and love for You.
My God.
My Lord.
My Savior.
My Love.


01 January 2016

Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

1 JANUARY 2016. Today the whole of the Church celebrates the Octave of Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." 
(Luke 1:42)