St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) on Confession

     The present time is the time for confession. Confess what you have done, whether by words or by actions, whether by day or by night. If you confess at the acceptable time, you will receive the heavenly treasure on the Day of salvation.
     Make yourself pure so that you may be a vessel of more abundant grace. Remission of sins is given equally to everyone but the sharing of the Holy Spirit is given differently to each man, according to the faith of each. If you have expended little labour, you will receive little in the way of reward; if, on the other hand, you have laboured greatly, great will be the reward you receive. It is for your own benefit that you are running this race: run hard, in your own interest.
     If you are holding anything against anyone, forget it, let it go. You have come here to receive forgiveness of sins, so you must first forgive whoever has sinned against you.

--St Cyril of Jerusalem, Instructions to Catechumens


     如今正是認罪悔過的時候。你要承認你在黑夜白日,言語行為上所犯的一切罪過。你要在天主悅納的時刻,承認你的罪過,好使你在救援之日,領受天上的寶藏。
     你要洗滌你的心,好使你能接受更豐富的恩寵。固然,眾人都會同樣獲得赦罪之恩,但聖神所賦予的恩賜,卻按各人信德的大小,而有所不同。你若勉力的少,則你接受的也少;你若多工作,則你領的賞報也多。你是在為自己奔波,要注意你自己的利益。
     如果你跟某人有過節,你要寬恕。你來到這裡,是要領受赦罪之恩,你也應該寬恕得罪你的人。

--耶路撒冷主教聖濟利祿《要理講授》

     Tempus præsens est tempus confessiónis. Confitére quæ perpetrásti, sive verbo sive ópere, sive nocte sive die. Confitére in témpore acceptábili, et in die salútis súscipe cæléstem thesáurum.
     Munda vas tuum, ut grátiam cápiat abundantiórem; remíssio enim peccatórum ex æquo datur ómnibus, communicátio vero Spíritus Sancti, secúndum proportiónem uniuscuiúsque fídei concéditur. Si parum laboráveris, parum accípies; si vero multa operátus fúeris, multa erit merces. Tibi ipsi curris, tibi conveniéntia próspice.
     Si quid contra quemquam habes, remítte. Accédis, ut véniam peccatórum accípias: necésse est et te ei qui peccávit condonáre.

--Ex Catechésibus sancti Cyrílli Hierosolymitáni epíscopi

Why Joseph? Because he was a practical man -- Benedict XVI

Di Andrea Gagliarducci CITTÀ DEL VATICANO , 19 marzo, 2015 / 10:30 AM (ACI Stampa).- Perché Dio ha scelto San Giuseppe come padre putativo di suo Figlio? Perché era un uomo pratico, oltre che giusto. La straordinaria, logica, semplice e allo stesso tempo teologicamente fondata spiegazione dalla scelta l’ha data il Papa emerito Benedetto XVI, in una di quelle omelie che – come ha rivelato l’arcivescovo Georg Gaenswein, suo segretario particolare – tiene ogni domenica nella cappella del Monastero Mater Ecclesiae, dove risiede. Un rapporto, quello tra Joseph Ratzinger e il suo santo, strettissimo e vivo. Un rapporto che è bello ricordare nel giorno dell’onomastico del Papa emerito, che per una felice coincidenza coincide con l’anniversario della Messa di Inizio del Ministero Petrino di Papa Francesco. Ogni domenica, alle nove e mezza del mattino, il Papa emerito celebra, l’arcivescovo Gaenswein concelebra vestendo spesso una casula gemella a quella di Benedetto XVI, e assistono alla Messa le quattro Memores Domini e i pochissimi altri che riescono ad entrare nella cappellina, che può contenere massimo 12 persone. Durante la settimana, Benedetto XVI appronta il testo della sua omelia su un quadernetto, a mano, nella sua grafia minutissima e precisa. Ma poi, l’omelia la pronuncia a braccio, con la sua memoria di ferro che è rimasta lucidissima, e piena di idee. E in una di queste memorabili omelie – raccontate ad ACIStampa da chi ha avuto il privilegio di essere presente – tratteggiò proprio la figura di San Giuseppe. Aveva detto Benedetto XVI: “Perché Dio ha scelto Giuseppe? Perché Giuseppe era un uomo giusto, pio. Ma anche perché Giuseppe era un uomo pratico. D’altronde, ci voleva un uomo pratico per organizzare la fuga in Egitto, ma anche per organizzare il viaggio a Betlemme per il censimento, e per provvedere a tutte le necessità pratiche di Gesù”. E’ un tassello che si aggiunge ai tanti riferimenti alla figura di San Giuseppe di chi è stato pieno il pontificato di Benedetto XVI. Il 19 marzo del 2006 era una domenica, e il Papa ricordò la figura del suo santo sottolineando che “la grandezza di San Giuseppe, al pari di quella di Maria, risalta ancor più perché la sua missione si è svolta nell'umiltà e nel nascondimento della casa di Nazaret. Del resto, Dio stesso, nella Persona del suo Figlio incarnato, ha scelto questa via e questo stile - l'umiltà e il nascondimento - nella sua esistenza terrena”. Nei primi Vespri della festa di San Giuseppe del 2009, Benedetto XVI tratteggia quasi con stupore teologico la figura di San Giuseppe. “San Giuseppe – disse Benedetto - manifesta ciò in maniera sorprendente, lui che è padre senza aver esercitato una paternità carnale. Non è il padre biologico di Gesù, del quale Dio solo è il Padre, e tuttavia egli esercita una paternità piena e intera. Essere padre è innanzitutto essere servitore della vita e della crescita. San Giuseppe ha dato prova, in questo senso, di una grande dedizione. Per Cristo ha conosciuto la persecuzione, l’esilio e la povertà che ne deriva. Ha dovuto stabilirsi in luogo diverso dal suo villaggio. La sua sola ricompensa fu quella di essere con Cristo.” Chi era San Giuseppe? Il 19 marzo del 2011, Benedetto XVI spiegò che “san Giuseppe era giusto, era immerso nella Parola di Dio, scritta, trasmessa nella saggezza del suo popolo, e proprio in questo modo era preparato e chiamato a conoscere il Verbo Incarnato - il Verbo venuto tra noi come uomo -, e predestinato a custodire, a proteggere questo Verbo Incarnato; questa rimane la sua missione per sempre: custodire la Santa Chiesa e il Nostro Signore". E nell’omelia del 19 marzo 2009, Benedetto disse: “Giuseppe è, nella storia, l’uomo che ha dato a Dio la più grande prova di fiducia, anche davanti ad un annuncio così stupefacente” Ma la figura di San Giuseppe diventa centrale proprio nel periodo di Natale, quando Giuseppe diventa un personaggio importante nelle scritture. Il 30 dicembre 2012, giorno della Sacra Famiglia, Benedetto XVI chiede che "il silenzio di Giuseppe, uomo giusto (cfr Mt 1,19), e l’esempio di Maria, che custodiva ogni cosa nel suo cuore (cfr Lc 2,51), ci facciano entrare nel mistero pieno di fede e di umanità della Santa Famiglia. Auguro a tutte le famiglie cristiane di vivere alla presenza di Dio con lo stesso amore e con la stessa gioia della famiglia di Gesù, Maria e Giuseppe”. Giuseppe, per Benedetto XVI, è anche una figura da cui imparare. Nell’Angelus del 18 dicembre 2005, alla vigilia del suo primo Natale da Papa, Benedetto XVI invitò i fedeli a “lasciarsi contagiare dal silenzio di San Giuseppe.” “Ne abbiamo tanto bisogno, in un mondo spesso troppo rumoroso, che non favorisce il raccoglimento e l’ascolto della voce di Dio. In questo tempo di preparazione al Natale coltiviamo il raccoglimento interiore, per accogliere e custodire Gesù nella nostra vita”. San Giuseppe, uomo pratico, uomo dell’obbedienza silenziosa, uomo della storia e uomo giusto: sulla sua figura Benedetto XVI ha costruito anche la sua personalità, fedele all’idea che i santi di cui si porta il nome devono essere modello per la vita.

YHWH

Andrew Greenwell points out that the name of God—YHWH– (Ego sum qui sum, I am who Am) “is found over 6,800 times in the Old Testament. It appears approximately 650 times in the Psalms alone. It first appears in Genesis 2:4. The only books of the Old Testament in which the unutterable name does not appear are Ecclesiastes, the Book of Esther, and Song of Songs.”

The Assumption, the Dormition and John Paul II

The dogma of the Assumption affirms that Mary's body was glorified after her death. (John Paul II, 2 July 1997, http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/audiences/1997/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_02071997.html)

(John Paul II, 25 June 1997, http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/audiences/1997/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_25061997.html)
Some theologians have in fact maintained that the Blessed Virgin did not die and was immediately raised from earthly life to heavenly glory. However, this opinion was unknown until the 17th century, whereas a common tradition actually exists which sees Mary's death as her entry into heavenly glory.

2. Could Mary of Nazareth have experienced the drama of death in her own flesh? Reflecting on Mary's destiny and her relationship with her divine Son, it seems legitimate to answer in the affirmative: since Christ died, it would be difficult to maintain the contrary for his Mother.

The Fathers of the Church, who had no doubts in this regard, reasoned along these lines. One need only quote St Jacob of Sarug (d. 521), who wrote that when the time came for Mary "to walk on the way of all generations", the way, that is, of death, "the group of the Twelve Apostles" gathered to bury "the virginal body of the Blessed One" (Discourse on the burial of the Holy Mother of God, 87-99 in C. Vona, Lateranum 19 [1953], 188). St Modestus of Jerusalem (d. 634), after a lengthy discussion of "the most blessed dormition of the most glorious Mother of God", ends his eulogy by exalting the miraculous intervention of Christ who "raised her from the tomb", to take her up with him in glory (Enc. in dormitionem Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae, nn. 7 and 14: PG 86 bis, 3293; 3311). St John Damascene (d. 704) for his part asks: "Why is it that she who in giving birth surpassed all the limits of nature should now bend to its laws, and her immaculate body be subjected to death?". And he answers: "To be clothed in immortality, it is of course necessary that the mortal part be shed, since even the master of nature did not refuse the experience of death. Indeed, he died according to the flesh and by dying destroyed death; on corruption he bestowed incorruption and made death the source of resurrection" (Panegyric on the Dormition of the Mother of God, n. 10: SC 80, 107).

===

John Paul II
August 15, 2000

1. Mary, Mother of God, your death was entirely free from whatever might make death bitter: attachment to the world, remorse for sins and the uncertainty of salvation. Rather, your death was accompanied by three graces that made it precious and full of joy. You died as you had lived, entirely detached from the things of the world, you died in the most perfect peace and in the certainty of eternal glory.

Your Son, though He was Life itself, did not exempt Himself from death. So, as daughter of Adam you submitted to the sentence passed in the garden of Eden. You died of no infirmity. Little by little the links between your body and soul were dissolved by the resistless force of love. Intense love for the Infinite God withdrew your soul from this earthly life, and caused you death.

Mary, My Mother, though your body was separated from your soul in death, your soul was reunited in your incorrupt body, and you were taken up into heaven by angels. The bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul. But God has willed that you should be exempted from this general rule because, by an entirely singular privilege, you completely overcame sin by your Immaculate Conception. Corruption is a consequence of sin, but you were sinless. You did not have to wait until the end of time for the resurrection of your body. As the body of your Divine Son was preserved from the corruption of the grave, so you, from whom He took flesh, were also free from the power of earthly decay. Your body, which was the living tabernacle of the Eternal God and the temple of the Adorable Trinity, was not meant to crumble into dust.

2. Mary, Mother of God, I believe that it is a divinely revealed dogma that you, Immaculate Mother of God, having completed the course of your earthly life, were assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Jesus ascended to Heaven by His own power as Lord and Creator, accompanied by angels who paid Him homage. You were taken to Heaven by the power of God, accompanied and upheld by the angels, raised aloft by grace, not by nature. Jesus ascended to Heaven before you not only that He might prepare a throne for you in that Kingdom, but also that He might Himself accompany you with all the blessed spirits and thus render your entry into Heaven more glorious and worthy of His Mother. At the Annunciation you received Jesus on earth; it was proper that He should receive you in Heaven. Having deigned to come down to you, He wished to raise you up to Himself in order that you might enter into glory.

Mary, My Mother, the day of your Assumption was the great day of your triumph. After the triumph of your Divine Son on the day of His Ascension, there never was, and there never will be, a triumph like that which you enjoyed on this day. When He had finished the work of our Redemption by His labors, suffering and death, the Eternal Word, clothed in our nature, entered into His glory and was seated on the right hand of the Eternal Father. He became Sovereign Master of the universe and Supreme Judge of the living and the dead. In your triumph, as the Mother of the same Word Incarnate, having perfectly followed out the great designs of God upon you, having acquired immense merits by the practice of all the virtues, and having reached the highest holiness, you were assumed body and soul, into Heaven. Angels came to escort you. You were borne aloft to the palace of your Beloved.

You passed amid the different choirs of the blessed, above all the heavenly spirits, and approached the throne of light prepared for you. Your loving Son welcomed you with joy. What songs of gladness by the elect as you were crowned by the Blessed Trinity and made Queen of heaven, advocate of the human race and dispenser of the graces of the Redemption!

3. Mary, Mother of God, you reign in splendor for all eternity with your Divine Son. Your kingdom, like His, is a kingdom of imperishable glory, because yours is a throne of clemency, mercy and pardon. All your trials and sufferings are now transformed into jewels that decorate your triumphal throne in Heaven. In God there are no disappointments, no false promises. Eternity is real; Heaven is eternal happiness, the final reward for loyalty to God. Through you my own goal becomes more real, more attainable, for the lessons of your life are the doors to eternal peace and happiness.

I can only faintly imagine with what tenderness the Eternal Father received you, His loving daughter the Divine Son, His chosen Mother; and the Holy Spirit, His immaculate Bride. The Father crowned you by making you a sharer in His power, the Son by making you partaker of His wisdom; the Holy Spirit, by making you partaker of His love. The three Divine Persons declared you Queen of heaven and earth and assigned to you a place at the right hand of Jesus. You received from the Adorable Trinity the crown and sceptre, which made you Queen of all the angels and saints and the all-powerful Mediatrix between God and men. You became the treasurer of God's graces, the channel through which He dispenses His gifts upon earth.

Your Assumption was for you not only the crowning of a holy life, but also a cause of joy and triumph for the human race. Just as the patriarchs in Limbo had beheld your birth as the breaking of that dawn which announced to them their near deliverance, so, too, your Assumption, together with the Ascension of Jesus, became for mortal man a sure pledge of resurrection and immortality.

Mary, My Mother, I wish to recall this triumph and to share in your greatness and glory.

If the honor of parents descends upon their children, what glory and joy for all of us, your children, to see you raised to such heights of glory! Confidence fills my soul, for you were raised to this glory not for your own advantage only, but for that of your children also, in order to make us feel the effects of your powerful protection and intercession. One of your greatest delights is to lavish these treasures upon your faithful children. With your arms outstretched—those arms in which the Eternal God delighted to rest when He became our Brother—plead our cause. Pray to Him for us, your children, that in our exile we may resemble you, His most devoted follower, and at last may glorify Him in union with you forever.

Pope Francis, on getting angry

 "I get angry, but I do not bite! Sometimes I get angry when someone does something that is not good, it makes me a little '... But it helps me to stop and think about the times that I have angered others. And I think, and I wonder: Have I angered others? Yes, many times. Then you have no right to be angry. But he this did ... Yes, but if he did something that is bad, that is not good, call him and talk to him like a brother, like brother and sister talk, talk, talk. But without getting angry, because anger is poisonous, it poisons the soul. So often I have seen children frightened. Why? Because parents, or at school, scold them. And when one is angry and scolds it hurts, it hurts: scolding another is like stabbing the soul, it is not good. You got it right? I get angry, yes, sometimes I get angry, but it helps me to think about the times in which I have made others angry, this reassures me a bit ', it clams me a little. Getting angry is something that hurts not only the other person, it hurts you too, it poisons you. And there are people, that you surely know, who have a bitter soul, always bitter, angry. It’s as if they washed their teeth each morning with vinegar they are so angry! People who are like this ... it's a disease. Of course, if there's something I do not like, I get angry a bit '. But this, the habit of getting angry, the habit of shouting, the habit of scolding the other, this is poison! I ask you, to ask yourselves this each in your own language and answer: Was the soul of Jesus, sweet or bitter? [Reply: 'Sweet!']. It was sweet, why? Because when he got angry it did not enter his soul, it was only to correct, and then he returned to peace. 'What are your resolutions for the new year?'. I made one, when I took a bit 'of time to make a retreat: To pray more. Because I realized that the bishops and priests - I am a bishop - must govern the people of God above all with prayer, it is our first service".

--Pope Francis, on 31 Dec 2015, with Pueri Cantores
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Pope:-I-get-angry,-but-do-not-bite-and-%E2%80%9Cif-I-sing-I-sound-like-an-ass-36289.html

Hope: the bridge between liberals and conservatives

For liberals emphasize love, often at the expense of faith, and conservatives emphasize faith, often at the expense of love. Hope builds bridges between the two other theological virtues, thus between liberals and conservatives. If you start with love, hope prods you into faith, for if you love someone, you want the dogmatic, glorious, supernatural truths of the faith about human destiny to be true. And if you start with faith, hope prods you into love, for if you believe what the Church teaches about human destiny, your love for God must become also love for his image in your neighbor, who is destined to share divine life. Hope builds bridges between faith and love, between conservatives and liberals, between present and future, between earth and heaven. --Peter Kreeft http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/hope.html

Do I listen to my guardian angel?

“Ask yourself this question today: How is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I say good morning to him in the morning? Do I ask him: Watch over me when I sleep?’ Do I speak with him? Do I ask his advice?” ...

“If anyone believes that they can walk on their own, they would be greatly mistaken,” said the pontiff, adding that such people would fall “into that terrible trap of arrogance: Believing we are great, and fully self-sufficient.”

— Pope Francis, Homily, October 2, 2015
http://aleteia.org/2015/10/02/pope-francis-god-has-given-everyone-a-guardian-angel/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=topnews_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en-10/03/2015

Holiness in homely gestures

   HOLINESS is always tied to LITTLE GESTURES. ... These little gestures are those we LEARN AT HOME, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different.

   They are the QUIET THINGS done by MOTHERS and GRANDMOTHERS, by FATHERS and GRANDFATHERS, by CHILDREN. They are LITTLE SIGNS of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. HOMELY GESTURES. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by LITTLE THINGS, by attention to SMALL DAILY SIGNS which make us feel at home.

   Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.

-- POPE FRANCIS in Philadelphia, 27 Sept 2015

"If you look at dirty content on the computer, you lose your dignity"

This young person asked him if it's true that he doesn't watch television, and he also asked the Pope for his opinion about the Internet.

The Pope said that television producers should make content that helps people prepare for life. He asked people who watch it to be responsible.

POPE FRANCIS
"You must learn how to choose what you watch. If I see that a program is not good for me, hurts my values, makes me vulgar or has vulgarity, I have to change the channel.”

He said that using the Internet is similar. It can be an educational tool, but users must avoid whatever prevents them from being a better person.

POPE FRANCIS
"If you young people become attached the computer, and become a slave to the computer, you lose your freedom. And if you look at dirty content on the computer, you lose your dignity. Watch TV and use the computer, but for the good things, the big things, the things that make us grow.”

-http://www.romereports.com/pg161729-pope-to-youth-in-sarajevo-if-you-look-at-dirty-content-on-the-computer-you-lose-your-dignity-en#, 6 June 2015

Off-the-cuff remarks in Sarajevo

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday June 6 (2015)  Pope Francis was set to deliver a speech during a meeting in Sarajevo with men and women religious. But after listening to first hand testimonies of persecution suffered by people during the recent war and the challenges facing people in the  region today he decided to speak off the cuff. This is Vatican Radio's  translation of what he said:

I prepared a discourse for you but after hearing the testimony of the priests and woman religious, I feel I need to speak to you off the cuff. They told us about their experiences, good and bad things, so I shall leave my discourse with the Cardinal Archbishop. It’s a good discourse! The witnesses spoke for themselves. This is the memory of your people. A people that has no memory has no future. This is the memory of your fathers and mothers in the Faith. Only three people spoke but behind them are many others who suffered as well.

Dear sisters and brothers, you must not forget your history, not in order to hold grudges, but in order to create peace. Not to consider that history as something strange, but to love as they loved. In your blood, in your vocation, is the vocation and blood of these three martyrs. There is the blood and the vocation of many religious, priests and seminarians.  The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, tells us not to forget those who have gone before us, those who have transmitted the Faith to us. These people have transmitted the Faith to you, and taught you how to live the Faith. The Apostle Paul tells us not to forget Jesus Christ, the first martyr. These people have followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We need to restore memory in order to make peace.

A few words are lodged in my heart: one of these is “forgiveness”. A man and a woman who consecrate their lives to the Lord, but don’t know how to forgive, are worth nothing. Forgiving an enemy who says something bad to you, or a sister who is jealous, isn’t difficult. But forgiving someone who kicks you and hurts you, who threatens your life with a gun, that is hard to forgive. Yet they did this, and they tell us we should do the same. Something else that stays with me is the 120 days in the concentration camp. How many times the spirit of the world causes us to forget those who have preceded us with their suffering? Those days in the concentration camp were counted by the minute because every minute, every hour, was torture: living together, filthy, without food or water, in the heat and the cold, and for so long. And we who complain when our tooth hurts, or because we want a TV in our room, or more creature comforts, or we gossip about the superior because the food isn’t good enough. Don’t forget the testimonies of those who went before. Think how much they suffered. Think about the six-litre blood transfusion the first priest received in order to keep him alive. Carry a cross that is worthy of Jesus Christ. Worldly sisters, priests and bishops are caricatures who are worth nothing because they do not remember the martyrs. They don’t remember Jesus Christ crucified who is our only glory.

I think of (the story we were told about) the militiaman who gave a pear to the sister, and the Muslim woman who lives in America now, and who fed the priest. We are all brothers and sisters, even that cruel man. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he felt the Holy Spirit. Maybe he remembered his mother when he gave that pear to the sister. And that Muslim woman who went beyond religious difference, she believed in God. Seek the God of all. We all have the possibility to seek the seeds of Good, because we are all Children of God. Blessed are you who have these witnesses so close to you. Please never forget them. May our lives grow though these memories. I think of the priest whose parents and sister died, he was left alone but he was the fruit of love, marital love. I think of the sister, she too was a daughter. I think of what the Cardinal Archbishop said: what happens to the Garden of Life? Why doesn’t it flourish? Pray for families so that they may flourish with many children and that there may be many vocations. Finally, I would like to tell you that what we have heard is a story of cruelty. Today, in wars around the world, we see so much cruelty. Be the opposite of cruel: be tender, fraternal, forgiving. And carry the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s what Holy Mother Church wants of you: to be small martyrs, small witnesses of the Cross of Christ. May God bless you and please pray for me.

Throw-away culture worships the god of money

Everyone is at the service of god of money. But that is why what doesn’t serve the god of money is thrown away. And what the globalized world today offers us is a throw-away culture: what is useless is thrown away. Children are thrown away, because people are not having children or because they are killed before they are born. The elderly are thrown away, because... old people are useless... and now whoever doesn’t have a job goes and looks for his grandparents because their pension might help! But they are useful momentarily. The elderly are thrown away, abandoned. And now, work must diminish because the god of money can’t do everything, and so young people are thrown away.

--Pope Francis to Community of Christian Life, 30 April 2015

Pope Francis: "One can become a saint through politics"

One might say: “We ought to start a Catholic party!”. This is not the way. The Church is a community of Christians who worship the Father, follow the path of the Son and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s not a political party. “No, let’s not say party … a party only for Catholics”. It serves nothing, and won’t have the ability to engage, because it will be doing what it was not called to do. “But can a Catholic engage in politics?” — “She must!” — “But can a Catholic make a difference in politics?” — “He must!”. Blessed Paul VI, if I’m not mistaken, said that politics is one of the highest forms of charity, because it seeks the common good. “But Father, politics is not easy, because in this corrupt world... in the end you cant get anywhere...”. What do you want to say, that engaging in politics is a little like martyrdom? Yes. It is a kind of martyrdom. But it is a daily martyrdom: seeking the common good without letting yourself be corrupted. Seek the common good by thinking of the most fitting ways for this, the most fitting means. Seek the common good by working for the little things, the small ones, it gives little return... but one does it. Politics is important: small politics and big politics.

In the Church there are many Catholics who engaged in clean healthy politics; and those who have fostered peace among Nations. Think of the Catholics here, in Italy, after the war: think of De Gasperi. Think of France: Schumann, who has a cause for beatification. One can become a saint through politics. And I don't want to name more: two examples of those who pursued the common good are enough. Engaging in politics is martyrdom: truly a martyr’s work, because one needs to go the whole day with that ideal, every day, with the ideal of building the common good. And always carrying the cross of many failures and carrying the cross of many sins. Because in the world it’s difficult to do good in a society without getting your hands or your heart a a little dirty; but that is why you go ask for forgiveness, you ask for pardon and continue to do it. Don’t allow this discourage you. “No, Father, I don't do politics because I don't want to sin” — “That's not good! Go forward, ask the Lord to help you not to sin, but if you do get your hands dirty, ask forgiveness and go forward!”. But do it, do it...

... [Pope talks about the throw-away culture.] Do I, a Catholic, watch from the balcony? You can't watch from the balcony! Get involved! Give it your best. If the Lord calls you to this vocation, get to it, engage in politics. It will make you suffer, it may be an occasion for sin, but the Lord is with you. Ask forgiveness and go forward. Let's not let this throw-away culture throw us all away! It throws away creation too, because creation is being destroyed more and more every day.

Do not forget what Blessed Paul VI said: politics is one of the highest forms of charity.

--Pope Francis to Community of Christian Life, 30 April 2015

Not in prison by the grace of God

To go to a prison means first of all to say to yourself: “If I am not here, like this woman, like this man, it is only by the grace of God”. The pure grace of God. If we did not slip into making these mistakes, offences or crimes, some of them grave, it is because the Lord held us by the hand. You can’t enter a prison with the spirit of “I come here to tell you about God, because, forgive me, you are an inferior class, you are a sinner...”. No, no! I am a bigger sinner than you are, and this is the first step. ...

And in prison always say this, even with the many people who are suffering: why is this person suffering and not me? Why doesn’t this person know God? Why doesn’t he hope in eternal life? He thinks everything ends here, and I do not. Why is this person accused in court, why is he corrupt... and not I? By the grace of the Lord! This is the most beautiful preparation for going out to the margins.

--Pope Francis to Community of Christian Life, 30 April 2015

"May I," "Thank you," "I'm sorry"

Pope Francis' Wednesday Audience

13 May 2015

Today’s catechesis will serve as a doorway to a series of reflections on family life and what it’s really like to live in a family, day in and day out. Imagine three expressions written above the doorway; expressions I’ve already mentioned here in Saint Peter’s Square several times before. The expressions are: “may I?”, “thank you”, and “pardon me”. Indeed, these expressions open up the way to living well in your family, to living in peace. They are simple expressions, but not so simple to put into practice! They hold much power: the power to keep the home life intact even when tested with a thousand problems. But if they are absent, little holes can start to crack open and the whole thing may even collapse.

We usually include these expressions under the general category of being “well-mannered”. Okay, a well-mannered person asks permission, says thanks, and asks to be excused after making a mistake. Very well. But good manners really are that important. A great Bishop, Francis de Sales, used to say that “good manners are are already half the way to holiness”. But be careful: history has shown that good manners also can become a kind of formalism that masks a dryness of soul and indifference toward the other person. It is often said, “behind a lot of good manners lurk a lot of bad habits”. Not even religion is immune from the risk of having formal observance sink into spiritual worldliness. The Devil, tempting Jesus, boasts of good manners. Indeed, he presents himself as a gentleman, a knight in shining armor. He even presents himself as a theologian by quoting Holy Scripture. He appears to have everything right and neat on the outside, but his intent is always to lead others astray from the truth of God’s love. We, however, mean “good manners” only in the most authentic way, according to which the habit of cultivating good relations is firmly rooted in a love for the good and a respect for the other person. The family lives according to this refined sense of loving.

Let’s look at these expressions: the first expression is, “may I?” When we take care to ask for something kindly – even something we think we have a rightful claim to – we help to strengthen the common life that undergirds marriage and the family. To enter into the life of another, even when that person already has a part to play in our life, demands the sensitivity of a non-invasive attitude which renews trust and respect. Indeed, the deeper and more intimate love is, the more it calls for a respect for the freedom of the other and the ability to wait until he or she opens the door to the heart. At this point, we can remember the words of Jesus in the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20). Even the Lord asks permission to enter! Let us not forget that. Before doing anything in your family, ask: “Do you mind if I do this? Would you like me to do this?” This way of asking is well-mannered indeed, but it is also full of love. This does so much good for families.

The second expression is “thank you”. Sometimes we have to wonder if we are turning into a civilization of bad manners and bad words, as if this were a sign of self-liberation. It’s not uncommon to hear these bad words publicly. Kindness and the ability to say thanks are often considered a sign of weakness and raise the suspicion of others. This tendency is encountered even within the nucleus of the family. We must become firmly determined to educate others to be grateful and appreciative: the dignity of the person and social justice must both pass through the portal of the family. If family life neglects this style of living, social life will also reject it. Gratitude, however, stands at the very core of the faith of the believer. A Christian who does not know how to thank has lost the very “language” of God. This is terrible! Let’s not forget Jesus’s question after he heals the ten lepers and only one of them returns to thank him (Luke 17:18). I remember once listening to a very wise, old person; very simple, but with that uncommon wisdom of life and piety: “Gratitude is a plant that grows only in the soil of noble souls”. That nobility of soul, that grace of God in the soul compels us to say “thanks” in gratitude. It is the flower of a noble soul. This really is something beautiful.

The third expression is “excuse me”. Granted, it’s not always easy to say, but it is so necessary. Whenever it is lacking, the little cracks begin to open up – even when we don’t want them to – and they can even become enormous sinkholes. It’s hardly insignificant that in the “Our Father” that Jesus teaches us – a prayer that sums up all of life’s essential questions – we find this expression: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matt 6:16). To acknowledge that we have fallen short, to be desirous of returning that which has been taken away – respect, sincerity, love – these make us worthy of pardon. This is how we heal the infection. If we are not able to forgive ourselves, then we are no longer able to forgive period. A house in which the words “I’m sorry” are never uttered begins to lack air, and the flood waters begin to choke those who live inside. So many wounds, so many cuts and bruises are the result of a lack of these precious words: “I am sorry”. Marriage life is so often torn apart by fights … the “plates will even start flying”, but let me give you a word of advice: never finish the day without making peace with one another. Listen to me carefully: have you fought with your wife or husband? Kids – have you fought with your parents? Did you fight hard? That’s not a good thing, but that’s not really the problem: the problem arises only if this feeling hangs over into the next day. So if you’ve fought, do not let the day end without making peace with your family. And how am I going to make peace? By getting down on my knees? No! Just by a small gesture, a little something, and harmony within your family will be restored. Just a little caress, no words necessary. But don’t let the sun go down on your family without having made your peace. Do you understand me? It’s not easy, but you have to do it. It will help to make life so much more beautiful.

So these are three key expressions for family life are really simple words; so simple that perhaps they even bring a grin to our face. But when we forget them, it’s no laughing matter, right? Perhaps we overlook our good manners too often. May the Lord help us to put them back where they belong: in our hearts, in our houses, and in our civic life. These are the words that truly enter into the love of a family.