At the shrine featured in the vintage holy cards. Summer 2011.
And remember…it’s a Solemnity…which means that for day..it’s like it’s not Lent! Feast away!
At the shrine featured in the vintage holy cards. Summer 2011.
And remember…it’s a Solemnity…which means that for day..it’s like it’s not Lent! Feast away!
I’m going to try to offer a short reflection on the explosion of reactions to Pope Francis. Perhaps if I put it in list form, that will force me to be more succinct than I otherwise would be.
Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance on the streets of Rome on Wednesday afternoon, April 20, as he visited his old apartment near Vatican City to transfer some belongings to his new home in the apostolic palace.
The newly elected Pope, clothed completely in the distinctive white vestments of the papacy, caught onlookers by surprise when he chose to travel on foot, walking the few hundred yards to the apartment in the Citta Leonina where he had lived for years. When the news spread that the Pontiff was walking through the city, hundreds of people quickly gathered, and he spent some time in front of the apartment building, greeting the people and blessing young children. Italian police and Vatican security officials did their best to control the crowd, preserving some breathing room for the Pontiff.
After a short stay in his old apartment, the Pontiff reappeared, entering a black car that was waiting for him at the entrance of the building. He paused again to wave to the crowd, turning slowly from one direction to another so that he could greet as many as possible. The crowd burst into cheers of “Long live the Pope!” and the chant that has already become familiar: “Benedetto!” Pope Benedict later commented that he was “very moved” as he resumed direct contact with the faithful.
Posted in Amy Welborn |
1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our priests who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.
2. And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.
3. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.
4. For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.
5. He himself said through the prophet: ‘Call upon me in the day of’ trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’ And again: ‘It is right to reveal and publish abroad the works of God.’
6. I am imperfect in many things, nevertheless I want my brethren and kinsfolk to know my nature so that they may be able to perceive my soul’s desire.
This is a repost from almost a year ago. I have pulled out this book again in preparation for a book I’m working on, and will post further reflections in coming days. It’s a very important book, and of great interest, with our new Pope Francis.
I’m going to go on a limb here and say that when this book is published (April 30), anyone and everyone who has the least bit of interest in the following topics should read it:
…so that includes almost everyone here, right?
This is an important book, and I’m so grateful to have a review copy. Long - long - time readers might recall what a revelation Fr. Thompson’s previous work, Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes 1125-1325 was to me back in 2006. It was a fascinating example of innovative, close and open-minded scholarship.
St. Francis of Assisi: A New Biography has been researched and written in the same spirit, and does not disappoint. It, too, is a revelation.
As you might guess, producing a biography of St. Francis has distinct challenges. Three stand out:
Fr. Thompson (a Dominican, by the way!) is forthright in his purpose. He knows the limitations of historical scholarship, comparing the search for the “real St. Francis” to the search for the “historical Jesus” over the last two centuries. He grapples directly with the research challenges. And what he emerges with is a work that is illuminating, not only about the life and person of the saint, but also about the project of history – historiography.
The book, one of the few – if not only – truly scholarly biographies of Francis in English – is smartly arranged. For ease of reading, the biography is presented in the first 141 pages of the book without any discursive sidenotes on alternate views of the incidents described. Those discussions are all grouped together in what amounts to a second half of the book – end notes that are far more than a simple listing of sources, but fascinating discussions of those sources, their limitations and perspectives, and alternate views. It’s a very helpful arrangement.
And who emerges from this work?
It is the St. Francis we know – a penitent committed to living the Gospel and conforming himself to the Crucified – but also one we may not be as familiar with.
This book gave me much to think about - and when we get closer to its publication date, I will post on it again, but for now, I’ll share these three points:
There’s a lot out there..most of which you have probably already seen. A couple of useful articles:
Magister from today
In the conclave of 2005 the opposite had happened for him. Bergoglio was one of the most decisive supporters of the appointment of Joseph Ratzinger as pope. And instead he found himself voted for, against his own will, precisely by those who wanted to block the appointment of Benedict XVI.
The fact remains that both one and the other became pope. Bergoglio with the unprecedented name of Francis.
A name that reflects his humble life. Having become archbishop of Buenos Aires 1998, he left empty the sumptuous episcopal residence next to the cathedral. He went to live in an apartment a short distance away, together with another elderly bishop. In the evening he was the one who saw to the cooking. He rarely rode in cars, getting around by bus in the cassock of an ordinary priest.
But he is also a man who knows how to govern. With firmness and against the tide. He is a Jesuit – the first to have become pope – and during the terrible 1970′s, when the dictatorship was raging and some of his confrères were ready to embrace the rifle and apply the lessons of Marx, he energetically opposed the tendency as provincial of the Society of Jesus in Argentina.
He has always carefully kept his distance from the Roman curia. It is certain that he will want it to be lean, clean, and loyal.
Magister from 2002.
Yet he´s not the type to compromise himself for the public. Every time he speaks, instead, he tries to shake people up and surprise them. In the middle of November, he did not give a learned homily on social justice to the people of Argentina reduced by hunger – he told them to return to the humble teachings of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. “This,” he explained, “is the way of Jesus.” And as soon as one follows this way seriously, he understands that “to trample upon the dignity of a woman, a man, a child, an elderly person, is a grave sin that cries out to heaven,” and he decides not to do it any more.
The other bishops follow in his footsteps. During the Holy Year of 2000 he asked the entire Church in Argentina to put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship. As a result of this act of purification, the Church had the credibility to be able to ask the nation to acknowledge how its own sins had contributed to its current disaster. At the celebration of the Te Deum at the most recent national feast, last May 25th, there was a record audience for Cardinal Bergoglio´s homily. The cardinal asked the people of Argentina to do as Zacchaeus had done in the Gospel. Here was a sinister loan shark. But, taking account of his moral lowliness, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, to see Jesus and let himself be seen and converted by him.
The role Francis — who now has full authority in the Church, even over Emeritus Pope Benedict — assigns to his living predecessor will be one of the first great decisions of his pontificate.
The cardinals who have elected him expect the new pope to intervene immediately and decisively to restore order in the curia. The very first act of John XXIII as Pope was the appointment of his new Secretary of State: the eminently qualified Domenico Tardini, a first-rate diplomat.
The same is expected from the new Pope. So the second great decision of the new pontificate will be this: the choice of a new Secretary of State
As we shall see, this authentic, in a Christian sense, conception of morality which Giussani presents has nothing to do with the spiritualistic-type quietisms of which the shelves of the religious supermarkets of today are full. Trickery. Nor with the Pelagianism so fashionable today in its different, sophisticated manifestations. Pelagianism, underneath it all, is a remake of the Tower of Babel. The spiritualistic quietisms are efforts at prayer and immanent spirituality which never go beyond themselves.
Jesus is encountered, just as 2,000 years ago, in a human presence, the Church, the company of those whom He assimilates to Himself, His Body, the sign and sacrament of His Presence. Reading this book, one is amazed and filled with admiration at the sight of such a personal and profound relationship with Jesus, and thinks it is unlikely to happen to him. When people say to Fr. Giussani, “How brave one has to be to say ‘Yes’ to Christ!” or, “This objection comes to my mind: it is evident that Fr. Giussani loves Jesus and I don’t love Him in the same way,” Giussani answers, “Why do you oppose what you think you don’t have to what you think I have? I have this yes, only this, and it would not cost you one iota more than it costs me.… Say “Yes” to Jesus. If I foresaw that tomorrow I would offend Him a thousand times, I would still say it.” Thérèse of Lisieux says almost exactly the same thing: “I say it, because if I did not say ‘Yes’ to Jesus I could not say ‘Yes’ to the stars in the sky or to your hair, the hairs on your head…” Nothing could be simpler: “I don’t know how it is, I don’t know how it might be: I know that I have to say ‘Yes.’ I can’t not say it,” and reasonably; that is to say, at every moment in his reflections in this book, Giussani has recourse to the reasonableness of experience.
It is a question of starting to say “You” to Christ, and saying it often. It is impossible to desire it without asking for it. And if someone starts to ask for it, then he begins to change. Besides, if someone asks for it, it is because in the depths of his being he feels attracted, called, looked at, awaited. This is the experience of Augustine: there from the depths of my being, something attracts me toward Someone who looked for me first, is waiting for me first, is the almond flower of the prophets, the first to bloom in spring. It is the quality which God possesses and which I take the liberty of defining by using a Buenos Aires word: God, in this case Jesus Christ, always primerea, goes ahead of us. When we arrive, He is already there waiting.
He who encounters Jesus Christ feels the impulse to witness Him or to give witness of what he has encountered, and this is the Christian calling. To go and give witness. You can’t convince anybody. The encounter occurs. You can prove that God exists, but you will never be able, using the force of persuasion, to make anyone encounter God. This is pure grace. Pure grace. In history, from its very beginning until today, grace always primerea, grace always comes first, then comes all the rest.
The love and admiration we spontaneously feel for Our Lady and the Eucharist must be cultivated in our Church. Let us remember that what is said about Mary can be applied analogically to the Church as well as to each of us. Mary and the Church are transformed by the one who chose to inhabit them. Mary and the Church are the first of the new wineskins that make Jesus Christ present. Mary becomes the image of the Eucharist when the Word comes down to her. By becoming incarnate in Mary, Jesus pre-eminently transforms his mother on the highest level of reality, as anticipated in the privilege of her Immaculate Conception.
The Church acknowledges the covenant that the Lord wished to make with Mary. This is why, when Christians look at the Church, they want it to be simple and pure like Mary. They see the Church as the body of Christ, the receptacle that perfectly preserves what is put in it. Like this faithful bride, Christians share fully in what Christ asks of her, that is, to grow each day in the contemplation of our Holy Mother the Church.
I will close by saying that the holiness of the Church does not arise from personal or social privilege but rather from service. Let me explain. The world has the impression that the Church is always defending its power. It may be that in certain personal cases this is true, but generally it is not the case. By defending its identity and infallibility, the Church defends the conduit through which the gift of life to the world passes—the gift of the life of the world to God. What the Church is defending when it defends its integrity is its own identity. This gift, the most beautiful expression of which is the Eucharist, is not a gift among others but the most intimate and complete self-giving of the Trinity given for the life of the world, a gift made by the Son who offers himself to the Father. As Balthasar said, “the Father’s act of self-giving by which, throughout all created space and time, he pours out the Son, is the definitive revealing of the Trinitarian act itself in which the ‘Persons’ are God’s ‘relations,’ forms of absolute self-giving and loving fluidity.”
The irrevocable immensity of self-giving that is handed down requires that the Lord sanctify the Church as he did his mother. This gift has been definitively established to be handed down and received for the life of the world. This mystery of the covenant, which makes the Church holy, is a mystery of service and life. In defending its integrity, the Church defends the faithfulness of the covenant in service and life. We must never cease to marvel at the openness of Trinitarian life, which is given not just for the few, but for the life of the world. God wishes his gift to be total and for all. By joining with Christ rather than closing in on themselves, the people of the new covenant are transformed into a sacrament. We are a sacrament for humanity. We are signs and instruments of salvation in the work of Christ, the light of the world and salt of the earth for the redemption of all.
The Church’s mission carries forward the mission of Christ. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. The Church receives the strength it needs to accomplish its perpetual mission from the Eucharist, linked to the sacrifice of the cross. Presence, sacrifice, and communion: the Eucharist is the source and summit of all evangelization, because its goal is the communion of human beings with Christ, with the Father and Holy Spirit.
What a shock!
The name is very striking.
It was the Franciscan Pope Clement XIV who suppressed the Jesuits in 1772.
The first Jesuit pope taking the name “Francis?”
A symbol, perhaps, not only of his personal charism of poverty, but also..of reconciliation?
And devotion to a saint who received the mandate, “Rebuild my Church?”
(Francis Xavier, too…evangelization…)
It will be fascinating to learn…as it dribbles out…about the dynamics of this Conclave…