Friday, May 30, 2014

Camino Pilgrims III

We are about to leave for Ascension Thursday Mass, yesterday was without doubt the toughest day, we walked close to 40 kilometers across some mountains to arrive at a small town Acebo late at night. Here we met a French man who was generous to pay for us to stay in an albergue-shelter. The previous night we spent in Astorga at their seminary, which is actually no longer in use. 

On the Camino they have come to know us as the juggling priests...even though those who are in cassocks are not the most important part of the show...haha

Thank you for all your prayers; we continue to remain united through prayer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Camino Pilgrims II

From the Road to Campostela:

We are now waking up in Villar de Mazarife, located about 20 km from Leon, and will soon head out and we expect to walk close to 30 km today. 

We stayed our first night at a Benedictine Monastery in Leon, where we were given shelter for free. And it was close by to the beautiful gothic Cathedral, where Don Eduardo, the rector of the Cathedral and former seminary rector, was extremely friendly in receiving our group even to the extent of buying tapas and 'cafĂ© con leche' for us and giving us a small tour. 

We had great success with the juggling thus far, it has been fun putting forth these shows! We had three shows the first day (Sunday) and one before we left on Monday and one when we arrived in Villar de Mazarife. 

I hope to write to you again soon, know we are well and already on the Camino on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James. We keep all of you in our prayers, please continue to pray for us!

On the Way to Astorga

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Prayer for our Pilgrims

Several of our seminarians have embarked with a group on the Camino, a pilgrimage on foot of over a week to Santiago di Compostela in Galicia, Spain.  They are juggling and singing for their supper along the way.  Stay tuned to this blog for posts from along the pilgrim path in the days to come.

In the meantime, here's an ancient prayer of the Camino pilgrim which I ask that we pray for them over the next week...

O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us,
your servants, as we walk in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela.

Be for us our companion on the walk,
Our guide at the crossroads,
Our breath in our weariness,
Our protection in danger,
Our albergue on the Camino,
Our shade in the heat,
Our light in the darkness,
Our consolation in our discouragements,
And our strength in our intentions.

So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and sound at the end of the Road and enriched with grace and virtue we return safely to our homes filled with joy.  
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

O, Holy Apostle Santiago, pray for us.

Santa Maria, pray for us.

Saint John, pray for us.

Saints Peters and Paul, pray for us.

Juggling pins and backpacks awaited the pilgrims
departure this morning at SJS.

"Peace is not something which can be bought or sold"

"Peace is not something which can be bought or sold; peace is a gift to be sought patiently and to be "crafted" through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we are all of the same stock and members of the one human family; if we never forget that we have the same Father in heaven and that we are all his children, made in his image and likeness."

                            - Homily during Mass at the Amman International Stadium (24 May 2014)

Nine New Priests for Boston

Among those ordained today were our own Father George Fitzsimmons, Father Karlo Hocurscak, and Father Jiwon Yoon.  The Video of the ordination (via Catholic TV) can be accessed by clicking here.  Here is a text of Cardina O'Malley's Homily:

“Today’s criticism of Jesus in the Gospel, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them,” is what occasions today’s teaching about the shepherd and the lost sheep.  Just as when the Pharisees criticized Jesus with the very same complaint about the party at Levi, and Zacchaeus’ place.

Jesus is the friend of sinners and is always reaching out to those who are on the margins and He brings them center stage; the tax collector and prostitutes, the beggars, the blind, the lame and the halt. 

Today’s Gospel describes the Good Shepherd who is willing to leave the company of the 99 and seek out the one lost sheep.  We might be tempted to say, let the one lost sheep be an insurance claim or a tax write off.

The shepherd seeks his lost sheep with determination until he finds it.  And when he finds it He carries it on his shoulders with great joy.  The bishop’s vestments speak to us of our pastoral responsibilities.  The crosier, the crook, is to ward off the wolves and coyotes and to rescue the lambs that stray into harmful paths.

The pallium is made from the wool of lambs blessed on the feast of St. Agnes and woven by the Benedictine nuns and kept on top of the tomb of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica.  It is supposed to represent the figure of the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb on his shoulders.  The black on the ends is supposed to symbolize the hoofs of the sheep.  Each Archbishop receives the pallium from the Pope.  This pallium I received from the hand of Pope Saint John Paul II.

Let it be a reminder to all of us that the Good Shepherd carries the lost sheep home rejoicing.  The image of the Good Shepherd is the most common of the symbolic representations of Christ found in the early Christian art in the Catacombs of Rome, before Christian imagery could be more explicit.  A cross was never displayed.  It was too dangerous.

The form of the image showing a young man carrying a lamb around his neck was directly borrowed from the older pagan statues called kriophoros which means: “The lamb beaver” and referred to the pagan god Hermes.

The Christians used it as a clandestine symbol since Jesus uses the metaphor of the Good Shepherd as one of the principal ways to communicate who He is, His love and care for us and His willingness to lay down His life for each of us.

Pope Francis’ Chrism Mass homily last year made quite a splash by his statement that the shepherd should have the smell of the sheep.  I proposed a sniff test for last year’s ordination class.
In this year’s masterful Chrism homily, the Holy Father reminds us priests that in our priestly ordination, Christ has anointed us with the oil of gladness.  We must appreciate the great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest.  Priestly joy, the Holy Father says “is a priceless treasure not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God.

Pope Francis says that the priest is anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness.  The Holy Father says priestly joy has three significant features.  He has a great line, the Pope says “It is a joy which anoints us (not one that “greases” us, making us unctuous, sumptuous and presumptuous); it is a joy which is imperishable and it is a missionary joy which spreads and attracts, starting backwards – with those farthest away from us.

I would like to reflect for a moment on this missionary joy of the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd has a special love and concern for the one who is farthest away, most ungrateful, perhaps even hostile to the rest of the flock.  The Good Shepherd does not say that recalcitrant rebel deserves to be eaten by the wolf or end up as road kill on the highway of life, but rather risks all to pursue the lost sheep and does not stop until he finds it.  And when he finds that lost sheep, he does not beat it with a stick or yell at it.  The Good Shepherd lifts the sheep and places him lovingly on his shoulders and carries him home.  And then the Good Shepherd assembles his friends and neighbors as the Gospel tells us and invites them, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.”

Today, the Good Shepherd is saying to our ordinands, “Rejoice with me”.  Have this same missionary joy, always anxious to seek out and find the lost sheep.  Let that be your passion and the source of your joy.  It even causes joy in Heaven.

Last Thursday we gathered at the Pastoral Center for a ceremony to launch the process of Beatification for the Servant of God, Fr. Joseph Muzquiz, who worked for many years in the Archdiocese of Boston.  Fr. Joseph used to say that when a salesman makes a sale, he gets a commission.  If he makes no sale, he gets nothing.  On the other hand when we present the Gospel, reach out to a sinner, try to convince the lost sheep, we get the commission just for trying.

The keen realization that we are moving from a cultural Catholicism to an intentional Catholicism, underscores the need to be an energetic evangelizer, never passing up an opportunity to invite, to encourage, to evangelize.

The second reading from tomorrow’s Mass is taken from the first letter of Peter; our first Papal Encyclical declares: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

The priest today cannot be absconded in the rectory waiting for the lost sheep to come and ring the door bell; he must go out.  Pope Francis says that when a priest tries to find his priestly identity by soul searching and introspection, may well encounter “exit” signs that say: exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what is entrusted to you, for your people will make you feel and taste who you are, what your name is, what your identity is, and they will make you rejoice in that hundredfold which the Lord has promised to those who serve Him.

Whoever is in Christ, is a new creation as St. Paul tells us.  Your ordination makes you a new creation and an instrument of reconciliation in a world fraught by division.

You are Christ’s ambassadors, His messengers, His reconcilers.  One of the greatest joys of a priest is to bring those words of comfort – Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.  That means more than giving someone a million dollars, the assurance of God’s love and mercy.

To be a good confessor, you must be a good penitent.  Use the sacrament of God’s mercy to deepen your own conversion.  What a great photo of Pope Francis going to confession in St. Peter’s.

The confessional is the emergency room of the field hospital that is the Church.  Learn to be a man of compassion and mercy so as to help your people experience God’s healing mercy.

Jesus makes use of the shepherd image to describe God’s unfailing concern for those who have gone astray.  Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for the sheep.  Jesus even quotes from the prophet Zechariah: “They shall strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.”  But Jesus, the Risen Lord, returns as the Good Shepherd to gather those scattered disciples and frightened followers to Himself.

One important feature of the shepherding image in Scriptures is courage.  The courage of Jesus is both strong and gentle.  Above all, it is courage for others, not a courage for his own defense or aggrandizement.

There is courage in the words of Jesus.  Throughout the Gospel, Jesus us put to the test and challenged by His opponents.  Should we render tribute to Caesar?  Should we stone this adulterous woman?  Why do you heal on the Sabbath?  Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners?  Jesus’ answers are both calm and fearless.  They spring from an inner strength that comes from His oneness with the Father.  There is courage in the actions of Jesus.  He touches lepers and speaks to the possessed.  He rides into Jerusalem knowing that His enemies are watching every move.  He boldly drives the moneychangers from the temple.

There is courage in the sufferings of Jesus.  He willingly shares the lot of the poor, the homeless, the exiled.  He rejects the comforts of family and possessions.  He accepts the friendship of those who misunderstand Him, and even betray and deny Him.  He overcomes temptations and in His agony in Gethsemane, finds a way to bend His fear and sorrow to the Father’s Will.

He endures taunts, flogging and crucifixion because He knows that it is the way love requires.
Such is the courage of the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the Flock.

Too often we lack the courage that shepherding requires.  We lean desperately on the goodwill and praise of others or on the reassurance of possessions and of social standing, because we lack trust in our own worth without these external validations.  When we lack an inner wholeness, we do not have the grace to speak to others with both tenderness and strength.  It matters too much that the other is pleased and too little whether we speak the truth.  We cannot be shepherds so long as comfort is our main concern and so long as the roads through the wilderness are too lonely and too dangerous for us.

We will find that courage to lead God’s people, only through our prayer life and the support of priestly fraternity.  Without Him, we can do nothing.  Without each other, we can do little.

The Good Shepherd was born in Bethlehem, which means the House of Bread, and was laid in a manger, a feed box.

Today, the tabernacle is the manger and we are the shepherds called to feed Christ’s flock.  We must be men of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity; we who eat of the one loaf become one body.

We must work tirelessly to achieve unity and fellowship in Christ’s Church.

The Good Shepherd washes the feet of the disciples and entrusts to us the mission of feeding new generations of disciples.  Jesus asks us as He did Peter, Do you love me…then feed my sheep.  There is so much spiritual hunger in our world, waiting to be fed by faithful shepherds.

May Mary, Mother of the Divine Shepherd, make you priests according to her Son’s own heart.  May your ministry abound with the missionary joy, born of giving your life for God’s people and seeking out those who have stormed off, dozed off, or just drifted away.  Put them lovingly on your shoulders and rejoice with the Good Shepherd.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vox Clara Committee Meets in Rome

The Vox Clara Committee just completed several days of meetings in Rome. Here's the Press Release made available just a few minutes ago.

May 19-20, 2014

The Vox Clara Committee met from May 19-20, 2014 in Rome. This Committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world was formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.

The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell (Prefect of the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Economy). Participants in the May 19-20, 2014 meeting included Bishop Thomas Olmsted, First Vice-Chairman (Phoenix), Cardinal Justin Rigali, Treasurer (Philadelphia, Emeritus), Archbishop Alfred Hughes (New Orleans, Emeritus) and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J. (Ottawa). Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Second Vice-Chairman (Bombay), Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Secretary (Paterson), Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. (Chicago) and Cardinal John Tong Hon (Hong Kong), Archbishop Michael Neary (Tuam) and Bishop David McGough (Birmingham, Auxiliary) were unable to be present for this meeting.

Also assisting the meeting were Monsignor James P. Moroney (Executive Secretary), Reverend Dennis McManus (expert), Monsignor Gerard McKay (advisor), Reverend Joseph Briody (special assistant) and Reverend Gerard Byrne (special assistant). Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B (expert) and Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. (advisor) were unable to be present.

The representatives of the Holy See included the Delegate to the Vox Clara Committee, Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary of the Congregation, accompanied by officials of the Congregation.

The Committee heard reports on the reception of the Roman Missal in the English-speaking world and a variety of practical matters.

The Committee spent the greatest amount of time reviewing the ICEL Gray Book Translations of the Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium and the Ordo Confirmationis as recently approved by several English-speaking Conferences of Bishops. The Committee was grateful for the quality of these translations and developed a limited list of recommendations concerning their refinement which it submitted to the Congregation.

The Committee also approved plans for the completion of a revision of the Ratio Translationis for the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia in accordance with Liturgiam authenticam, no. 9.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation, joined the Vox Clara Committee for the first morning of its work. The Secretary thanked the members “for the painstaking process” which they followed in reviewing the ICEL translations and extended to the members the gratitude of the Congregation for their advice.

This was the twenty-third meeting of the Vox Clara Committee which will continue its work in October of 2014.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Closing Mass and Festivites

On Thursday we celebrated the closing Mass for this academic year, followed by the traditional cookout and bocci tournament.  Here's my homily, followed by some photos of the day (just before everyone got in their cars and went home to their summer assignments!)


Well, its almost over.  And I daresay the exams, the composites and the papers are gratefully fading from view, as you imagine the day you will be ordained and your first Mass, or what the parish will be like, or the country you’ll be visiting, or even the year you’ve decided to take off from formation.  So much ahead of you, and all in pursuit of one goal: to figure out what God wants of you, whether he wants you to be a Priest.

And not just any priest, a Diocesan Priest, a parish priest for the rest of your life.  

Nearly seventy years ago, there was a young and talented Bishop’s secretary whose reflections on parish priesthood were offered at Our Lady of the Presentation Church, where our lecture hall stands today.  He was preaching at a celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Father Daniel Donovan, OLP Pastor.  Father John Wright had just left the Seminary as a teacher of Logic and was now serving as secretary to the newest Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cushing.

Father Wright, who would later in his life found my home Diocese and later still serve as a Cardinal of the Roman Church, was an outstanding orator, and offered these words on who you seek to be:

This vocation, to serve the diocese in obedience to a bishop, has a dignity of its own. It's apostolate is permanent and never changing, as the essential needs of men for Christ's priesthood are unchanging.

The great religious orders, with their particular vocations, come into existence and respond to the particular needs of certain epochs and certain places; and they dissolve and disappear when the need which first brought them into being itself no longer exists.

But the diocesan priest must meet the needs of all the faithful and at all times.

He is not the son of St. Ignatius, but he must have all the soldierly obedience of the Jesuit and a readiness to swallow his pride for the sake of objectives higher than himself.

He is not the son of St. Francis, but he must be possessed of the genial joy that comes of a priestly heart unfreighted with the vulgar baggage of place or property or preferment.

He is not the son of St. Benedict, nor of St. Bernard, nor of any other of the great founders of priestly communities, but he must always find his companionship in the fraternity of his fellow priests and share the community of their burdens.

The diocesan priest is not the son of St. Dominic, but all the love of the preachers for God's holy Word must be his as week in, week out, he preaches the law of the Gospel and tries to remember, in daily contact with his people this secret: that the voice which penetrates the hearts of the hearer is the voice commanded by the speaker’s own life; because what his word enjoins, his example helps to bring about.

He is constituted a priest by his obedience to the apostles, in their successors, the Bishops. It is by his obedience that he becomes assimilated to the priesthood of Christ, as it was by Christ's obedience that he became himself a Priest.

By the act of your will by which you become one with Christ in loving obedience to him and to his Church, your human personality becomes veiled before the eyes of men and even those of God.  In you…God sees no longer a man pleading before him, but his own Son, the co-sharer of his nature.  To his altar you daily bring bread and wine, but God still sees the Upper Room and hears his Christ blessing these species…

From the pulpit you preach, and the accent is yours and all the style.  But God, listening to you, hears the voice of his own Son, our own Teacher, the Master, the Christ….

Then if in joy you come to him finally with a lifelong priesthood manifestly fruitful in triumphs for Christ, God will see you resplendent with a glory happily not your own, for the Creator of Light is not dazzled by the brilliance of any creature, but rather Christ’s, the light of his own Light, lumen de lumine.

And if, mayhap, you come to him somehow defeated, beaten, or betrayed in all you strove to do to bring his Kingdom to pass on earth, then you may still lift your confident gaze to him, for he will see in your eyes, since you are with Christ, the blended tears of two: yours and those of his Son!

That is the Priesthood we seek and for which God still seeks men like you and me. May God draw you closer to his will this summer and every day of the rest of your lives.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Pope will now answer your questions...

Yesterday Pope Francis answered the questions of a gathering of seminarians studying at the various Seminaries in Rome.  Here is a translation of that interaction provided by Zenit (

SEMINARIAN: Good morning, Holy Father. My name is Daniel. I come from the United States, I am a Deacon and I am of the North American College. We have come to Rome above all for an academic formation and to maintain faith in this commitment. How can an integral priestly formation not be neglected, either at the personal or community level? Thank you.

POPE FRANCIS: Thank you for the question. It’s true; your main purpose here is academic formation: to get a degree in this or that … However, there is the danger of academism. Yes, the Bishops send you here so that you can have a degree, but also to return to the diocese. However, in dioceses you must work in the presbytery as presbyters, graduate presbyters. And if one falls into this danger of academism, a father doesn’t return but a “Doctor.” And this is dangerous. There are four pillars in the priestly formation: I’ve said this so many times, perhaps you have heard it. Four pillars: spiritual formation, academic formation, community formation and apostolic formation. It’s true that here, at Rome, stress is put – because this is why you have been sent – on intellectual formation; however, the other three pillars must be cultivated, and all four interact among themselves, and I can’t understand a priest who comes here to get a degree in Rome, and does not have a community life. This is not right. Either he does not take care of his spiritual life – daily Mass, daily prayer, lectio divina, personal prayer with the Lord --; or the apostolic life: on the weekend he does something, to change the air a bit, but also the apostolic air, he does something there … It’s true that study is an apostolic dimension; but it is important that the other three pillars are also looked after! Academic purism doesn’t do one good, it doesn’t do one good. And this is why your question pleased me, because it gave me the opportunity to say these things to you. The Lord has called you to be priests, to be presbyters: this is the fundamental rule. And there is something else that I would like to stress: if only the academic part is seen, there is the danger of sliding into ideologies, and this makes one fall ill. And it also sickens the concept of Church. To understand the Church, one must understand her from study but also from prayer, from community life and from apostolic life. When we slide into an ideology, and go on this path, we will have a non-Christian hermeneutic, and hermeneutic of the ideological Church. And this doesn’t do one good, it is a sickness. The hermeneutic of the Church must be the hermeneutic that the Church herself offers us, that the Church herself gives us: to understand the Church with the eyes of a Christian; to understand the Church with the mind of a Christian; to understand the Church with the heart of a Christian; to understand the Church from Christian activity. Otherwise, the Church isn’t understood or it is understood badly. Therefore, yes, it is important to stress academic work because you were sent for this, but not to neglect the other three pillars: the spiritual life, the community life and the apostolic life. I don’t know if this answers your question … Thank you.

SEMINARIAN: Good morning, Holy Father. I am Thomas from China. I am a seminarian of the Urbaniana College. Sometimes it isn’t easy to live in community: what do you advise us, from your experience, to make our community a place of human and spiritual growth and of the exercise of priestly charity?

POPE FRANCIS: Once an old bishop of Latin America said: “The worst seminary is better than no seminary.” If one prepares for the priesthood alone, without a community, this doesn’t do one good. The life of the seminary, that is, community life, is very important. It is very important because it is sharing among brothers, who are walking toward the priesthood; but there are also problems, there are struggles: struggles of power, struggles of ideas, also hidden struggles; and the capital vices appear: envy, jealousy … And good things also come: friendships, the exchange of ideas, and this is what is important of community life. Community life is not paradise, it is at least purgatory – no, it’s not that … [they laugh], but it’s not paradise! A saint of the Jesuits said that for him the greatest penance was community life. It’s true, no? Therefore, I think we must go forward in community life. But how? There are four or five things that will help us very much. Never, never speak ill of others. If I have something against the other, or that I don’t agreed with I must say it to his face! But we clerics have the temptation of not speaking to the other to his face, of being too diplomatic, of using clerical language … However, it does us no good, no good! I remember once, 22 years ago, I had just been appointed bishop, and in that vicariate I had as secretary – Buenos Aires is divided into four vicariates – in that vicariate I had a young, recently ordained priest as secretary. And I, in the first months, did something, I took a somewhat diplomatic decision – too diplomatic – with the consequences that come from such decisions that are not taken in the Lord, no? And, in the end, I said to him: “But look what a problem this is, I don’t know how to systematize it …” And he looked at me in the face  -- a youth! – and he said to me: “Because you have done wrong, you did not take a paternal decision,” and he said three or four strong things to me! He was very respectful, but he did say them to me. And then, when he left, I thought: ”I will never remove him from the post of secretary: he is a real brother!” Instead, those who tell you lovely things to your face and then not so lovely behind you … This is important … Gossip is the plague of a community; one must speak face to face, always. And if you do not have the courage to speak to someone face to face, speak to the Superior or to the Director. And he will help you, but don’t go to the rooms of companions to speak ill! It is said that gossip is something of women, but also of men, also of us! We gossip enough! And this destroys the community. Then, it is something else to hear, to listen to different opinions and discuss the opinions, but always seeking truth, seeking unity: this helps the community. Once my spiritual Father  -- I was a student of Philosophy; he was a philosopher, a metaphysician, but he was a good spiritual Father --, I went to him and the problem came out that I was angry against someone: “But I’m angry with him because of this, this, this …” I revealed to my spiritual Father all I had inside me. And he asked me only one question: “Tell me, have you prayed for him?”  -- nothing more. And I said: “No.” And he stayed silent. “We have finished,” he said to me. Pray, pray for all the members of the community, but pray primarily for those with whom I have a problem, or for those I don’t love, because sometimes not to love a person is something natural, instinctive. Pray, and the Lord will do the rest. But always pray. Community prayer. These two things  -- I don’t want to say so much – but I assure you that if you do these two things, the community goes ahead, you can live well, speak well, discuss well, pray well together. Two small things: not to speak of others and to pray for those with whom I have a problem. I could say more, but I think this is sufficient.

SEMINARIAN: My name is Charbelle, I am a seminarian from Lebanon and I am being formed in the Sedes Sapientiae College. Before asking my question, I would like to thank you for your closeness to our people in Lebanon and in the whole of the Middle East. My question is this: last year you left your land and homeland. What do you recommend to manage better our arrival and stay at Rome?

POPE FRANCIS: But, your arrival in Rome is different, from the transfer of diocese they did to me: it’s somewhat different, but o.k. … I remember the first time I left [my land] to come to study here … First there is the novelty, it is the novelty of things, and we must be patient with ourselves. The first time is as a time of engagement: everything is beautiful. Ah, the novelties, the things …; but this must not be reproached, it’s like this! This happens to everyone; things are this way for all. And then, turning to one of the pillars, first of all is integration in the life of the community and in the life of study, directly. I have come for this, to do this. And then, to find work for the weekend, an apostolic work, is important. Not to remain closed and be scattered. But the first time is the time of novelties: “I would like to do this, go to that museum, to this film, or to this or that.” But go ahead, don’t be worried, it’s normal for this to happen. But then, you must be serious. What have I come to do? To study. Study in earnest! And take advantage of the many opportunities that this stay gives you. The novelty of the universality: to know people from so many different places, so many different countries, so many different cultures. The opportunity of dialogue among you. ”But, how is this in your homeland? And how is that? And in mine it is ….”; and this exchange gives the joy of the novelty: it’s the joy of the first engagement, before the problems begin. And go forward. Then, be serious.

SEMINARIAN: Good morning, Holy Father. I am Daniel Ortiz and I’m Mexican. Here in Rome I live in the Maria Mater Ecclesia College. Your Holiness, in fidelity to our vocation we are in need of constant discernment, vigilance and personal discipline. How did you do this, when you were a seminarian, when you were a priest, when you were Bishop and now that you are Pontiff. And what do you advise us in this regard? Thank you.

POPE FRANCIS: Thank you. You said the word vigilance. Vigilance: this is a Christian attitude. Vigilance over one’s self: what’s happening in my heart? Because where my heart is, there is my treasure. What happens there? The Eastern Fathers say that I must know well if my heart is in turmoil or if my heart is calm. First question: vigilance over your heart: is it in turmoil? If it’s in turmoil, you cannot see what is inside. It’s like the sea, no?
When the sea is so, the fish can’t be seen … The first advice, when the heart is in turmoil is the counsel of the Russian Fathers: go under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God. Remember that the first Latin antiphon is in fact this: in times of turmoil, seek refuge under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God. It is the antiphon “Sub tuum presidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genitrix”: It’s the first Latin antiphon of Our Lady. It’s interesting, no? Watch over. Is there turmoil? First of all go there, and there wait until there is a bit of calm: with prayer, with entrustment to Our Lady … One of you might say to me: “But Father, in this time of such good modernity, of psychology, of psychiatry, in such moments of turmoil I think it would be better to go to a psychiatrist to help me …” I don’t discard this, but first of all go to your Mother, because a priest who forgets his Mother, especially in moments of turmoil, is lacking something. He is an orphan priest: he has forgotten his Mother! And it is in difficult moments when a child always goes to its Mother. And we are children in the spiritual life. Never forget this! To watch over, to see how my heart is. In times of turmoil go to seek refuge under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God. So say the Russian monks and, in truth, it is so. Then, what do I do? I try to understand what is happening, but always in peace -- to understand in peace. Then peace returns and I can do the discussion conscientiae. And this is to watch over. To watch over is not to go to the torture chamber, no! It is to look at the heart. We must be masters of our heart. What does my heart feel, what does it seek? What made me happy today, and what did not make me happy? Don’t end the day without doing this. A question that, as bishop, I would ask a priest, was: “How do you go to bed?” And they didn’t understand. “But what does this mean?” ”Yes, how do you end the day?” “Oh, destroyed, Father, because there is so much work, the parish, so much … Then I dine a little, I take a mouthful and I go to bed, I watch TV and relax a bit.” “And you don’t go by the Tabernacle first?” There are things that make us see where our heart is. Never, never – and this is vigilance! – never end the day without going there for a while, in front of the Lord, to look and ask: ”What happened in my heart?” In sad moments, in happy moments: how was that sadness? How was that joy? This is vigilance. To watch also over one’s depressions and enthusiasms. “Today I’m down; I don’t know what is happening.” To watch over: why am I down? Perhaps you need to go to someone who can help you … This is vigilance. “Oh, I’m joyful!” But why am I joyful today? What happened in my heart? This is no sterile introspection, no, no! This is to know the state of my heart, my life, how I walk on the path of the Lord. Because, if there isn’t vigilance, the heart goes everywhere, and the imagination follows behind: “go, go …” and then one might not end up well. I like the question about vigilance. These are not old things, they aren’t things that have been surpassed. They are human things, and as all human things, they are eternal. We will always take them with us. Vigilance of the heart was in fact the wisdom of the first Christian monks; they taught this, to watch over the heart.
Can I make a parenthesis? Why have I spoken of Our Lady? I recommend this to you, which I said earlier, seek refuge …  A beautiful relationship with Our Lady, the relationship with Our Lady helps us to have a good relationship with the Church: both are Mothers … You know the beautiful passage of Saint Isaac, abbot of Stella: what can be said of Mary can be said of the Church and also of our soul. All three are feminine, all three are Mothers, all three give life. The relationship with Our Lady is the relationship of a son … Watch over this: if there is no good relationship with Our Lady, there is something of an orphan in my heart. I remember once, 30 years ago, I was in Northern Europe: I had to go there for the teaching of the University of Cordoba, of which, at the time, I was Vice-Chancellor. And a family of practicing Catholics invited me; it was a country that was a bit too secularized. And at dinner –- there were so many children, they were practicing Catholics, both were university professors, both were also catechists -- at a certain point, speaking of Jesus Christ –- enthusiasts of Jesus Christ! -- I’m speaking of 30 years ago, they said: “Yes, thank God we have surpassed the stage of Our Lady …” And how is this?, I said. “Yes, because we have discovered Jesus Christ, and we no longer have need of her.” I was somewhat pained; I didn’t understand well. And we spoke a bit about this. And this isn’t maturity! It’s not maturity. To forget the Mother is something awful … And, to say it another way: if you don’t go to Our Lady as Mother, you certainly will have her as a mother-in-law! And this isn’t good. Thank you.

SEMINARIAN: Hurray for Jesus, hurray for Mary! Thank you, Holy Father, for your words on Our Lady. My name is Don Ignacio and I come from Manila, the Philippines. I am doing my doctorate in Mariology at the Marianum Pontifical Theological Faculty, and I reside in the Philippine Pontifical College. Holy Father, my question is: the Church needs pastors who are able to guide, govern and communicate as required in today’s world. How does one learn and exercise leadership in priestly life, assuming the model of Christ who lowered Himself assuming the cross, death on a cross? Assuming the condition of servant to death on the cross? Thank you.

POPE FRANCIS: But your Bishop is a great communicator!

SEMINARIAN: He is Cardinal Tagle …

POPE FRANCIS: Leadership … this is the center of the question … There is only one way – then I will speak of the pastors – but for leadership there is only one way: service. There is no other. If you have many qualities – to communicate, etc. but you are not a servant, your leadership will fail, it doesn’t serve, it’s unable to convoke. Only service: to be at the service … I remember a very good spiritual Father. People went to him, so much so that sometimes he couldn’t pray the whole Breviary. And, at night, he would go to the Lord and say: “Look, Lord, I didn’t do your will, or even mine! I did the will of others!” Thus both, the Lord and him, consoled one another. Service is to do, very often, the will of others. A priest who works in a very humble district – very humble! – a villa miseria, a slum, says: “I would need to close the windows, the doors, all of them, because at a certain point there are many, so many who come to ask of me: this spiritual thing, this material thing, that in the end I would have wanted to close everything. But this isn’t from the Lord,” he said. It’s true: you cannot guide a people where there is no service -- the service of the pastor. The pastor must always be at the disposition of his people. The pastor must help the people to grow, to walk. Yesterday, in the Reading I was curious because the word “spingere” was said in the Gospel. The pastor spinge the sheepso they are enticed to look for grass. I was curious: he makes them go out, he makes them go out with force! The original has a certain tone of this: makes them go out but with force! It’s like sending them away: “Go, go!” It is the pastor who makes his people grow and who always goes with his people. Sometimes, the pastor must go in front, to indicate the way; at other times, in their midst, to know what is happening; often behind, to help those that are last and also to follow the scent of the sheep that know where the good grass is. The pastor  … Saint Augustine says, taking up Ezekiel, must be at the service of the sheep and he stresses two dangers: the pastor who exploits the sheep to eat, to make money, for economic, material  interests and the pastor who exploits the sheep to dress well. The meat and wool, Saint Augustine says. Read that beautiful sermon De pastoribus. It is necessary to read it and reread it. Yes, they are the two sins of pastors: money, they become rich and do things for money – sharp businessmen pastors. And vanity, pastors who believe they are in a superior state to their people, detached … we think of prince-pastors. The sharp businessman-pastor and the prince-pastor. These are the two temptations that Saint Augustine, taking up the passage of Ezekiel, says in his sermon. It’s true, a pastor who seeks himself, be it by way of money or by way of vanity, isn’t a servant, has no true leadership. Humility must be the pastor’s weapon: humble, always at one’s service. He must seek service. And it’s not easy to be humble; no, it’s not easy! Desert monks say that vanity is like the onion: when you take an onion, and begin to peel it and you feel vain, you begin to peel off your vanity. And you go, and go, to another layer, and another, and another, and another … and at the end you arrive at …nothing. “Ah, thank God, I’ve peeled the onion, I have peeled off my vanity.” Do this, and you will smell like an onion! So say the desert Fathers. Vanity is like this. Once I heard a Jesuit  -- he was good, a good man --, but he was so vain, so vain … And we all said to him: “You are vain!” but he was so good that we all forgave him. And he went to do the Spiritual Exercises, and when he returned, he said to us, in the community: “What beautiful Exercises! I spent eight days in Heaven, and I found that I was so vain! But, thank God, I have overcome all my passions!” Vanity is like this! It’s so difficult to take away vanity from a priest. But the people of God forgive you so many things: they forgive you if you have had an emotional slip, they forgive you. However, they don’t forgive you if you are a pastor attached to money, if you are a vain pastor who does not treat people well, because a vain person doesn’t treat people well. Money, vanity, pride: the three steps that lead you to all the sins. The people of God understand our weaknesses, and forgive them; but these two they don’t forgive! The don’t forgive attachment to money in a pastor. And if they aren’t treated well, they don’t forgive this. It’s curious, no? These two defects – we must struggle not to have them. Then, leadership must go by the way of service, but with personal love for the people. I once heard this from a parish priest: “That man knew the name of all the people of his district, even the names of the dogs!” It’s beautiful. He was close, he knew each one, he knew the history of all the families, he knew everything. And he helped. He was so close … Closeness, service, humility, poverty and sacrifice. I remember the old parish priests of Buenos Aires, when there were no mobile phones or answering machines; they slept with the telephone beside them. No one died without the Sacraments. They were called at any hour, got up and went. Service, service. And as Bishop, I suffered when I called a parish and the answering machine answered … there is no leadership this way! How can you lead a people if you don’t hear them, if you are not at their service? These are the things that come to me, somewhat, not in order, but to answer your question …

SEMINARIAN: My name is don Serge, I come from Cameroon. My formation is taking place in the College of Saint Paul the Apostle. Here is my question: when we return to our dioceses and communities, we will be called to new ministerial responsibilities and new formative tasks. How can we have all the dimensions of the ministerial life coexist in a balanced way: prayer, pastoral commitments, formative tasks, without neglecting any of them? Thank you.

POPE FRANCIS: It’s a question to which I don’t have an answer: it has gone, perhaps – the unconscious is dishonest! – and I wish to link it to this. I was asked: “how do you do these things as Pope?! Yours also … I will answer yours, recounting with all simplicity what I do not to neglect things. Prayer: in the morning I try to pray the praises and also to engage somewhat in prayer, lectio divina, with the Lord. When I get up, I first read the “coded” messages, and then I do this. And then I celebrate Mass. Then my work begins: work that one day is of one type, another day of another … I try to do so in order. Lunch is at midday and then a bit of siesta. After my siesta at three o’clock – excuse me – I say Vespers, at three … if they aren’t said at that time they aren’t said! Yes, there is also the reading, the Office of reading of the day after. Then the afternoon work, the things I must do … Then, I do some Adoration and pray the Rosary; dinner and I finish. This is the plan. But sometimes not everything can be done, because I let myself be led by imprudent exigencies: too much work, or to think that if I don’t do this today, I won’t do it tomorrow … Adoration fails, my siesta fails, this fails …. And here also vigilance is necessary: you will return to your dioceses and what will happen to you is what happens to me: it’s normal. Work, prayer, some room for rest, to leave the house, to walk a bit, all this is important … but you must regulate it with vigilance and also with advice … The ideal is to finish the day tired: this is the ideal. Not to need to take pills: to end tired. However, with good tiredness, not imprudent tiredness, because that’s bad for one’s health and in the long run one pays dearly for this. I look at Sandro’s face, who laughs and says: “But you don’t do this!” It’s true. This is the ideal, but I don’t always do it, because I am also a sinner, and I’m not always that ordered. But you must do this …

SEMINARIAN: Good morning, Holy Father. I am Fernando Rodriguez. I’m a new priest from Mexico. I was ordained a month ago, and I live in the Mexican College. Holy Father, you have reminded us that the Church is in need of a New Evangelization. In fact in your apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, you paused on the preparation of the preaching, on the homily and on proclamation as a form of passionate dialogue between a pastor and his people. Can you return to this subject of the New Evangelization? And also, Holiness, we ask you how a priest should be for the New Evangelization. What should be his characteristic features? Thank you

POPE FRANCIS: When John Paul II spoke -- I thought it was the first time, but afterwards I was told that it wasn’t the first time –- on the New Evangelization, he said that it must be new in methodology, in ardor, in apostolic zeal , and I don’t remember the third … Who remembers it? The expression! To look for an expression that is in keeping with the unicity of the times. And for me, the Aparecida Document is very clear. The Aparecida Document develops this well. For me, evangelization requires going out of oneself; it requires the dimension of the transcendent: the transcendent in the adoration of God, in contemplation, and transcendent towards brothers, toward the people. To go forth, to go forth! For me this is as the kernel of evangelization. And to go forth means to come, namely, to closeness. If you don’t come out of yourself, you will never have closeness! Closeness. To be close to people, to be close to all, to all those to whom we should be close -- all the people. To go forth -- closeness. One cannot evangelize without closeness! Closeness, but cordial; a closeness of love, also physical closeness; to be close to. And you linked the homily there. The problem of boring homilies – so to speak – the problem of boring homilies is that there is no closeness. In fact the pastor’s closeness to his people is measured by his homily. If during the homily you speak, let’s say, for 20, 25 or 30, 40 minutes – they aren’t fantasies, this happens! – and you speak of abstract things, of truths of the faith, you are not doing a homily, you are doing a school! It’s something different! You aren’t close to the people. Therefore, the homily is important: to caliber it, to know well the priest’s closeness. I think that in general our homilies aren’t good, they are not in fact of the homiletic literary sort: they are conferences, or they are lessons, or reflections. But a homily – and ask your theology professor about this – the homily in the Mass, the Word is a strong God, it is a sacramental. For Luther it was almost a sacrament: it was ex opera operato, the preached Word; for others it is only ex opera operantis. However, I think it’s somewhere in the center, a bit of both. The theology of the homily is somewhat almost a sacramental. It’s different from saying words about a topic. It’s something else. It implies prayer, it implies study, it implies knowing the people to whom you will speak, it implies closeness. For the homily, to go well in evangelization, we must go quite a bit ahead, we are late. It’s one of the points of the conversion of which the Church is in need today: to adjust the homilies well, so that the people can understand them. And then, after eight minutes, attention wanders. A homily longer than eight, ten minutes isn’t right. It must be brief, it must be strong. I recommend two books to you of my times; but they are good for this aspect of the homily, because they will help you very much. First, “The Theology of the Homily” by Hugo Rahner. Not Karl, but Hugo. One can read Hugo easily; Karl is difficult to read. This is a jewel: “The Theology of the Homily.” And the other is that of Father Domenico Grasso, which introduces us to what a homily is. I think it has the same title: “Theology of the Homily.” This will help you quite a lot. Closeness, the homily … There  is something else I would like to say … To go forth, closeness, the homily as measure of how close I am to the people of God. And another category that I like to use is that of the fringes. When one goes forth, he must not go half way only, but go to the end. Some say that one must begin evangelization with the most distant, as the Lord did. This is what comes to me to say about your question. However, this is true about the homily: for me it is one of the problems that the Church must study and be converted. The homilies, the homilies: they are not about doing a school, they aren’t conferences, they are something else. I like it when priests come together for two hours to prepare the next Sunday homily, because there is a climate of prayer, of study, of exchange of opinions. This is good, it does one good. To prepare it with another, this is very good.

SEMINARIAN: May the Lord Jesus be praised! My name is Voicek, I live in the Pontifical Polish College, and am studying moral theology. Holy Father, the presbyterial ministry at the service of our people, on the example of Christ and of his mission, what do you recommend for us to be available and happy in the service of the people of God? What human qualities do you suggest and recommend to us to cultivate in order to be images of the Good Shepherd and to live what you have called “the mysticism of encounter”?

POPE FRANCIS: I have spoken, primarily, of some things that must be done in prayer. However, I take your last word to speak of something, to add to all that I have said, that has been said and that leads in fact to your question. “The mysticism of encounter,” you have mentioned, the encounter, the capacity to encounter one another: the capacity to hear, to listen to other persons; the capacity to seek together the way, the method, so many things. This encounter, which also means not to be frightened , not to be frightened of things. The good pastor must not be frightened. Perhaps he has fear inside, but he is never frightened. He knows that the Lord helps him. The encounter with persons for whom you must have pastoral care; the encounter with your Bishop. The encounter with your Bishop is important. It’s also important that the Bishop let himself be encountered. It’s important … because sometimes one wonders: “Have you said this to your Bishop? Yes, I have asked for an audience, but I’ve been asking for an audience for four months. I’m waiting!” This isn’t good, no. To go to meet the bishop and that the bishop let himself be encountered. Dialogue, but above all I would like to speak of one thing: the encounter among priests, among yourselves. Priestly friendship: this is a treasure, a treasure that we must cultivate among ourselves -- friendship among you, priestly friendship. Not all can be intimate friends. But how beautiful a priestly friendship is! 

When priests, as two brothers, three brothers, four brothers,  know one another, speak of their problems, of their joys, of their expectations, so many things …. priestly friendship. Seek this, it’s important to be friends. I think this helps a lot to live the priestly life, to live the spiritual life, the apostolic life, community life and also the intellectual life: priestly friendship. If I met a priest who said to me: ”I’ve never had a friend,” I would think that this priest has not had one of the most beautiful joys of the priestly life: priestly friendship. It is what I wish for you. I wish that you be friends with those that the Lord puts before you for friendship. I wish you this in life.

Priestly friendship is a force of perseverance, of apostolic joy, of courage, and also of a sense of humor. It’s beautiful, most beautiful! This is what I think.

I thank you for your patience! And now we can pray to our Lady, to ask for her blessing …

Regina Caeli …

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Prayer in Reparation and in Love

Tonight the seminary community gathered to pray in reparation for the "Black Mass" scheduled for Harvard University this evening.  We pray for all involved that God will change their hearts and give them the grace and freedom of the children of God!

This is the homily I prayed at the holy hour:

My dearest Brothers: 

Tonight, this chapel is filled, filled with Paschal Faith – a faith that is stronger than any evil; a faith that if only the size of a mustard seed, could move mountains and even blaspheming hearts. Tonight, in Liturgy, adoration and devotion, we beg God to increase that Faith, that in some small way we might offer him reparation for those who seek to desecrate the Holy Eucharist just down the street and the across the river from us.

Tonight we gather as a Paschal people in the glorious Season of that Risen Light.  The light that illumines every darkness – even the thick darkness of sacrilege and disbelief.  

It was just a few weeks ago, we stood here in the darkness at this very hour, and gathered round the pillar of fire that destroys the darkness of sin, the eternal light by which wickedness is washed away and innocence restored:Christ, our Light who triumphed over death, over Satan, evil and sin. 

And just as that darkness was overcome by the light of his Risen Glory, so the Paschal faith dispels the darkness of this night, with the assurance that Christ Jesus defends his Church still, whenever and wherever she is threatened or attacked. 

Never doubt the Paschal Victory which Christ has won for us! Never doubt it, but confess it, affirm it and proclaim it to all the world by your prayer and by your preaching and by the witness of your life.  Christ is risen!  And he walks right through the locked doors of our fears into the upper room of our hearts and whispers to the depths of us: Peace be with you!  Peace!  And in that greeting he stills our hearts, strengthens our Faith and assures us that his victory is ours, no matter how great the battle to be fought. 

That’s why three times a day in this holy house, we recite the prayer that Jesus taught us as our infallible protection against the Evil One: the Lord’s own prayer, the Pater Noster, the Our Father.  There is no greater shield, no stronger armor than the words of the Lord Jesus himself.  To pray this prayer is not only to pray in the words of Jesus, but to pray with Jesus as he intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.  

From the time I was a little child until the day I die, this is the prayer which will calm my fears, dry my tears and save me from the Evil One, who yet prowls about the streets of Boston, seeking to devour those souls willing to be his food. Tonight, we pray for those poor souls, that Christ, the Good Shepherd, might seek them out and bring them home, freed from the hunter’s snare. 

We pray for them because as priests and those whom God may well be calling to Priesthood, we seek to imitate the love of the Good Shepherd who sought out the lost sheep, binding up their wounds and carrying them home.  We pray for them, that God might disentangle them from the web of Satan’s works, his empty promises and the sin that binds them to his kingdom.  We pray that God might return them to the freedom of the children of God.

That is why we have gathered here tonight: to pray in reparation and in  love for those who have chosen to embrace the darkness and turn from the Paschal light. We pray for them in love.  For, as Pope Benedict VI so wisely taught:

“This is the true, authentic and perfect divine power: to respond to evil not with evil but with good, to insults with forgiveness, to homicidal hatred with life-giving love. Thus evil is truly vanquished because it is cleansed by God’s love; thus death is defeated once and for all because it is transformed into a gift of life. God the Father raises the Son: death, the great enemy, is engulfed and deprived of its sting, and we, delivered from sin, can have access to our reality as children of God.”

May Mary, Mother of the Church, source of all tenderness for those who seek her Son; Mary, the new Eve who crushes the head of the ancient serpent; Mary, help of Christians and refuge of sinners, be our sure protection against the Evil One this night and always! O Most gracious Virgin Mary, look upon your sons, and be ever a Mother to us!   Amen.


As the Holy Hours at Saint Paul's in Cambridge and at Saint John's Seminary concluded, we read the following news in the Boston Globe: "A reenactment of satanic rituals known as a “black mass” that had been scheduled for Monday evening on the Harvard campus was abruptly canceled amid a chorus of condemnation from Catholic groups and university officials and students. Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the New York-based Satanic Temple, said in a phone interview that the event was canceled because organizers no longer had a venue."