Flying back to Rome on Nov. 30 after a six-day “pilgrimage of peace” as an “apostle of hope,” Pope Francis said he was surprised by Africa.

Published in Francis in Africa

PHILADELPHIA - It's difficult to forget Pope Francis' passionate Sept. 26 speech, his gestures and the tone of his voice when he addressed the value of the family in Philadelphia.

Published in Faith

The joy of the Lord is our strength, and in Him we discover who we really are: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ reflection following the readings of the day at Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday morning, the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux. The Holy Father focused especially on the need to cultivate nostalgia – deep yearning – for God in the Christian life.

Published in Faith

Once, across a crowded meeting room, I recognized a face. Our eyes locked. Weeks earlier, this person and I had attended the same retreat. We both knew we needed to steal away and talk, as soon as possible.

When the opportunity came, each of us took it immediately. We found a quiet place. We talked as though we’d known each other for years. “I had to speak to you,” said my new old friend. “I feel as though we met in Narnia, and back here in the regular world I have to touch you to know it was real.” I understood instantly.  

Published in Mary Marrocco

Hours after his death April 8, Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte was praised by Quebec City Cardinal Gérald Cyprian Lacroix and the emeritus archbishop of Quebec, Maurice Couture, for his "joie de vivre" and for a communication style that invited open dialogue.

Published in Canada

VATICAN CITY - Christians live the joy of the Resurrection when they share a smile with someone, weep with those who mourn and defend the rights of those persecuted for their faith, Pope Francis said.

Published in Vatican

A few weeks ago, I attended a special prayer service. Led by two bishops (one anglophone, one francophone), it gathered Church dignitaries to celebrate an anniversary. The service was surprisingly moving: a remarkable result at the commemoration of a Church document not so many of us, even within the Church, have ever heard of. The two bishops, and three other Church leaders, reflected on passages from Ephesians and John.

Published in Mary Marrocco

VATICAN CITY - No saint was ever known for having a "funeral face," Pope Francis said; the joy of knowing one is loved by God and saved by Christ must be seen at least in a sense of peace, if not a smile.

Celebrating the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Dec. 14, Pope Francis paid an evening visit to Rome's St. Joseph parish, meeting with the sick, with a group of Gypsies, with a First Communion class and with dozens of couples whose newborn babies were baptized in the past year.

Published in International

So often we hear and read about the lives of the rich, powerful and famous. Celebrity seems to rule our culture. 

But reflection on the lives of the ordinary, the everyday, the taken-for-granted, is often far more illuminating. If we look beyond the glitz we can see the real stars, the real world, and answers to some of the real questions. 

Published in Robert Brehl

TORONTO - Christians must pay attention to the reality of evil but do so with hope-filled joy, Cardinal Thomas Collins told a packed hall at the annual Cardinal's dinner.

Published in Canada

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 26 (Exodus 22:21-27; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40) 

Remember who you were and what it felt like to be abused and oppressed. Exodus addressed this admonition and guidance to the Israelites but it is also meant for us. The people of Israel were reminded to remember the bitterness and suffering of slavery in Egypt in all of their dealings with other people. It is a variation on the Golden Rule — if you didn’t like the way you were treated, then don’t treat others in the same manner. 

Published in Fr. Scott Lewis

VATICAN CITY - The Church needs to find better ways to show how the Gospel message is a way of life meant to bring great joy to couples and families, and is not a burdensome set of rules aimed at exclusion, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher told the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

Published in Faith

First Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. (Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)

There are often seeds of hope in the midst of ruin and devastation. The prophetic ministry of Jeremiah was discouraging, doleful and doomed to failure and he knew it. Many times in his ministry he was tempted to walk away from it but something always pulled him back — the words of God burned within him.

In the preceding chapter, Jeremiah bought a field even as the Babylonians began their final siege of Jerusalem in the early sixth century BC. It was Jeremiah’s way of witnessing to his faith in God’s promises and his hope for the future of the nation and its people. The chaos, turmoil and destruction around him comprised only one act of the drama that was being played out — the subsequent acts and the grand finale were on the distant horizon.

The oracle in today’s reading (it may be a later addition to the book) is similar in nature. It envisioned a messianic age in the future ruled by a descendant of the beloved King David. Justice would be the norm and Judah would live in security. The name given to the city of the future — the Lord is our righteousness — carried a double significance. First of all, the glorious life of the future was certainly going to be the work of God. For an oppressed and conquered people only God is able to deliver saving justice. In addition to the work of God the response of humans was important: the justice of God would have to be the standard by which the nation guided its collective life. This vision and many similar ones provided the people of Israel with courage and hope during the destruction of Jerusalem and the long years of exile in Babylon. Prophecy is often thought to be just endless forecasts of doom, but warning is only one aspect of prophecy. Giving hope and courage is an even more important part of the mission, as well as assuring the people that God was still with them. In this latter sense we all have a call to prophecy in these difficult times, for hope and courage are all too often in short supply. Even today people of faith and spirit everywhere can begin living the world of God’s future in their hearts and minds.

Love is at the very heart of all genuine human community and is the necessary ingredient for a just society. No other gimmicks or shortcuts will do. Paul or one of his followers prayed fervently that the mutual love of the community would increase and abound for holiness absolutely depended on it. When our lives are characterized by love for others and our principal desire is to live in a way pleasing to God then we are truly blameless before the Lord.

For the people of the first century, life was so brutal and corrupt that only a cataclysmic end at the hand of God and new creation would set the world straight. The apocalyptic language and cosmic symbolism of the Gospel passage was standard fare for both Christians and Jews of that time. The first Christians expected that these events would take place within their own lifetimes, and yet the world marched on and continues to do so. Nations and empires have risen and fallen, wars and revolutions have ravaged millions and the Earth has been torn by countless natural disasters. Throughout all of this many have “fainted with fear” and yet the prophecy insists that this is the time to hold one’s head up high, for redemption is near.

Once again, there is hope even in chaos and misery. Even though we might not expect the imminent demise of our world — although it is certainly possible at the hands of humans — the spiritual message still rings true. Pay attention to what is most important: love, compassion, justice and our relationship both with God and other people. We may not be able to predict the future and we do not know how long we will be on Earth, but if we are anchored in these divine principles and continually striving towards God, the time of the Lord’s return or the end of the world do not matter. Live a life pleasing to God, and treat the day as if it were your last — with joy, gratitude and a generous heart.

Published in Fr. Scott Lewis
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