We need to ask ourselves a serious question: what is Jesus for me? Is he a person or a character? There is a big difference between the two. The character – such as Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon – is someone you can write and talk about as much as you like, but it is impossible to talk to. Unfortunately, for the great majority of Christians, Jesus is a character, not a person.
Just as a sample of hair or saliva is enough to reconstruct a person’s DNA, so too only one line of the Gospel, if it is read without biases, is enough to reconstruct the DNA of Jesus, to discover what he thought of himself. Every page of the Gospel literally exudes the divine transcendence of Christ.
The Church runs the lethal risk of living “etsi Christus non daretur”, as if Christ did not exist. It is the assumption on which the world and its media talk about the Church all the time. Jesus as a person is mentioned once in a while if at all.
In the New Testament, conversion is mentioned in three different moments and contexts, each highlighting a new component of the process. They give us a complete idea of what the Gospel metanoia is about… A different kind of conversion is provided for in each season of life. It is important for each of us to identify the one that suits them right now.
He was a “just” man. He was chosen to educate a man who was true man, but who was also God. Only a man-God could have educated such a person, but there wasn’t someone like that. The Lord chose a just man, a man of faith, a man who was capable of being a man, and also capable of speaking with God, of entering into God’s mystery.
Jesus told us: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). The lives of the saints too are examples to be imitated. Saint Paul explicitly says this: “Be imitators of me!” (1 Cor 4:16). By his eloquent silence, Saint Joseph says the same.
Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast. It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless. It is a summons to stop – a “halt!” –, to focus on what is essential. It is a wake-up call for the soul.
Contrary to what many think or feel, Lent is a time of joy. It is a time when we come back to life. It is a time when we shake off what is bad and dead in us in order to become able to live, to live with all the vastness, all the depth, and all the intensity to which we are called. Unless we understand this quality of joy in Lent, we will make of it a monstrous caricature, a time when in God’s own name we make our life a misery.
The Preacher to the Papal Household, Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, delivers his first Advent Sermon to Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, and reflects on the meaning of death, which forms a bridge to eternal life
November, when the sun is losing its strength, the luminosity is fading, the nights are growing, Nature is losing its vitality… it is the right time to look up to Heaven with Hope!
OGF 10/2020 – Mission according to Francis: Features; talents to develop, temptations, maladies and pitfalls to avoid; recommendations for the Journey
Do not waste time and resources, then, in looking at yourself in a mirror, devising plans centred on internal mechanisms, functionality and the efficiency of your own bureaucracy. Look outside. Do not look at yourselves in the mirror. Break every mirror in the house!
For some time we religious have wondered about our life in the Church and the power and attraction of our witness. One does not need extraordinary insight or deep analysis to realize that what we call “religious life” has lost something of its impact in the Church and outside its walls. Where have we gone wrong?
THE VERY FORM OF THE CROSS, extending out into the four winds, always told the ancient Church that the Cross means solidarity: its outstretched arms would gladly embrace the universe. According to the Didache, the Cross is semeion epektaseos, a “sign of expansion”, and only God himself can have such a wide reach
The time has come to examine the deeper implications of this blow to the security of our world. The unavoidable process of globalization would seem to have peaked. The global vulnerability of a global world is now plain to see.
Let us silence the cries of death, no more wars! May we stop the production and trade of weapons, since we need bread, not guns. Let the abortion and killing of innocent lives end. May the hearts of those who have enough be open to filling the empty hands of those who do not have the bare necessities.
The table is ready: the food of the Word and the Eucharistic food are given to you by him who nourishes, consoles and strengthens you, so that in your journey, in your exodus from this world to the Father, you may be fed and not faint, relishing that viaticum that is offered to you, a sick and tired member of the people of God.
While praying the Scriptures using the lectio divina method we allow ourselves to be cradled or rocked by God. This method is not so much about discovering new meanings, preparing new discourses but feeling God’s presence within us. (Fr. Joe Vieira)
From my early childhood I loved to be outdoors, especially at first light in the morning. There was something very attractive and fascinating, whatever the weather or the time of year. Later on I realized that somehow God was present and speaking to me in a very personal way through nature
In the last of this series of confreres’ reflections on mission and the Word of God, Fr David Glenday shares in letter-form his thoughts on how God’s Word has formed him as a missionary.
I have set out seven points from which some may be chosen as the themes of sharing in the community. It should be a way of praising God for the way the Word leads us in our lives, making us feel loved, forgiven, nourished and sustained by this Word that we carry with us.
There are two ways in which we can prepare and celebrate Christmas. One way is to live it as a circular time, meaning something that is repeated and commemorated (ok, Christmas again… cool). The other way is to live it as a horizontal or linear time meaning, a time in which every year something absolutely new is happening.
The world is in transformation, and so is mission today. We all notice the changes in the world around us, in the fields of digitalization, globalization, communication, as well as some negative effects such as: the complexity of the digital world, the problem of cultural and religious identity, and the loneliness of modern human beings.
On the Feast of the Transfiguration in 1923, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin found himself alone at sunrise in the Ordos desert in China, watching the sun spread its orange and red light across the horizon. He was deeply moved, humanly and religiously. What he most wanted to do in response was to celebrate mass, to somehow consecrate the whole world to God.
Where should we be casting our eyes? Upward, downward, or just on the road that we’re walking? Well, there are different kinds of spiritualities: spiritualities of the Ascent, Spiritualities of the Descent and Spiritualities of Maintenance, and each is important.
There are some today who maintain a propositional, unidirectional, top-down understanding of the development of doctrine and church discipline that can only be decided by those who are ordained and be passively received by the lay faithful… avoiding or rejecting the role of the sensus fidelium…
The season of Lent is a favourable time to remedy the dissonant chords of our Christian life and to receive the ever new, joyful and hope-filled proclamation of the Lord’s Passover. The Church in her maternal wisdom invites us to pay special attention to anything that could dampen or even corrode our believing heart.
I would like to focus this preliminary thinking with the Church, along with Saint Oscar, on thanksgiving, or rather gratitude, for all the unmerited blessings we have received. Romero instinctively knew how to understand and appreciate the Church, because he loved her deeply as the wellspring of his faith.
A wearied hope will be healed and will enjoy that “particular tiredness of heart” when it is unafraid to return to the place of its first love and to find, in the peripheries and challenges before us today, the same song, the same gaze that inspired the song and the gaze of those who have gone before us.
I would like to look at two aspects of waiting. One is the waiting for God, and the other is the waiting of God. We are waiting. God is waiting.
“As so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith.”
Unique, amazing, overwhelming. And let’s admit it straight away: off-the-pegs clothes didn’t suit him. Pointless to get involved in cutting and sewing… he’d have suffocated in them. He was as he was. That’s how he was made. Every size was too tight on him. And there was nothing to do if the pattern didn’t fit.
With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.
As we move through the life course, our very wandering is similar to the concept of peregrinatio. We move from place to place, life event to life event, and situation to situation with, perhaps, a general idea of what lies ahead and, at other times, perhaps not. Yet, we go forward because of the life that calls us to movement.
“One of the things I think needs to happen is a change in attitude on the part of the magisterium, especially the Roman Magisterium. They must move away from the position that they are expected to have all the answers to an attitude of listening to public opinion in the Church”
May, in the celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart, the Good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep, make us like him and guide us in our mission to build up his Kingdom.
Each Ave Maria suggests the individual journey that each of us must make, from birth to death. It is marked by the biological rhythm of each human life. It mentions the only three moments of our lives which we can know with absolute certainty: that we are born, that we live now, and that we shall die.
This is part of a beautiful article and inspiring meditation titled “Risen Time: Easter as the Source of History” by Fr. Jose Granados, where he situates the paschal mystery in relation to the historical faith of Israel and in relation to the human experience of time and matter.
As all the water outside a vessel can do it no harm until it enters the vessel, itself, so outward persecutions cannot really injure the Church of God. But when the mischief oozes into the Church and the love of God’s people grows cold—ah, then the boat is in sore distress!
The present article of ongoing formation offers you the Pope’s message for Lent and an (old but interesting) Sermon of the famous Eglish Baptist preacher Charles Haddon SPURGEON (1834-1892) on the evangelical sentence chosen by the Pope as the topic of his message: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12)
Let us to share three moments experienced by Peter and the first community: Peter and the community disheartened, Peter and the community shown mercy, and Peter and the community transfigured. I play with this pairing of Peter and the community since the life of apostles always has this twofold dimension, the personal and the communitarian.
After having meditated last time on the place Christ occupies in the cosmos, I would like to dedicate this second reflection to the place Christ occupies in human history: after first considering his presence in space, we will now consider his presence in time.
Most theories of religion start out with defining the religious situation as man’s search for God and maintain the axiom that God is silent, hidden and unconcerned with man’s search for Him. Now, in adopting that axiom, the answer is given before the question is asked. To Biblical thinking, the definition is incomplete and the axiom false. The Bible speaks not only of man’s search for God but also of God’s search for man.
There are three comings of Jesus. Christ did come in the past, Christ does come right now, and Christ will come in the future. If you don’t mind me saying it in a more poetic way, Our Lord comes to us in history, mystery, and majesty.
Each year we prepare a month in advance, for our Christmas celebration. This time is called “Advent”, in latin “ad-venire”, in Spanish “lo/el que viene”, in English “the coming of someone or something”. But there are two ways in which we can prepare and celebrate Christmas.
There is a deep longing in the human heart for enduring love, and because God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), this deep longing is really a longing for God. God alone can ultimately fulfill this longing of the human heart because He Himself created us with this innermost desire for Him, although so often we do not consciously realize its true source.
I think that one of the great New Testament Biblical characters to put on the “lamp-stand of our house” (Matthew 5, 15) is Mary Magdalene, the woman of the great daybreak, the first messenger of the Resurrection. She is the image of the passionate Church Wife, looking for her Lord.
HENRI J.M. NOUWEN is the author of more than thirty books. He taught at the University of Notre Dame, as well as Yale and Harvard Universities. From 1986 until his death in September, 1996, he was pastor of the L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto where he shared his life with people with mental disabilities. The present text is taken from the introduction and last chapter of his book Can you drink the cup? (AVE MARIA PRESS Notre Dame, Indiana – 1996)
St. Joseph is a key figure in understanding some of the essential dimensions of the Christian vocation. Let us consider four of them: protecting life, living fairly, letting God be the protagonist in our life, cultivating the mystical dimension. They highlight why the Church holds up Saint Joseph as a model for all Christians.
In a spirituality which is focused on others and their needs, the Eucharist becomes first of all a time to remember: to remember, in thanksgiving, how this community, to which we have committed ourselves, began, namely through the total self-sacrifice of its founder and leader, the Risen Jesus, and to recall, once again, the core value of self-sacrificing love by which the community is to live.
Either the vc will understand this cultural period of transit and once more adopt a deeply relational and communal approach, or it will risk placing itself outside the meaningful human context, no longer meeting any demand or any aspect, any expectation held by men and women today, and, therefore, having nothing more to say, no image to present, no appeal.
My working hypothesis is that the new image of the vc should first and foremost be that of relationship. “Relationship” in its widest and most essential meaning, precisely because relationships are at the basis of human life.
My Dear Young People,
I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.
Nazareth is the town of Mary, thus the echoes of childhood surface once again! Nazareth has hosted silences, disquietudes and, above all, dreams. The dream of Mary who, in her listening, was ready to welcome centuries of Biblical memories. The dream of Joseph, the young carpenter, who trusted an angel and, like children, put every calculation aside. “Here everything has a voice, everything has a meaning. (….). Oh! How much willingly we would like to be children again and sit at this humble and sublime school of Nazareth…
MISERICORDIA ET MISERA is a phrase used by Saint Augustine in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman taken in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11). It would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful or apt way of expressing the mystery of God’s love when it touches the sinner: “the two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”.
The dialogue is not a doctrinal truth; it is not just an ingredient, essential though it is. It is the figure of a new way of “being Church” and of “building Church”.
Evangelical Fidelity and personal satisfaction.
Our religious profession implies two dimensions: our life and our mission. In our life, it appears impossible to mark the boundaries between life and mission since everything in our is based on the evangelizing mission.
Let us hope that the Lord will grant us what we sought in prayer: to imitate Jesus’ example of patience, and with that patience to overcome all our difficulties.
This, our third meditation, is entitled: The good odour of Christ and the light of his mercy.
In this third meeting, I propose that we meditate on the works of mercy, by taking whichever one we feel is most closely linked to our charism, and by looking at them as a whole. We can contemplate them through the merciful eyes of Our Lady
After meditating on the “embarrassed dignity” and “dignified embarrassment” that are the fruits of mercy, let us continue by considering the “vessel of mercy”. This is not something complicated. Let me simply say that the vessel of mercy is our sin. It is that simple.
Spiritual Retreat Given Pope Francis On the occasion of the Jubilee for Priests.
Let us begin this day of spiritual retreat. I think it will benefit us to pray for one another, in communion. A retreat, but all of us in communion! I have chosen the theme of mercy. First, a short introduction for the entire retreat.
Today they often mention the rediscovery of beauty as expression of a necessary integration with the truth and the goodness, the two pillars or the two classically transcendent things. I debate to introduce a forth pillar, that of joy, of happiness and beatitude. Joy is an intimate desire of every person, a constant not always satisfied research, the promise of somebody who keeps on inviting us to live in joy, also amidst trials and persecutions. We must add “God is joy”.
When, four years ago, I went to Saint Petersburg to see Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, I had little idea how much I would have to live what I then saw. I stand with awe at the place where Rembrandt brought me. He led me from the kneeling, dishevelled young son to the standing, bent-over old father, from the place of being blessed to the place of blessing. As I look at my own aging hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.
Here is the God I want to believe in: a Father who, from the beginning of creation, has stretched out his arms in merciful blessing, never forcing himself on anyone, but always waiting; never letting his arms drop down in despair, but always hoping that his children will return so that he can speak words of love to them and let his tired arms rest on their shoulders. His only desire is to bless.
The return of the elder son is becoming as important to me as – if not more important than – the return of the younger son. How will the elder son look when he is free from his complaints, free from his anger, resentments, and jealousies? Because the parable tells us nothing about the response of the elder son, we are left with the choice of listening to the Father or of remaining imprisoned in our self-rejection.