Dear friends, we too, with St Thérèse of the Child Jesus must be able to repeat to the Lord every day that we want to live of love for him and for others, to learn at the school of the saints to love authentically and totally. Thérèse is one of the “little” ones of the Gospel who let themselves be led by God to the depths of his Mystery. A guide for all, especially those who, in the People of God, carry out their ministry as theologians. With humility and charity, faith and hope, Thérèse continually entered the heart of Sacred Scripture which contains the Mystery of Christ. And this interpretation of the Bible, nourished by the science of love, is not in opposition to academic knowledge. Thescience of the saints, in fact, of which she herself speaks on the last page of her The Story of a Soul, is the loftiest science.
“All the saints have understood and in a special way perhaps those who fill the universe with the radiance of the evangelical doctrine. Was it not from prayer that St Paul, St Augustine, St John of the Cross, St Thomas Aquinas, Francis, Dominic, and so many other friends of God drew thatwonderful science which has enthralled the loftiest minds?” (cf. Ms C 36r). Inseparable from the Gospel, for Thérèse the Eucharist was the sacrament of Divine Love that stoops to the extreme to raise us to him. In her last Letter, on an image that represents Jesus the Child in the consecrated Host, the Saint wrote these simple words: “I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me! […] I love him! In fact, he is nothing but Love and Mercy!” (LT 266).
In the Gospel Thérèse discovered above all the Mercy of Jesus, to the point that she said: “To me, He has given his Infinite Mercy, and it is in this ineffable mirror that I contemplate his other divine attributes. Therein all appear to me radiant with Love. His Justice, even more perhaps than the rest, seems to me to be clothed with Love” (Ms A, 84r).
In these words she expresses herself in the last lines of The Story of a Soul: “I have only to open the Holy Gospels and at once I breathe the perfume of Jesus’ life, and then I know which way to run; and it is not to the first place, but to the last, that I hasten…. I feel that even had I on my conscience every crime one could commit… my heart broken with sorrow, I would throw myself into the arms of my Saviour Jesus, because I know that he loves the Prodigal Son” who returns to him. (Ms C, 36v-37r).
“Trust and Love” are therefore the final point of the account of her life, two words, like beacons, that illumined the whole of her journey to holiness, to be able to guide others on the same “little way of trust and love”, of spiritual childhood (cf. Ms C, 2v-3r; LT 226).
Trust, like that of the child who abandons himself in God’s hands, inseparable from the strong, radical commitment of true love, which is the total gift of self for ever, as the Saint says, contemplating Mary: “Loving is giving all, and giving oneself” (Why I love thee, Mary, P 54/22). Thus Thérèse points out to us all that Christian life consists in living to the full the grace of Baptism in the total gift of self to the Love of the Father, in order to live like Christ, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, his same love for all the others.
Archive for the ‘Pope Benedict XVI’ Category
Posted in Amy Welborn, Bambinelli Sunday, Books, Pope Benedict XVI, Works of Mercy, Writing, tagged Amy Welborn, Catechism, Faith Formation, First Communion, PSR, saints on August 28, 2013 | 6 Comments »
…then you are blessed!
Seriously – thank you to all those who volunteer as catechists.
And If you are teaching 2nd grade – the traditional age for First Communion formation – you might be interested in the page describing the books I have that might be good First Communion choices – for gifts (too early, I know!) or supplements to instruction.
These books include Friendship With Jesus - a picture book with excerpts from a question-and-answer session Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had with children; Be Saints! another picture book with excerpts from a catechesis Benedict had with British schoolchildren; as well as the Loyola Saints books.
(Which are good for all ages – not just 2nd grade, of course!)
The way to San Damiano:
The room where St. Clare died.
Photographs are not allowed in the chapel – the site where Francis discerned the voice of Christ. The “San Damiano” cross that is in the chapel at San Damiano is a reproduction – the original is in the church of S. Chiara, back up in Assisi.
As is the case these days, our pop Catholic knowledge of saints often goes only so far. Or – we know more than communicate in our catchy spurts of mini-evangelization.
So, St. Clare is far more than the patron saint of television, as intriguing as that association may be. For a deeper look, try these links:
Agnes was the daughter of a king and espoused to the Emperor Frederick, who remarked famously upon news of her refusal of marriage to him, “If she had left me for a mortal man, I would have taken vengeance with the sword, but I cannot take offence because in preference to me she has chosen the King of Heaven.”
She entered the Poor Clares, and what makes the letters from Clare so interesting to me is the way that Clare plays on Agnes’ noble origins, using language and allusions that draw upon Agnes’ experience, but take her beyond it, as in this one:
Inasmuch as this vision is the splendour of eternal glory (Heb 1:3), the brilliance of eternal light and the mirror without blemish (Wis 7:26), look upon that mirror each day, O queen and spouse of Jesus Christ, and continually study your face within it, so that you may adorn yourself within and without with beautiful robes and cover yourself with the flowers and garments of all the virtues, as becomes the daughter and most chaste bride of the Most High King. Indeed, blessed poverty, holy humility, and ineffable charity are reflected in that mirror, as, with the grace of God, you can contemplate them throughout the entire mirror.
Look at the parameters of this mirror, that is, the poverty of Him who was placed in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. O marvellous humility, O astonishing poverty! The King of the angels, the Lord of heaven and earth, is laid in a manger! Then, at the surface of the mirror, dwell on the holy humility, the blessed poverty, the untold labours and burdens which He endured for the redemption of all mankind. Then, in the depths of this same mirror, contemplate the ineffable charity which led Him to suffer on the wood of the cross and die thereon the most shameful kind of death. Therefore, that Mirror, suspended on the wood of the cross, urged those who passed by to consider it, saying: “All you who pass by the way, look and see if there is any suffering like My suffering!” (Lam 1:2). Let us answer Him with one voice and spirit, as He said: Remembering this over and over leaves my soul downcast within me (Lam 3:20)! From this moment, then, O queen of our heavenly King, let yourself be inflamed more strongly with the fervour of charity!
Also well worth reading, for a short introduction, are:
The profound meaning of Clare’s “conversion” is a conversion to love. She was no longer to wear the fine clothes worn by the Assisi nobility but rather the elegance of a soul that expends itself in the praise of God and in the gift of self. In the small space of the Monastery of St Damian, at the school of Jesus, contemplated with spousal affection in the Eucharist, day by day the features developed of a community governed by love of God and by prayer, by caring for others and by service. In this context of profound faith and great humanity Clare became a sure interpreter of the Franciscan ideal, imploring the “privilege” of poverty, namely, the renunciation of goods, possessed even only as a community, which for a long time perplexed the Supreme Pontiff himself, even though, in the end, he surrendered to the heroism of her holiness.
How could one fail to hold up Clare, like Francis, to the youth of today? The time that separates us from the events of both these Saints has in no way diminished their magnetism. On the contrary, their timeliness in comparison with the illusions and delusions that all too often mark the condition of young people today. Never before has a time inspired so many dreams among the young, with the thousands of attractions of a life in which everything seems possible and licit.
Yet, how much discontent there is, how often does the pursuit of happiness and fulfilment end by unfolding paths that lead to artificial paradises, such as those of drugs and unrestrained sensuality!
The current situation with the difficulty of finding dignified employment and forming a happy and united family makes clouds loom on the horizon. However there are many young people, in our day too, who accept the invitation to entrust themselves to Christ and to face life’s journey with courage, responsibility and hope and even opt to leave everything to follow him in total service to him and to their brethren.
The story of Clare, with that of Francis, is an invitation to reflect on the meaning of life and to seek the secret of true joy in God. It is a concrete proof that those who do the Lord’s will and trust in him alone lose nothing; on the contrary they find the true treasure that can give meaning to all things.
Posted in 7 Quick Takes, Amy Welborn, Bambinelli Sunday, Birmingham, Books, Italy, Jesus, Mad Men, Pope Benedict XVI, Saints, Travel, Writing, tagged Amy Welborn, Bambinelli Sunday, St. Francis of Assisi on July 13, 2013 | 2 Comments »
We are slowly moving. I closed on the new house a couple of weeks ago and will put this one up for sale in…a couple of weeks. I’m sad about leaving my front porch, my bungalow style and this street with its close neighbors and sidewalks, but….it was time to get some more room, a bit more storage space, a more exciting yard and a basketball goal.
I’m going from the cozy 30′s to the swanky 50′s with this move. The “new” house was built in 1958 and has a sweet built-in feature that makes me want to start amassing atomic-style glassware. Soon I’ll remember to take a photo of it when it’s actually daylight.
For some reason, I am reading Zola’s Three Cities. Downloaded it from Gutenburg. I know Zola’s point of view, but I’m also just interested in his reporting. It gives me a better view of the history of the period, particularly how Catholicism was practiced – from his perspective, anyway.
It’s Christmas in July, people! Bambinelli Sunday will be published in August, so here, in July, I’m starting to get ready. I’ve got a Pinterest board going and everything.
Ann and I will be attending the Catholic Marketing Show in early August on behalf of the book. We’ll be signing Thursday at noon, so if you’re around – come see us!
We went to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago – I wrote a bit about it here.
Speaking of San Francisco, my current project is St. Francis-related. In sorting through things tonight, I found a little booklet I’d purchased in Santa Maria degli Angeli (the town at the base of the hill on which Assisi rests – it’s where the train station is and where the Porziuncola is). The Pardon of Assisi is really just the text of a talk that then-Cardinal Ratzinger gave there in 1996. The “Pardon of Assisi” or the Portiuncula Indulgence is described here. Cardinal Ratzinger describes his childhood memories of it and ends his talk with a gentle exposition of its spiritual fruit. I love the image of letting ourselves ” fall into the communion of saints.”
I remember that in my youth the day of the Pardon of Assisi was a day of great interiority, a day on which we received the sacraments in a climate of personal recollection. It was a day of prayer. In the square in front of my parish church, a particularly solemn silence reigned. There was a continuous flow of people into and out of the church. One felt that Christianity is a grace and that this grace is revealed through prayer…..
Basically the Indulgence is a little like the church of the Portiuncula. Just as you have to pass through the rather cold, extraneous space of the huge basilica to find the humble church at the center that touches our heart, so too, one must pass through the complex plot of history and of the theological ideas to arrive at that which is truly simple: the prayer with which we let ourselves fall into the communion of saints, to cooperate with them, for the victor of good over the apparently all-powerful evil, knowing that in the end, everything is grace.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
What a strange week. I would say “sad,” but – well, okay, I’ll go ahead and say “sad” – but let me qualify that. I will miss Pope Benedict. His resignation is really quite a sobering moment. This is not a normal transition and I think it says quite a bit about the Church in 2013. I’m really interested to see how the College of Cardinals respond.
So, “sad” on a few different levels, but not a crisis or a tragedy. It’s not time to wallow, it’s time to listen and look forward. Eyes on Christ, just as he’s been telling us to do all this time.
THAT SAID – I’m going to fill up most of the rest of this space with a smattering of some of my favorite quotes. There are loads, and more to discover as I continue reading his work for years to come, but here are a few:
But the Lord also knocks with his Cross from the other side: he knocks at the door of the world, at the doors of our hearts, so many of which are so frequently closed to God. And he says to us something like this: if the proof that God gives you of his existence in creation does not succeed in opening you to him, if the words of Scripture and the Church’s message leave you indifferent, then look at me – the God who let himself suffer for you, who personally suffers with you – and open yourself to me, your Lord and your God. (source)
To pray is not to step outside history and withdraw to our own private corner of happiness. When we pray properly we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well. In prayer we must learn what we can truly ask of God—what is worthy of God. We must learn that we cannot pray against others. We must learn that we cannot ask for the superficial and comfortable things that we desire at this moment—that meagre, misplaced hope that leads us away from God. We must learn to purify our desires and our hopes. We must free ourselves from the hidden lies with which we deceive ourselves. God sees through them, and when we come before God, we too are forced to recognize them. “But who can discern his errors? Clear me from hidden faults” prays the Psalmist (Ps 19:12 [18:13]). Failure to recognize my guilt, the illusion of my innocence, does not justify me and does not save me, because I am culpable for the numbness of my conscience and my incapacity to recognize the evil in me for what it is. If God does not exist, perhaps I have to seek refuge in these lies, because there is no one who can forgive me; no one who is the true criterion. Yet my encounter with God awakens my conscience in such a way that it no longer aims at self-justification, and is no longer a mere reflection of me and those of my contemporaries who shape my thinking, but it becomes a capacity for listening to the Good itself. (source)
In the procession we follow this sign and in this way we follow Christ himself. And we ask of him: Guide us on the paths of our history! Show the Church and her Pastors again and again the right path! Look at suffering humanity, cautiously seeking a way through so much doubt; look upon the physical and mental hunger that torments it! Give men and women bread for body and soul! Give them work! Give them light! Give them yourself! Purify and sanctify all of us! Make us understand that only through participation in your Passion, through “yes” to the cross, to self-denial, to the purifications that you impose upon us, our lives can mature and arrive at true fulfilment. Gather us together from all corners of the earth. Unite your Church, unite wounded humanity! Give us your salvation! Amen. (source)
Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose ! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.
Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life. (source)
Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. (source)
I will simply be a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage on earth. (source)
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.
The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.
I thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have welcomed this important decision. I continue to accompany the Church on her way through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and to His Bride, which I have hitherto tried to live daily and that I would live forever. I ask you to remember me before God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals, who are called to so important a task, and for the new Successor of Peter, that the Lord might accompany him with the light and the power of His Spirit.
Let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the whole ecclesial community: to her we entrust ourselves, with deep trust.
Dear friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love. Thank you!
Today we contemplate Christ in the desert, fasting, praying, and being tempted. As we begin our Lenten journey, we join him and we ask him to give us strength to fight our weaknesses. Let me also thank you for the prayers and support you have shown me in these days. May God bless all of you!
By the way – you might have missed it, but on February 8, Pope Benedict spoke to the seminarians of Rome – his topic was Peter. So his thoughts – on Peter, the Petrine ministry – given when he knew he was resigning, but before the rest of us did – are worth a look.
So, sure, the Pope….
Woke up Monday morning, checked e-mail. At the top was from the e-mail list from the USCCB. Title was “papal resignation” – just like that. No caps. I thought, “??” Assumed it was some test run or that the item was a FAQ in answer to some hypotheticals. Then a couple more down the list was from Ann..then saw I had a text from her…What??
Well, since no one else has commented on this, let me just say..
This is one of those situations in which the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know everything. I think it’s fairly pointless to spend a lot of time on speculating why Benedict did this instead of exploring what it means for the papacy in general and looking to the future. That said..
- As many have pointed out, Pope Benedict has spoken of a papal resignation/renunciation/abdication as a theoretical possibility. His writings on the papacy are characterized by a broad and deep historical awareness as well as a servanthood model. Although he is routinely and unjustly accused of inflexibility, his thought and his view of human existence, including human existence in the Church, is marked by an emphasis on freedom – the freedom that is the disciple’s, united to the loving heart of Christ.
- My long-distant, barely informed opinion is that this is about: the Curia, the demands of the papacy in the 21st century and his sense of his own strength. He saw what happened in John Paul II’s declining years and one of my guesses is that he is seeking to diminish the chances of similar scenarios in the event of his own decline. Given current standards of medical care, even an 86-year old man could have a terribly debilitating health catastrophe, be alive but incommunicado for a very long time…and what then?
- There are countless other currents and issues. Some claim that this is quite dire and marks a defeat for the Pope’s program of mending the breach between the Church’s past and present and refocusing us all on Christ. Some say the opposite – that in doing this, Benedict has rather slyly pulled the rug out from under the feet of those in the Curia who don’t share his vision – by denying them the opportunity to increase their power if he falls into a weakened state, especially for a long period of time. Who knows? Perhaps it is none of this, some of it or all of it.
- Perhaps it is much simpler than we know.
Anyway. There is no lack of thoughtful commentary out there. No lack of stupid, ignorant commentary, either, shockingly. I’m just hesitant to put a lot of energy into attempting it since every day brings a new twist – the Holy Father’s quite candid talk to Rome priests today, for example – and because I know I don’t know anything, really.
Over his nearly eight years of pontificate, Benedict XVI has been resolute and farsighted in indicating the destinations and keeping the rudder straight. But on the barque of Peter, the crew has not always been faithful to him.
This is what happened when he dictated a rigorous line of conduct in order to fight the scandal of pedophilia among the clergy, clashing with hypocritical and delayed implementations..
The same thing happened when he ordered cleanliness and transparency in ecclesiastical financial offices, seeing these disregarded.
This is what happened when he saw himself betrayed by his trusted butler, who violated his privacy and stole his most personal papers.
But there is more than that. Pope Ratzinger has fought first of all and above all to revive the faith of the Church, to correct its waywardness in doctrine, morality, the sacraments, and the commandments. And here as well he has often found himself alone, opposed, misunderstood.
It has been, in short, an incomplete reform that Benedict XVI has pursued. In resigning, he has recognized that he can no longer move it forward with his diminished strength. And he has trusted the conclave to elect a new pope with the strength necessary to do the job.
His is a supernatural wager that recalls that of his predecessor John Paul in the last painful years of his life.
I’m going to miss him. A lot.
Every time my skeptical mind would start running in circles about something or other, usually a look at something by Joseph Ratzinger would give me a welcome pause, redirect my thinking and root me in that sense of open, sure faith in the love of God and heart of Jesus Christ.
We always talk about “pray for the Pope.” ”Pray for the Holy Father,” we say. ”Pray for his intentions.”
Do you see why now?
Ann wrote: …
….the next time I am in Rome I will climb to the top of the dome at St. Peter’s and look for an old priest with white hair and a cane feeding the goldfish. Although he will no longer appear at the apostolic window, we know that he is there, praying for the Church, still blessing us.
Went to the Home & Garden show, which was mostly a big waste – half gutter guard companies, the other half As-Seen-On-TV cleaning devices and solutions.
But..I made a big mistake. I (with my two assistants tagging along) stopped and talked to this woman for a few minutes.
Like…you can have the chickens for a while..and then they come take them away??
Could this maybe drown out the drumbeat of
Back to Pope Stuff. This is one of the weirder things I noticed this week.
I was leafing through the present issue of Living Faith for Kids. Which was probably compiled about four months ago.
It opened to a special little extra “Catholic stuff to know” spread. The topic was : “How do Catholics elect a Pope?”
Its placement in the issue?
The page before February 28.
When we were in Paris, we discovered the Horrible Histories series – published by Scholastic UK. The boys gobbled them up, especially the 8-year old. I’ve since discovered there are other in the “Horrible” genre, so we are slowly testing them. Michael (8) has read the volume on the rainforest and is now reading the book on lakes - Monster Lakes. They’re amusing and substantive – although a bit gross at times, as the titles make clear.
You can find them in a number of places, but I ordered mine from this fellow – he has really good prices and doesn’t charge shipping. I ordered some geography titles and a few math. We haven’t cracked the math yet, but will soon.
One of the features of Charlotte Mason schooling – which is part of my inspiration – is “narration” – that is, the child learning by telling you, the teacher, what he or she has read. Younger children tell you, but the older they get, the more they write.
It’s something I am trying to work in, but (not surprisingly) am a little slow on. I was feeling badly about that until today, when I was trying to do some of my own work and Michael came in approximately every 73 seconds, his finger holding his place in Bloomin Rainforests, saying “Did you know that ________________?”
I realized – narration? Check. Me, I get narrated at all day long.
For the past month, every time I’ve passed the boxed Valentines section in a store, I’ve felt this tiny thrill:
We don’t have to do that this year!!!
Yup. It felt good.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
…well, this will get people talking….
Today Pope Benedict spoke to the priests of Rome. He spoke extemporaneously. There will probably be a cleaner copy at some point, but here is Vatican Radio’s summary and transcript.