Well, the impossible has happened – Pope Francis is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine! Since I’m a baby boomer, this reminds me of the old 1970s song, "Cover of the Rolling Stone" which was recorded by Dr. Hook.
Of course, most of the lyrics speak about drugs and rock and roll but, oddly, there is a part of the song which does sound like Pope Francis’ life! For example, “And we're loved everywhere we go... We sing about beauty and we sing about truth…” He might not sing but he does speak about humanity’s higher call.
The truth is that, like the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, the Pope no doubt has his own “groupies” who hang on his every word. Yet I do wonder what he feels about his being pictured on the cover of Rolling Stone? Although he has better things to think about, I think it’s cool! But I’ve heard that the article is fairly lightweight – not much substance to it. That’s unfortunate.
But Pope Francis is quite popular. He seems to be “a man of the people” who does what he wants to do. I love hearing about the stories describing his telephone call to a person who wrote to him about a certain personal struggle. When he calls that individual, of course he first has to convince them that the phone call is not a prank and then he can talk with them. I love the spontaneity and compassion of it all.
As bishop of Rome, he seems to be a down to earth person who really cares for the people he’s charged to lead and serve. When he speaks to youth or Catholic religious and tells them that they should “wake up the world” and “make a mess”, I can definitely go along with that.
Editor: In her extensive paper, Mission Spirituality in Global Perspective, by Madge Kareecki, SSJ-TOSF, she concludes (on pgs. 31-33) with the following explanation of how each person can be an evangelizer in their own surroundings:
Mission spirituality speaks to us of the need to witness to the fact that the call to mission is a communal call. All of Jesus‘ disciples were sent on mission, not some elite group. Since there can be no Christian life except in community we must actualize this reality by building relationships that give witness to the fact that we are indeed members of one family called and sent to give witness to Christ in the world by our very lives. In order to do this we need to have within and among us “the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5).
The Church gave Our Lady of La Salette the title of "Reconciler of Sinners" because her message at La Salette is an invitation to reconciliation.
Reconciliation means “being one with” or “mending whatever divides” or “being open and receptive to God”. Saint Paul implores us: "…we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Often, we think of reconciliation only in the context of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: we ask for and are granted forgiveness for whatever separates us from the love of God.
At La Salette, Mary gave concrete examples of how the local people of 1846 were separated from God. She mentioned some of the sins of those times. Today the list of transgressions could be somewhat different; for example, in those days pornography via the internet did not exist and our tendency to consumerism was not as prevalent.
However, God's people, then and now, still abandon the gift of faith. In 1846, there was a deep movement of anti-clericalism in all of Europe. Today, maybe the problem is more serious. There is certainly a deep indifference towards religion.
We as Catholics believe that Jesus is the Word of God and our call as Church is be evangelizers – people who share the excitement and challenge of faith to others. And since we are urged by Mary at La Salette to make her message (and that of her Son) known, our call to communicate to others is central to our baptismal call.
In this modern age, we are surrounded and sometimes bombarded by electronics – computers, smart phones, ipads and tablets – and social media possibilities like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. Yet the Catholic Church and our Popes for the last fifty years have emphasized that there is a rightful place for these opportunities to be used in the service of God and the Church.
|Fr. G. Gregory Gay, C.M., Superior General
of the Congregation of the Mission, meets
with Pope Francis after his audience with
the 800 Superiors General in Paul VI Hall
in the Vatican.
Editor: Since his election as Pope on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis has shown in word and deed what it means to be a truly Christ-like follower of Jesus. Over this past year he has outlined a new mindset for the Church; namely that all Christians need to be more conformed to the words and witness of Jesus.
Logically yet remarkably, his vision for Christian living applies to himself, to others in authority in the Church, as well as to laity across the world. Although his brief words on May 3, 2013, were addressed to the Superior General of Religious Orders worldwide – the “upper echelon” of Religious dignitaries – they apply well to every member of the Church universal.
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). It is Christ who called you to follow him… and this means continuously making an “exodus” from yourselves in order to center your life on Christ and on his Gospel, on the will of God, laying aside your own plans… This “exodus” from ourselves (and following God’s will) means setting out on a path of adoration and service. The exodus leads us on a journey of adoring the Lord and of serving him in our brothers and sisters. To adore and to serve: two attitudes that cannot be separated, but must always go hand in hand. To adore the Lord and to serve others, keeping nothing for oneself: this is the “self-emptying” of whoever exercises (their faith).
Johannesburg – "Let us now sing the praises of famous men, great men in their generations... They ruled their governments wisely, were known for their valour. Their counsel displayed wisdom, they saw things from afar” (Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3).
"With these words we, the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, express our gratitude to Tata Mandela for the sacrifice he made for all peoples of South Africa and for the leadership and inspiration he gave in leading us on the path of reconciliation", writes his His Exc. Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), in the message of condolence sent to Nelson Mandela’s family, the historic leader of the struggle against apartheid and the first President of democratic South Africa, who died Dec. 5, 2013, at the age of 95.
In the message, sent to Fides Agency, Archbishop Brislin stresses that Mandela "never compromised on his principles and vision for a democratic and just South Africa where all have equal opportunities, even at the great cost to his own freedom".
|In response to the devastation of Typhoon
Haiyanin the Philippines, UNICEF set up
special programs and facilities for
protecting children. (Photo: UNICEF)
Cebu (Agenzia Fides, Vatican City) - Children are the most vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse and need more protection. A month after Typhoon Haiyan, Plan Internacional, one of the world's largest international NGO that deals with safeguarding the rights of children, is collaborating with the Philippine State with regards to a recovery program.
Currently there are eight million displaced children on the islands who are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. The NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) has set up various "Child-friendly Spaces", supported by staff and volunteers who offer children a place where to play, learn, receive psychological support and be able to say what happened, but in a safe environment. The primary objective is to protect the rights of children and help the children return to school.
|Happy children in the soup kitchen
of our Mission Catholique in
After colonial regimes began to crumble and give way to many independent, self-governing counties, especially in Africa and Asia, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) were lending them sizeable sums of money for local development.
Problems created by this “easy money” for these countries were multifold – the money-making infrastructures of the colonial period were dissolved, corruption was proliferated by inept and greedy officials, nationalization of industries discouraged future private investment, nepotism and favoritism eroded sound governance, direction and financial accountability.
A few years later, especially after irresponsible regimes were replaced, these countries were answerable for exorbitant interest and capital payments. What had seemed to be a means of liberation became a source of even greater enslavement and poverty.
|Pope Francis, Time Magazine’s
2014 Person of the Year
The year 2015 will be dedicated to consecrated life, which "is prophecy". Pope Francis made the announcement at an audience with 120 superiors generals attending the 82nd General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General that ended today in Rome. During the three-hour meeting, the Union said in a press release, Pope Francis gave a speech but also took part in a question-and-answer session.
For the pope, a radical approach is required of all Christians, but men and women religious are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way, because they "can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly (from) the nest and be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to 'domesticate' them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord.”
When asked about the state of vocations, the Holy Father emphasized that there are young Churches which are bearing new fruit. This naturally gives rise to a re-evaluation of the inculturation of charism, following the example of Matteo Ricci (an Italian Jesuit). Intercultural dialogue calls for people with various cultural backgrounds, expressing different ways of living charism, to join the governance of religious institutes.
Francis insisted upon the importance of education, which he presented as based on four fundamental types of training, namely spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic training. At the same time, it is vital to avoid every form of hypocrisy and clericalism through frank and open dialogue on all aspects of life.
|War Memorial in the center of Attleboro, MA|
I love the idea that we are all “standing on the shoulders of giants.” This is particularly true when thinking of those who have given their life for the cause of freedom.
Each year we have various days commemorating those in military service who have gone before us, whether Memorial Day (in May), D-Day (June 6th), Independence Day (July 4th), our own Massachusetts celebration of Patriot Day (September), December 7th (Pearl Harbor Memorial), or other memorials. These days often bring to mind those who have fought for the freedoms we perhaps too often take for granted.
Recently I happened to stop by the Veteran’s Memorial in the center of Attleboro out of simple curiosity. I wanted to see if there were any of my family name who died in various wars over the past century. I was surprised to find the names of several relatives who died in World War II, and in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Over my lifetime I have had the privilege to visit three places which were directly involved in several wars. The first was Ypres, an ancient city in western Belgium (the Flemish Province of West Flanders), the center of intense and sustained battles between Allied and German forces from 1914 to 1917.
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Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.
Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”