Showing posts with label Pope Benedict XVI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Benedict XVI. Show all posts

5 Jan 2018

'The seed of eternal life.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B


Baptistry, St Mark's, Venice [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:7-11 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

John the Baptist proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

In countries where the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated this year on Monday 8 January, eg the Philippines and the USA, there is only one reading before the Gospel and the Creed is omitted.
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2013
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 8 January 2012
[I have highlighted parts of the Pope's homily]
Continue here.

25 Aug 2017

'Following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Apostle Peter in Prison, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 16:13-20 (NRSV,Catholic Ed) 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Pope Benedict XVI
World Youth Day Madrid 2011 [Wikipedia]
Continue here.

26 May 2017

'The Lord goes up with shouts of joy.' Sunday Reflections, The Ascension


The Ascension, Andrea della Robbia [Web Gallery of Art]

For Readings for the Ascension and the Seventh Sunday of Easter and for Reflections on the Ascension click on the following: 



Three White Cottages in Saintes-Maries, van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

A work of art is the fruit of the creative capacity of the human being who stands in wonder before the visible reality, and who seeks to discover the depths of its meaning and to communicate it through the language of forms, colors and sounds. Art has the capacity to express and to make visible man’s need to go beyond what he sees; it manifests his thirst and his search for the infinite. In fact, it is like a door opened to the infinite — to a beauty and a truth that goes beyond the everyday. And a work of art can open the eyes of the mind and heart, carrying them higher(Pope Benedict XVI).

18 Jun 2016

'Those who lose their life for my sake will save it.' Sunday Reflections, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Apostle Peter in Prison, Rembrandt, 1631
Gospel Luke 7:9:18-24 (NRSV, Catholic Ed,Can)
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.
Sir Thomas More, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

On 12 June 2013 the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland stated in the Dáil (parliament) in the context of legislation that the government eventually pushed through that allows abortion in certain situations: I am proud to stand here as a public representative, as a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic but not a Catholic Taoiseach. A Taoiseach for all of the people – that's my job.
A number of columnists and writers of letters to the editor in Ireland praised Mr Kenny for this and contrasted it with words spoken by Labour TD (Member of Parliament) Brendan Corish in the Dáil in 1953: I am an Irishman second, I am a Catholic first, and I accept without qualification in all respects the teaching of the hierarchy and the church to which I belong. This statement has been frequently, incorrectly attributed to a previous Taoiseach of the same Fine Gael party as Mr Kenny, John A. Costello. However, Mr Costello, as Taoiseach, said in 1951: I, as a Catholic, obey my Church authorities and will continue to do so, in spite of The Irish Times or anything else . . .
Full post here.

11 Jun 2016

'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' Sunday Reflections, 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Feast in the House of Simon (detail), Paolo Veronese, 1567-70

Gospel Luke 7:36 – 8:3 or 7:36-50 NRSV, Catholic Ed,

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.”
“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
[Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.


When I was parish priest of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, on the east coast of Mindanao for eleven months in 1993-94, there was no telephone in the town. The mayor's big promise was, 'By next year we will have a telephone'. It would be in the town hall. However, modern technology has since flourished and now almost everyone in Lianga has a mobile phone and some have access at home to the internet.

Full post here.

26 Mar 2016

'But Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us.' Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday 2016.



The Resurrection of Christ, Rembrandt, c.1639
Alte Pinakothek, Munich [Web Gallery of Art

At the Mass during the Day

Gospel John 20:1-9 (NRSV, Catholic Ed., Can.)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Dear brothers and sisters! The risen Christ is journeying ahead of us towards the new heavens and the new earth (cf. Rev 21:1), in which we shall all finally live as one family, as sons and daughters of the same Father. He is with us until the end of time. Let us walk behind him, in this wounded world, singing Alleluia. In our hearts there is joy and sorrow, on our faces there are smiles and tears. Such is our earthly reality. But Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us. For this reason we sing and we walk, faithfully carrying out our task in this world with our gaze fixed on heaven.


Happy Easter to all of you! (Pope Benedict, Easter Sunday 2011).

I have told the following story before here and on many other occasions, especially giving retreats. Each time I share it or recall it I experience the truth of Pope Benedict's words, Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us. I have also learned that persons with a deep, committed faith can sometimes be very fragile.
More than 30 years ago I spent part of a summer working in a suburban parish in the USA. One night at around 11 I did something I rarely did: make a late night phone call, and for no other reason than to say 'Hi'. I phoned a friend who was a teacher whom I had first met eleven years earlier when I was a young priest and she a generous, idealistic but confused 16-year-old. Over the years I saw 'Lily' - I'll call her that since that flower is often associated with Easter in northern climes and this is an Easter story – very rarely as I was here in the Philippines.


Full post here.

12 Feb 2016

‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Lent, Year C


Three Temptations of Christ (detail), Botticelli, 1481-82 .Sistine Chapel,Vatican 

Gospel Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV, Catholic Edition, Can.)


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,’
and
‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Kyrie eleison, and Intercessions in different languages
Taizé - Pilgrimage of Trust in Rome
Prayer presided by Holy Father Benedict XVI
St Peter's Square, 29 December 2012
Tomb of St Gregory the Great, St Peter's,Rome
I first posted this reflection on 14 February 2013 just after Pope Benedict had announced that he was stepping down.
I can't help reflecting on this gospel in the light of Pope Benedict's announcement last Monday when he said, Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome.

When the devil tempts Jesus with the promise of glory and power Jesus quotes from Scripture, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.

In an audience in 2008 speaking about St Gregory the Great, who reluctantly had become Pope Gregory I, Pope Benedict said, Recognizing the will of God in what had happened, the new Pontiff immediately and enthusiastically set to work. From the beginning he showed a singular enlightened vision of the reality with which he had to deal, an extraordinary capacity for work confronting both ecclesial and civil affairs, a constant and even balance in making decisions, at times with courage, imposed on him by his office.
Full post here.

28 Nov 2015

'Be on guard . . . be alert at all times.' Sunday Reflections, First Sunday of Advent, Year C


Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt, 1633, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston [Web Gallery of Art]

We begin Year C, which highlights St Luke's Gospel.
Gospel Luke 21:25-28, 34-36 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)

Jesus said to his disciples

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Conditor Alme Siderum (Creator of the Stars of Night)

An ancient Advent hymn sung by the Christendom College Choir & Schola Gregoriana

Here is Pope Benedict's Angelus Talk on the First Sunday of Advent, 29 November 2009

Full post here.

25 Oct 2015

'What do you want me to do for you?' Sunday Reflections, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Christ Healing the Blind, Nicolas Colombel,1682 [Web Gallery] 

Gospel Mark 10:46-52 (NRSV, CatholicEdition, Can)

They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
+++
Fr John Burger is an American Columban served as a member of the Columban General Council from 2006 until 2012. He spent the early years of his priesthood in Japan and tells a wonderful story about a blind man who was a member of a prayer group in a parish where he served.

Full post here.

18 Sep 2015

'Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.' Sunday Reflections, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

(6 April 1901 - 4 July 1925)
Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
In the first week of June I went on a pilgrimage from Ireland to northern Italy with members of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. On our first morning there we visited the Shroud of Turin. When we entered the cathedral proper I saw on one of the side-altars to my left a portrait I was familiar with, that of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.
Full post here.

12 Sep 2013

Living the Faith with a Young Heart

+JMJ+ AMDG
"Dear young people, you bring us the joy of Faith and you tell us that we must live the Faith with a young heart." ~ Pope Francis
Bl Chiara "Luce" Badano
Blessed Chiara died in 1990 at the age of eighteen from a form of bone cancer.  When she was diagnosed with the illness, she united her sufferings to Christ's Passion, declaring quietly, "It's for You, Jesus; if You want it, I want it, too."  She fought her illness for two years, always smiling and comforting others ~ truly radiating Christ.

When asked how her eyes were so luminous, she responded simply, "I try to love Jesus as much as I can."

Before her death, Chiara told her mother, "Young people…they are the future. You see, I can’t run anymore, but how I would like to pass on to them the torch, like in the Olympics! Young people have only one life and it’s worthwhile to spend it well."
"Verso l'alto" - "ever higher"
"With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind." ~ Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Blessed Pier Giorgio, although born to a well-to-family, chose poverty for the sake of the Gospel.  He would donate his income to the needy; he was an advocate for those who could not defend themselves.  He became a third order Dominican.  When he died at the young age of twenty-four, and his prominent family held his funeral, they were astounded to see all those whom he had helped throng to pay their last regards.  

I think that many people underestimate the power of the young.  We are idealistic.

Read the rest here.   For my bio, click here.
God bless!

11 Feb 2013

Blessings to Pope Benedict XVI: "The Love of Christ Urges Us On

I have always loved the writings of our Holy Father. In fact, I just bought his Infancy Narratives as an audiobook. I wish that those who criticize the man  - within our Church as well as outside the Church - would read his words without preconception.


Keep Reading...

1 Oct 2012

Making a Mystic a Doctor of the Church

With the upcoming October 7th announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will pronounce that 12th century German mystic St. Hildegard of Bingen is a doctor of the church—as well as announcing that same honor being bestowed upon St. John of Avila—there is a renewed interest in the understanding of “mysticism” with our church.

The church’s history with mystics actually goes back to the Jewish roots of the faith.
Mysticism itself can best be explained as man’s need to connect with God in ways that transcend his mere day-to-day experiences. Man wants to know God intimately, deeply, privately—to fill that place within his heart which God created for His own indwelling. St. Augustine perfectly captured this earthly feeling when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest with Thee.” Augustine’s life (354-386), as told in his Confessions, reflects the ways in which man experiences earthly restlessness and pursues Divine intimacy. 
Jewish mysticism, which dates back thousands of years, has always been a response to that personal quest. It flourished in many countries during Hildegard’s lifetime, including her own Germany. She was a fascinating figure who built a monastery for her nuns and wrote hundreds of letters filled with warnings and prophecies. Some criticized her while others welcomed her words and wisdom. 

Another country that saw the growth of mysticism during the twelfth century was northern Spain where, it is interesting to note, St. Teresa of Avila would eventually experience her own inner mystical conversion in the 1500s and ultimately become, in 1970, the first female doctor of the Church. Now St. John of Avila joins her ranks.

While we have these mystics in our Church’s history, not all are called to such a state nor encouraged. Looking to the Jewish roots of mysticism, we learn that its study and practice is considered uniquely powerful and was originally forbidden unless a Jewish male was at least 40 years old. This was considered an age where he would have had enough years of Torah study upon which to be firmly grounded in faith since mysticism has a both the potential for the development of good as well as the unleashing of evil.
The Catholic Church affirms this dual possibility of mysticism and approaches the subject of mysticism with caution. She warns against pseudo-mystics as well as the formation of doctrines, such as pantheism, in which false teachings are perpetuated under the guise of mysticism. 
This paradox of exposing oneself to good or evil in spiritual practices is easy to understand. There is always the potential for ego, if not put fully aside, to become empowered in selfish and delusional ways. In St. Teresa’s writings on her mystical experiences, her humble attitude towards self is ever-apparent. Early Jewish mystics clearly warned that human ego has a way of polluting the heart. In the Jewish “standing prayer” which is called the Amidah, first and foremost the supplicant calls to mind and declares his or her own unworthiness to approach God. The petitioner stands before God in true and complete humility—all remnants of ego and self cast aside. St. Teresa of Avila called humility “truth,” recognizing it as the required approach for such a transforming spiritual experience. Think Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.” 
Sadly, mysticism today is often misunderstood and has most recently been maligned because of new-agers as well as through the disclosure that Madonna (the pop icon and not the Blessed Mother) practices teachings from the Kabbalah, one of the earlier known works on Jewish mysticism. 
Kabbalah (which literally means “tradition” but connotes a “handing down of tradition”), is a school of thought in regards to contemplative prayer and union with God. Studying Elijah was a central point of early Jewish mystics. Reference to the “Chamber” experience appears in Jewish mysticism long before St. Teresa of Avila’s own experience, as shared in Interior Castles. 

The day-to-day practice of contemplative prayer creates a peaceful existence for one’s soul. It is the constant giving of self, and the giving over of one’s will to the will of God, that will bear spiritual fruit. Contemplative prayer, of which the Catechism of the Catholic Church says is an “intense” time of prayer (#2714), the “simplest expression of the mystery of prayer” (#2713) and a “gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus” (#2715) is the form of prayer used by mystics—modern day and those in our Church’s history.
Catholics have always understood that the earthy passage “matters” and that salvation, given through the grace and mercy of God through His Son, can be lost (Romans 2:2-8, Ephesians 2:8-10, James 2:14-26). Just so, the development of the soul does not occur on its own but does so with a daily commitment to prayer and the pursuit of intimacy with the Creator. The conscience cannot rightly form on its own. Maintaining, or keeping, the gift of salvation—as well as development of the soul and conscience—require an “effort” on our part. The Catechism states that while we may not always be able to spend time in meditation, we are always able to enter into the inner prayer of contemplation (#2710). 

Throughout Church history—from Pope Gregory I to Blessed Henry Suso and beyond—Catholic mystics have given examples of ways in which our soul’s longing to connect with God can be fulfilled. Contemplative prayer, and the ways of the mystics before us, are just a few of the tools we are able to use in answering our call to know, love and serve God in this life and be happy with Him in the next (Baltimore Catechism).

Cheryl Dickow
www.BezalelBooks.com

8 Aug 2012

Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for August 2012




General Intention
Prisoners. That prisoners may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity.
Missionary Intention
Youth Witness to Christ. That young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth.


1 Jul 2012

Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for July 2012





From the website of the Apostleship of  Prayer

General Intention - Work Security 
That everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions.



Mission Intention - Christian Volunteers
That Christian volunteers in mission territories may witness to the love of Christ.

20 May 2012

World Communications Day 2012

The Daughters of St Paul are a religious congregation with a particular mission to evanglising through the media. In the past, this has been typically the print media and then audio-visual media. Nowadays it includes the electronic media. One of their sisters in the United States has a blog which reflects their engagement with electronic media: Windows to the Soul Blog. I have in the past found it an interesting blog because of posts offering reviews of films or observations about how films, sometimes unexpected films, provide a way of exploring questions of a spiritual nature.

Another of their sisters has written a reflection on silence to mark the World Communications Day: The Sounding Silence. I was particularly taken by this paragraph, referring to Pope Benedict's message 2012 World Communications Day entitled Silence and Word: Path for Evangelisation:
The Pope wrote exclusively about silence as it relates to interpersonal communication and the sharing of “advice, ideas, information, and answers,” especially with respect to evangelization. He could just as easily have included entertainment. In fact, entertainment now constitutes one of the most frequent uses of media overall. One source claims that 100 million video clips are viewed on YouTube every day. Can we abstain here and there? We seem to guzzle much of what comes our way: food, commodities, sexual and social interaction, and media. Even naturally speaking, occasional abstinence from these sharpens the appetite, refines sensibilities, and increases pleasure. Chronic and indiscriminate indulgence, instead, dulls them and increases the risk of dependence. I was intrigued by the number of my Facebook “friends” who gave up the networking site for Lent. I would be interested in what they thought of their experience. Mere abstinence doesn’t bring us closer to the Lord, but when this “silence” is filled with the Word of God in one way or another, it can prepare us to search for God in our media experiences and integrate them with Gospel values.
The last paragraph of this post suggests that we take a moment each day to stop and listen to the sounds of the world around us.  On those unusual occasions when I travel on a train during rush hour as people are travelling too and from work, I am always stunned by how inattentive many are to their surroundings, to the people and environment around them. The earphones and the iphones rule.

The slide show at this page usefully explores some of the ideas associated with this theme. Some of the slides strike a particular chord with someone like myself whose working life involves responding to the situations of colleagues or to consultations about changes taking place in the workplace. "In the practice of silence we avoid being tied to our own untested point of view". If a trade union representative fires off before they have fully understood a situation they can all too easily make a situation worse and render themselves ineffective in contributing to resolving it. "... silence is essential for discernment in order to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary". That, again, is an important skill in trade union work - seeing what really matters in a situation, and focussing on responding to that. And a slide that kind of sums up its relevance to my line of work: "In silence, we gain clarity and understanding of: what we want to say, what we expect of others; how we choose to express ourselves".

These considerations are evangelising, and people do notice when you put them into practice. I have in a past role (not a trade union one, as it happens, but one that did involve quite high powered meetings) been complimented by officers involved on being someone who asked good questions. And only this week a colleague commented on my more thoughtful approach to things in comparison to others. And that is effective communication.

13 Mar 2012

The Presence of Parents: Always a Gift, Even for Teenagers

Toward the end of my daily commute to work, as I head 40 miles an hour down a state highway,  I have often seen a white Volvo parked at the edge of a driveway, its motor running and lights on. I often wondered if it was a unmarked police car. But then again, what police officers do you know who drive Volvo cruisers? Then, one day I was running late and a school bus stopped just before the driveway. I stopped too. A little girl got out of the Volvo, the bus drove off and then her father drove out the driveway.

Mystery revealed. Dad waits with his daughter in the car until the bus comes, then heads off to work.

These family rituals are so important.

Our family now consists of two working parents and two busy teenagers. (Boys who do not like their pictures taken) Long gone are the days when my husband and I would load our sons, in their pajamas, into the double stroller and walk to the ice cream parlor for an evening treat. Gone too, are the days when our sons and I would pretend to be asleep in the family room as their dad came in the door from work. The contest was who could be the last one to burst out laughing.

Read more here...

10 Mar 2012

What a Holy Life Looks Like

Today the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury will visit with Pope Benedict in Rome. Let us pray for them and for a fruitful meeting that helps the cause of Christian unity. The following is part of a speech that Archbishop Rowan Williams gave when Pope Benedict visited him in London in 2010:

Our task as bishops is to preach the Gospel and shepherd the flock of Christ; and this includes the responsibility not only to feed but also to protect it from harm. Today, this involves a readiness to respond to the various trends in our cultural environment that seek to present Christian faith as both an obstacle to human freedom and a scandal to human intellect. We need to be clear that the Gospel of the new creation in Jesus Christ is the door through which we enter into true liberty and true understanding: we are made free to be human as God intends us to be human; we are given the illumination that helps us see one another and all created things in the light of divine love and intelligence. As you said in your Inaugural Mass in 2005, recalling your predecessor’s first words as pope, Christ takes away nothing "that pertains to human freedom or dignity or to the building of a just society… If we let Christ into our lives we lose absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. Only in his friendship is the great potential of human existence revealed." [Inaugural Homily, Rome, 24 April 2005] ...


In other words, we shall be effective defenders or proclaimers of our faith when we can show what a holy life looks like, a life in which the joy of God is transparently present. And this means that our ministry together as bishops across the still-surviving boundaries of our confessions is not only a search for how we best act together in the public arena; it is a quest together for holiness and transparency to God, a search for ways in which we may help each other to grow in the life of the Holy Spirit. As you have said, Your Holiness, "a joint fundamental testimony of faith ought to be given before a world which is torn by doubts and shaken by fears." ...

8 Mar 2012

Pope Benedict's Prayer Intentions for March 2012

General Intention - Contribution of Women

That the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society.

Weaving a Dream

By Mercy B. Gawason


The author is a young Subanen who works with Subanen Crafts. She and her companions at Subanen Crafts recently visited Negros Occidental and dropped by the Misyon editorial office in Bacolod City. The word 'Subanen' means 'people of the river'. The Subanens live in the mountains of western Mindanao. This article is in the March-April 2012 issue of Misyon, the online magazine I edit for the Columbans in the Philippines . . .

Mission Intention - Persecuted Christians

That the Holy Spirit may grant perseverance to those who suffer discrimination, persecution, or death for the name of Christ, particularly in Asia.
'I only want a place at the feet of Jesus'

Clement Shahbaz Bhatti (9 September 1968 - 2 March 2011)

The first anniversary of the assassination of Clement Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan, the only Christian member of the cabinet, was observed on 2 March. He was a devout Catholic deeply committed to justice for those on the margins, especially the Christian minority, who said not long before he died, I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
Full post here.

8 Jan 2012

Pope Benedict: Parents Educators of the Faith

How do we hand down faith? Do members of our families get together for dinner, quickly eat their food, and scamper off to watch something on television or hop on the computer, never to be seen again until bedtime? Or do we sit down to eat, and have leisurely conversations about important subjects and share what we did today? Maybe even sitting and talking long after the plates are empty. Around our house, nights like this are relished, but not always our reality.

Today, the Holy Father, had a message for  parents and godparents of 16 babies he baptized, and that message was the importance of education.


"To educate is a very challenging mission, said the Pope, and it is sometimes difficult for our limited human capacities."

"But he added, “education becomes a wonderful mission if it is done in partnership with God, who is the first true educator of every man."

"With prayer and the Sacraments, said Pope Benedict, parents will be able to discern the most appropriate way to educate their children; when to be tender or firm and when to keep silent or to correct."


 We don’t need to pull out the big family bible and set it on the dining room table, and say, we are going to study the principles set forth by scripture now. At my house, eyes would glaze over, and thoughts would turn to some more exciting topic if I tried this. Believe me, I know!  But how many of us take advantage of the opportunity, while sitting around the table, to weave the word of God into our conversations.

Wouldn’t you agree, we hand down our faith by our example? Children, it seems, learn more by watching what we do than by anything we say.

What are our children picking up from our actions?

Example #1 - Dad comes home from work furious, blaming others for the problems he encountered in his office, and ranting about the lack of work ethic in today’s world. The lesson learned by the children is to blame everyone and not take responsibility himself or herself.

Example #2 - Mom is facing a difficult situation at work. Dad is deceased, and she’s raising three children alone. She may lose her job, and she’s concerned about it, but what does she do? She gets the children together and says, “Let me tell you what’s happening. I may lose my job, and you know we need it to make ends meet. I want us to pray together about Mom’s job. Let’s ask the Lord if he wants me to lose this one so that He can give me something better.” These children are learning when life gets tough, or you don’t know what to do, you turn to God.

We teach our children by hanging in there and doing what needs to be done when it’s convenient and when it’s inconvenient. By being consistent in our responses to life’s circumstances, we are the best teachers.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report or read the entire article Pope Benedict: Parents educators of the faith

Remembering Wisdom

I'm a Christian. So why, one might ask, am I not denouncing something most folks enjoy: like demon rum or Bingo? Or playing the Grinch...