Pope Francis

Pope FrancisIn difficult times God raises men and women to rouse the Church. What does the Spirit say to the Churches? Religious truths are always the same, but in every time there are specific questions and pressing issues. Today our world faces the dictatorship of relativism, the attack on marriage and the unborn, and most recently the drastic increase in displaced peoples and families.

The Catholic Church does not give specific remedies to the problems of our world, grave or small, but it teaches about Christ who is the Light of the world and shows us how to live as children of God. The pope, as the head of the Church, invites us to a deeper encounter with Christ and his Church. At the same time the pope asks us to acknowledge some moral truths derived from Christ’s teaching: peace among nations, service to the poor and marginalized people, respect for the marriage and the family, care for our common home.

Today Pope Francis addressed the joint Houses of Congress and the Supreme Court as a head of state. This was the first time of such an event. Speaking in English the Pope greeted Congress and the people of the U.S., “… the land of the free and the home of the brave.” He reminded the members of Congress that they are called to defend and preserve the dignity of their fellow citizens in the tireless pursuit of the common good. He spoke of Moses who leads us directly to God and transcendent dignity of every human being. He told the congressmen how they are charged to respect the image of God in every man.

The Pope invited a dialogue with men and women who with their work sustain the life of society through their work and the organizations they are part of, the elderly who share their wisdom and serve others through voluntary work, and with all.

Those who have served the American people at the cost and sacrifice of their lives teach us. The Pope singled out four people: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Lincoln labored tirelessly that this nation would live in freedom. Our world today is an increasing place of violence and religion is abused by some. We must oppose fundamentalism, religious or of other types, safeguarding religious and intellectual freedom.

But he warned us of a polarization between good and evil. Our response should be one of hope and healing, peace and justice, resolving today’s economic and geopolitical problems and injustices. We must restore hope and move forward as one working together for the common good. We must respect our differences and convictions of conscience aware of how in our lands the different religions has greatly contributed. We must continue to listen to the voice of religion which is a powerful resource against new sources of slavery and injustice. The pope acknowledged the difficulty this involves but encouraged us in this effort.

The Pope referred to Martin Luther King’s march 50 years ago to obtain full rights for African-Americans. This dream continues to inspire us, and he expressed his happiness that America continues to be a land of dreams. Dreams that lead to action, to participation and to commitment. Millions of people came to this land pursuing dreams. The people of this country are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once foreigners. The pope recalled that he was a son of an immigrant. Tragically the lives of those who were here before were not always respected. The pope expressed his esteem for them while noting that it is very difficult to judge the past. We must resolve to live as justly as possible, constantly relating to others and rejecting a mindset of hostility. He invited us to live in a spirit of reciprocal subsidiarity. The pope spoke of the magnitude and tragedy of refugee crises and of the many people coming to the United States seeking a better life for themselves and their loved ones. We must not consider them as numbers but as persons. We must see their faces and listen to their stories.

The pope invited us to remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would like to have done unto you. He reminded us to use the same yardstick for others that will be used for us. We must protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This extends to the effort to abolish the death penalty, and goal of rehabilitation.

The pope also spoke of the example of the Servant of God Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism and passion for justice was inspired by the Gospel. We know much more must be done for social solidarity. The fight against poverty must be fought on many fronts. He also spoke of care for the earth, our common home – the subject of his recent encyclical – to direct our steps avoiding the deterioration of the environment caused by human activity. We can make a difference. The U.S. institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

The life and story of Thomas Merton served Pope Francis to speak about prayer. Merton was a man open to dialogue and a promoter of peace and people of different religions. In the face of failed peace processes we need to seek new opportunities of dialogue requiring courage and daring. We have to minimize and seek to end armed conflicts throughout our world, and ask why deadly weapons are sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on others. He ended speaking about the essential role of marriage and families in the building of this country and its culture, receiving a large ovation for his comments.

This wise address to our nations leaders recalls the addresses of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their visits to the US. It was an invitation to justice and charity, respect for human life and the family.

Christianity has always influenced the moral customs and legislations of nations. In his time in the 19th century England’s Blessed John Henry Newman helped educated lay men to work in the field of education, defend the institution of marriage and protect the religious freedom of the Anglican community and later the Roman Catholic Church.

Newman from an early age lived by what he called doctrinal principle, the understanding that religion is based on objective truths revealed by God, not subject to opinions or consensus. Newman’s guiding principle is so important for contemporary society is faced with a crisis of reason: a skepticism about knowledge of the truth.

But for Newman religious truths translated into charity with the poor, the sick, the perplexed and sorrowful. It is the saints and other holy men and women who show us with their action and their words how to live the Faith and transmit it to others.

The Pope’s example and words are an invitation for each one of us live the Faith better with respect for all, cooperating with others in the care of the poor and the immigrant, working for peace in our world and protecting our common home.

 

 

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

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Endorsement by Neyra Blanco (Amazon)
I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

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Endorsement by Christopher Moellering (Goodreads, September 14, 2019)
In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

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Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman, endorsement by Illow M. Roque (Amazon, September 3, 2010)
“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
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