Be kind, now

 Proverbs 3:27-28

The Lord blesses the home of the virtuous

My son, do not refuse a kindness to anyone who begs it, if it is in your power to perform it.

Do not say to your neighbour, ‘Go away! Come another time! I will give it you tomorrow’, if you can do it now.



Ministers of Reconciliation

 "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. "(II Corinthians 5:18)

God's will is the best

 "Nihil contíngere potest, quod Deus non velit. Quidquid autem ille vult, utcúmque nobis malum videátur, est tamen vere óptimum."

"Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best."

-St Thomas More, Letter written in prison to his daughter Margaret

Pope Francis: three things priests should remember when hearing confession

 http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=10864


Dear Brothers,

I am particularly glad, in this Season of Lent, to meet you on the occasion of the annual Course on the Internal Forum, organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary. I address a cordial greeting to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary, and I thank him for his courteous words. I thank him for the congratulations he offered me, but I would like to also share another anniversary: in addition to tomorrow’s, of the two years of my Pontificate, today marks the 57th year since I entered religious life. Pray for me! I greet the Regent, Msgr Krzysztof Nykiel, the Prelates, Officials and Staff of the Penitentiary, the Colleges of Ordinary and Extraordinary Confessors of the Papal Basilicas in Urbe, and all of you participants in the Course, which has as its pastoral aim that of helping new priests and candidates for Holy Orders to correctly administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacraments, as we know, are the locus of the closeness and the tenderness of God for mankind; they are the concrete way that God thought and wanted to come and meet us, to embrace us, without being ashamed of us and of our limitations.

Among the Sacraments, certainly Reconciliation renders present with particular efficacy the merciful face of God: it is constantly and ceaselessly made real and manifest. Let us never forget, both as penitents and confessors: there is no sin that God cannot forgive. None! Only that which is withheld from divine mercy cannot be forgiven, just as one who withdraws from the sun can be neither illuminated nor warmed.

In the light of this wondrous gift of God, I would like to highlight three exigencies: living the Sacrament as a means of educating in mercy; allowing yourself to learn from what we celebrate; safeguarding the supernatural gaze.

1. Living the Sacrament as a means of educating in mercy, means helping our brothers to experience human and Christian peace and understanding. Confession should not be “torture”, but everyone should leave the confessional with happiness in their hearts, with their faces radiating hope, albeit at times – we know – bathed in the tears of conversion and joy derived from it (cf. Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 44). The Sacrament, with all of the penitent’s actions, does not mean it should become a harsh, annoying and intrusive interrogation. On the contrary, it should be a liberating encounter, enriched with humanity, through which one can educate in mercy, which does not exclude but rather includes the just obligation to atone for, to the extent possible, the wrong committed. Thus the faithful will feel called to confess frequently, and will learn to do so in the best of ways, with that gentleness of soul that does so much good for the heart – also the heart of the confessor! In this way we priests enable the personal relationship with God to grow, so that his Kingdom of love and peace expands in hearts.

So often being merciful is confused with being a lenient confessor. But consider this: neither a lenient confessor nor a rigid confessor is merciful. Neither one. The first, because he says: “Go on, this is not a sin, go on, go!”. The other, because he says: “No, the law says...”. But neither of them treats the penitent as a brother, taking him by the hand and accompanying him in his conversion! One says: “Go, don’t worry, God forgives all. Go on, go!”. The other says: “No, the law says no”. The merciful one instead listens to him, forgives him, but carries his burden and accompanies him, because conversion, yes, has begun – perhaps – today, but it must continue with perseverance.... You carry his burden, as the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep and carries it. But it must not be confused: this is very important. Mercy means carrying the burden of a brother or sister and helping them walk. Do not say “ah, no, go on, go!”, nor be rigid. This is very important. And who can do this? The confessor who prays, the confessor who weeps, the confessor who knows that he is more a sinner than the penitent, and if he himself has never done the bad thing that the penitent speaks of, it is but for the grace of God. Merciful is being close and accompanying the process of conversion.

2. It is precisely to you confessors that I say: let yourselves learn from the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Second point. How many times does it happen to us that hearing confessions edifies us! Brothers and sisters who live an authentic personal and ecclesial communion with the Lord and a sincere love for their brothers. Simple souls, souls poor in spirit, who abandon themselves totally to the Lord, who trust in the Church and, therefore, also in their confessor. Often, we are also called on to witness genuine miracles of conversion. People who for months, sometimes years have been under the dominion of sin and who, like the prodigal son, come to their senses and decide to arise and return to the the Father’s house (cf. Lk 15:18), to implore his forgiveness. How beautiful it is to welcome these contrite brothers and sisters with the sanctifying embrace of the merciful Father, who loves us so much and holds a feast for every child that returns to Him with all his/her heart!

How much we can learn from the conversion and from the repentance of our brothers and sisters! They urge us too to perform an examination of conscience: Do I, a priest, love the Lord as much as this elderly woman? Am I, a priest who was made a minister of his mercy, able to have the mercy that is in the heart of this penitent? Am I, a confessor, open to change, to conversion, like this penitent, at whose service I have been placed? So often these people edify us, they edify us.

3. When we hear the sacramental confessions of the faithful, we must always keep the inner gaze turned to Heaven, to the supernatural. We must above all rekindle in ourselves the awareness that no one is placed in this ministry through his own merit; nor through his theological or juridical expertise, nor through his human or psychological characteristics. We all were constituted ministers of reconciliation purely by the grace of God, freely and through love, indeed through mercy. I, who have done this and this and this, must now forgive.... I am reminded of that final passage of Ezekiel 16, when the Lord denounces, in very harsh words, the unfaithfulness of the people. But in the end He says: “I will forgive you and will place you above your sisters – the other peoples – to judge them, and you will be more important than them, and I will do this to shame you, so that you will be ashamed of what you have done”. The experience of shame: am I, in hearing this sin, this soul who regrets with such remorse or with such frailty of spirit, capable of being ashamed of my sins? This is a grace. We are ministers of mercy thanks to the mercy of God; we must never lose this supernatural gaze, which renders us truly humble, accepting and merciful toward every brother and sister who asks to confess. And if I have not done this, have not fallen into that awful sin or am not in prison, it is purely by the grace of God, only for this reason! Not by our own merit. And we must feel this at the moment of administering the Sacrament. The manner of listening to the admission of sins must also be supernatural: listen in a supernatural way, in a divine manner; respecting the dignity of each one’s personal history, so as to be able to understand what God wants from him or her. This is why the Church is called to “initiate her members – priests, religious and laity – into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 169). Even the worst sinner who comes before God to ask forgiveness is “sacred ground”, and I too, who must forgive him in the name of God, can do things more loathsome than those that he has done. Each faithful penitent who approaches the confessional is “sacred ground”, sacred ground to “cultivate” with devotion, care and pastoral attention.

I hope, dear brothers, that you profit from this Lenten Season through personal conversion and by generously dedicating yourselves to hearing Confessions, in order that the People of God may arrive purified at the Paschal feast, which represents the definitive victory of Divine Mercy over all the evil in the world. Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy and Refuge of Sinners. She knows how to help us, we sinners. I really like reading the Stories of St Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, and various chapters of his book, The Glories of Mary. These stories of Our Lady, who is ever the refuge of sinners and seeks the way for the Lord to forgive all. May she teach us this art. I heartily bless you. I ask you to please pray for me. Thank you.

We can all change and not be ‘buried’ by our past evil deeds - Pope Francis

Pope: We can all change and not be ‘buried’ by our past evil deeds

Pope Francis pens a preface to a book-interview with a former Mafioso who is now collaborating with Italy's justice system.

By Gianluca Biccini
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2022-02/the-ability-to-change-to-not-be-buried-by-one-s-evil-deeds.html

“Never reduce another to his or her mistake,” writes Pope Francis, because making a mistake “is an episode, a segment of life, not its unique and definitive condition.” On the contrary, he says, “it is necessary to help each person, with love, to move beyond his error.”

The Pope makes this observation in the preface to Passiamo all'altra riva (“Let us pass to the other shore”; the title is taken from the Gospel of St Mark), a book-interview by Father Benito Giorgetta with Luigi Bonaventura, a former Mafioso now cooperating with the judiciary.

Published directly by the author through the Youcanprint platform, the 194-page book has the subtitle “Switching life? There is another shore to reach in each one of us” and is based on the intense activity of the Italian priest from Molise, the pastor of San Timoteo in Termoli, a volunteer in the Larino prison and head of the Iktus family home that houses prisoners on probation, semi-release, or in the care of social services.

With an afterword by Don Luigi Ciotti, founder of the association "Libera" which works against the abuses of the mafia throughout Italy, the work has an "added value" in the papal text that summarises the "frequent and striking magisterium" of Bergoglio "imbued with the message of God's mercy" towards prisoners, as explained by Don Benito.

Fraternal correction

Above all, Pope Francis emphasises the importance of "fraternal correction" as a "gesture of love for one's brother." This does not mean, he clarifies, "feeling superior or better, but helping and assisting the other person to overcome their difficulties, shouldering their problem because they are weak, fragile; and if your shoulder is not there, he will collapse."

Moreover, he adds, "to correct means 'to hold with': not to reproach others for their sins, but, by being their neighbour, to help them overcome them, walking together towards healing or towards its beginning." In fact, “the other will be healed because he has felt your love and has felt a longing to love.”

What is more, "if you leave the other in his error, without correcting him, you become co-responsible; if you do not help him this is tantamount to a failure to help"; like that of those who witness road accidents and pass by without stopping.

Sometimes, continues Pope Francis in his analysis, "one is almost afraid of being contaminated" by the wicked. Instead, "I must take an interest in them, take charge of them, do all I can to save them." How? The Pope lists a series of practical, concrete responses, as is his pastoral style.

“First of all, I must give them what they need. Immediately. Love them with sincerity and then suffer for the sins they commit. And then pray for them, because prayer makes me God's hand on them, the sign of His fatherly concern through my presence. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.”

In short, the Pope suggests, "one must take a first step", while "it is unworthy when a person looks down on another with an attitude of superiority."

"This finds a concrete example in the experience" of the interviewee, who has become, "with his courageous and risky choice a seed of hope sown in the furrows of a society caught up exclusively in its own affairs and its thousand commitments, distracted with respect to what really counts. But it is also a seed sown in the lands most affected by the scourge of the Mafia. Just as every seed receives rain and is fertilised and germinates, so the testimony of a man of the Mafia can take root in the consciences and sensibilities of those who want a society where there is room for the rights of the person, legality, and dignity recognised for all, especially the weakest, most fragile, discarded, and marginalised."

Glimmer of new life

At the same time, "Bonaventura's answers-testimonies are a rich exposition of the tormented life of a person who, indoctrinated and imbued with the Mafia, acted criminally; but they are also a glimmer of light and new life because, having abandoned the logic of abuse, Luigi opened up to a new vision."

Therefore, Pope Francis can conclude that "one can", indeed "one must change, not remaining buried by the evil done; one can always pass to the other shore even if the navigation is tiring and full of dangers. The important thing is not to feel alone but accompanied. Just as Jesus said," on the seashore “when He issued the invitation to the disciples, saying: ‘Let us go to the other shore’. He with them, together. Not alone!" 

No pain, no gain

"We are heirs of God and fellow-heirs of Christ, provided we share his sufferings so as to share his glory."

Romans 8:17

LET GOD EMBRACE YOU IN CONFESSION - Pope Francis (25 Mar 2022)

 (The consecration of Russia and Ukraine was done after the annual penitential service.)

https://www.romereports.com/en/2022/03/25/popes-full-homily-during-the-consecration-of-russia-and-ukraine-to-the-immaculate-heart-of-the-virgin-mary/

Freedom according to the Old Testament

 In the book of Deuteronomy (30:19), the people of Israel are told: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” 

The book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus (15:14-17) reiterates this point: “It was he who created man in the beginning, and he left him in the power of his own inclination. If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish. Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him.”


Freedom according to the CCC

 “God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. God willed that man should beleft in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him(Gaudium et Spes 17; Sirach 15:14).Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts(St Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,4,3)” (CCC 1730).

“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude” (CCC 1731).

Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end (GS 17)” (CCC 2339)

Fasting according to an Eastern Father

 "Let thy mind fast from vain thoughts; let thy memory fast from remembering evil; let thy will fast from evil desire; let thine eyes fast from bad sights: turn away thine eyes that thou mayest not see vanity; let thine ears fast from vile songs and slanderous whispers; let thy tongue fast from slander, condemnation, blasphemy, falsehood, deception, foul language and every idle and rotten word; let thy hands fast from killing and from stealing another's goods; let thy legs fast from going to evil deeds: Turn away from evil, and do good."

Saint Tichon of Zadonsk

"Sound of Silence" - proof of friendship

Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound Of Silence” is one of the best songs of all time and was inspired by Sanford “Sandy” Greenberg, Art Garfunkel roomate and best friend who lost his vision. Sanford released a moving new memoir named “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life”.

Read on: https://rockandrollgarage.com/art-garfunkel-blind-friend-who-inspired-sound-of-silence-tells-his-story/#:~:text=ARTICLES-,Art%20Garfunkel's%20blind%20friend%20who%20inspired,Of%20Silence%E2%80%9D%20tells%20his%20story&text=Simon%20and%20Garfunkel's%20%E2%80%9CSound%20Of,friend%20who%20lost%20his%20vision

A tree by the stream

 6th Sunday in OT, Year C

First readingJeremiah 17:5-8

A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord

The Lord says this:
‘A curse on the man who puts his trust in man,
who relies on things of flesh,
whose heart turns from the Lord.
He is like dry scrub in the wastelands:
if good comes, he has no eyes for it,
he settles in the parched places of the wilderness,
a salt land, uninhabited.
‘A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord,
with the Lord for his hope.
He is like a tree by the waterside
that thrusts its roots to the stream:
when the heat comes it feels no alarm,
its foliage stays green;
it has no worries in a year of drought,
and never ceases to bear fruit.’

Responsorial PsalmPsalm 1:1-4,6
Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
Happy indeed is the man
  who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners
  nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is the law of the Lord
  and who ponders his law day and night.
Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
He is like a tree that is planted
  beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in due season
  and whose leaves shall never fade;
  and all that he does shall prosper.
Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.
Not so are the wicked, not so!
For they like winnowed chaff
  shall be driven away by the wind:
for the Lord guards the way of the just
  but the way of the wicked leads to doom.
Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

Justice and Mercy

 Deuteronomy 24:1-25:4

14 You are not to exploit the hired servant who is poor and destitute, whether he is one of your brothers or a stranger who lives in your towns. 

15 You must pay him his wage each day, not allowing the sun to set before you do, for he is poor and is anxious for it; otherwise he may appeal to the Lord against you, and it would be a sin for you.

19 When reaping the harvest in your field, if you have overlooked a sheaf in that field, do not go back for it. Leave it for the stranger, the orphan and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings.

20 When you beat your olive trees you must not go over the branches twice. Let anything left be for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.

21 When you harvest your vineyard you must not pick it over a second time. Let anything left be for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.

22 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. That is why I lay this charge on you.

Polished with hammer and chisel strokes

"The soul, if it wants to reign with Christ in eternal glory, must be polished with hammer and chisel strokes, which the divine Artificer uses to prepare the stones, that is, the chosen souls. What are these hammer and chisel strokes? Darkness, my sister, fears, temptations, sadness of spirit and spiritual fears, which reek like a sickness, and bodily discomfort."

- St Padre Pio, LETTERS 

Offerings of the faithful at Mass

 St. Cyprian, martyred in Africa in 258, chided those who came to Mass and received the Eucharist but made no offering of their own: “You are wealthy and rich, and do you think that you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, not at all considering the offering? Who comes to the Lord’s Supper without a sacrifice, and yet take part of the sacrifice which the poor man has offered? Consider in the Gospel the widow… ”

St. Augustine was impressed by a fifth-century procession of gifts in Rome in which the faithful brought from their own homes things from their kitchen tables.

Augustine called this an “admirable exchange” — for their gifts God gave back Jesus. The prayer over the gifts from the sixth day in the octave of Christmas uses Augustine’s language: “Lord, receive our gifts in this wonderful exchange: from all you have given us we bring you these gifts, and in return, you give us yourself.”