Pope of Mercy

The call of Jesus pushes each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable. No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love that the Church expresses toward those who convert.

-The Holy Father, declaring a Jubilee Year of Mercy from Dec.8- Nov.20 and channeling St. Faustina

CNA has this to share:

Mercy is a theme that is dear to Francis, and is the central topic of his episcopal motto “miserando atque eligendo,” which he chose when ordained a bishop in 1992.

One translation of the motto, taken from a homily given by St. Bede on Jesus’ calling of St. Matthew, is “with eyes of mercy.”

In his first Angelus address as the Bishop of Rome, March 17, 2013, Francis spoke of “Feeling mercy...this word changes everything.”

Mercy, he said then, “is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient.”

In the English version of his first Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” the word “mercy” appears 32 times.

NCRegister has even more

“How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!”

Whispers has the full text as usual.


Apostolic Witness to Life

I am blessed with a Bishop here in my diocese and a Bishop in Rome who are both so affirmative of the preciousness of human life and the need to uphold human dignity in all ways.


Culture of Rejection

The Christmas stories themselves show us the hardened heart of a humanity which finds it difficult to accept the Child. From the very start, he is cast aside, left out in the cold, forced to be born in a stable since there was no room in the inn (cf. Lk 2:7). If this is how the Son of God was treated, how much more so is it the case with so many of our brothers and sisters! Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will. This is the mind-set which fosters that “throwaway culture” which spares nothing and no one: nature, human beings, even God himself. It gives rise to a humanity filled with pain and constantly torn by tensions and conflicts of every sort.

Emblematic of this, in the Gospel infancy narratives, is King Herod. Feeling his authority threatened by the Child Jesus, he orders all the children of Bethlehem to be killed. We think immediately of Pakistan, where a month ago, more than a hundred children were slaughtered with unspeakable brutality. To their families I wish to renew my personal condolences and the assurance of my continued prayers for the many innocents who lost their lives. [I think immediately of 50 million children aborted]

The personal dimension of rejection is inevitably accompanied by a social dimension, a culture of rejection which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death. We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago. Other people “are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects” (Message for the 2015 World Day of Peace, 8 December 2014, 4). Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion. These are dangers which I pointed out in my recent Message for the World Day of Peace, which dealt with the issue of today’s multiple forms of enslavement. All of them are born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of recognizing and doing good, of pursuing peace.

It saddens us to see the tragic consequences of this mentality of rejection and this “culture of enslavement” (ibid., 2) in the never-ending spread of conflicts. Like a true world war fought piecemeal, they affect, albeit in different forms and degrees of intensity, a number of areas in our world... [and he goes on to describe them all here]



The Anchoress discovers a beautiful statement about marital love in an article about ballet dancers and partnering.


My patron saint for 2015 speaks with a golden tongue

One of the most important dimensions of St. John Chrysostom’s exalted vision of the Christian life is his emphasis on Christ-filled marriage and family life. May I ask: how many of you are aware of his emphasis on marriage, and his very high view of Christian marriage? He believed that it is the calling of every Christian married couple to make their home a little church, and he preached with all his heart to inspire the married people in his flock, to fill them with this vision, this ideal, this goal, and to instruct them in how to bring this vision to pass in their own homes.

Let’s look now at some of the most important characteristics of the home as a little church that can be found in St. John Chrysostom’s preaching and writing. I believe six such characteristics stand out:

The six characteristics of the home as a little church

1. First, we see a great emphasis on the need, indeed the requirement, that husbands love their wives with Christ-like, self-sacrificial love. As St. Paul says to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25; my emphasis). In a very memorable passage, Chrysostom speaks of the ceaseless, nurturing, forgiving, protecting love of Christ for His Church using in significant measure the imagery of a good husband’s love for his wife:

“For Christ espoused His Church as a wife, He loves her as a daughter, He provides for her as a handmaid, He guards her as a virgin, He fences her around like a garden, and cherishes her like a part of His own body. As a head He provides for her, as a root He causes her to grow, as a shepherd He feeds her, as a bridegroom He weds her, as a propitiation He pardons her, as a sheep He is sacrificed, as a bridegroom He preserves her in her beauty, as a husband He provides for her support.”

2. This is a pattern of order and discipline in the family, with the husband as the servant-head of the family, and his wife as second-in-command, and their children in obedience under them:

“True rulers are those who rule over themselves. For there are these four things— soul, family, city, world—which form a regular progression. Therefore, he who is to superintend a family, and order it well, must first bring his own soul into order (ρυθμίζειν... rhythm); … He who is able to regulate his own soul, and makes the soul to rule and the body to be subject, this man will be able to regulate a family also.”

3. This is: the careful, attentive, heartfelt instruction and training of the children given by the parents. Chrysostom strongly exhorts parents to train their children carefully and diligently in the ways of the Lord. Not to teach them virtue, not to call them to account for their actions, is, as he says, “to trample upon the noble nature of the soul”

4. The four characteristic is regular Scripture study, spiritual discussions, and prayer. Concerning the reading of the Holy Scriptures, in one notable passage Chrysostom suggests that families need this more than monastics do:

“The solitaries do not need the consolation and the help of the Holy Scriptures as much as do those who are in the midst of the whirl of a distracting existence/" Specifically concerning instructing children, he exhorts, “Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures.”

5. In a Christian home, the husband and wife will be encouraging and inspiring each other and the children to godliness and virtue through mutual exhortation and through the example of their lives. As Chrysostom says, “Let wives exhort their husbands, and let husbands admonish their wives”

“If we seek the things that are perfect, the secondary things will follow.  The Lord says, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’ (Matt. 6:33).  What sort of person do you think the children of such parents will be?…  For generally the children acquire the character of their parents, they are formed in the mold of their parents’ temperament, they love the same things their parents love, they talk in the same fashion, and they work for the same ends.”

6. The sixth characteristic we can glean from Chrysostom’s preaching and writing is regular, generous almsgiving. Almsgiving, as you probably know, is one of Chrysostom’s favorite themes. He often emphasizes, in the spirit of the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (“When I was hungry, you gave Me food . . .”), that when we give to the poor we are giving directly to Christ Himself, which brings us great spiritual rewards:

“Many are our debts—not of money, but of sins.  Let us then lend Christ our riches, that we may receive pardon of our sins, for He is the One who will judge us.  Let us not neglect Him here when He is hungry, that He may ever feed us there.  Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him…. If we go to Him in prison, He will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of Heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.”



Egoism and the Contemporary Herods

"My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence. I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born. Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods. Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus." -from the Urbi et Orbi of Pope Francis

Isn't all sin a form of egoism, the putting of one's own needs or interests foremost? A culture that does not love life is a culture that waits for death.

Impotent Silence rather than Potent Outcry. Contemporary Herods like Planned Parenthood need to hear a Potent Outcry that justice will be served. So many Herods- so many babies dead.

Get ready for the March for Life, everyone. We need to defend marriage from egoism, defend unborn life, and defend our country without recourse to bombs.

Imagine how powerful the social justice movement would be if they defended unborn children? Imagine how powerful the pro-life movement would be if they decried military action?
Imagine how much potency would be in marriages if people died to self?


What Pope Francis prays each day

Prayer for Good Humor

Grant me, O Lord, good digestion,
and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and
the necessary good humor to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to
treasure all that is good and that
doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things
back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom,
grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that
obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke
to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.
-St. Thomas More, Chancellor of King Henry VIII


St. John the Baptist, pray for us

How curious it is to read Pia de Solenni's article about James Foley on the memorial of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. There will be countless white-robed martyrs in heaven. Most of them will come from our own century.

I found this at CatholicCulture:

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch:
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: "I am the truth"? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
Was James Foley beheaded so that he should keep silent about the truth?


Cor ad cor loquitur

"Come to my house, enter my heart. 
My heart welcomes you. 
It wants to hear you."
-Pope Francis, August 17, 2014 

Authentic dialogue

"We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. We can’t dialogue, we can’t start dialoguing from nothing, from zero, from a foggy sense of who we are. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. In other words, an attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures. Fearlessly, for fear is the enemy of this kind of openness." --Pope Francis, to Korea's Bishops (via Whispers)

"Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity, our being rooted in the Lord. If we have this, everything else is secondary. It is from this deep identity – our being grounded in a living faith in Christ – it is from this profound reality that our dialogue begins, and this is what we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves. Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let us speak “from him and of him” readily and without hesitation or fear. The simplicity of his word becomes evident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters."

"...authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. For dialogue to take place, there has to be this empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to 'hear', in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate."

Youth in Asia

"You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture. In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world." --Pope Francis, (via Whispers)


Sabbath rest

Rise . . . and walk: According to Jewish tradition, medical attention could be given on the Sabbath only when someone's life was in danger. The boldness of Jesus in neglecting this convention reflects his own theological stance that giving rest to suffering souls, whether or not they are on the brink of death, fulfills the true intent of the Sabbath.

Read John 5:1-18 for the whole passage.

I love having Gospels-in-a-year sent to my inbox for insights like the one above. Ask yourself, how often do you live the true intention of the Sabbath? How often do you give rest to suffering souls on a Sabbath day?

We went to visit my grandma in the nursing home, three generations showing tender care to a matriarch. Her prognosis is bleak, yet she is strong. We spoon-fed her some food from the dinner tray, held a straw to her lips, and wiped her lips with a napkin. Being Saturday after 5pm, we were indeed fulfilling this expectation from the Gospel, to care for someone on the Sabbath.

I think we have forgotten, in a culture of death, to truly honor the mortality of our bodies, to be tender unto the last breath. Safeguarding the dignity of another is truly good for the soul. Jesus understood this and asks us to respond accordingly.



Here's what I read at The Atlantic:

"With thousands of armed men now at his disposal, Baghdadi opened a second front against the Shiites—in Syria, where there was a largely secular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. What mattered to Baghdadi and his propagandists was that Assad and many of his senior military commanders were Alawites, members of a Shiite sub-sect. Battle-hardened from Iraq, ISI was a much more potent fighting force than most of the secular groups, and fought Assad’s forces to a standstill in many areas. Soon, Baghdadi renamed his group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reflecting his greater ambitions."

So...a militant sub-sect of Sunni Islam (Wahabbists) are attacking a militant sub-sect of Shiite Islam (Alawites). Chaldeans and other minorities (like Yezidi) are caught in the crossfire, though they would always have been targeted by ISIS, whose goal is to purge the region of anything that is not its specific brand of Sunni Islam.

Their black flags remind me of the fear and dread that accompanied the swastika.

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