Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quote of the Evening

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. Amelia Earhart

Saturday, February 27, 2010

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

“O Mother of Sorrows, by the anguish and love with which thou didst stand at the cross of Jesus, stand by me in my last agony. To thy maternal heart I commend the last three hours of my life. Offer these hours to the Eternal Father in union with the agony of our dearest Lord, in atonement for my sins. Offer to the Eternal Father the most precious blood of Jesus, mingled with your tears on Calvary, that I may obtain the grace of receiving Holy Communion with the most perfect love and contrition before my death, and that I may breathe forth my soul in the adorable presence of Jesus. Dearest Mother, when the moment of my death has at last come, present me as your child to Jesus. Ask Him to forgive me for having offended Him, for I knew not what I did. Beg Him to receive me into His kingdom of glory to be united with Him forever. Amen.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Lenten Reflection

I have a wonderful confessor. He is a Benedictine monk from Asia, who has a very interesting accent. His voice has many highs – and many lows. He is not afraid to chastise when necessary – he has the uncanny ability to make you listen to yourself and hear how foolish you sound. His ability to bring to light the very heart of the matter is amazing. His devotion to the prayer of the rosary is second to none – except maybe St. Louis de Montfort and our Dear John Paul II. He is the preferred confessor in his monastery, and when he is on-duty, during every season, the waiting room is full to capacity. This certainly says a lot about this extraordinary priest. Many times during confession, my confessor addresses Jesus as doctor. “Welcome back to the good Doctor Jesus” he says. At first it sounds amusing - then - thinking about it; it makes a lot of sense. For what do we go to confession for? To be healed! Jesus is the doctor who comes to heal us of all our iniquity. I bring this to mind today as this is the first full week of Lent; we are beginning a very special season in the Church calendar. We all have come to know Lent as a time of sacrifice, a time of penance. We should recognize Lent as a gift, a healing gift from Doctor Jesus. This Doctor does not ask for insurance, this doctor asks for your love. Lent is the most perfect time to offer your love to Jesus.

In last Sunday's reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the people, reminding them of how God acted in their lives. The people cried out to God and their prayer was answered. They were healed – granted the gift of freedom, released from the bondage of Egypt. Lent is a time to renew our conversation with God and asking Him for the fortitude to sustain it.

In the second reading, Paul reveals to the Romans what they must do to be saved.
Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord - believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead - all who call upon him will be saved. Lent is the time to examine our past – and present. Are we living the Christian life faithfully? Do we know the Lord as we should? Have we made the effort to know Him more? Do we believe Jesus is Lord – in our hearts? Let us use this time for reflection – make a resolution to change.

Over the last five years, I have made yearly retreats to St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. It is a Trappist (Cistercian) Monastery sitting on acres and acres of forest, streams, open fields and hills. Needless to say – it is a very quiet place. All you hear is the singing wind
through the forest and the monastery bells calling all to prayer.

In Sunday's Gospel reading, Jesus also seeks a quiet place – in the desert. I have had the good experience of camping in the Mojave Desert. It is certainly a quiet place – it is also very hot and a scary – the desert is full of creatures, namely rattlesnakes and scorpions. Every night I would be sure to secure the tent doors – as I did not want any unwelcome visitors. Jesus entered the desert and stayed for forty days! I was in the desert for three days – and that was enough! What does Jesus seek in the desert? Jesus seeks silence. We all need silence. Blessed Mother Teresa said “In the Silence of the Heart, God speaks.” In our busy noisy world, we can barely hear ourselves think – we can be completely deaf to the voice of God. If we are closed to the voice of God, we can forget our true identity. In Thomas Merton’s poem “I Seek”, there is an intuitive line “If you seek a heavenly light I, Solitude, am your professor.” In the desert, the quiet place, the silence, we can grapple with temptation, and find ways to overcome our sinfulness – with prayer and fasting.

In the desert, Jesus was hungry – His hunger was mortification. The very nature of the desert is mortification - hot - uncomfortable. But in our suffering, we move closer to God.

During this time of Lent, let us try to find a quiet place. That place may be at a remote monastery, or in your own room. Let us pray to Doctor Jesus, ask for his gift of healing – seek a deeper presence of the Lord. May the sacrifices and penances of this Lent bring us to a greater joy in the Lord.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If You Seek

Song: If You Seek …
by Thomas Merton

If you seek a heavenly light
I, Solitude, am your professor!

I go before you into emptiness,
Raise strange suns for your new mornings,
Opening the windows
Of your innermost apartment.

When I, loneliness, give my special signal
Follow my silence, follow where I beckon!
Fear not, little beast, little spirit
(Thou word and animal)
I, Solitude, am angel
And have prayed in your name.

Look at the empty, wealthy night
The pilgrim moon!
I am the appointed hour,
The “now” that cuts
Time like a blade.

I am the unexpected flash
Beyond “yes,” beyond “no,”
The forerunner of the Word of God.

Follow my ways and I will lead you
To golden-haired suns,
Logos and music, blameless joys,
Innocent of questions
And beyond answers:
For I, Solitude, am thine own self:
I, Nothingness, am thy All.
I, Silence, am thy Amen!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saint Peter Damian, O.S.B.

Saint Peter Damian, O.S.B. (Petrus Damiani, also Pietro Damiani or Pier Damiani; c. 1007– February 21/22, 1072) was a reforming monk in the circle of Pope Gregory VII and a cardinal. In 1823, he was declared a Doctor of the Church. Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of Paradiso as a great predecessor of Saint Francis of Assisi

All-powerful God, help us to follow the teachings and example of Peter Damian. By making Christ and the service of His Church the first love of our lives, may we come to the joys of eternal light.

Check out Bio

* Bust of Peter Damian. Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement


More than 100 conservative leaders released the Mount Vernon Statement, outlining a conservative manifesto against government expansion and in favor of Constitutional values.
"The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature's God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man's self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The Mount Vernon Statement

Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century
We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.
Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.
A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

It applies the principle of limited government based on the
rule of law to every proposal.
It honors the central place of individual liberty in American
politics and life.
It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and
economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom
and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that
It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood,
community, and faith.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.

We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.

February 17, 2010

* If you wish, sign the statement

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Benedict XVI General Audience

From Pope Benedict's General Audience Feb 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the Church’s Lenten journey towards Easter. Lent reminds us, as Saint Paul exhorts, “not to accept the grace of God in vain” (cf. 2 Cor 6:1), but to recognize that today the Lord calls us to penance and spiritual renewal. This call to conversion is expressed in the two formulae used in the rite of the imposition of ashes. The first formula – “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” – echoes Jesus’s words at the beginning of his public ministry (cf. Mk 1:15). It reminds us that conversion is meant to be a deep and lasting abandonment of our sinful ways in order to enter into a living relationship with Christ, who alone offers true freedom, happiness and fulfilment. The second, older formula – “Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return” – recalls the poverty and death which are the legacy of Adam’s sin, while pointing us to the resurrection, the new life and the freedom brought by Christ, the Second Adam. This Lent, through the practice of prayer and penance, and an ever more fruitful reception of the Church’s sacraments, may we make our way to Easter with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of this special season.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

From a letter to the Corinthians by Saint Clement, Pope


Let us fix our attention on the blood of Christ and recognise how precious it is to God his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

If we review the various ages of history, we will see that in every generation the Lord has offered the opportunity of repentance to any who were willing to turn to him. When Noah preached God’s message of repentance, all who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they were going to be destroyed, but when they repented, their prayers gained God’s forgiveness for their sins, and they were saved, even though they were not of God’s people.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God’s grace have spoken of repentance; indeed, the Master of the whole universe himself spoke of repentance with an oath: As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the death of the sinner but his repentance. He added this evidence of his goodness: House of Israel, repent of your wickedness. Tell the sons of my people: If their sins should reach from earth to heaven, if they are brighter than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, you need only turn to me with your whole heart and say, “Father,” and I will listen to you as a holy people.

In other words, God wanted all his beloved ones to have the opportunity to repent and he confirmed this desire by his own almighty will. That is why we should obey his sovereign and glorious will and prayerfully entreat his mercy and kindness. We should be suppliant before him and turn to his compassion, rejecting empty works and quarrelling and jealousy which only lead to death.

Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.

Let these commandments and precepts strengthen us to live in humble obedience to his sacred words. As Scripture asks: Whom shall I look upon with favour except the humble, peaceful man who trembles at my words?

Sharing then in the heritage of so many vast and glorious achievements, let us hasten toward the goal of peace, set before us from the beginning. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Father and Creator of the whole universe, and hold fast to his splendid and transcendent gifts of peace and all his blessings.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Missy The Katrina Dog

Here is a picture of Missy, a Katrina dog that my son cared for over the weekend. After the terrible hurricane in New Orleans, many dogs were left homeless. How wonderful that so many people adopted these lost dogs. We have to remember that all animals are God's creation. He is the Divine Artist - and every artist loves his work.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Valentine's Day

St. Valentine

Patron of Love, Young People and Happy Marriages

Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in Late Antiquity.Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969. But "Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter and those with him at Rome" remains in the list of saints proposed for veneration by all Catholics.

Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You gave Saint Valentine the courage to witness to the gospel of Christ, even to the point of giving his life for it. Help us to endure all suffering for love of you, and to seek you with all our hearts; for you alone are the source of life and love. Grant that we may have the courage and love to be strong witnesses of your truth to our friends and family and to the whole world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Green Minnow by Robert Lax

I have always been intrigued by the person of Robert Lax, that very good friend of Thomas Merton, who spent his last days on the island of Patmos. He was a great poet. Maybe not known by the many, but to the few, one of the best.

The Green Minnow by Bob Lax 1968

the green minnow
bears a white &
black mark
at his tail

by which we
what fish
he’ll be

(& all things
bear a mark
for the under-

your voice
in dark
is no
less, then,
your voice;

mine, from
behind you,
’s mine
as from

(whatever is
is mark’d first
as itself;

later, if ev-
er, as gener-
ic being.)

This post is completely inspired by "Louie,Louie"

Photo by Nicolas Humbert

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter Time in New Jersey

I shot these images a few hours ago in Brookdale Park, Montclair, New Jersey. We are in the midst of a major snowstorm - but the roads are being plowed, and it is really fun to drive around and take pictures (but you must drive carefully!). God has surely blessed us with a beautiful world - Creation is His first Revelation. It gives us a taste of His everlasting love. I am going to sit by the fire now, rest for a while, and get ready for another turn with the shovel. Enjoy the poetry!


Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

St. Jerome Emiliani: A Different Kind of Saint

St. Jerome Emiliani

We all have our own stories of conversion. We are sinful, we fall and stumble, then something happens - God touches us - through an event, a person - we experience "conversion."

Here is St. Jerome's story out of "Saint of the Day."

A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.

In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.

Around 1532 Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928 Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.

comment: Very often in our lives it seems to take some kind of “imprisonment” to free us from the shackles of our self-centeredness. When we’re “caught” in some situation we don’t want to be in, we finally come to know the liberating power of Another. Only then can we become another for “the imprisoned” and “the orphaned” all around us.

* check out the "Somascan Fathers and Brothers"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tim Tebow's "Focus on the Family" Superbowl Ad

God bless you Pam Tebow, you scored a touchdown for life!

* Check out "Focus on the Family" HERE

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Quote for the Day

A Quote for the Day

Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it. - Thomas Merton


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell

Saying Grace

Today is Norman Rockwell's birthday. Rockwell was born on February 3, 1894. A few years ago, on a road trip through Vermont, my wife and I stopped at his studio - now an inn - in Arlington. There was nothing much there to see, but I did enjoy being there - where this wonderful painter did much of his work. I read that Rockwell was raised Episcopal, but after his teen years, he was not much of a churchgoer. His faith must have had some importance in his life - how else could he have created such a beautiful painting.

Maria Esperanza of Betania

Maria Esperanza of Betania, Venezuela has witnessed 31 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary over the course of 15 years. The Virgin called herself the "Reconciler of People and Nations" and warned of impending war and suffering. Many visitors have come to the site, reporting numerous miracles and signs. On one occasion in 1984, 108 people claimed to have witnessed a public apparition of the Virgin.

The local bishop approved the authenticity of Maria's experiences in 1987.

Description of the Virgin -

"And when she revealed herself, she went to the top of the tree, and I saw she was beautiful, with her hair brown, dark brown, her eyes that were lgiht brown and she had very fine, very pretty eyebrows, tiny mouth, a nose very straight and her complexion was so beautiful, it was skin that seemed like silk. It was bronzed. It was beautiful. Very young. Her hair was down to here, to her shoulders."

- Maria Esperanza

Bishop Paul Bootkoski, Ordinary of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, has decided that there are sufficient grounds to open the cause for beatification and canonization of Mrs. Maria Esperanza de Bianchini, a Venezuelan mother of numerous children and alleged mystic, who lived between the years of 1928 and 2004. Bishop Bootkoski gave a truly religious sense to this juridical act by conducting the opening of the cause in the context of a Mass celebrated at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Metuchen, on Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm. The Betania Choir of Venezuela, composed of the family members and spiritual followers of Maria Esperanza, provided the music for this liturgical celebration.

Merciful Father, You blessed Maria Esperanza with an abundance of spiritual gifts for the consolation of your people. She served You as wife, mother, and missionary to promote the unity of the family and the reconciliation of all peoples. You enabled her to be the central figure in the manifestations of the Virgin Mary, under the title Reconciler of all Peoples and Nations, in Betania. Grant us the grace to follow her example of humility, hope, and unconditional love. Through the intercession of your servant, Maria Esperanza, we pray for the healing and reconciliation of our families, and for the fraternal unity of the entire human family. Especially, we beseech You to grant us the favors we now request(mention your intentions here) through the merits and prayers of your servant. Likewise, we humbly implore that she be inscribed in the Church's catalogue of saints, as a universal model of the beatitudes. We pray all this according to your holy will, cherished by your servant until the end, through Jesus Christ, your Son, Our Lord. Amen.

(With the ecclesiastical approval of Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of Metuchen, New Jersey, December 4, 2009

More information about Maria Esperanza

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More on the Ted Tebow Ad....

Here is a good article out of Catholic-Online, written by Theresa Bonopartis. Theresa is a good soldier in the cause for life. God bless you Theresa!

Guest Opinion: Tebow Ad Opponents call me 'Anti- Choice'? They Oppose the Choice for Life!

CHICAGO, IL - NOW (The “National Organization for [Anti-Right to Life] Women) is in an outrage over the Tim Tebow ad which is scheduled to air during the Super Bowl. On their web site they state:

“Focus on the Family has an aggressively anti-abortion, anti-LGBT, anti-woman agenda. This ad reportedly promotes the decision of one woman to go against her doctor's advice to terminate an at-risk pregnancy. While NOW would never disparage any woman's reproductive choice, we believe that all women should be free to make the decision that is right for them. We also believe that this ad could potentially put women's health and lives at risk by promoting ideology over medicine”

NOW President Terry O'Neil told the Associated Press that the planned ad is, "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning." I now ask the obvious. What is demeaning about a woman choosing life? What happened to “trusting” women to make their own choices? Perhaps Terry O’Neil should speak to one of the couples I know who were pressured to abort babies due to adverse diagnosis. Talk about demeaning and offensive!

I searched NOW’s site to see if they had expressed any outrage regarding these couples who are often coerced to abort a child and told they are selfish for even thinking of bringing an imperfect child in the world. Of course, I found no such thing.

NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) is also in an uproar. They sent out an email asking women to send a letter to CBS which included these words, “Focus on the Family has an unmistakable anti-choice, anti-birth-control, anti-sex-education, anti-gay agenda. If that wasn’t bad enough, its views on women are just plain insulting and dangerous.

For example, its web site urges women facing an unintended pregnancy to seek ‘wise advice’ because ‘the hormones and extreme emotions of pregnancy make reasonable decisions more difficult’. …We can’t just sit by while CBS lets Focus on the Family place a political ad during the Super Bowl, when millions of people are watching ads.”

Read the rest of the article

Groundhog Day

Here is some information about Groundhog Day, out of the -

Each year on Feb. 2, thousands of revelers climb atop Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania., (northcentral part of the state) to witness the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog with the mythical ability of forecasting either an early spring or lengthier winter. With the help of his keepers and protectors, the tuxedo-clad members of the mysterious Inner Circle, Phil shares that prediction with the world from the region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds.

If Phil sees his shadow, he predicts six more weeks of winter and returns to his burrow. If he does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. The first legendary trek to Gobbler’s Knob occurred in 1887. Crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler’s Knob for a multiday festival celebrating the town’s most famous resident – Punxsutawney Phil. Background European Roots

The custom dates back to the early days of Christianity in Europe and grew out of a winter festival called Candlemas Day, a day for clergy to bless and distribute candles. According to legend, clear skies on Candlemas Day meant an extended winter.

The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, brought this tradition to the Germans, who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, a hedgehog would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather or “Second Winter.”

In Germany, the hedgehog became part of the legend. The German twist was that on a clear, sunny day, the hedgehog would cast a shadow.

For a bit of humor, I am posting here a film clip from the movie "Groundhog Day." (yes - a hilarious movie) Now, the clip ends tragically, but do not be alarmed, becase the next day Phil wakes up again to a new day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI on St Paul's HYMN TO CHARITY

"Charity Is the Christian Difference"


Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s liturgy is read one of the most beautiful passages of the New Testament and of the whole Bible: St. Paul’s so-called hymn to charity (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13). In the First Letter to the Corinthians, after having explained, using the image of the body, that the different gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the benefit of the one Church, Paul shows the “way” of perfection. This way, he says, does not consist in possessing exceptional qualities: speaking new languages, knowing all the mysteries, having a prodigious faith, or doing heroic deeds. It consists rather in charity -- “agape” -- that is, in authentic love, that love that God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

Charity is the “greatest” gift, which confers worth on others, and yet “does not boast, does not puff up with pride,” indeed, “it rejoices in truth” and the good of others. He who truly loves “does not seek his own interests,” “does not keep track of evil received,” “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

In the end, when we will meet God face to face, all the other gifts will disappear; the only one that will remain in eternity will be charity, because God is love and we will be like him, in complete communion with him.

For now, while we are in this world, charity is the Christian difference. The Christian’s whole life is summed up by charity: what he believes and what he does. For this reason, at the beginning of my pontificate, I wanted to dedicate my first encyclical precisely to the theme of love: “Deus caritas est.” As you will remember, in this encyclical there are two parts that correspond to the two components of charity: its meaning and its practice. Love is the essence of God himself, it is the meaning of creation and history, it is the light that gives goodness and beauty to every man’s existence.

At the same time, love is the “style,” of God and the believer, it is the comportment of him who, responding to God’s love, makes his own life a gift of self to God and neighbor.

In Jesus Christ these two aspects form a perfect unity: He is Love incarnate. This love is fully revealed to us in Christ crucified. Fixing our gaze upon him, we can confess with the Apostle John: “We have seen the love that God has for us and we have believed in it” (cf. 1 John 4:16; “Deus Caritas Est,” 1).

Dear friends, if we think of the saints, we see the variety of their spiritual gifts, and also their human characters. But the life of each of them is a hymn to charity, a living canticle to God’s love!

Today, Jan. 31, we especially remember St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian family and patron saint of young people. In this Year for Priests I would like to invoke his intercession so that priests always be educators and fathers for young people; and that, experiencing this pastoral charity, many young people will welcome the call to give their life for Christ and the Gospel. May Mary Our Help, model of charity, obtain these graces for us.

After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:

The last Sunday of January is World Leprosy Day. Our thoughts immediately turn to Father Damien de Veuster, who gave his life for these brothers and sisters, and whom I proclaimed a saint last October. To his heavenly protection I entrust all those people who, unfortunately still today, suffer from this disease, and all those health workers and volunteers who give themselves for the sake of a world without leprosy. I greet in particular the Italian Association of the Friends of Raoul Follereau.

Today the second Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land is celebrated as well. In communion with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land, I spiritually unite myself to the prayer of many Christians in every part of the world, and I greet from my heart all those who have come today for this observance.

The economic crisis is causing the loss of numerous jobs, and this situation requires a great sense of responsibility on the part of everyone: entrepreneurs, workers, government officials. I think of some hard realities in Italy, like those we see in the towns of Termini Imerese and Portovesme, for example. I join with the Italian bishops’ conference, which has asked that everything possible be done to protect and increase employment, assuring families of dignified work and adequate support.

In English he said:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Liturgy we are reminded that Jesus, like the prophets who came before him, was not well received in his homeland and among his relatives and friends. His message brings great joy but also requires open minds and generous hearts. Let us ask for the grace and courage to be always faithful to Jesus in words and deeds. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday!

*Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana