Saturday, December 21, 2013

Robbing the poor to pay "hired guns": Can a "poor Church for the poor" afford the luxury of consultants?

Remarkable this commentary by John L. Allen, Jr., whom nearly everyone agrees is no reactionary "hidebound traditionalist".
"The pontiff who famously longs for a 'poor Church for the poor' and who rails against 'trickle-down' economics is also the Pope who's created a boom market for 'God's consultants.' Before the Francis reform is finished, there might not be a systems analyst, management expert or financial guru left on earth who doesn't have a contract in Rome... To date, no one at the Vatican has said out loud how much they're shelling out for the services of this new batch of consultants." —John Allen, Jr., Vatican correspondent for the US-based National Catholic Reporter, in an article today entitled "Thoughts on the rise of 'God's Consultants'"

Pray for our Holy Father, that his goals of caring with greater generosity for the poor and reforming the Church may be compatible and practically achievable.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Buon Natale 2014 / Merry Christmas 2014: "God is in love with our littleness and is made tenderness toward every fragility""In the account of the birth of Jesus, when the angel announced to the shepherds that the Redeemer was born they said to them: 'This will be a sign for you, you will find a newborn baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger...' This is the sign: the total abasement of God. The sign is that, this night, God is in love with our littleness and  is made tenderness, tenderness toward every fragility, toward every suffering, toward every anxiety, toward every search, toward every limit. The sign which is the tenderness of God and the message for which everyone searches who feels disoriented, also those who are enemies of Jesus and who search in the depths of the soul, is this: they seek the tenderness of God. God made tenderness, God who caresses our misery, God enamored of our littleness."

- Jorge Mario Bergoglio, homily for vigil of Christmas, 24 December 2004

«Nel racconto della nascita di Gesù, quando gli angeli annunciano ai pastori che è nato il Redentore dicono loro: “Questo sarà per voi il segno, troverete un bambino appena nato avvolto in fasce, che giace in una mangiatoia…”. Questo è il segno: l’abbassamento totale di Dio. Il segno è che, questa notte, Dio si è innamorato della nostra piccolezza e si è fatto tenerezza, tenerezza verso ogni fragilità, verso ogni sofferenza, verso ogni angoscia, verso ogni ricerca, verso ogni limite. Il segno è la tenerezza di Dio e il messaggio che cercavano tutti coloro che sentivano disorientati, anche quelli che erano nemici di Gesù e lo cercavano dal profondo dell’anima, era questo: cercavano la tenerezza di Dio. Dio fatto tenerezza, Dio che accarezza la nostra miseria, Dio innamorato della nostra piccolezza»

- Jorge Mario Bergoglio, omelia della veglia di Natale, 24 dicembre 2004

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio"

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Former Anglican Priest and Army Chaplain Ordained Catholic

Former Anglican Priest and U.S. Army Chaplain Ordained Catholic in Holy Mass at National Shrine

Jerry Sherbourne is ordained following two-year formation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Father Jerry Sherbourne, an active-duty U.S. Army Chaplain, and former Anglican priest, was ordained a Catholic priest Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Through the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the imposition of hands, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D.,  ordained him during a 10:00 a.m. Mass.

Father Sherbourne becomes a Catholic priest, incardinated in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a special Church jurisdiction established by Pope Benedict XVI for those of the Anglican heritage entering full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining distinctive elements of their theological, spiritual, and liturgical patrimony.

In preparation for his transition from Anglican to Catholic, Father Sherbourne underwent a two-year formation program approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Holy See, a process that included his ordination as a transitional Catholic deacon. A married father of six, he also received a dispensation from Pope Francis to be a priest without embracing celibacy. Father Sherbourne and his wife Heather live with their family in north Alabama where he currently serves as deputy Garrison chaplain at Redstone Arsenal.

Originally from Massachusetts, Father Sherbourne, was ordained an Anglican priest in 2000 and has been a U.S. Army chaplain since 2005. In his military career, Major Sherbourne has served at Fort Campbell, Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, Fort Sam Houson, and Fort Bragg. He served on deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Father Sherbourne says he decided to become Catholic following a conversion experience during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. He told The Redstone Rocket that he and a fellow serviceman were talking with a Catholic priest when the serviceman asked the priest to explain the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic teaching that the Virgin Mary was conceived free from original sin. Sherbourne said he “groaned inwardly,” wishing his comrade had asked “anything but that, a concept he thought he understood well and did not believe in.” But to his surprise, the priest replied, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s all very biblical. What does “Hail Mary, full of grace mean?” Father Sherbourne told The Rocket it was like a light went off in his head. “All of a sudden I realized, ‘Wow, that could be true.’”

Of his ordination to the Catholic priesthood, Father Sherbourne said:

“All these years I’ve been waiting for this. It’s just wonderful for me, even as a deacon, to be up around the altar. It’s my environment. It’s what God made me to do. It’s like being finally home, like a fish in the water I was meant to swim in for the first time.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pope Francis is not "polite"

By Father Kevin M. Cusick
You’re shocked, I know. “What do you mean, Pope Francis is not polite?” you ask. On the other hand if you agree with me it may mean you also misunderstand. What do I mean by saying, “Pope Francis is not polite”? Pope Francis does not act or speak with regard to social conventions or human respect but instead puts in first place his unique role of teaching and speaking for God as a prophet for the world. Pope Francis is not “polite” because the love of Christ and truth comes before people’s feelings.
Pope Francis is also a tease. When I was in Rome at a Wednesday audience and asked a woman from Argentina who stood closer to the Pope to present my gift of a zucchetto in exchange for the one he was wearing, he took his off and began to compare the two. “I don’t know if this is the right size,” he said. "Where did you get this? I don't this is the right size,” he said while I responded, “Holy Father, it’s the right size”, in Italian. Eventually after spending some time egging me on he put my zucchetto on briefly and then gave it back to me, a relic to bring back from Rome. My theory is that he could not pass up the chance to tease a priest, with some help from the unsuspecting woman from his home country. In the end, everyone went away happy, but most of all pleased with Pope Francis. One of the most compelling things about him is his sense of comfort with himself and with others, a real sign of the presence of God in his life and the source of his mission as supreme pontiff.
All teasing aside, however, the mission of Pope Francis is a very serious one for as pastor of the world he is responsible for the salvation of souls. As the most visible presence on the internet and perhaps the most talked about person this year he certainly has the attention of the world. One of the reasons for this is that he isn’t concerned about being polite: he doesn’t consider the potential reactions or feelings of others a reason to use less pointed words in his preaching and teaching. For this reason he has faced some strongly negative reactions on the part of some traditionalists. We can suppose that some liberals or progressives may be also unhappy as they become aware that Pope Francis is not going to change moral teachings or the deposit of faith. Those who believe such can change do not understand the Faith. We certainly must pray that Pope Francis will be able to help them as well.
What has changed is style, as with every change in Church leadership. Pope Francis’ style is more accessible, less studied or academic, more spontaneous. This has weaknesses as well as strengths. We see the strength of Pope Francis’ approach in the great crowds of pilgrims who overflow Piazza San Pietro on Wednesdays for the general audience and on Sundays for the Angelus prayer and message. Pope Francis’ almost daily teachings from Casa Santa Marta in his celebration of Mass result in “mass” Tweets and internet buzz which spreads his teaching beyond the faithful around the world to the curious, the unbelievers and the skeptics. The Pope’s very public dialogs with atheists and others outside the Church set an example for apologetics and evangelization.
Above all else, it is Divine Providence which sends us Pope Francis at this moment. It is not possible for any pope to be anyone’s “perfect” pope because it is not possible for such a person ever to exist. Not even Jesus Christ Himself, perfect God and perfect Man, was able to please all His hearers and for this reason was put to death on the Cross. The pope is an imperfect human instrument in the hands of the perfect God. Let us pray for him that he will continue to call others and enable others to open their minds and hearts to the one true God who has perfectly revealed Himself in Jesus Christ and continues to do so through the Church which Pope Francis leads.
(Follow Father Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Michael Cusick and on Twitter @MCITLFrAphorism.)
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy for the Second Sunday of Advent
“Repent” (Matthew 3, 1ff)
The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit isconversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. ‘Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.” (CCC 1989)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Synopsis of the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’

Vatican City, ( |
The following is a brief synopsis of Evangelii Gaudium, the first Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope Francis.
* * *
The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Thus begins the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, by which Pope Francis develops the theme of the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world, drawn from, among other sources, the contribution of the work of the Synod held in the Vatican, from 7 to 28 October 2012, on the theme The new evangelization for the transmission of the faith. I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Churchs journey in years to come (1). It is a heartfelt appeal to all baptized persons to bring Christs love to others, permanently in a state of mission (25), conquering the great danger in todays world, that of an individualist desolation and anguish (2).

The Pope invites the reader to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, finding new avenues and new paths of creativity, without enclosing Jesus in dull categories (11). There is a need for a pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they presently are (25) and a renewal of ecclesiastical structures to enable them to become more mission-oriented (27). The Pontiff also considers a conversion of the papacy to help make this ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization. The hope that the Episcopal Conferences might contribute to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit, he states, has not been fully realized (32). A sound decentralization is necessary (16). In this renewal, the Church should not be afraid to re-examine certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some of which have deep historical roots (43).

A sign of Gods openness is that our church doors should always be open so that those who seek God will not find a closed door; nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness (47). He repeats that he prefers a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us it is the fact that many of our brothers and sisters are living without the friendship of Jesus Christ (49).

The Pope indicates the temptations which affect pastoral workers (77): individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour (78). The greatest threat of all is the grey pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, which in reality faith is wearing down (83). He warns against defeatism (84), urging Christians to be signs of hope (86), bringing about a revolution of tenderness (88). It is necessary to seek refuge from the spirituality of well-being detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters (90) and to vanquish the spiritual worldliness that consists of seeking not the Lords glory but human glory and well-being (93). The Pope speaks of the many who feel superior to others because they remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others (94). And those who have an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Churchs prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on the needs of the people (95). This is a tremendous corruption disguised as a good God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! (97).

He appeals to ecclesial communities not to fall prey to envy and jealousy: How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities! (98). Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act? (100). He highlights the need to promote the growth of the responsibility of the laity, often kept away from decision-making by an excessive clericalism (102). He adds that there is a need for still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church, in particular in the various settings where important decisions are made (103). Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected cannot be lightly evaded (104). The young should exercise greater leadership (106). With regard to the scarcity of vocations in many places, he emphasizes that seminaries cannot accept candidates on the basis of any motivation whatsoever (107).

With regard to the theme of inculturation, he remarks that Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression and that the face of the Church is varied (116). We cannot demand that peoples of every continent, in expressing their Christian faith, imitate modes of expression which European nations developed at a particular moment of their history (118). The Pope reiterates that underlying popular piety is an active evangelizing power (126) and encourages the research of theologians, reminding them however that the Church and theology exist to evangelize and urges them not to be content with a desk-bound theology (133).

He focuses somewhat meticulously, on the homily, since many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry and we cannot simply ignore them (135). The homily should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture (138); it should be a heart-to-heart communication and avoid purely moralistic or doctrinaire preaching (142). He highlights the importance of preparation: a preacher who does not prepare is not spiritual; he is dishonest and irresponsible (145). Preaching should always be positive in order always to offer hope and does not leave us trapped in negativity (159). The approach to the proclamation of the Gospel should have positive characteristics: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome, which is non-judgmental (165).

In relation to the challenges of the contemporary world, the Pope denounces the current economic system as unjust at its root (59). Such an economy kills because the law of the survival of the fittest prevails. The current culture of the disposable has created something new: the excluded are not the exploited but the outcast, the leftovers (53). A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, of an autonomy of the market in which financial speculation and widespread corruption and self-serving tax-evasion reign (56). He also denounces attacks on religious freedom and the new persecutions directed against Christians. In many places the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism (61). The family, the Pope continues, is experiencing a profound cultural crisis. Reiterating the indispensable contribution of marriage to society (66), he underlines that the individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which distorts family bonds (67).

He re-emphasizes the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement (178) and the right of pastors to offer opinions on all that affects peoples lives (182). No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society. He quotes John Paul II, who said that the Church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice (183). For the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category rather than a sociological one. This is why I want a Church that is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us (198). As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved no solution will be found for this worlds problems (202). Politics, although often denigrated, he affirms, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the lives of the poor! (205). He adds an admonition: Any Church community, if it believes it can forget about the poor, runs the risk of breaking down.

The Pope urges care for the weakest members of society: the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned and migrants, for whom the Pope exhorts a generous openness (210). He speaks about the victims of trafficking and new forms of slavery: This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity (211). Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence (212). Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity (213). The Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question it is not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life (214). The Pope makes an appeal for respect for all creation: we are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live (216).

With regard to the theme of peace, the Pope affirms that a prophetic voice must be raised against attempts at false reconciliation to silence or appease the poor, while others refuse to renounce their privileges (218). For the construction of a society in peace, justice and fraternity he indicates four principles (221): Time is greater than space (222) means working slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results (223). Unity prevails over conflict (226) means a diversified and life-giving unity (228). Realities are more important than ideas (231) means avoiding reducing politics or faith to rhetoric (232). The whole is greater than the part means bringing together globalization and localization (234).

Evangelization also involves the path of dialogue, the Pope continues, which opens the Church to collaboration with all political, social, religious and cultural spheres (238). Ecumenism is an indispensable path to evangelization. Mutual enrichment is important: we can learn so much from one another! For example in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of Episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality (246); dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus disciples (248); interreligious dialogue, which must be conducted clear and joyful in ones own identity, is a necessary condition for peace in the world and does not obscure evangelization (250-251); in our times, our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance (252). The Pope humbly entreats those countries of Islamic tradition to guarantee religious freedom to Christians, also in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism he urges us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence (253). And against the attempt to private religions in some contexts, he affirms that the respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions (255). He then repeats the importance of dialogue and alliance between believers and non-believers (257).

The final chapter is dedicated to spirit-filled evangelizers, who are those who are fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit and who have the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition (259). These are evangelizers who pray and work (262), in the knowledge that mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people (268): Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others (270). He explains: In our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns (271). Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary (272); if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life (274). The Pope urges us not to be discouraged before failure or scarce results, since fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable; we must know only that our commitment is necessary (279). The exhortation concludes with a prayer to Mary, Mother of Evangelization. There is a Marian style to the Churchs work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness (288).

(November 26, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Catholic Thanksgiving in Florida of 1565 predates Plymouth Rock: Another Catholic First!

By Taylor Marshall

When you’re sitting down for that wonderful feast on Thursday, here are 6 interesting Catholic Thanksgiving Facts you can share with your family. Print them out and read them aloud over some pumpkin (or pecan) pie!
The history books will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Protestant pilgrims of Massachusetts in 1621. Not so. There was the Catholic Thanksgiving of 1565 in Florida and another Catholic Thanksgiving of 1589 in Texas.
  1. The first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8 (feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin) in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. This was 56 years before the Puritan pilgrims of Massachusetts.Don Pedro Menendez came ashore amid the sounding of trumpets, artillery salutes and the firing of cannons to claim the land for King Philip II and Spain. The ship chaplain Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales chanted the Te Deum and presented a crucifix that Menendez ceremoniously kissed. Then the 500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 families and artisans, along with the Timucuan Indians celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to God.
  2. The second American Thanksgiving happened on April 30, 1598, when Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate requested the friars to say a Mass of Thanksgiving, after which he formally proclaimed “La Toma”, claiming the land north of the Rio Grande for the King of Spain. The men feasted on duck, goose, and fish from the river. The actors among them dressed and presented a play. All this took place twenty-three years before the Pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower.
  3. The Puritan pilgrims were violently anti-Catholic. They left England because they thought that the Church of England was too Catholic. These Puritans were strict Calvinists. The pilgrims also opposed celebrating Christmas, dancing, musical instruments in church, and even hymns as papistical.
  4. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, was Catholic! (Here’s my full article on the Catholicism of Squanto.) Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving.
  1. So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinist Separatists who fled England, Catholics might remember the same unjust laws that granted the crown of martyrdom to Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, et al. are the same injustices that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth.
  2. And let everyone remember that “Thanksgiving” in Greek is Eucharistia. Thus, the Body and Blood of Christ is the true “Thanksgiving Meal”.
And don’t forget to raise your wine glass and recite the wonderful limerick of Hilaire Belloc:
“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!”
― Hilaire Belloc

-from an article by Taylor Marshall
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Term “Extraordinary” in Reference to the Mass Does Not Prescribe Restricted Access

A priest on the staff of a U. S. seminary went on record recently tell­ing young seminarians that the adjective “extraordinary” in reference to the Latin Mass should be taken to imply that it should be offered only “occasionally” or “ rarely” or “ only every so often"; or at least less regularly than the ordinary form Mass, which, as we all know, means that the Mass it describes is well, the more "ordinary" of the two, right?

One could surmise easily that this was delivered in reaction to what for some is an unwanted spike of interest in the classic liturgy — as well as various other aspects of the Church’s life before the rupture predicated falsely upon the docu­ments of Vatican II — among young men seeking the priesthood.

That those who are dismissive of Catholic life before the 1960s are in a retreat and reaction mode bodes well for the life and health of the Church, because it means that even those with their heads habitually thrust deep in the sand of denial are beginning to wake up to the deep influence of the John Paul II- Benedict XVI papal orthodoxy juggernaut. That orthodoxy has been planting deep roots in the faith and life of Catholics for over two generations.

As an example of the irrationality of the prejudice that denies any value to classic Catholic life, validated by the saints from the beginning of the Church’s organic life of faith which grew into the Gregorian liturgy, this irrational speech will fall on deaf ears. The responsible, sensible, and wise voice of Benedict XVI still reverberates clear and strong in the Church for the men who understand his efforts to promote peace in the Body of Christ through promulgation of
Summorum Pontificum. Those who, contrary to the responsibility and trust the Church plac­es in them and their roles of leadership, continue a tendentious invec­tive against either liturgy of the Church, ordinary or extraordinary, are violating both the spirit and letter of Summorum Pontificum which Pope Francis has already stated was a prudent measure for the benefit of the Church. Pretending that eradicating the Extraordinary Form Mass plays any part in the agenda of Pope Francis is deeply dishonest.

Let’s apply the rationale of the priest who spoke out against an en­thusiastic promotion and celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite by applying his “ logic” to another area of Catholic life.

Many of us know that the Church has sought to rein in a tendency to “ clericalize” the laity by calling for the use of the term “ extraordinary” in reference to the use of lay people in administering Holy Commun­ion, particularly at Mass and in other ordinary instances of Catholic sacramental life. As many of us also know, this measure was taken in response to abuses of the role of the laity in the distribution of the Eu­charist, which in many places continues apace. This abuse has been abet­ted by the obvious error of priests sitting in the sanctuary or in the rec­tory while lay people supplant their proper role as ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, along with deacons and instituted seminarians.

The hypocrisy is obvious: When it comes to abusing the term “ ex­traordinary” if it promotes an alien agenda or because clerics are lack­ing the constitutional fortitude to risk disappointing uneducated laity by making a needed correction, then it goes unremarked. If, however, it is the less favored Latin Mass that is involved, then the default mode can fall anywhere between inaction and continued advancement of the deeply destructive rupture agenda. Neither choice is acceptable.

Catholics can find the Ordinary Form Mass easily as it remains abun­dantly available. Promotion of the antique liturgy is a matter of pasto­ral care for every priest whether or not he chooses to celebrate it him­self. The point of
Summorum Pontificum is that both forms of the Mass should be as freely available as resources and effort allow. Common sense dictates that any priest who offers either Mass should know how to do so. Stating this truth only in regard to the Extraordinary Form is petty and can be interpreted as prejudicial.

Benedict XVI’s papacy is a triumphant seal upon his lifetime of work in aiding the Church at large in advancing the arduous cause of a sane and reasonable application of the pastoral documents of Vatican II. Benedict knows young people well, given his long work as a professor. He knows well that you get no traction by insisting that the Church began with Vatican II because young people are too intelligent to fall for such a ruse. Those with a rigid agenda which insists that the light of day fall only upon their personally preferred sliver of 2,000 years of organic Catholic faith and life make themselves only more ridiculous through their ossified denial and repetitive prevarications.

(Follow Fr. Cusick on or on Facebook at Reveren­do Padre Kevin-Michael Cusick.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mlitary Catholics Face Second Weekend without Mass

Catholic Priests Remain on Furlough Due to Government Shutdown

Catholic military personnel facing 2nd Sunday without Mass

WASHINGTON, D.C.—With no end in sight to the federal government shutdown, dozens of Catholic priests under contract with the United States military remain on furlough, denied access to the bases and military populations they serve. Mr. John Schlageter, General Counsel of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS), said that if the shutdown continues through the weekend, as now seems likely, those furloughed priests will not be able to celebrate Sunday Mass.  Additionally, unless the issue is resolved, Confessions, Baptisms and any other sacraments celebrated by furloughed priests will be denied for the second week in a row.  As many as 50 U.S. military installations around the world are affected.

Mr. Schlageter said:

“This means those Catholics in uniform served by a furloughed contract priest will again be unable to attend Mass in the base chapel this coming Sunday and every Sunday for as long as the government is shut down or until another resolution is found. This sad state of affairs is contrary to our nation’s most basic principles. Military personnel enjoy, like all Americans, the First Amendment guarantee of the ‘Free Exercise’ of their particular religious faith. That right continues to be denied for Catholics.”

Active-duty Catholic Chaplains, who were never affected by the Oct. 1 shutdown, are still providing their pastoral services as usual. Other priests who serve the military in a civilian capacity as “General Schedule” (GS) employees of the Department of Defense were brought back to work this week after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a recall of all DoD personnel. Furloughed contract priests, however, remain in limbo. Under an 1870 law, the Anti-Deficiency Act, they are prohibited from providing contractual services in the event of a government shutdown.

Legislation meant to address this legal stumbling block and restore those contract priests to pastoral service is now winding its way through Congress. Last night, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent an amended version of House Concurrent Resolution 58. The resolution, introduced by Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and passed 400-1 by the House on Saturday, calls for continued performance of religious services on military installations during the shutdown. The amended resolution has been sent back to the House for further consideration and possible final passage. The congressional action follows publication of an op-ed by Mr. Schlageter bringing public attention to the shutdown’s impact on the Catholic military population. Pending final action, the contract priests remain on furlough.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, called on the nation’s leaders for immediate action to resolve the impasse.

Archbishop Broglio said:  

"It seems beyond the pale of belief that elected officials are taking so long to resolve this denial of constitutional rights to the men and women in uniform.  It is not a controversial issue, but merely a lacuna in an old law that could be fixed to respond to current situations.  I continue to hope for the good will of those in Congress and the Administration."

In key event for Year of Faith, original Fatima statue to visit Vatican October 12 and 13, Pope Francis to offer Marian conscration


Vatican City, 11 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning, a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the key event of the Year of Faith, the Marian Day, which is scheduled to take place in Rome on 12 and 13 October. The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Bishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arena, and Msgr. Graham Bell, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation.

In his address, Archbishop Fisichella, stated that at the beginning of the Year of Faith it was decided that it would be fundamental to retrace the history of our faith, and for this reason Benedict XVI placed in the foreground the figure of Mary, who represents for believers the first response of complete and total faith, in which we fully abandon ourselves to God. Therefore, on Saturday 12 October the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima will arrive in Rome, and will return to Fatima on Sunday evening. The archbishop emphasised the importance of this event, recalling that “the statue never leaves the shrine, except in the case of entirely exceptional and extraordinary events. The last time was during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 when, on 13 May, Blessed John Paul II carried out the act of consecration to the Virgin. … The date of 13 October has been chosen as it recalls the final appearance of the Virgin to the three shepherd children in 1917”.

As is traditional in these events, on Saturday morning there will be a pilgrimage to the Tomb of Peter and in the afternoon, Pope Francis' catechesis. In the afternoon St. Peter's Square will open to pilgrims at 2.30 p.m. At 3 p.m. there will be a moment of reflection, and at 4 p.m. the procession of the Virgin around the square will begin. In accordance with tradition, pilgrims are asked to wave with white handkerchiefs as the statue of the Virgin of Fatima passes. At 5 p.m. the Holy Father will greet the statue of the Virgin in front of the Basilica. Following a moment of prayer in St. Peter's Square, the statue will be transported to the Santuario del Divino Amore, where an all-night prayer vigil will take place. On Sunday morning, the Virgin will return to the Vatican where the procession across St. Peter's Square will be repeated at 9.30 a.m., followed by Holy Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. Finally, the Pope will carry out the act of consecration to the Virgin and will pray the Angelus with the pilgrims present.

It is expected that over 150,000 pilgrims from all over the world will participate, with international representations from 48 countries.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

U.S. House of Reps Passes Resolution Allowing Mass on Military Bases

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Resolution to Allow Mass on Military Installations During Government Shutdown

Vote follows op-ed by AMS General Counsel John Schlageter on non-active duty priests banned from bases

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The United States House of Representatives today voted 400-1 to pass House Concurrent Resolution 58 calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to allow the continued performance of religious services on military installations during the government shutdown. The resolution was introduced by Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) in response to an Oct. 3 op-ed by Mr. John Schlageter, General Counsel of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) in which he disclosed that non-active duty Catholic priests have been ordered not to work—or even volunteer—on military installations for the duration of the shutdown, making it impossible for servicemen and women at some locations to attend Mass this weekend.

Quantico Marine Base will have Masses Provided by Contract Priest During Government Shutdownt


Attention Editors:

               It has come to the attention of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA that contrary to earlier reports, Masses will in fact be held as scheduled this weekend at Marine Corps Base Quantico. In spite of the government shutdown, the terms of his contract allow the priest there to perform his pastoral duties because of the way the contract is funded. Nonetheless, many Masses at other installations remain cancelled due to the shutdown. The op-ed issued by the archdiocese on Oct. 3 is thus revised as follows:

Shutdown Impacts Chapel Services
By John Schlageter

                If the government shutdown continues through the weekend, there will be no Catholic priest to celebrate Mass this Sunday in the chapels at some U.S. military installations where non-active-duty priests serve as government contractors.  

                Military personnel enjoy, like all Americans, the First Amendment guarantee of the “Free Exercise” of their particular religious faith.  But because military personnel are considered a “captive audience,” the laws of our country require the government to provide access to that faith.  This is why we have a military chaplaincy.  This all becomes very clear when one thinks of a military family stationed in Bahrain or Japan.  They cannot walk down the street to the local synagogue, church, mosque, etc.

                There is a chronic shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains. While roughly 25% of the military is Catholic, Catholic priests make up only about 8% of the chaplain corps. That means approximately 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests.  The temporary solution to this shortage is to provide GS and contract priests.   These men are employed by the government to ensure that a priest is available when an active duty Catholic Chaplain is not present.  With the government shutdown, GS and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer.  During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.

                As an example, if a Catholic family has a Baptism scheduled this weekend at an Air Force base that is staffed by a GS or contract priest, unless they can locate a priest who is not a GS or contract priest, the Baptism is most likely cancelled.    If you are a Catholic stationed in Japan or Korea and are served by a Contract or GS priest, unless you speak Korean or Japanese and can find a church nearby, then you have no choice but to go without Mass this weekend.  Until the Federal Government resumes normal operations, or an exemption is granted to contract or GS priests, Catholic services are indefinitely suspended at many of those worldwide installations served by contract and GS priests.

                 At a time when the military is considering alternative sources of funding for sporting events at the service academies, no one seems to be looking for funding to ensure the Free Exercise rights of Catholics in uniform. Why not?

*John Schlageter is General Counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

Friday, October 4, 2013

October 13: Fatima, Pope Francis and Medjugorge?

The leaks about what the Pope will say on October 13 are already making the rounds in the blogosphere. On that date, the Holy Father will stand before the image of Our Lady of Fatima and will consecrate the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He will most likely speak about the place of private revelation and how the focus of salvation is upon Christ. He may also share the results of the commission on the Medjugorje apparitions and inner locutions. Sources are saying that the verdict will be negative. I hope that enthusiasts will have sufficient faith to accept what it said with holy obedience and religious assent.
- Father Joe Jenkins on Facebook

Food for Furlough at Chesapeake Cares in Huntingtown, MD on October 7

In response to the federal government shutdown, Chesapeake Cares Food Pantry is holding a special event, Food for Furlough, on Monday, October 7 from 2-4 PM. This will be a food distribution event to serve those in need that have been impacted by the recent shutdown.

6045 Solomon's Island Rd
(behind the Counseling Center building)
Huntingtown, MD 20639

Here are a couple of quick facts about the event:

1.Even if the shutdown ends by Monday, employees still may be struggling or waiting for information on when they will be paid.
2.We will NOT be checking for federal ID's. Anyone who shows up will receive food. When Jesus fed thousands, He just fed them - He didn't ID them first.
3.There is a large percentage of Calvert County residents that are federal employees or their workplace will be affected by the shutdown.

Here is how you can help:

1. Spread the word on social media. Continue to spread the word all weekend. Share it, like it, repost it, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
2. The best way people can help right now is to make a financial donation instead of a food donation. The EHCC website will have a special donation page.
3. Pray.

If you or someone you know (family, friend, neighbor) has been placed on furlough, please encourage them to attend on Monday. You do not have to be currently receiving groceries from any food pantry. You do not have to live in Calvert County.

Families will be asked their name and number of people living in their household. No one will be asked further information. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance after Monday, please visit Chesapeake Cares on Tuesday evening from 5:30-7:30 PM or Thursday morning from 9:30 AM -12 noon.

This event provides a tremendous opportunity for Chesapeake Cares to provide hope in the midst of unsure times. I look forward to partnering with each of you in prayer this weekend as we do as Jesus did - we will feed them.

A Different Kind of "Francis Effect"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"The court is the leprosy of the papacy."

I have experienced sometimes in the Church what Pope Francis describes as "curia-centric" behavior, where the faithful end up going away from centralized bureaucracies feeling treated as if they were an unwanted nuisance but in more recent years less so in Rome and more so elsewhere..

"No, there are sometimes courtiers in the curia, but the curia as a whole is another thing. It is what in an army is called the quartermaster's office, it manages the services that serve the Holy See. But it has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it. The Church is or should go back to being a community of God's people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God. The Church is this, a word not surprisingly different from the Holy See, which has its own function, important but at the service of the Church. I would not have been able to have complete faith in God and in his Son if I had not been trained in the Church, and if I had not had the good fortune of being in Argentina, in a community without which I would not have become aware myself and my faith. " ( Pope Francis in La Reppubblica interview)

As Pope John Paul II taught, sins are personal before they are social. So too with the spiritual leprosy of "Vatican-centric" personalities, and the Vatican is not the only place where you can find such.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Papacy Is Not A Liturgical Commentary


Pope Benedict never celebrated the Extraordinary Form or Traditional Latin Mass as Pope.

Like most priests of his generation, he began to celebrate the Mass of Paul VI as soon as his diocese began to promulgate that liturgy and continued to do so throughout his papacy.

The fact that he never offered the Extraordinary Form is not a com­ment either upon his priesthood or on the ancient liturgy. Benedict, after all, will always be known as the Pope of
Summorum Pontificum, the groundbreaking document that restated the truth that both liturgies have equal standing in the Church, a commonsense statement that was a long time in coming and meant to better establish Christ’s peace in His Church over liturgical issues.

Benedict’s papacy was not a commentary on the liturgical life of the Church except in that he wished to freely offer full and free access to both liturgies for all of the faithful.

Pope Francis, we must assume, is a man of the Church, guided as he is by the Holy Spirit in his divinely appointed office of the papacy. As a man of the Church, he supports the spiritual well-being of all God’s faithful for the sake of their salvation. We must always support him and pray for him in love as we do for all of our Holy Fathers, for he is a gift to us from the Lord Himself.

Francis’ papacy is not a commentary on the liturgical life and patri­mony of the Church anymore than was the papacy of Benedict, who himself, we must remember, did not personally offer the ancient liturgy as we expect Pope Francis will also not do.

Summorum Pontificum
establishes liturgical freedom in the Church for the Vicars of Christ, as for all of us.

Many years from now, no doubt, we will have a Pope who gladly celebrates either liturgy according to the pastoral needs of the Church as he sees fit.

Some folks are getting fussy about Pope Francis’ style, comment about which is above my pay grade.

Some priests, however, do take a mistakenly casual approach to cel­ebrating Mass. There are those who, for example, omit items such as the amice, which is practical in nature, meant as it is to better enable the priest to cover his street clothes, a requirement in every liturgy. However, what is more significant for the liturgy than the instruction to cover his street clothes — as the priest is asked to do by the Church — is a worldly attitude to­ward the liturgy which frustrates God’s relationship with His people.

In marriage we gladly fight a contraceptive attitude which frustrates God’s plan for human life. So, also, in the liturgy should we fight any attitude on the part of the priest which frustrates God’s desire to fully and freely share eternal life with His people. A “ street clothes” attitude on the part of the priest in the celebration of Mass can do just this thing.

Vesture is part of the spiritual attitude and preparation of the priest who ascends the mountain of God, who approaches the tabernacle of the Most High, unworthy as he is to represent God’s people as they together face God through Jesus Christ who calls and ordains the priest to offer the Holy Sacrifice. All of the practices in the Church better en­able the priest to approach the Father
in persona Christi.
A cavalier attitude which dismisses these spiritual preparations does not bode well for the free and full access of the people at every Holy Mass as they approach Almighty God through the servanthood of the priest.

Let us pray for all of our priests, Pope Francis, and all of us who serve God’s people, that our reverent and loving service will include respect for all that the Holy Spirit hands down in the Church for the service of and salvation of the world.

Jesus Christ, suffering Servant, and High Priest of the New and Per­fect Covenant, have mercy on us. Amen. 

(This column appeared in a recent issued of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. Follow Father Cusick on Facebook at Reverendo Padre-Kevin Micha­el Cusick and on .)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Japanese Priest Retired from Diocesan Ministry to Celebrate Traditional Latin Mass

June 25, 2013
A Latin Mass in Japan

by Christopher Pitsch

 Less than 1% of the Japanese population are Catholic. Hence, it’s no surprise that a Latin Mass is a rare bird in Japan. Fr. Ueda, a priest from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, says a Latin Mass once a year. Fr. Onoda from the Philippines visits once a month.

There is, however, one priest in Japan who regularly celebrates Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In the midst of the impossibly overcrowded, hectic city life of Tokyo, Fr. John A. Nariai offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a small private chapel in his personal flat.

Fr. Nariai is a retired priest of the diocese of Kagoshima in southern Japan. He first came in contact with the Latin Mass in the year 2000, because he was an active member of the pro-life movement in the U.S. He often participated in the meetings and conferences of Human Life International “and out of the blue, a priest, a Father Richard sent me a 1962 missal. That was my first contact with the Latin Mass,” Father Nariai recalls.

 Father Narial fell in love with the old Rite. His Bishop refused to allow him to celebrate according to the old missal, but Fr. Nariai also refused to stop celebrating the Latin Mass. He had a long discussion with his bishop through his envoys and in the end he suggested: “What if I retire?”

The Bishop accepted and Fr. Nariai moved away to the huge metropolis of Tokyo, at the age of 67. “When in medieval Japan someone had to go into exile, it was called ‘miyako-ochi.’ I’ve done a miyako-nobori,” says Fr. Nariai proudly. “Miyako” is the Japanese word for “capital”, so, “miyako-ochi” means “kicked out of the capital,” while “miyako-nobori” means “ascending to the capital”, i.e. going to Tokyo.

Today, Father celebrates the Latin Mass every day, including Sundays, accompanied by his Japanese congregation singing Gregorian chant. Fr. Nariai’s lovely chapel is Japanese style, with shôji (japanese sliding doors) and tatami (mat made of rice straw). In a Japanese room shoes are prohibited, so the priest doesn’t wear shoes, even while celebrating Holy Mass.

(PERSONAL NOTE: For this reporter, this looked odd for a moment. But everything about the Mass was so dignified and beautiful, I began to see it as a rightly understood enculturation.)

About ten faithful regularly attend his Mass, mostly young people. It’s a small but lively and cheerful group, drinking green tea together after Mass, with inspiring conversation. When I joined with this community, I never had the feeling I was in Europe, though Catholicism in Japan is often seen as a European thing. The after-Mass socialization is not necessarily European or Japanese culture, its Catholic culture.

 “I have always wanted to be different from others; that was my motivation to enter the seminary. Now I’m again different from all the other priests in Japan,” Fr. Nariai explains. “But in fact, I don’t want to be different. I want every priest to discover the treasures of the Latin Mass.”

Despite his 78 years, he is very communicative and active and loves to come into contact with other priests and the faithful. He can be contacted on his web-site, too, at

For me, his Mass has been a great experience in Catholic culture. In Japan, I can actually feel that the Church is Catholic in the sense of “universal.”

Latin is the Church’s language; it connects people around the world. This Holy Rite of the Mass makes me feel at home, even in a very un-Christian culture like Japan.

Finally, the Mass provides a foretaste of the Glory yet to come.

Catholic Mass Reenactment at Site of Maryland War of 1812 Invasion

Visitors can participate in sacred worship celebrated in the same way that Colonial troops would have each Sunday at 11 am in Benedict, Maryland, where the British came ashore in 1814 to burn Washington.

Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church is located at 7185 Benedict Avenue in Benedict, Maryland. The web site with more information about the parish is found at this link.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Has Anyone Wept?": Pope Francis and the Cry for Peace

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Pope Francis has called on Catholics around the world and “other Christian brethren,” “brethren of other religions,” and “men and women of good will” to join him in fasting and prayer this weekend. As the United States debates military strikes against Syria, the Holy Father pleads for peace.

As he did when going to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa in July, where refugees from the “Arab Spring” have been pouring in as they flee the violence and turmoil of their native lands, Pope Francis is speaking from the depths of his heart, expressing the pain of the Divine Heart, at what we are doing here. Those horrific images of children, women, and men suffering and dying from the effects of chemical weapons used in Syria have provoked a lively debate about what we can do to stop the horror. We can’t look away. And yet, what is the justice served by a military strike against Syria? What are the lessons of that failed “Spring,” of interventions and non-interventions of the recent past? According to Church teaching on “just war,” military action must always be a last resort, not simply a “Hail Mary pass” hoping for a positive outcome.

In his appeal, Pope Francis said:
I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.
The pope’s own “Hail Mary pass,” of course, is so much more than that, and involves actual Hail Marys — pleading prayers to our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, who lived a mother’s worst pain and who walks with us in prayer as our immaculate model of doing God’s will in the midst of the world. The pope turns the world to focus on she who leads us straight to her Son, whose life, death, and Resurrection offer us the promise of eternal peace with Him. And the pope calls us to pray together this weekend as we remember the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace.

This weekend, in particular, Pope Francis asks:
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
This is far from the first time Pope Francis — or any pontiff — has urged the world to meditate on, work for, and pray for peace. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the essential role of the family in creating a culture of peace. The Second Vatican Council described peace as “the fruit of that right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society and which must be actualized by man thirsting for an ever more perfect reign of justice.” The word “peace,” as Pope Paul VI wrote, “oppresses us and exalts us. It is not ours; it comes down from the invisible kingdom, the kingdom of heaven.”

In the heat of this debate, the Pope Francis peace talk accomplishes much more than any news headlines are able to process. The peace of which Pope Francis speaks is nearly impossible to imagine, to comprehend, or even to entertain as a possibility as we view the photos of the more than 14,000 innocent civilians – including many children and entire families, who have been innocent casualties of chemical attacks – at a time when neither Syrian Christians nor Coptic Christians in Egypt have much of a reason to feel safe.

Because the wielding of worldly and military power is not well-known for encouraging habits of virtue, even the most adventuresome oddsmakers in Vegas would not bet on the prospect of peace reigning in the hearts of men and women who walk the halls of power. That is one of the many reasons why the pope’s appeal for peace offers so much more in the way of hope than all the saber-rattling in the world possibly could.
We pray for the eternal peace of those who have been brutally killed in Syria. We pray that men and women of good will may rise up as leaders and healers. We pray that there may be peace, both as a geopolitical matter and within the hearts of all who are immersed in this conflict.

The former doesn’t have a shot without the latter. That’s the leadership Christians are called to demonstrate in this life. And that’s one of the themes that have been overflowing during Pope Francis’s first six months in office.

One morning in April, Pope Francis preached about the peace of Christ. From the homily as printed in L'Osservatore Romano:
The Christian, even in the most painful trials, never loses “the peace and the presence of Jesus” and with “a little courage”, we are able to say to the Lord: “Lord, give me this grace that is the sign of our encounter with you: spiritual consolation”; and, above all, he emphasized, “never lose peace”. We look to the Lord, who “suffered so upon the Cross, but he never lost his peace. Peace, this peace, is not our own: it is not sold and we do not buy it”. It is a gift of God for which we must beg. Peace is like “the final step of this spiritual consolation, which begins with a joyful wonder”.
On our Labor Day here in the United States, he talked, not for the first time, about how words can kill. He pointed to the radical call of Christianity:
Jesus says that when “you begin to feel something negative in your heart” against one of your brethren and express it “with an insult, a curse or an outburst of anger, something is wrong. You must convert, you must change”.
His July homily in Lampedusa might wind up as one of his most important in awakening the world to what we are doing to ourselves and to one another whenever we perpetrate violence and are indifferent to the urgent needs of others who suffer.

Pope Francis reflected there: “How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another! And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.”

He continued:
Today no one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters. We have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, and perhaps we say to ourselves: “poor soul…!”, and then go on our way. It’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured, assuaged. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalization of indifference. In this globalized world, we have fallen into globalized indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others: it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it’s none of my business!
Specifically on the topic of Syria, writing to Russian president Vladimir Putin this week as the G20 summit was set to begin, Pope Francis echoed this same obligation for statesmen: “All governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.”

I am consoled that there is largely a consensus of outrage about the killings in Syria here at home and among many throughout the world. But this, too, does prompt questions: Why is our present outrage focused only there? Why do we not feel and express pain whenever any innocent is killed, whenever any woman or man is suffering? Who do we walk by? And how much easier is it for us to act on our outrage when it involves an act of violence that promises to be a “quick in and out” without considering the foreseeable long-term effects and sacrifices we are bound to experience our lives here at home?

Last weekend, President Barack Obama argued for intervention in Syria pointing to the “assault on human dignity” perpetrated by the Assad regime. We have some of those close to home; 40 years of legal abortion have poisoned our natural soul and are indeed assaults on human dignity, violence of the most intimate sort.
On Lampedusa, Pope Francis asked:
“Adam, where are you?” “Where is your brother?” These are the two questions which God asks at the dawn of human history, and which he also asks each man and woman in our own day, which he also asks us. But I would like us to ask a third question: “Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?” Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion — “suffering with” others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the crying, the wailing, the great lamentation: “Rachel weeps for her children… because they are no more.” Herod sowed death to protect his own comfort, his own soap bubble. And so it continues… Let us ask the Lord to remove the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts; let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this. “Has any one wept?” Today has anyone wept in our world?
Pope Francis’s call to prayer this weekend is a call to weep for the blood that cries out in Syria, in Egypt, and here at home, as well. It is a day for trust in God, that in our faithfulness, he will provide the only certainty and true hope. As we weep, we meditate on what it is He calls us to in this world. We remember what this pope’s first encyclical says about how faith illuminates everything. Violence doesn’t provide coherence, faith does. And so we pray.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a nationally syndicated columnist. She is a director of Catholic Voices USA and blogs on Catholic things at K-Lo@Large.

Thank you for visiting.


Kamsahamnida, Dziekuje, Terima kasih, Doh je, Grazie, Tesekur, Gracias, Dank u, Shukran

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