The Correct Movement

Movement; God’s revelation is, in a very important way a lesson on movement, direction.  There is no stationary activity in our faith.  To live our faith as God intends we need to understand what is the correct movement – what direction gains us a closer relationship with God; and the readings for the Solemnity of Pentecost highlight this important understanding.

Last evening, in the vigil celebration of Pentecost we heard the story of the Tower Babel. In it we see mankind, relying on their own means to build their kingdom.  They were climbing up to God by themselves – they didn’t need His help. In this narrative we see God confusing them with language. If we remember that mankind was unaware of this change, then this story points out that mankind, in spite of their great achievements and relying on their self, comes into conflict with each other – at a certain point they don’t understand each other, can’t relate and even trust each other – society disintegrates into a collective of isolated people. For us, trying to climb to God doesn’t work.

In today’s first reading from the Acts, the movement is down, God comes down, He moves towards mankind.  And this shouldn’t surprise us, since the whole of the revealed word shows us that God, desires to come to us.  In Genesis, God comes to Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.  God comes to Abram, to Noah, to Moses, to the prophets and the kings, he enters Mary and Joseph’s life.  Christ comes to St. John the Baptist and His disciples, He is constantly moving from village to village coming to those He desires to proclaim the good news to. He journeys to Jerusalem and offers Himself to the leadership for His passion. And today He sends His Holy Spirit down on His disciples and His mother. God’s movement is downward – God goes out to meet us.

For us this means that we must, if we desire to be faithful followers of God empty ourselves of inflated understanding of ourselves and allow God to work on our hearts.  We need to humble ourselves to allow God to meet us where we are – it is then that heaven meets earth; it is this action that allows mankind to reach their heavenly goal.  It is then that the new Jerusalem is realized, at least for now.

As we enter Ordinary Time – let’s call upon the Holy Spirit, who is within us, to open our minds and hearts to the direction God’s wants us to take.  Let’s drop down and meet those around us, those in need, where they are – after all God continues to do that for us.  Let’s empty ourselves of everything but God’s love, His Holy Spirit, and together with those we help we can reach our heart’s desire – heaven.

 

 

 

Greatness!

2nd Sunday of Lent, Cycle A – 2014

Our Lenten journey
So, we start the second week of Lent – this intense season of interior reflection, re-conversion of heart. If we participate correctly it will open our ‘inner selves’ to the fullness of the events of Holy Week and Easter.  It makes us aware of our differences between where we are and where God desires us to be.  It allows us to gauge how close we are to true discipleship.  To help us, each week Holy Mother Church proclaims to us valuable lessons from the Old and New Testament.

Transfiguration
Today, we hear the account of the Transfiguration from Matthew.  Along with Peter, James and John we are witness to Christ revealing His greatness. What Peter and the others must have thought as they saw Moses and Elijah come to Christ and defer to Him, what they must have felt as Christ is revealed in His magnificence, as God spoke; and as important as that is I feel there is a deeper lesson to be learned from these readings. God is revealing His greatness; but what does that mean? It is all too easy to get caught up in divine special effects. What can Christ be trying to show us on Mt. Tabor, indeed throughout His entire ministry about greatness? Let’s look into this.

Luminous Mysteries
Back in 2002 Blessed John Paul the Great gave to the Church the Luminous Mysteries for mediation on the Rosary.  He placed the Transfiguration into these Luminous Mysteries. As with the other three sets of Rosary Mysteries the Luminous Mysteries are a teaching tool.  For those that meditate on them they open our heart to the mysteries of God.  Not that they remove the mystery, no that’s impossible – man understanding God fully; but they allow us to enter into the mysteries to help us grow.  The mysteries are never exhausted – we can reflect on them all our life and still be surprised by additional insight.  Not surprising since they are about our Lord’s life.

But today – let’s take a look at what these Luminous Mysteries tell us about greatness. What is the greatness?  What makes one great in God’s eyes?

Baptism at the River Jordan
The first Luminous Mystery is Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. Does Christ show His greatness by the skies opening, by a proclamation from on high and the Holy Spirit coming down to Jesus; or is greatness in His bowing down to become one with sinners – to meet us where we are?

Wedding Feast at Cana
The second Luminous Mystery is the Wedding Feast at Cana. Does Christ show His greatness by changing water into wine; or is His greatness shown by His humility in obeying His mother and allowing others  (like the servants) to help in this event?

Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
The third Luminous Mystery is the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.  Does Christ show greatness by working miracles of healing, of feeding the multitudes, walking on water; or is His greatness shown in obediently doing His Father’s will by traveling tirelessly to make known to the people what God has in store for them – love and mercy; all the while enduring hardships, abuse, danger.

Transfiguration
The fourth Luminous Mystery is the Transfiguration.  Does Christ show greatness by lifting the veil and allowing His glory to shine through; or is His greatness shown after the demonstration of His divinity when His disciples look up from the ground and see Him standing there, remaining with them and coming back down to finish His Father’s will, as horrible as it will be.

Institution of the Eucharist
The fifth Luminous Mystery is the Institution of the Eucharist. Is Christ’s greatness in changing the laws of nature; or is His greatness shown in the love that creates this gift? Making Himself small so that we have a chance at making ourselves great.

In the Gospel of St John, known as the most Eucharistic of the Gospels, the narrative of the Last Supper doesn’t include the breaking of the bread or the pouring of the wine, it centers on the washing of the feet.  Christ teaching His followers the meaning of greatness – service to others.

What is true greatness?
So, the Luminous Mysteries show how God views greatness: not in power, but in service; not in amazing shows of deity, but in humility; not in awesome grandeur but in meeting those He loves where they are and helping them achieve greatness as God sees it.

In a wonderful and beautiful way St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-9), tells them and us how God views greatness:

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,”

In our first reading today, from Genesis (12:2), we hear God tell Abram ‘I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…” A blessing to others – that is greatness! Brothers and Sisters, as we continue our Lenten journey I pray that we all take some time to see how we view greatness and ask God for the wisdom and strength to follow His idea – to be a blessing to others.

Our Part (icipation)

February 16, 2014 – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus tell us: ‘Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’; His comment to the group listening points out how important worship is to them.  The discussion is a powerful reminder to them about the importance of being prepared for worship, the necessity of proper disposition and attitude when presenting oneself to God in a Temple service – for us that would be Mass.  Worship, is about interior preparation that leads to a proper disposition and actual participation.

The Vatican II fathers used the Latin phrase ‘participatio actuosa’; some translate it ‘active participation’ others translate it ‘actual participation’ – both highlight important aspects of the phrase.  In my view, because the English language reverses the words it removes the importance of the phrase; or rather changes the paradigm. When we define first: ‘participation’ we can then properly flow to the second word ‘active’ with a correct perspective, disposition.

Participation, in the sense of the Mass, refers to a primary action that we are part of.  What is it that we are participating in? And of course it is the Eucharistic Prayer, the ‘Opus Dei’ (Work of God) of Christ; Jesus prayer to the Father in words and action; His Pasch, His passion death and resurrection in obedience to the Father and for our salvation.

Now, it is obvious that the true Eucharistic Sacrifice is Christ’s gift of Himself to the Father; so what is our part? How do we participate? It is our prayer. To actually participate in the Mass, we need to be actively praying along with Christ.  Our preparation for Mass as well as our disposition in the Mass is one of prayer; we are attaching our prayers of thanksgiving, of petition, of forgiveness, of mercy, of penance, of everything to those of Christ as He offers His whole being to the Father.

I think it bears repeating; our actual participation in the Mass, that makes us active within Christ’s sacrifice to the Father, is our prayer.  Now, of course there are some who are called to ‘do things’ in the Mass and that is laudable, or as the Church likes to phrase it ‘praise worthy’; but when it comes down to it, the most important thing we do is pray.  And as with any important activity we need to train ourselves; as I said earlier place ourselves in the proper disposition, so that our hearts and minds are in tune with the prayer of Christ.

Holy Mother Church recognizes this and knows that the Mass needs to facilitate our being able to place ourselves in the right frame of mind.  The actions in the Mass not only reveal to us the powerful aspects of the liturgy but always help us center in on the active participation of our prayer.  By coming to understand why the church has structured the Liturgy the way she does is not only a study in the history of revelation but it is a means to deepen our relation with the Holy Trinity.  If someone thinks that our liturgical actions are more or less just choreography then their participation will be more of passive spectatorship.  If, on the other hand, someone strives to understand why we do what do at Mass then their participation will become deeper, fuller, more active in what is actually happening; and by means of this deeper participation our personal relationship with God deepens.

I would like to point out three aspects of the Mass as examples:

1 The Altar
The Mass revolves around two centers, the Ambo where we hear proclaimed God’s Word, and the Altar.  You have all noticed that the clergy come up to the Altar and kiss it. Why? Because the Altar represents Jesus Christ Himself; above any other symbolism that can be given to the Altar this is preeminent.  We don’t reverence a table, we reference a person.  It is always interesting to me to listen to people talk about the altar.  One of the most telling differences in comments is when someone describes adding an altar cloth as decorating the Altar, while others describe that action as dressing the Altar.  We decorate a thing, we dress a person. We should look at the Altar as the clergy do when they kiss it – they kiss Christ, they reverence our Lord who is about to perform the great Opus Dei (work of God), for us, and with us to the Father.

2 The Collect
In the Liturgy, after the greeting and the penitential rite we participate in the Collect.  Most probably know it by the misleading title of ‘Opening Prayer’.  It is called the Collect because of what is said just prior to it.  We hear Father announce ‘Let us pray’. This is not an alert for the Altar Server to bring the big red book to him; it is a call for everyone to quietly gather their thoughts and prayers together to offer them along with our Lord’s offering.  There should be time between the call to prayer and the Collect.  The Collect does what the name says – it collects the congregation’s prayers and through the priest, by means of this prayer, they are offered upward to God the Father.  For me, the term Opening Prayer almost sounds like Opening Act and it makes me feel like we are passive viewers whereas the term Collect calls us to active participation.

3 The Bow-less Creed
I must be honest with you, sometimes I cheat during the Creed.  I look up to see how many people bow at the words ‘by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man’ Holy Mother Church thinks that this little action is very important, it is right there in the Missalette.  The Incarnation is that important; we who are undeserving of this gift, should bow at the thought of God coming to us.  But, in my peeking at you I notice that about as many don’t bow as do. The idea of the bow should be spontaneous for those who have come to participate in Christ’s sacrifice – we recognize our unworthiness for this gift and we humble ourselves for it.

So, three examples of aspects of the Mass that, depending on our understanding, affect our disposition and thus affect our participation; three examples out of the many aspects of the Mass that depending on our understanding can deepen our relationship with God. My prayer for all of us is that we renew our effort to come to a better understanding of the Mass so that we can then participate worthily in Christ’s action to the Father for us.

Lesson of Simeon

The Feast of the Presentation of Lord takes us through the Holy Family fulfilling the religious and cultural obligations of their day.  Dutiful and faithful Mary and Joseph, taking their child to the temple to fulfill what the law proscribes, never mind that this child is God. This alone could fill hours of reflection, but what strikes me most this year is Simeon.

Every night I recite in Compline (Night Prayer) those words of Simeon.

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Words from this ancient man who lived his life for God, and at this moment he sees the fulfillment of his hopes and dreams, the messiah has come.

Today’s feast, indeed most every night while praying Simeon’s words I feel a little shot of coldness run down the spine of my soul.  I am praying the words of a man who had never known the messiah, recognize him and give greeting through his praise to the Father.  And here am I, 2,000 plus years later, with the fullness of revelation being passed on to me in the Bible and through the Magisterium of the Church, Christ’s bride.  I have been given millennia of examples, through the writings of the Church Fathers and the countless witness of the saints.  I have visited the hallowed grounds of Marian apparition sites, great cathedrals, and other places of worship.  I have been blessed with all of this, as Simeon hadn’t, and I can’t help but fearfully wonder whether I have truly greeted our Lord, as Simeon did.

Pope Francis, speaks of taking on the smell of the sheep, and I am afraid I don’t.  I am afraid that every time I go out and walk past Christ in the faces of those I meet I never breathe in deeply; never recognize the smell of sheep; never welcome it. There is no greeting of our Lord. He is presenting Himself to me in those others and I never properly present myself to Him through them.

The Pope speaks of going to the fringes and I fear that I haven’t left the center.  I have stayed in the safety of the sacristy, not daring to venture out and radiate the light that I have been given.  I have not gone to meet Christ who has come to meet me.

The Pope speaks of a believer as ‘essentially one who remembers’.  And I fear that I don’t remember, truly remember; because I fail to see in this world the glory of God in everyone.  I fail to mourn with the mournful; come to the help of the suffering; look through the eyes of the marginalized. I am deaf to the bells of the leper. I fail to embrace Christ, when through these He is embracing me.

In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis, quotes Pope Emeritus Benedict’s words: ‘Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person.’ In today’s Gospel we see four witnesses to this in Mary, Joseph, Anna and Simeon.  Would that I can truly make my own Simeon’s words in his great canticle:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

May each of our hearts be open to these words and allow the Holy Spirit guide us to the awareness that Simeon had as he presented himself to our Lord.

The Meaning Behind the Title

At the beginning of Mass today Father collected our prayers and petitions and lifted them up to God the Father with these words.

‘O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary
bestowed on the human race
the grace of eternal salvation,
grant, we pray
that we may experience the intercession of her,
through whom we were found worthy
to receive the author of life,’

Today we celebrate Mary’s title as ‘Mother of God’, and with that title we celebrate her fiat to allow God to work through her.

It was through her yes that salvation was able to walk among us.  Could God have accomplished this feat without her? Yes; but He didn’t.  He desired that humanity would have a part in this supreme act of redemption.  Could He have chosen another person? Yes; but He didn’t – she was the perfect creature. But why?

All of creation, when the Archangel Gabriel came to her with God’s greeting and offer, held its breath.  Would this young maiden, understand what was happening? Would she comprehend what was being asked of her?   Would this girl of Nazareth raised in the turmoil of occupation; living her life in the fear of the Romans and their henchmen; just trying to survive each day be able to see the large picture?  Would she be able to put aside the fear of the unusual and seemingly sinful request of a perceived adulterous motherhood to bring salvation into the world?

I would venture to say it wouldn’t matter to her. The divine reasons, the eternal considerations for this request by the Archangel Gabriel would not be needed – God asked and she said yes.  God almighty came to her and asked to do something so she agreed.  God desired her participation and she would because God had need of her.  This simple, yet perfect, faith of Mary enabled the death of death to be born man, and in an important way we too were born; because we are born into the life our God.  By her total and unquestioning obedience to God we have eternal life at our grasp if we accept it.

People who don’t understand think we worship Mary – no, she is not God.  They think we put her on a pedestal – yes, so all can see her.  Why? Let us look to Mary this New Year – she who allowed God to work through her, and who, by her simple and total faith and through example and actions points us constantly to her Son  – and follow her example; allowing God to work through us. To me, in my heart, this is the meaning behind Holy Mother Church’s celebrationsof the title ‘Mother of God’

Happy New Year!

Lenses

Friday, Pope Francis made headlines with an action that shocked the world of protocol. ‘Pope breaks with protocol by bowing to Queen Rania of Jordan’ was the headline on one news site.  It seems the King and Queen of Jordan met with the Pope at the Vatican and the Pope bowed to the queen as he received them.  In international protocol it is supposedly unheard of that a host leader, political or religious, bows to the visitor, especially the pope.  In fact it was only in the 19th century that visitors stopped kissing the shoes of the Holy Father.  Some of Vatican observers and followers of these types of events were scandalized – the pope, they thought, was now diminishing the Vicar of Christ on earth.  By his actions Pope Francis lowered the papacy below the dignity it should have as Christ’s visible presence.

But it depends on which set of lenses you are looking through that you would see this action in that way.  Through the lenses of ‘power’ (as modern society knows power) it is a scandalous action.  He has allowed himself to be lowered; indeed he himself did the lowering.  The power and prestige of the papacy was eroded by this action.  By this lens power is lording over people; I am more important than you and you need to know it.  I will make sure that I am viewed as more important and that you interact with me in that dynamic so everyone can see.  I will take the higher seat.

But these lenses are not the lens of God.  True power is not something that man attains and keeps.  True power is not something that man can create.  True power is not of man at all.  Man can walk up to the front the feast and sit in a prominent position and declare himself important – or so he thinks.  But as Christ tells us today and Pope Francis demonstrated a few days ago – mankind’s true power, his true prestige comes from being a child of God.  Our greatness is that we aren’t great at all, we are frail, fragile sons and daughters of God; we are loved by God.  God alone is great, and when we realize this and live our lives accordingly we have no need of fanfare, accolades and displays of power. We come to realize that we are poor in spirit, and by this realization we become both free and powerful.  We do God’s work and rely on God’s help.  We accept the truth and we live accordingly – we are humble.

Pope Francis shows us in action what Sirach tells us in the first reading
My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.

The Pope’s action on Thursday, though a little scandalous at first glance, demonstrates his gift of living in humility. That Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio shied away from the Papacy was apparent from the second day in the position.  When discussing how he chose the name Francis he said:  ‘During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop …Cardinal Claudio Hummes: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me.’  When things were looking dangerous! He knows himself and he knows the demands of the Papacy.  A few weeks later a little girl asked him whether he wanted the job and said no.  He continually asks people to pray for him because he needs it.  He understands that what God called him to is beyond his capability – but together with God he can meet the challenges.  To understand what is truly important and prestigious, to understand where power comes from isn’t weakness.  This is humility, the ability to realize who we are and what we can do.  No self-defacement, no cowering, just honest understanding.

Pope Francis, as is now well known, starts his day celebrating Mass with the staff of the Vatican City state.  His congregation are cardinals, bishops, and priests; as well as gardeners, maintenance staff, security personnel, clerical staff.  There are quite a few photos of him praying before Mass starts and they are profound.  He is sitting in the back of the chapel by himself.  The rows in front of him are filled with the people I just mentioned.  The Pope is sitting at the back.  It is God, the host, who 4 months ago called him to take the seat up front, but he does this only when he is doing God’s work.

Ask any clergy about their desire to be God’s helper and they will tell you it is strong.  Ask them of their worthiness and whether they are confident in their abilities; and the truthful ones will tell you they have doubts about both, but with God’s help they know that He can do all things through them.  To a man, their story will start out sitting in the back and being asked to move to the front.  Am I saying that clergy are humble?; sometimes, but it is a daily struggle to keep our minds focused on the truth about our abilities.

May each of us realize in our lives what Pope Francis demonstrates, what God through Sirach proclaims; and what St. Paul tells the Corinthians and us: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Little and the Big

Today’s second reading has what is seemingly a confusing declaration from St. Paul.

Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.

Christ’s afflictions weren’t enough? Christ’s passion needs more to be done?

For almost two millennia this passage has been discussed and explained by many. St. Alphonsus’ explanation is as follows: “Can it be that Christ’s passion alone was insufficient to save us? It left nothing more to be done, it was entirely sufficient to save all men. However, for the merits of the Passion to be applied to us, according to St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa theologiae, III, q. 49, a. 3), we need to cooperate by patiently bearing the trials God sends us, so as to become like our head, Christ” (St Alphonsus, Thoughts on the Passion, 10).

We need to cooperate? Hmm. My take on this passage and St. Aphonsus’ explanation is: What is missing from Christ’s action is nothing – what is missing is that we need to bring the Gospel to our generation.  As St. Alphonsus reminds us St. Thomas Aquinas says ‘we need to cooperate’. It is up to us, Christ’s followers to introduce His Gospel to those who haven’t heard it, or who have and don’t or won’t comprehend it.  For Christ’s Passion to truly take affect here on earth, to change the world, to make manifest the Kingdom here, we need to show what the kingdom is about, we need to cooperate.  And just what does that cooperation entail? Witnessing to love, embracing everyone as family, loving our neighbor – really loving our neighbor.  Not just in the great debates and iconic issues of our time.  Not just going and righting the big wrongs of our day. As important as that is – it isn’t everything; indeed it is impossible if we don’t live love every moment of our lives. If we don’t radiate the Gospel in every situation we find ourselves in, small and large, we are witnessing to a weakened and watered-down Gospel. I would like to read you an example of true witness.  Please bear with me as I relate a story of one man’s day.

On Friday May 31st Pope Francis’ schedule was as follows:

  • Meeting with Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
  • Meeting with Archbishop Ferrer, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
  • Meeting with Mr. Vuz Jeremic, President of 67th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  • Participating in the torchlight rosary procession and giving a reflection closing the month of Mary.

And in between these great meetings and events that concerned 1.2 billion Catholics and even the 6 billion inhabitants of the world was this hardly noticed event.  In the Chapel at Domus Sanctae Marthea the Holy Father met with 22 children; these children, from all over, Italy were patients of the Pediatric Oncology Department of the Gemelli Clinic in Rome. They had just come back from Lourdes. This is taken from the Vatican newspaper L’osservatore Romano:

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“When we were in front of the Grotto of Massabielle”, explained Don Gianni, “in order to bring a little cheerfulness to the situation we invented a game: draw the Grotto of Lourdes to show the Pope who has never been there”.  However, the priest confessed, while they were telling this to the children, no one ever thought that they would have ended up actually showing the Pope their drawings of the Lourdes Grotto.

The picture by Giovanni – an 8-year-old child from Sardinia, blinded by a brain tumor – was drawn on a Braille board based on a description given to him the assistants, and was so moving that they decided to actually send it to the Pope with an explanatory letter.  Not much more was needed for the fame to finish “in the best way possible”.

Little Giovanni and Pope Francis facing each other on Friday afternoon was quite a sight! Giovanni asked him: “Do you have a sweet tooth?’.

The Pope responded: “Yes, I really do.  I like sweets, Chocolate.  And you? Yes? Don’t they give you a tummy ache?”.

Then Giovanni showed him a large red bag: “Thanks goodness you like sweets because I brought you some from Sardinia”.

“Yum, thanks!”, the Pope said, “But shouldn’t we eat them with the other children?”.

The whole meeting seemed like a conversation between a grandfather and his grandchildren.  The little ones with their parents and their caregivers, sat in a semicircle in front of the Pope, who took his seat in front of the altar.  They prayed together and the Holy Father told the children a story: “Jesus once had to go to a very important place. But it took him a while.  He arrived after midday and the disciples immediately asked him: ‘Teacher how, come you arrived so late?’. Well do you know what Jesus said? Listen carefully: ‘Along the way I met a child who was crying.  I stopped to stay with him’. This is Jesus’ way with a child who cries.  With a child who isn’t well.  He touched the heart of Jesus who loves him so much”.

The Pope Francis let little Michelle speak. “I am very happy”, she said, “to be here at your home with my friends from the Gemelli clinic, the doctors, volunteers and priests who came with us to Lourdes.  It’s nice to be able to really see you and not just on television! At Lourdes we prayed for you, we drew the Grotto of Our Lady as a gift for you. We promise you we will continue to pray and we ask you to pray for all the sick children of the Gemelli and throughout the world”. The Holy Father thanked her, holding her close to him. He stroked her little head, half covered by a bandage.  Moved, he began speaking again to the children, continuing the discussion on Jesus’ love and asked them: “Is Jesus with us now? Is he? Are you sure? Good. He is with us because he always loves us. Jesus walks with us in our lives and when we have problems he is always near us”.

There was a very special atmosphere at the meeting, one of extraordinary love. The Pope could not stop showing his affection for the children, comforting their parents, thanking the doctors and volunteers for their work in aiding these little suffering children. Then the encounter closed with a prayer. But first the Pope desired to speak to the heart of the children and asked them to repeat with him: “Jesus is always with us, when we are happy and joyful. Jesus is always with us when we are sad. Jesus is always with us. Why? Because Jesus loves us. Never forget this”.

It will be difficult for these little children and their parents to forget it. It will likewise be difficult for the Pope to forget Michelle’s last request: “Pope Francis, pray for our parents so that they may have a smile like yours”.

(Mario Ponzi – L’osservatore Romano, English edition 6/5/2013)

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THIS is what cooperation is all about!

THIS is what being the family of God is all about!

Being in the moment with the same love for the ‘little’ events as for the ‘great’ events.  May each of us take this witness and grow from it.