Discover Your Sacred Story

tumblr_mhwetq3sCl1rrutr7o1_400Don’t you just love it when God keeps reminding us of something everywhere we turn.  Yesterday the Holy Father announced an extraordinary holy year, a Jubilee Year of Mercy. This morning during the Office of Readings we couldn’t help but smile at the second reading from St. Gregory of Nazianzen, which was all about mercy:

The Lord of all asks for mercy, not sacrifice, and mercy is greater than myriads of fattened lambs. Let us then show him mercy in the persons of the poor and those who today are lying on the ground, so that when we come to leave this world they may receive us into everlasting dwelling places, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory for ever and ever. 

And then the Gospel at Mass confirmed it again as we heard the publican’s humble prayer “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

The holy year will be organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization because, the Holy Father says, it is the mission of the Church to bring everyone to the Gospel of Mercy.  Truly, to encounter Mercy is to encounter Christ, Who is Mercy itself.  The devil lies to us, telling us that our mistakes and the sins we have committed throughout our lives have the final word.  The truth is Christ has the final word, and it is a word of mercy – if we are willing to accept it and turn from sin.

But how can we tell others of the renewing power of God’s mercy if we ourselves haven’t experienced it?  We can’t.  Everyone’s life has been touched by the merciful love of God, Continue reading

Sharing the joy of the Gospel

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In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded.

-Evangelii Gaudium

It used to be that the only time we were on the radio was a few times a year when they had their Share-a-Thons.  Now it’s the only time we aren’t on the radio.  This week GRN is having their December Share-A-Thon, so we got the day off, which you already noticed if you tuned in to listen to A Good Habit earlier.  

If you haven’t already done so, please consider making a donation to support the Guadalupe Radio Network.  It gives us an opportunity to connect with you each week, and more importantly, it brings the Truths of our Catholic faith to the world through the daily Mass, apologetics programs like Catholic Answers Live, news and many other programs.  Catholic radio is a life-line for many people, a way to “preach the Gospel to all”. If you’d like to keep it going, please click here

Even as far India

When Cardinal Tauran stepped onto the loggia of St. Peter’s and announced to the world that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the 265th successor of Peter, he told us “qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum“.

Hearing it for the first time, and having already been told by news commentators that the new pope was a Jesuit, we all assumed he was taking the name of St. Francis Xavier, close companion of St. Ignatius and one of the greatest missionaries of all time.  Everyone assumed as much.  It wasn’t until a press conference soon after that we learned he had actually chosen the name after St. Francis of Assisi, known for his evangelical simplicity and poverty, his humility and his charity.

Today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, and in the Office of Readings we read an excerpt from one of his letters to St. Ignatius.  It struck us how he, too, possessed all those same qualities of the Little Poor Man of Assisi.  St. Francis Xavier’s own burning desire to spread the Gospel also sounds very much like some of the things we hear Pope Francis saying in his homilies and addresses.  In fact, it sounds very much like the call to all Catholics to take part in the New Evangelization.

Here is the part of the second reading that really jumped out at us:

 Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: “What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you!”

 

I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.

 

This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice. They would cry out with all their heart: Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do? Send me anywhere you like—even to India.

What Is Pope Francis Up To?

By guest blogger Dr. David Delaney

What is Pope Francis up to?  This is the question many of us have been asking since we were surprised with the blessing of a new Holy Father to replace our beloved Pope Benedict XVI.  Almost everyone was surprised to have received an American pope from the far ends of the earth who took the name of Francis.

Many have been looking to St. Francis of Assisi to try to interpret his words and actions, and for some hint of where he may be heading.  However, it is becoming clear that while there is great significance to his taking the name of Francis, we must likewise pay closer attention to his background as an Argentinian Jesuit and to his symbolic actions which are hints as to what he is thinking.

Now some things are obvious from his words.  We know that he was elected by Cardinals who agreed that the new pope’s priority must be reform of the curia and the Church and that he took this charge as his marching orders.  He has told us many things about what he sees as his priorities.  He wants, using the words of Benedict XVI, a poor Church for the poor, he wants bishops and priests to be pastors rather than administrators, he wants all Catholics to go out and evangelize.  However, we are not yet quite sure how he intends to bring these things about.  Now we hear news of new encyclical in the works, the first significant teaching taken on his own initiative. And what will be the topic?  It will be a clarification for religious on the vow of poverty but he says it will also be meant for the laity.

Now we know that he wants a “poor Church.” He tells us that this means that we must realize that we have nothing to offer of our own.  We have nothing of value to offer the world but Christ.  It is evident that Francis sees a Church which recognizes and lives its poverty not as a pie in the sky idea.  An encyclical is one of the most solemn forms of teaching that can come from the papal Magisterium and so we need to take this topic as one of supreme significance.  But how does this all fit together in his plan?  I suggest the answer may be found in recalling one of the first things he did after his installation.  He went to St. Mary Major and prayed at the tomb of St. Pius V.  We may be starting to see the need to look more closely at St. Pius V’s life and his program of reform.  I would suggest that a nice little summary of St. Pius V in the Catholic Encyclopedia could be very instructive.

While popes have a relatively short list of peers, one can see how Pope Francis would feel a close kinship with St. Pius V.  Pius V was known for his austere living, his humility and his view of the importance of poverty.  Pius removed all aspects of luxury from the papal court, he lived austerely himself, and was said to have a special love for the poor and outcast.  He was said to have converted an English nobleman who watched him kiss the ulcerated feet of a beggar.  He led a reform of the clergy, especially requiring bishops to become authentic pastors in their dioceses. He had a special concern to return religious orders to the practice of the evangelical counsels and their original charisms; especially reforming the Cistercians.  His great Marian devotion can be said to have saved Europe from Muslim invasion at Lepanto (notice Francis’ appeal to Mary Queen of Peace for peace in Syria).  Pius was also a zealous defender of the faith but simultaneously exhorted bishops to work for reunion with the recently separated Protestants.

Pope Francis may very well have adopted at least parts of St. Pius V’s pontificate for his own program of reform. If so, this means that Francis is embarking upon a reform effort much deeper and broader than we have seen at least since St. Pius X and possibly since St. Pius V.  His Argentinian Jesuit background can, I think,  tell us much more about which aspects he will be concentrating on, but that is for another time.  In the meantime, I think we all must read closely this new encyclical when it appears.  I suspect that we are going to be asked to ponder the real meaning of poverty and how this relates to the radical nature of Christianity.  All of this will be necessary for the new evangelization.  I get the sense that Francis is going to begin to teach us how the failure of Catholics to understand and live an authentic poverty is the source of many of our problems in the Church and in the world.  Oh yeah, St. Pius V is also credited with having said that all of the problems in the world are due to lukewarm Catholics…

Dr. Delaney is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas.  He previously wrote for the now defunct Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex blog.

They Picked Up Stones

By guest blogger Dr. David Delaney

Thursday’s Gospel reminds me of the dangers of the fallen heart.  The Pharisees, the teachers of the law, were so sure that they knew the fullness of the Law (Jn 8:51-59).  However, when faced with the Law’s fullness, Jesus who is the Law, they could not recognize Him.  He did not conform to their limited understanding of God.  They refused to step back and ask themselves if this might be a new Prophet, even the Messiah.  Their hearts were closed to a re-evaluation of their interpretation of the law; they did not consider if they understood it only partially.

I can’t help but see a parallel here to recent criticisms of our Holy Father Francis from some Catholics who are concerned about his liturgical sensibilities.  I share their concern for authentic liturgy.  I strongly believe that a liturgy that helps us to understand we are at once on earth and in heaven, is necessary for the new evangelization.  However, a group of these “liturgically sensitive” Catholics seems to have allowed this concern to affect the openness of their hearts to our newly elected Vicar of Christ and have given themselves up to suspicion and even contempt.  Like the Pharisees, some have even taken to calling him the equivalent of “possessed.”

Pope Francis is going to be full of surprises for all of us.  Before Pope Francis, we had two great teaching popes who used their personal gifts to bring a new synthesis of the faith to the contemporary world.  Francis will be another great teaching Pope, but he will be more sparing in his use of words.  He will use words, but he will demonstrate them in action in ways that will surprise most of us, and unfortunately, his demonstrations will become a stumbling block to others who have not fully understood the teaching of his predecessors.

Blessed John Paul the Great emphasized in his writings the necessity of acting in love, in accord with the teachings of Christ through His Church.  His message that we must not be afraid, gave us the hope that Christ was still faithful to His promises, the He is still alive in His Church. Benedict XVI, perhaps the greatest theological intellect to grace the papal office since St. Gregory the Great (though JPII was not far behind), emphasized the need for faith.  He fought especially against the dictatorship of relativism by which the enemy seeks to undermine the reasonableness of belief.  Benedict demonstrated that greatness of intellect does in fact bring one to deep faith in Christ.  A most important message for our time.

By most accounts of those who know him, Pope Francis like his predecessors, is a very intelligent man of great faith, humility, love and holiness.  However, his personal style is more like his name’s sake.  While St. Francis was a great evangelist, we have nothing of his writings.  He was a man of living out the words he preached (though there is no evidence he said “preach always and if you must, use words”).  I believe that this is what we will see from Pope Francis.  He will teach using few words, which will be followed by provocative acts of love and humility.

Expect to see love lived out in ways that will teach us anew what it means to be a Christian.  For those of us who have read the words of the previous popes, but not yet let these words fully penetrate our hearts and convict us by how we live, expect to be a little bit uncomfortable.  However, we must let our hearts be docile and trust in Christ that He is still leading His Church through Pope Francis.

I believe that this is the papacy of love; it is the necessary final step in experiencing the new springtime in the Church, the fruits of the last 30 years of preparation for this new evangelization.  When as faithful Catholics we begin to allow our actions to authentically witness to Christ, the pagan empire will begin its Christian conversion once again.  Let us open our hearts to Christ in His Vicar.  Let us not be one of the Pharisees who begins to pick up stones…

Dr. Delaney is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas.  He previously wrote for the now defunct Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex blog.

Pope Francis’ First Homily: We Must Preach Christ Crucified

We are happy to share this post from our friend Dr. David Delaney, who shares his thoughts on our Holy Father’s first homily.  To read the actual text of Pope Francis’ homily click here.

Pope Francis’s First Homily: We Must Preach Christ Crucified

Listening to our Holy Father’s first homily, I was struck by what he emphasized and how this may possibly suggest what will be the emphasis for his pontificate.  Perhaps it also may help us to understand more deeply his choice of St. Francis as his papal name (assuming Fr. Lombardi’s statement is correct that he chose the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi rather than St. Francis Xavier).

Our new Holy Father Francis emphasized in his homily the need for conversion and discipleship (albeit he did not use the term disciple this is what he described).  He declared that we must witness Christ to this world.  Strikingly, he stated that when we are not witness for Christ then we are witnesses for the devil.  This is a profound statement!  Francis is declaring that for the Christian, there is no neutral ground.  If we do not explicitly preach Christ then we are doing the devil’s bidding. This is the very poison with which secularism attempts to salt us.  The new evangelization means that we must reject any temptation to go along in order to get along.

Francis qualifies the preaching of Christ.  He tells us that if we do not preach the Cross then we preach another christ.  I suspect that this is a hint about the selection of his papal name.  St. Bonaventure recounts the vision by which St. Francis receives his stigmata as that which indelibly marks him with a devotion to Christ Crucified.  It was Christ Crucified who Francis and his little band preached in order to rebuild Christ’s Church.  It seems to me that Pope Francis is emphasizing the pressing need for the Church to be the agent for overcoming secularism. This may very well be Pope Francis’s approach to the new evangelization, preaching Christ Crucified in word and deed.

Finally, Pope Francis warns us that our life in Christ can never be static.  That is, if we are not moving forward on our journey toward conversion and communion with Christ, then we are moving backward, we are losing ground.  This truth confirms us in our need for perpetual zeal in living for Christ and His Cross and for witnessing this same life to the world.

Pope Francis’s life of poverty is his living witness to the Cross.  It is a rejection of the siren song of self-sufficiency, which is a perpetual danger for those of us who live so much “in the world” that we slip into being “of the world.” His solidarity with the poor expresses and lives out his solidarity with Christ Crucified and at the same time, is an inoculation against the temptations of the world, that is the devil.  This must also be our attitude for the new evangelization.  We cannot adequately preach Christ if we do not know Him intimately, if we do not allow ourselves to experience His Cross through poverty of spirit.  We must know Christ Crucified if we are going to be authentic witnesses to Him.

Dr. Delaney is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas.  He previously wrote for the now defunct Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex blog.