Friday, April 28, 2017

Amid Threats and Bloodshed, In Egypt, Pope Pleads For "Builders of Civility"

Even for his standard aversion to what had been the usual security precautions of papal travel – bulletproof glass, armored vehicles and the like – in his daily homily on Tuesday, the Pope appeared to acknowledge the particular risk of this weekend's visit to Egypt, but turned back any concern over it with his statement that "if a preacher seeks a life insurance policy, he is not a true preacher of the Gospel."

That the comment was made on St Mark's Day – the patronal feast of the Arab country's largest Christian group, the Coptic Orthodox – was more than mere coincidence, no less in the wake of several rounds of Isis-inspired attacks on the community, the most significant of which occurred on Palm Sunday, as coordinated blasts in two churches killed some 50 worshippers. (Above, Francis is seen paying tribute to the victims of a December siege on another Coptic church, at which he took part in an evening ecumenical service as the scars of the assault remained starkly in evidence.)

Despite Francis' resolve to proceed with the quickly-planned 24 hour stop in Cairo, the safety threat has made for a massive challenge to contend with – among other examples, the full slate of venues for this visit's events was still being determined into the days leading up to his arrival. By comparison, only the late 2015 trek which skirted war zones in the Central African Republic as UN peacekeepers guarded the streets has made for as much logistical agita. Yet not to be outdone, Papa Bergoglio's drive for yet another African stop later this year – to South Sudan, where conflict continues to flare and a famine has impacted millions – remains in the air given the tenuous state on the ground; should the trip indeed happen, unofficial rumblings have tipped an October date.

Back to Egypt, though the Coptic piece of this PopeTrip has increased in import amid the Isis attacks, the principal thrust of the journey – announced with barely a month's notice – was to seal the restored relations between the Vatican and the influential Sunni Muslim hub at Al-Azhar, which had halted its dialogue with Rome during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Especially under the shadow of the Holy Week bombings, the pontiff's message at one of Islam's top centers of learning would inevitably be viewed ever more in terms of what the Pope said, or didn't, about violence incited in the name of religion. (The Pope is seen above embracing the university's Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed al-Hayeb, at the afternoon event, billed as an international peace conference.)

For his response, as only happens with the pontiff's most significant and programmatic talks, the Al Azhar speech was amply footnoted, including with quotes from John Paul II's visit there in 2000. Already being cited as Francis' signal text on Catholic-Muslim relations and the specter of fundamentalist terror, below is his complete text in English.

*    *    *
As-salamu alaykum! [Peace be with you!]

I consider it a great gift to be able to begin my Visit to Egypt here, and to address you in the context of this International Peace Conference. I thank my brother, the Grand Imam, for having planned and organized this Conference, and for kindly inviting me to take part. I would like to offer you a few thoughts, drawing on the glorious history of this land, which over the ages has appeared to the world as a land of civilizations and a land of covenants.

A land of civilizations – From ancient times, the culture that arose along the banks of the Nile was synonymous with civilization. Egypt lifted the lamp of knowledge, giving birth to an inestimable cultural heritage, made up of wisdom and ingenuity, mathematical and astronomical discoveries, and remarkable forms of architecture and figurative art. The quest for knowledge and the value placed on education were the result of conscious decisions on the part of the ancient inhabitants of this land, and were to bear much fruit for the future. Similar decisions are needed for our own future, decisions of peace and for peace, for there will be no peace without the proper education of coming generations. Nor can young people today be properly educated unless the training they receive corresponds to the nature of man as an open and relational being.

Education indeed becomes wisdom for life if it is capable of “drawing out” of men and women the very best of themselves, in contact with the One who transcends them and with the world around them, fostering a sense of identity that is open and not self-enclosed. Wisdom seeks the other, overcoming temptations to rigidity and closed-mindedness; it is open and in motion, at once humble and inquisitive; it is able to value the past and set it in dialogue with the present, while employing a suitable hermeneutics. Wisdom prepares a future in which people do not attempt to push their own agenda but rather to include others as an integral part of themselves. Wisdom tirelessly seeks, even now, to identify opportunities for encounter and sharing; from the past, it learns that evil only gives rise to more evil, and violence to more violence, in a spiral that ends by imprisoning everyone. Wisdom, in rejecting the dishonesty and the abuse of power, is centred on human dignity, a dignity which is precious in God’s eyes, and on an ethics worthy of man, one that is unafraid of others and fearlessly employs those means of knowledge bestowed on us by the Creator.[1]

Precisely in the field of dialogue, particularly interreligious dialogue, we are constantly called to walk together, in the conviction that the future also depends on the encounter of religions and cultures. In this regard, the work of the Mixed Committee for Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue offers us a concrete and encouraging example. Three basic areas, if properly linked to one another, can assist in this dialogue: the duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, the courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.

The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, because true dialogue cannot be built on ambiguity or a willingness to sacrifice some good for the sake of pleasing others. The courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all. Sincerity of intentions, because dialogue, as an authentic expression of our humanity, is not a strategy for achieving specific goals, but rather a path to truth, one that deserves to be undertaken patiently, in order to transform competition into cooperation.

An education in respectful openness and sincere dialogue with others, recognizing their rights and basic freedoms, particularly religious freedom, represents the best way to build the future together, to be builders of civility. For the only alternative to the civility of encounter is the incivility of conflict; there is no other way. To counter effectively the barbarity of those who foment hatred and violence, we need to accompany young people, helping them on the path to maturity and teaching them to respond to the incendiary logic of evil by patiently working for the growth of goodness. In this way, young people, like well-planted trees, can be firmly rooted in the soil of history, and, growing heavenward in one another’s company, can daily turn the polluted air of hatred into the oxygen of fraternity.

In facing this great cultural challenge, one that is both urgent and exciting, we, Christians, Muslims and all believers, are called to offer our specific contribution: “We live under the sun of the one merciful God… Thus, in a true sense, we can call one another brothers and sisters… since without God the life of man would be like the heavens without the sun”.[2] May the sun of a renewed fraternity in the name of God rise in this sun-drenched land, to be the dawn of a civilization of peace and encounter. May Saint Francis of Assisi, who eight centuries ago came to Egypt and met Sultan Malik al Kamil, intercede for this intention.


A land of covenants – In Egypt, not only did the sun of wisdom rise, but also the variegated light of the religions shone in this land. Here, down the centuries, differences of religion constituted “a form of mutual enrichment in the service of the one national community”.[3] Different faiths met and a variety of cultures blended without being confused, while acknowledging the importance of working together for the common good. Such “covenants” are urgently needed today. Here I would take as a symbol the “Mount of the Covenant” which rises up in this land. Sinai reminds us above all that authentic covenants on earth cannot ignore heaven, that human beings cannot attempt to encounter one another in peace by eliminating God from the horizon, nor can they climb the mountain to appropriate God for themselves (cf. Ex 19:12).

This is a timely reminder in the face of a dangerous paradox of the present moment. On the one hand, religion tends to be relegated to the private sphere, as if it were not an essential dimension of the human person and society. At the same time, the religious and political spheres are confused and not properly distinguished. Religion risks being absorbed into the administration of temporal affairs and tempted by the allure of worldly powers that in fact exploit it. Our world has seen the globalization of many useful technical instruments, but also a globalization of indifference and negligence, and it moves at a frenetic pace that is difficult to sustain. As a result, there is renewed interest in the great questions about the meaning of life. These are the questions that the religions bring to the fore, reminding us of our origins and ultimate calling. We are not meant to spend all our energies on the uncertain and shifting affairs of this world, but to journey towards the Absolute that is our goal. For all these reasons, especially today, religion is not a problem but a part of the solution: against the temptation to settle into a banal and uninspired life, where everything begins and ends here below, religion reminds us of the need to lift our hearts to the Most High in order to learn how to build the city of man.

To return to the image of Mount Sinai, I would like to mention the commandments that were promulgated there, even before they were sculpted on tablets of stone.[4] At the centre of this “decalogue”, there resounds, addressed to each individual and to people of all ages, the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex 20:13). God, the lover of life, never ceases to love man, and so he exhorts us to reject the way of violence as the necessary condition for every earthly “covenant”. Above all and especially in our day, the religions are called to respect this imperative, since, for all our need of the Absolute, it is essential that we reject any “absolutizing” that would justify violence. For violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression.

As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity and is based more on the “absolutizing” of selfishness than on authentic openness to the Absolute. We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God: Holy is his name, he is the God of peace, God salaam.[5] Peace alone, therefore, is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his Name.

Together, in the land where heaven and earth meet, this land of covenants between peoples and believers, let us say once more a firm and clear “No!” to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God. Together let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred. Together let us declare the sacredness of every human life against every form of violence, whether physical, social, educational or psychological. Unless it is born of a sincere heart and authentic love towards the Merciful God, faith is no more than a conventional or social construct that does not liberate man, but crushes him. Let us say together: the more we grow in the love of God, the more we grow in the love of our neighbour.

Religion, however, is not meant only to unmask evil; it has an intrinsic vocation to promote peace, today perhaps more than ever.[6] Without giving in to forms of facile syncretism,[7] our task is that of praying for one another, imploring from God the gift of peace, encountering one another, engaging in dialogue and promoting harmony in the spirit of cooperation and friendship. For our part, as Christians – and I am a Christian – “we cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people as other than brothers and sisters, for all are created in God’s image”.[8] All are brothers and sisters. Moreover, we know that, engaged in a constant battle against the evil that threatens a world which is no longer “a place of genuine fraternity”, God assures all those who trust in his love that “the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish universal brotherhood is not vain”.[9] Rather, that effort is essential: it is of little or no use to raise our voices and run about to find weapons for our protection: what is needed today are peacemakers, not makers of arms; what is needed are peacemakers, and not fomenters of conflict; firefighters and not arsonists; preachers of reconciliation and not instigators of destruction.

It is disconcerting to note that, as the concrete realities of people’s lives are increasingly ignored in favour of obscure machinations, demagogic forms of populism are on the rise. These certainly do not help to consolidate peace and stability: no incitement to violence will guarantee peace, and every unilateral action that does not promote constructive and shared processes is in reality a gift to the proponents of radicalism and violence.

In order to prevent conflicts and build peace, it is essential that we spare no effort in eliminating situations of poverty and exploitation where extremism more easily takes root, and in blocking the flow of money and weapons destined to those who provoke violence. Even more radically, an end must be put to the proliferation of arms; if they are produced and sold, sooner or later they will be used. Only by bringing into the light of day the murky manoeuvrings that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented. National leaders, institutions and the media are obliged to undertake this urgent and grave task. So too are all of us who play a leading role in culture; each in his or her own area, we are charged by God, by history and by the future to initiate processes of peace, seeking to lay a solid basis for agreements between peoples and states. It is my hope that this noble and beloved land of Egypt, with God’s help, may continue to respond to the calling it has received to be a land of civilization and covenant, and thus to contribute to the development of processes of peace for its beloved people and for the entire region of the Middle East.

As-salamu alaykum!

_______________________

[1] “An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue”: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace, Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, 5.
[2] JOHN PAUL II, Address to Muslim Religious Leaders, Kaduna (Nigeria), 14 February 1982.
[3] John Paul II, Address at the Arrival Ceremony, Cairo, 24 February 2000.
[4] “They were written on the human heart as the universal moral law, valid in every time and place. Today as always, the Ten Words of the Law provide the only true basis for the lives of individuals, societies and nations. […] They are the only future of the human family. They save man from the destructive force of egoism, hatred and falsehood. They point out all the false gods that draw him into slavery: the love of self to the exclusion of God, the greed for power and pleasure that overturns the order of justice and degrades our human dignity and that of our neighbour” (John Paul II, Homily during the Celebration of the Word at Mount Sinai, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, 26 February 2000).
[5] Address at the Central Mosque of Koudoukou, Bangui (Central African Republic), 30 November 2015.
[6] “More perhaps than ever before in history, the intrinsic link between an authentic religious attitude and the great good of peace has become evident to all” (JOHN PAUL II, Address to Representatives of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the World Religions, Assisi, 27 October 1986: Insegnamenti IX, 2 (1986), 1268.
[7] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 251.
[8] SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Declaration Nostra Aetate, 5.
[9] ID., Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 38.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"The Future Has A Name: Hope" – In TED Talk, Pope Seeks a "Revolution"

Over the last decade or so, the TED talk – the 18-minute messages given by prominent artists, techies and other cultural figures – has become shorthand for showcasing the ideas the speaker most seeks to put into broad circulation. And at this week's marquee conference for the program in Vancouver, the usual roster of celebs and experts were joined by a very unusual rookie entry: a surprise contribution from the Bishop of Rome.

Marking his latest "bridge" into pop culture, an unannounced talk from the Pope – a year in the making, according to organizers – became the sudden centerpiece of this year's gathering upon its showing last night, at the end of the conference's first day. Stacking out just shy of TED's maximum allotted time for a speaker, the Domus-filmed message was highlighted by Francis' call for a future of increased solidarity, or as he put it, a world of "people who recognize the other as a 'you and themselves as part of an 'us.'"

An increasingly common format for the freewheeling pontiff to address far-flung events without the formality of a letter alone, the video was the second released yesterday alone: another Pope-talk was addressed to the people of Egypt ahead of Francis' two-day trip to Cairo, which begins Friday afternoon amid heightened security fears following the Palm Sunday bombings of Coptic churches by terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State, which killed over 40 worshippers.

Albeit a rehash of many of his most common themes both within the church and on the civic stage, the secular nature of the venue brought some notable nuances to the script; instead of his standard request for prayers, Papa Bergoglio asked his audience "think of me... with tenderness." Given that, when it comes to bringing the Gospel into a distinctly areligious space, this moment will likely resonate as a master-class on how to do it effectively.

Here below, the full video (with subtitles), and the English translation released by the conference organizers:

Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there. Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference. I very much like its title – "The Future You" – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a "you." "The Future You:" the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others. Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: "Why them and not me?" I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's "discarded" people. And that's why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: "Why them and not me?"

First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent "I," separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.

Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don't lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the "culture of waste," which doesn't concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?

In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative, concrete and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The "you" is always a real presence, a person to take care of.

There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who'd rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: "Who is my neighbor?" - namely, "Who should I take care of?" - he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren't even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.

The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves "respectable," of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: "One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense."

We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, "Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta." On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness, that doesn't dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another "you," and another "you," and it turns into an "us." And so, does hope begin when we have an "us?" No. Hope began with one "you." When there is an "us," there begins a revolution.

The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love.

Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: "Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach." You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a "you" and themselves as part of an "us." We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us. Thank you.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For McElroy, A Vice-“Disrupter”… For Davenport, “An Awesome Dude”

(Updated 11am ET)

For the first time since 2002, what’s now a 1.3 million-member fold in San Diego has a new auxiliary bishop. But if anyone’s expecting a clone of the last one, well, have we got news for you.

Six weeks since Bishop Robert McElroy electrified progressive activists (and infuriated conservatives) with a fiery address at a national summit on social justice, at Roman Noon this Wednesday, the Pope bolstered the SoCal prelate’s arsenal with the appointment of Fr John Dolan, 54 – the "pastor to the priests" as McElroy’s vicar for clergy, likewise serving at the helm of two city parishes – as the first of two requested deputies for the border diocese.

According to Whispers ops, the choice of a second San Diego assistant prelate remains in process. As previously reported here, the Padres' Country picks are just part of a flood of auxiliaries to be named across the Stateside church over the next year.

In addition, Francis tapped Msgr Thomas Zinkula – his 60th birthday today, the rector of Dubuque’s 16-man St Pius X Seminary – as head of Southeast Iowa’s 100,000-member Davenport diocese upon the retirement of Bishop Martin Amos four months after the Cleveland-born prelate reached the age-limit of 75.

Over his decade in the post, Amos faced the daunting task of steering the diocese through a years-long Chapter 11 bankruptcy case amid well over 100 sex-abuse lawsuits. While the reorganization process closed in 2012 with a $37 million settlement to victim-survivors, the Davenport case featured an even rarer sign of purification: the removal of a prior bishop’s name from the library of the local Catholic college after revelations that the late prelate had demanded the silence of a victim in the 1970s.

Given the history, that Zinkula was a civil lawyer for several years before entering the seminary is especially notable; the bishop-elect went on to earn a degree in the canons from St Paul’s in Ottawa after ordination. That said, the most unique aspect of the Davenport pick's background lies far elsewhere – a star athlete as a student, Zinkula played football at (D-III) Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, which inducted him into its athletic hall of fame. Of course, while most bishops to date remain products of college seminaries – and, thus, didn't have the chance at NCAA sports – that an All-American's made the bench is just another sign of how times are changing, and changing quick.

Back to the coast, Dolan’s appointment marks the second time a SoCal clergy chief with an extensive history in parishes has been named a hometown auxiliary in recent months. Much like the first, Orange’s Bishop Tim Freyer, today’s pick is widely regarded among the brothers as a warm, dedicated pastor with a fluency in Spanish and an overtime work-ethic that extends to a number of other ministries – in Dolan's case, a longtime commitment to refugees and the church's outreach on mental health issues among others. Yet where the celebrated “Mini-Vann” to the north is more laid-back in terms of the spotlight, McElroy’s protege has already taken to making a splash on the wider scene.

After last October’s opening round of a newly-devised San Diego Synod – a Francis-inspired consultation on family life and its optimal accompaniment in a post-Amoris church – Bishop-elect Dolan sketched two kinds of of ecclesial life in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter....
"There are two different forms of doing church," he said. "One is very dialogical, from a dialogical sense, and the other is from a monological sense. And we have dealt with that monological world: Things come from on high, they get shelved in some pastor's corner, then there's some thought that comes down, but ultimately it's all 'We're going to tell you what to think.'"
Given his current experience as pastor of a “welcoming parish” in the city’s gay and lesbian district, the incoming auxiliary (right) likewise remarked that “Young adults have an acceptance of the LGBT experience. It is simply a part of their world, and they look at [the church], and say, 'What is the problem?’"

Of course, it's one thing when zingers of the kind are made by a parish priest or even a diocesan official. Yet with today’s nod, it's a whole new ballgame – put another way, the US' episcopal discourse is further set a-Blase.

Far from any burning issues, however, behind the scenes in this shop, Dolan is simply known as one of us – a donor to these pages through the years, and someone to whose kindness and generosity of time and encouragement this scribe can gladly (and gratefully) attest. If the Man in White keeps poaching our funding-base like this, though, Whispers might have little choice but to go bankrupt unless more of this crowd starts stepping up.


Described by a close collaborator in Dubuque as "just an awesome dude" – and one "you can't get a read on" ideologically – Zinkula is being introduced at a 10am presser in Davenport, its video headed here once it wraps up. In a nod to his life before priesthood, the Iowa prelate will be ordained on 22 June – the feast of St Thomas More, the patron of lawyers.

In San Diego, meanwhile, a media rollout won't be held due to the thin staffing on-hand given Easter Week. However, Dolan will be presented and make remarks at a mid-morning event in the Chancery. The full shape of his new duties still to be determined, an ordination date in early June is said to be in the works.

SVILUPPO:Per San Diego Chancery, Dolan will be ordained on his 55th birthday, June 8th.

And complete with some impromptu stand-up, the fullvid of Zinkula's own birthday intro to Davenport:


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Monday, April 17, 2017

Viva Il Fluffo – On His 90th, A Toast to B16

Still The Fluffiest of 'em all, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI marked his 90th birthday on this Pasquetta (Easter Monday) afternoon, as a small group of Joseph Ratzinger's Bavarian countrymen toasted the milestone with music – and, indeed, some homeland drink – at his home in the Mater Ecclesiae convent in the Vatican Gardens.

An instant classic, the shot above was beamed around by one of the attendees, a German journalist; to the Birthday Pope's left is the Papstbruder-emeritus Msgr Georg Ratzinger, Benedict's older brother.

Ostensibly keen to avoid eclipsing his predecessor's day, however, the Pope didn't turn up – having forged a solid bond with Papa Ratzinger since his election, Francis had made a private visit last Wednesday to express his good wishes. Yet in a quiet tribute to his predecessor that apparently went over everyone's head, at yesterday morning's Easter Mass in the Square the Pope carried the gold ferula – the cross-topped papal crozier – made for Benedict in 2009. (Based on an earlier model used by Blessed Pius IX, it's a piece Francis has rarely employed.)

By all accounts, while his physical frailty has slowly but gradually taken hold, B16's mind has retained its celebrated scope and swiftness.

Of course, the whole reality of "two Popes" – well, the reigning occupant of Peter's Chair and a living former one – continues to prove something to which the Catholic world is still becoming accustomed four years after Benedict became the first Roman pontiff in some eight centuries to leave the office in life. Yet even as predecessor and successor warmly dote on each other with no shortage of visits, calls, notes and mutual praise, that their respective partisans instead seek to use their supposed "heroes" as totems in a polarized cage-match shows how little of either man, or the light of faith, the self-serving combatants actually understand.

With the exception of a brief speech on his 65th anniversary as a priest last year, and a book-length interview with his longtime collaborator Peter Seewald described as a "Last Testament," Benedict has gone unheard in public.

In that light, the confluence of Papa Ratzi's tenth decade with this year's Paschal Triduum only heightens the timeliness of a certain unsung text from his sprawling canon – the homily B16 gave over his last Easter in office, at a special Mass on the occasion of his 85th birthday in 2012: the move to resign already decided in his mind....
On the day of my birth and of my Baptism, 16 April, the Church’s liturgy has set three signposts which show me where the road leads and help me to find it. In the first place, it is the Memorial of St Bernadette Soubirous, the seer of Lourdes; then there is one of the most unusual Saints in the Church’s history, Benedict Joseph Labre; and then, above all, this day is immersed in the Paschal Mystery, in the Mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection. In the year of my birth this was expressed in a special way: it was Holy Saturday, the day of the silence of God, of his apparent absence, of God’s death, but also the day on which the Resurrection was proclaimed.

We all know and love Bernadette Soubirous, the simple girl from the south, from the Pyrenees. Bernadette grew up in the France of the 18th-century Enlightenment in a poverty which it is hard to imagine.

The prison that had been evacuated because it was too insanitary, became — after some hesitation — the family home in which she spent her childhood. There was no access to education, only some catechism in preparation for First Communion. Yet this simple girl, who retained a pure and honest heart, had a heart that saw, that was able to see the Mother of the Lord and the Lord’s beauty and goodness was reflected in her. Mary was able to appear to this girl and through her to speak to the people of the time and beyond it.

Bernadette could see with her pure and genuine heart. And Mary pointed out the spring to her: she was able to discover the spring of pure and uncontaminated living water; water that is life, water that gives purity and health. And down the centuries this living water has become a sign from Mary, a sign that shows where the sources of life are found, where we can purify ourselves, where we can find what is uncontaminated. This sign is all the more important in our time, in which we see the world so anxious and in which the need for water, pure water, becomes pressing. From Mary, the Mother of the Lord, from her pure heart, pure and genuine life-giving water also wells: water which in this century — and in centuries to come — purifies and heals us.

I think we can consider this water as an image of truth that comes to us in faith: not simulated but rather uncontaminated truth. Indeed to be able to live, to be able to be pure, we need to have within us a longing for pure life, for undistorted truth, for what is not contaminated by corruption, a longing to be unblemished. So on this day, this little Saint has always been a sign for me, who has shown me where the living water we need comes from — the water that purifies us and gives life — and a sign of how we ought to be: with all our knowledge and all our skills, although they are necessary, we must not lose our simple hearts, the simple gaze of the heart that can perceive the essential, and we must always pray the Lord to preserve in us the humility that enables the heart to remain clairvoyant — to see what is simple and essential, the beauty and goodness of God — and in this way to find the spring from which flows the purifying life-giving water.

Then there is Benedict Joseph Labre, the pious mendicant pilgrim of the 18th century who, after failing several times, at last found his vocation to go on pilgrimage as a beggar, without anything, without any support and keeping for himself nothing he received except what he absolutely needed. He was a pilgrim travelling across Europe to all the European shrines, from Spain to Poland and from Germany to Sicily: a truly European Saint! We can also say: a rather unusual Saint who begging, wandered from one shrine to another and wanted to do nothing other than to pray and thereby bear witness to what counts in this life: God. Of course, his is not an example to emulate, but a signpost, a finger pointing to the essential. He shows us that God alone suffices; that beyond anything in this world, beyond our needs and capacities, what matters, what is essential is to know God. He is enough on his own. And this “only God”, he shows us in a dramatic way. At the same time, this truly European life that, from shrine to shrine, embraces the entire continent of Europe makes it clear that whoever opens to God does not estrange himself from the world and from men, but rather finds brothers, because God causes all borders to fall, God alone eliminates the borders because, thanks to him, we all are brothers and sisters, we belong to one another. He makes it clear that the oneness of God means, at the same time, brotherhood and reconciliation among men, the demolition of frontiers that unites us and heals us. In this way he is a Saint of peace, just as he was a Saint without demands, who died deprived of all but blessed with everything.

And then, finally, we come to the Paschal Mystery. The same day on which I was born, thanks to my parent’s concern, I was also reborn through water and the Holy Spirit, as we have just heard in the Gospel. First, there is the gift of life that my parents gave me in very difficult times, and for which I thank them. But it cannot be taken for granted that human life in itself is a gift. Can it really be a beautiful gift? Do we know what will befall man in the dark days ahead — or in the brighter days that could come? Can we foresee to what troubles, what terrible events he might be exposed? Is it right to simply give life like this? Is it responsible or too uncertain? It is a problematic gift, if it is left to itself. Biological life is in itself a gift, but it is surrounded by a great question. It becomes a true gift only if, along with it, we are given a promise that is stronger than any evil that could threaten us, if it is immersed in a power that ensures that it is good to be human, that there will be good for this person no matter what the future brings. Thus, with birth is associated rebirth, the certitude that, truly, it is good to be alive, because the promise is stronger than evil. This is the meaning of rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit: to be immersed in the promise that only God can make — it is good that you exist, and you can be certain of that whatever comes. With this assurance I was able to live, reborn by water and the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus asks the Lord: “How can an old man possibly be reborn?”. Now, rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow in it, we must always let ourselves be immersed by God in his promise, in order to be truly reborn in the great, new family of God which is stronger than every weakness and than any negative power that threatens us. Therefore, this is a day of great thanksgiving.

The day I was baptized, as I said, was Holy Saturday. Then it was still customary to anticipate the Easter Vigil in the morning, which would still be followed by the darkness of Holy Saturday, without the Alleluia. It seems to me that this singular paradox, this singular anticipation of light in a day of darkness, could almost be an image of the history of our times. On the one hand, there is still the silence of God and his absence, but in the Resurrection of Christ there is already the anticipation of the “yes” of God, and on the basis of this anticipation we live and, through the silence of God, we hear him speak, and through the darkness of his absence we glimpse his light. The anticipation of the Resurrection in the middle of an evolving history is the power that points out the way to us and helps us to go forward.

Let us thank the good Lord for he has given us this light and let us pray to him so that it might endure forever. And on this day I have special cause to thank him and all those who have ever anew made me perceive the presence of the Lord, who have accompanied me so that I might never lose the light.

I am now facing the last chapter of my life and I do not know what awaits me. I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is Risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me to go forward with certainty. May this help us to go forward, and at this moment I wholeheartedly thank all those who have continually helped me to perceive the “yes” of God through their faith.

Finally, Cardinal Dean [Sodano], a warm thank you for your words of brotherly friendship, for all the collaboration during all these years. And a special thank you to all the collaborators over the 30 years in which I have been in Rome, who have helped me to carry the weight of my responsibilities. Thank you. Amen.
* * *
Speaking of Providence and timing, as this week likewise happens to mark nine years since Papa Ratzi's Stateside tour, the vision sketched out over those days bears no less recalling and reflection....

Per usual for every Pope, what he said then has only become more relevant with time.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

On Easter Night, "God Creates A New Age – The Age of Mercy"

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
THE EASTER VIGIL IN THE HOLY NIGHT
ST PETER'S BASILICA
15 APRIL 2017

“After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb” (Mt 28:1). We can picture them as they went on their way… They walked like people going to a cemetery, with uncertain and weary steps, like those who find it hard to believe that this is how it all ended. We can picture their faces, pale and tearful. And their question: can Love have truly died?

Unlike the disciples, the women are present – just as they had been present as the Master breathed his last on the cross, and then, with Joseph of Arimathea, as he was laid in the tomb. Two women who did not run away, who remained steadfast, who faced life as it is and who knew the bitter taste of injustice. We see them there, before the tomb, filled with grief but equally incapable of accepting that things must always end this way.

If we try to imagine this scene, we can see in the faces of those women any number of other faces: the faces of mothers and grandmothers, of children and young people who bear the grievous burden of injustice and brutality. In their faces we can see reflected all those who, walking the streets of our cities, feel the pain of dire poverty, the sorrow born of exploitation and human trafficking. We can also see the faces of those who are greeted with contempt because they are immigrants, deprived of country, house and family. We see faces whose eyes bespeak loneliness and abandonment, because their hands are creased with wrinkles. Their faces mirror the faces of women, mothers, who weep as they see the lives of their children crushed by massive corruption that strips them of their rights and shatters their dreams. By daily acts of selfishness that crucify and then bury people’s hopes. By paralyzing and barren bureaucracies that stand in the way of change. In their grief, those two women reflect the faces of all those who, walking the streets of our cities, behold human dignity crucified.

The faces of those women mirror many other faces too, including perhaps yours and mine. Like them, we can feel driven to keep walking and not resign ourselves to the fact that things have to end this way. True, we carry within us a promise and the certainty of God’s faithfulness. But our faces also bear the mark of wounds, of so many acts of infidelity, our own and those of others, of efforts made and battles lost. In our hearts, we know that things can be different but, almost without noticing it, we can grow accustomed to living with the tomb, living with frustration. Worse, we can even convince ourselves that this is the law of life, and blunt our consciences with forms of escape that only serve to dampen the hope that God has entrusted to us. So often we walk as those women did, poised between the desire of God and bleak resignation. Not only does the Master die, but our hope dies with him.

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake” (Mt 28:2). Unexpectedly, those women felt a powerful tremor, as something or someone made the earth shake beneath their feet. Once again, someone came to tell them: “Do not be afraid”, but now adding: “He has been raised as he said!” This is the message that, generation after generation, this Holy Night passes on to us: “Do not be afraid, brothers and sisters; he is risen as he said!” Life, which death destroyed on the cross, now reawakens and pulsates anew (cf. ROMANO GUARDINI, The Lord, Chicago, 1954, p. 473). The heartbeat of the Risen Lord is granted us as a gift, a present, a new horizon. The beating heart of the Risen Lord is given to us, and we are asked to give it in turn as a transforming force, as the leaven of a new humanity. In the resurrection, Christ rolled back the stone of the tomb, but he wants also to break down all the walls that keep us locked in our sterile pessimism, in our carefully constructed ivory towers that isolate us from life, in our compulsive need for security and in boundless ambition that can make us compromise the dignity of others.

When the High Priest and the religious leaders, in collusion with the Romans, believed that they could calculate everything, that the final word had been spoken and that it was up to them to apply it, God suddenly breaks in, upsets all the rules and offers new possibilities. God once more comes to meet us, to create and consolidate a new age, the age of mercy. This is the promise present from the beginning. This is God’s surprise for his faithful people. Rejoice! Hidden within your life is a seed of resurrection, an offer of life ready to be awakened.

That is what this night calls us to proclaim: the heartbeat of the Risen Lord. Christ is alive! That is what quickened the pace of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. That is what made them return in haste to tell the news (Mt 28:8). That is what made them lay aside their mournful gait and sad looks. They returned to the city to meet up with the others.

Now that, like the two women, we have visited the tomb, I ask you to go back with them to the city. Let us all retrace our steps and change the look on our faces. Let us go back with them to tell the news In all those places where the grave seems to have the final word, where death seems the only way out. Let us go back to proclaim, to share, to reveal that it is true: the Lord is alive! He is living and he wants to rise again in all those faces that have buried hope, buried dreams, buried dignity. If we cannot let the Spirit lead us on this road, then we are not Christians.

Let us go, then. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by this new dawn and by the newness that Christ alone can give. May we allow his tenderness and his love to guide our steps. May we allow the beating of his heart to quicken our faintness of heart.

[Ed. Note: Lest the whoppers in the above didn't jump off the page at you, read it again.... More than anything, though, to one and all, every wish for una beata e Buona Pasqua – a Blessed Easter!]

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Before the Cross, Today's "Shame" and "Hope"

Despite the wider world's enduring interest in the Pope's traveling Holy Thursday Mass, for Francis himself, the most emotional time of this Week, and arguably his entire year, is instead tonight – the Good Friday Via Crucis, which brings back the evocative memory of the candlelit processions of Buenos Aires to which he was taken as a boy.

In keeping with the depth of the moment, Papa Bergoglio again closed the Colosseum rites with a personally-written prayer linking the crucifixion with the modern-day suffering of the innocent, here in an English translation....
O Christ,
left alone and then betrayed by your own
and sold for a fleeting price.

O Christ,
judged by sinners
and taken captive by the powerful.

O Christ,
your flesh torn,
crowned with thorns
and cloaked in purple.

O Christ
slapped and atrociously nailed.

O Christ,
pierced by the lance which ripped at your heart.

O Christ,
dead and buried,
You who are the God of life and existence.

O Christ,
our only Savior,
again we return to You this year
with our eyes lowered from shame
and a heart full of hope:

Shame for all the images
of devastation, destruction and shipwrecks
that have become ordinary in our life.


Shame for the innocent blood that has been shed
by women, children, immigrants and persecuted people
whether for the color of their skin,
their ethnic and social appearance
and for their faith in You.

Shame for the many times when,
like Judas and Peter,
we have sold you and betrayed you
and left you alone to die for our sins,
fleeing like cowards from our responsibilities.

Shame for our silence before injustices,
for our hands, lazy in giving yet
keen to snatch away and conquer,
for our shrill voices in defending our own interests
and timid in speaking of those of others,
for our fast feet along the way of evil,
yet paralyzed on the way of good.

Shame for all the times that us,
bishops, priests, consecrated men and women
have scandalized and wounded your body, the Church,
and have forgotten our first love, our first enthusiasm
and our complete availability,
letting our heart and our consecration turn to rust.

So much shame, Lord, but our heart still remembers
the hopeful trust that you don’t treat us according to our merits
but only by the abundance of your mercy,
that our own betrayals don’t come close
to the immenseness of your love,
that your heart, that of a mother and a father,
doesn’t forget us despite our own hardness.

Hope. The sure hope that our names are written in your heart
and that we are in your sight.

The hope that your Cross might transform our hardened hearts
to hearts of flesh, able to dream, to forgive and to love;

transform the darkness of this night into the radiant joy of your Resurrection.

The hope that your faithfulness is not based on our own.

The hope that the host of men and women faithful to your Cross
continues and will continue to live faithfully as the leaven that gives flavor
and as the light which opens new horizons in the body of our wounded humanity.

The hope that your Church will seek to be a voice that cries out in the desert of
humanity, to prepare the way for your return in triumph,
when you will come to judge the living and the dead.

The hope that good will win, even in the face of defeat!

O Lord Jesus, Son of God,
innocent victim of our redemption,
before your royal banner,
the mystery of your death and glory,
before this, your scaffold,
we fall to our knees, ashamed yet hopeful,
and we ask you to wash us clean in the solvent of the blood and water
which came from your broken heart;
to forgive our sins and our faults.

We ask you to remember our brothers and sisters cut down
by violence, by indifference, and by war.

We ask you to break the chains that keep us
as prisoners in our selfishness,
in our willful blindness
and in the vanity of our worldly calculations.

O Christ,
we ask you to teach us
to never be ashamed of your Cross,
to not instrumentalize it
but to honor and adore it,
because by it you have shown
the monstrousness of our sins,
the greatness of your love,
the injustice of our judgment
and the power of your mercy.

Amen.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

The "New Wineskins" of Priesthood: "Joy, Meekness, Integrity"

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
HOLY THURSDAY MASS OF THE CHRISM
ST PETER'S BASILICA
13 APRIL 2017

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18).

 Jesus, anointed by the Spirit, brings good news to the poor. Everything he proclaims, and we priests too proclaim, is good news. News full of the joy of the Gospel – the joy of those anointed in their sins with the oil of forgiveness and anointed in their charism with the oil of mission, in order to anoint others in turn.

Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible! –, he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer. Like every other missionary disciple, the priest makes the message joyful by his whole being. For as we all know, it is in the little things that joy is best seen and shared: when by taking one small step, we make God’s mercy overflow in situations of desolation; when we decide to pick up the phone and arrange to see someone; when we patiently allow others to take up our time…

The phrase “good news” might appear as just another way of saying “the Gospel”. Yet those words point to something essential: the joy of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news because it is, in essence, a message of joy. The good news is the precious pearl of which we read in the Gospel. It is not a thing but a mission. This is evident to anyone who has experienced the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Evangelii Gaudium, 10).

The good news is born of Anointing. Jesus’ first “great priestly anointing” took place, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of Mary. The good news of the Annunciation inspired the Virgin Mother to sing her Magnificat. It filled the heart of Joseph, her spouse, with sacred silence, and it made John leap for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, his mother.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to Nazareth and the joy of the Spirit renews that Anointing in the little synagogue of that town: the Spirit descends and is poured out upon him, “anointing him with the oil of gladness” (cf. Ps 45:8).

Good news. A single word – Gospel – that, even as it is spoken, becomes truth, brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone.

The truth of the good news can never be merely abstract, incapable of taking concrete shape in people’s lives because they feel more comfortable seeing it printed in books.

The mercy of the good news can never be a false commiseration, one that leaves sinners in their misery without holding out a hand to lift them up and help them take a step in the direction of change.

This message can never be gloomy or indifferent, for it expresses a joy that is completely personal. It is “the joy of the Father, who desires that none of his little ones be lost” (Evangelii Gaudium, 237). It is the joy of Jesus, who sees that the poor have the good news preached to them, and that the little ones go out to preach the message in turn (ibid., 5) The joys of the Gospel are special joys. I say “joys” in the plural, for they are many and varied, depending on how the Spirit chooses to communicate them, in every age, to every person and in every culture. They need to be poured into new wineskins, the ones the Lord speaks of in expressing the newness of his message. I would like to share with you, dear priests, dear brothers, three images or icons of those new wineskins in which the good news is kept fresh, without turning sour but being poured out in abundance.

A first icon of the good news would be the stone water jars at the wedding feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:6). In one way, they clearly reflect that perfect vessel which is Our Lady herself, the Virgin Mary. The Gospel tells us that the servants “filled them up to the brim” (Jn 2:7). I can imagine one of those servants looking to Mary to see if that was enough, and Mary signaling to add one more pailful. Mary is the new wineskin brimming with contagious joy. She is “the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286), Our Lady of Prompt Succour [Ed.: Patroness of New Orleans; right], who, after conceiving in her immaculate womb the Word of life, goes out to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth. Her “contagious fullness” helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy. This cannot be, for “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (ibid., 1)

A second icon of the good news is the jug with its wooden ladle that the Samaritan woman carried on her head in the midday sun (cf. Jn 4:5-30). It speaks to us of something crucial: the importance of concrete situations. The Lord, the Source of Living Water, had no means of drawing the water to quench his thirst. So the Samaritan woman drew the water with her jug, and with her ladle she sated the Lord’s thirst. She sated it even more by concretely confessing her sins. By mercifully shaking the vessel of that Samaritan women’s soul, the Holy Spirit overflowed upon all the people of that small town, who asked the Lord to stay with them.

The Lord gave us another new vessel or wineskin full of this “inclusive concreteness” in that Samaritan soul who was Mother Teresa. He called to her and told her: “I am thirsty”. He said: “My child, come, take me to the hovels of the poor. Come, be my light. I cannot do this alone. They do not know me, and that is why they do not love me. Bring me to them”. Mother Teresa, starting with one concrete person, thanks to her smile and her way of touching their wounds, brought the good news to all.

The third icon of the good news is the fathomless vessel of the Lord’s pierced Heart: his utter meekness, humility and poverty which draw all people to himself. From him we have to learn that announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way. Evangelization cannot be presumptuous. The integrity of the truth cannot be rigid. The Spirit proclaims and teaches “the whole truth” (cf. Jn 16:3), and he is not afraid to do this one sip at a time. The Spirit tells us in every situation what we need to say to our enemies (cf. Mt 10:19), and at those times he illumines our every small step forward. This meekness and integrity gives joy to the poor, revives sinners, and grants relief to those oppressed by the devil.

Dear priests, as we contemplate and drink from these three new wineskins, may the good news find in us that “contagious fullness” which Our Lady radiates with her whole being, the “inclusive concreteness” of the story of the Samaritan woman, and the “utter meekness” whereby the Holy Spirit ceaselessly wells up and flows forth from the pierced heart of Jesus our Lord.

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