Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Since the release earlier this month of the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I have been reflecting on the words therein of Pope Francis struck by how, to use the common expression, he has ‘done it again!’, namely placed before, not only Catholics but the whole world, a challenge to open wide the doors of our being both to God who is Love and to one another.

Rooted in the Old Testament tradition of a Jubilee Year, themselves steeped in mercy, repentance, thanksgiving and care of the poor and vulnerable, within the Roman Catholic Church there have been over the millennia some thirty Jubilees.

However the first formal one did not occur until 1300 and prior to this one was the Great Jubilee to usher in the new millennium called for by St. John Paul II.

The present Jubilee will begin on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and conclude on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Pope Francis begins by reminding us that:  Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.

In a world so filled with hatred and violence, in a word with sin, Pope Francis reassures us that:

When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive.

Whenever we are troubled or discouraged by our own sins or the evil in the world as we observe on a daily basis things such as terrorism, human trafficking and the like, satan will attempt to convince us he is more powerful than he actually is.

God’s merciful love is the only real, true, pure, selfless power there is and God uses His Divine power to fill us with His merciful, forgiving, healing, comforting love.

Clearly the following comes from deep within the heart of our beloved Holy Father, Pope Francis: How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!

Today many nations are showing mercy to the people of Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake, many ordinary people in Baltimore are trying to show mercy by standing between the angry mob and the police so violence ends and dialogue begins.

Hidden from such public view others are showing mercy by volunteering to keep vigil in various hospices, in soup kitchens, bring meals to shut-ins: the ways of fulfilling the works of mercy, of being merciful, are innumerable.

All that is needed is love’s imagination.

The Holy Father reminds us that:  Throughout the history of humanity, God will always be the One who is present, close, provident, holy, and merciful.

Therefore Pope Francis also reminds us that: …..the mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that this is a “visceral” love. It gushes forth from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy.

To fully appreciate this we need to be steeped in all of Sacred Scripture, which overflows with examples of this Divine Love, culminating in Christ Jesus laying down His life for us, the same Jesus who calls us to be as merciful as our Heavenly Father, loving one another as we are loved by Him.

Placing before us anew the essence of the Church’s life and mission Pope Francis notes that:

Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life…..and….. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.

It is tempting at this juncture to note at some length where great reform is needed as regards how the Church, or more accurately those with power within the Church, from the Vatican to the smallest parish, exercise mercy, both externally towards parishioners and people in general throughout the world and internally towards priests, religious, consecrated lay people.

A temptation, yes. To be detailed here with suggestions, no.

These, at least for a priest-hermit, are things best brought to the Lord in prayer.

Everyone can read the teachings of Pope Francis, heed his words, follow his example, and each of us, whatever our state in life, are called upon by Pope Francis to exemplify and exercise this mandate of mercy.

Pope Francis guides us by reminding us that:  In order to be capable of mercy, therefore, we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God. This means rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us. In this way, it will be possible to contemplate God’s mercy and adopt it as our lifestyle.

In this, and in all things, we have Our Blessed Mother, among whose titles is Our Lady of Mercy, to help us as Pope Francis notes: My thoughts now turn to the Mother of Mercy. May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness. No one has penetrated the profound mystery of the incarnation like Mary. Her entire life was patterned after the presence of mercy made flesh. The Mother of the Crucified and Risen One has entered the sanctuary of divine mercy because she participated intimately in the mystery of His love.

We have just over seven months to prepare to cross the threshold into the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and meditating upon the teachings and encouragements given us by Pope Francis in the Bull of Indiction, is one way to prepare so that: In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love. May she never tire of extending mercy, and be ever patient in offering compassion and comfort. May the Church become the voice of every man and woman, and repeat confidently without end: “Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old” (Ps 25:6).

Thursday, April 02, 2015


The following are various passages form several sources used for meditation this Holy Week:

From GOD-SENT, by Roy Abraham Varghese: The Mother of Christ wants all her children to be saved: she yearns to save them [through their acceptance of her Son] not simply from temporal chastisement but an eternal chastisement that comes from their freely chosen everlasting separation from God. If we ask why the Virgin weeps in her apparitions and her images around the world, the answer is simple: Ultimately there is only one thing to be sad about in life and in eternity, and that is the eternal loss of a soul. As she has said more than one in her apparitions: she weeps because of the hardness of hearts, because of the worldwide suffering that will result from divine retribution and most of all because of the perdition awaiting those who will not obey. [p. 7, op.cit.]

On Palm/Passion Sunday in 1937, a decade not unlike our own with assaults on the Church and family, wars and rumors of wars, Pope Pius XI had his encyclical shining light on the darkness of Nazism, Mit Brennender Sorge smuggled into and read from all the pulpits in Germany.

Like Our Blessed Mother, Pope Pius, as must every Pontiff, sought to speak truth, to encourage the faithful, by proclaiming the Gospel: “Original sin” is the hereditary but impersonal fault of Adam’s descendants, who have sinned in him [Rom.v.12]. It is the loss of grace, and therefore of eternal life, together with a propensity to evil, which everybody must, with the assistance of grace, penance, resistance and moral effort, repress and conquer…The cross of Christ, thought it has become to many a stumbling block and foolishness [1 Cor.i.23] remains for the believer the holy sign of his redemption, the emblem of moral strength and greatness. We live in its shadow and die in its embrace. It will stand on our grave as a pledge of our faith and our hope in eternal light…Whoever exalts race, of the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community….whoever raise these notes above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds. [cf. op.cit. paras: 25, 26, & 8]

St. John Paul II places before us the reality that the merciful love of God is greater than our capacity for sin:   It is "God, who is rich in mercy"  1 whom Jesus Christ has revealed to us as Father: it is His very Son who, in Himself, has manifested Him and made Him known to us.2 Memorable in this regard is the moment when Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, turned to Christ and said: "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied"; and Jesus replied: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me...? He who has seen me has seen the Father."3 These words were spoken during the farewell discourse at the end of the paschal supper, which was followed by the events of those holy days during which confirmation was to be given once and for all of the fact that "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”….. The cross of Christ on Calvary is also a witness to the strength of evil against the very Son of God, against the one who, alone among all the sons of men, was by His nature absolutely innocent and free from sin, and whose coming into the world was untainted by the disobedience of Adam and the inheritance of original sin. And here, precisely in Him, in Christ, justice is done to sin at the price of His sacrifice, of His obedience "even to death."81 He who was without sin, "God made him sin for our sake."82 Justice is also brought to bear upon death, which from the beginning of man's history had been allied to sin. Death has justice done to it at the price of the death of the one who was without sin and who alone was able-by means of his own death-to inflict death upon death.83 In this way the cross of Christ, on which the Son, consubstantial with the Father, renders full justice to God, is also a radical revelation of mercy, or rather of the love that goes against what constitutes the very root of evil in the history of man: against sin and death…… The Church proclaims the truth of God's mercy revealed in the crucified and risen Christ, and she professes it in various ways. Furthermore, she seeks to practice mercy towards people through people, and she sees in this an indispensable condition for solicitude for a better and "more human" world, today and tomorrow. However, at no time and in no historical period-especially at a moment as critical as our own-can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God amid the many forms of evil which weigh upon humanity and threaten it. Precisely this is the fundamental right and duty of the Church in Christ Jesus, her right and duty towards God and towards humanity. The more the human conscience succumbs to secularization, loses its sense of the very meaning of the word "mercy," moves away from God and distances itself from the mystery of mercy, the more the Church has the right and the duty to appeal to the God of mercy "with loud cries."135 These "loud cries" should be the mark of the Church of our times, cries uttered to God to implore His mercy, the certain manifestation of which she professes and proclaims as having already come in Jesus crucified and risen, that is, in the Paschal Mystery. It is this mystery which bears within itself the most complete revelation of mercy, that is, of that love which is more powerful than death, more powerful than sin and every evil, the love which lifts man up when he falls into the abyss and frees him from the greatest threats. [Dives In Misericordia, paras. 1; 8.1; 15]

Pope Francis in his General Audience address this week reminds us that: The Triduum opens with the commemoration of the Last Supper. On the eve of his Passion, Jesus offered the Father his Body and his Blood under the species of bread and wine and, giving it as nutriment to the Apostles, he commanded them to perpetuate the offer in his memory. Recalling the washing of the feet, the Gospel of this celebration expresses the same meaning of the Eucharist under another perspective. Jesus – as a servant – washes the feet of Simon Peter and the other eleven disciples (Cf. John 13:4-5). With this prophetic gesture, He expresses the meaning of his life and of his Passion, as service to God and to brothers: “For the Son of man has come not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45)…. Then, …. in the liturgy of Good Friday we meditate on the mystery of the Death of Christ and we adore the Cross. In the last moments of his life, before rendering his spirit to the Father, Jesus said: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). What does this word mean that Jesus says “It is finished”? It means that the work of salvation is finished, that all the Scriptures find their fulfilment in the love of Christ, immolated Lamb. With his sacrifice, Jesus transformed the greatest iniquity into the greatest love… Holy Saturday is the day in which the Church contemplates Christ’s rest in the tomb after the victorious combat of the cross. On Holy Saturday the Church identifies herself, once again, with Mary: all her faith is gathered in Her, the first and perfect disciple, the first and perfect believer. In the darkness that enveloped Creation, She remains alone holding the flame of faith lighted, hoping against all hope (Cf. Romans 4:18)……And in the great Easter Vigil, in the late evening, in which the Alleluia resounds again, we celebrate the Risen Christ, center and end of the cosmos and of history; we watch full of hope while awaiting his return, when Easter will have its full manifestation. Sometimes the darkness of night seems to penetrate the soul; sometimes we think: “now there is nothing to be done,” and the heart no longer finds the strength to love ... However, precisely in that darkness Christ lights the fire of the love of God: a flash breaks the darkness and announces a new beginning.  Something begins in the most profound darkness! We know that the night is darkest before the day begins. However, precisely in the darkness, it is Christ that conquers and lights the fire of love. The stone of sorrow is overturned leaving space for hope. See the great mystery of Easter! On this holy night the Church gives us the light of the Risen One, so that in us there is not the lament of the one who says “now ...”, but the hope of one who opens himself to a present full of [promise for] future: Christ has conquered death, and we with Him. Our life does not end before the stone of the sepulchre! Our life goes beyond with the hope of Christ who has risen! – in fact, from that sepulchre. We are called as Christians to be watchmen of the morning, who are able to perceive the signs of the Risen One, as the women and the disciples did who went to the sepulchre at dawn on the first day of the week.