A PASTORAL LETTER TO SURFERS

After one of my first summer visits to Honolulu, my friend Bishop Larry Silva sent me a pastoral letter he had written to surfers for the Year of Faith. I came across that a few days ago and though I’d share it with you, with Bishop Larry’s permission. He wrote to tell me that, though he has never been surfing, he had received a letter from a surfer in Australia who urged him, as the Bishop of Hawaii, to write a pastoral letter to surfers.

He mentioned this to his Vicar General and Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinators and they convinced him to write the letter, some of which was contributed by the surfer from Australia. Bishop Silva said he wrote the spiritual contributions, adding, “In any case, I hope it touched someone with the Good News.”

Just think: “surf’s up” somewhere in the world as you read these lines!

A PASTORAL LETTER TO SURFERS

 “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!” Psalm 93:4 (RSV)

Aloha, Surfers!

­Surfing is a sport of kings that captivates the hearts of the dedicated participant and the spectator alike. Surfers are unique. Perhaps part of your attraction is your marvel of the sea, so you spend much time in the ocean at beautiful locations. (St- Augustine Church in Waikiki in background)

Captain James Cook captured this attraction in 1777 when he observed a surfer and wrote: “I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and smoothly by the sea.”

Surfers are always trying to get their friends into the waves. The exhilarating feeling they experience cannot be put into words but needs to be experienced. Some see surfing as ‘mystical’ and an experience of the presence of God. The spiritual parallel is eloquently captured by St Thomas Aquinas: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Just as you search for waves, do not be afraid to search for truth. Do not let the many competing voices cause you to give up on the possibility of discovery. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” [John 14:6] As Pope Benedict XVI encourages: “The happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth.” (World Youth Day, Madrid, 2011)

Surfers know the meaning of risk but still have the courage to set out into the mighty waters. For some there is the concern that following Jesus is a big risk. Yet as the Pope goes on to say: “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation.”

A relatively unknown but truly remarkable connection to Christianity is that twenty of the last thirty surfing World Champions have had a secret Christian symbol, the fish, on their boards. In Greek the word for fish is icthos, and this is an acronym for: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. Not many other sports can make such a claim and be so connected to the sea.

There is a tendency in surf culture to see surfing as a religion: to settle for creation rather than Creator. Yet the ocean is an “icon of God”. The beauty, awe, and joy you experience should lead on to the Author of the universe: our loving God (Rom 1:19-20). The search for the “sweet spot” on perfect wave is really a search for ultimate happiness, which leads us to God, because nothing else totally satisfies that desire. As St. Augustine put it: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

In what can sometimes be a self-absorbed sport, one of the greatest icons of surfing is Eddie Aikau. He heroically sacrificed his own life in an attempt to save those on the capsized Hokulea by paddling for help to the island of Lanai. As his plaque reads at Waimea Bay: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” [John 15:13]. Eddie, who grew up as an altar boy, is a timely reminder of the noblest of human actions.

Eddie’s heroism happened south of Molokai Island, where St. Damien, affectionately known as the Leper Priest, ministered to those with Hansen’s Disease. We can learn much from this great Saint of Hawaii, a missionary priest who spent 16 years caring for the poorest of the poor before contracting the disease himself. St. Damien is a witness to “authentic love,” modeled by Jesus himself, which is the purpose of human life, the key to lasting marriages, and the path to joy and inner peace that each heart desires.

While there are many redeeming aspects of surf culture, it would be naive to pretend that it did not have a darker side. The polluted waters of drugs, partying, hedonism, and immodesty come readily to mind. As Christian surfers you are called to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). As unofficial ambassadors of Aloha, I implore you to stand up for truth, for the right to life, and to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world that needs to hear the Good News. Powerful currents want to drown the truth, but you, with the help of God, are called to help us all rise above the waves and move according to God’s plan.

If you have drifted away from living the Catholic faith, remember that our Heavenly Father is waiting with outstretched arms, seeking to heal and transform you through the Sacrament of Penance (John 20:23) and the Eucharist (John 6). A short drive to your local parish is all that it takes to reconcile with God through a sincere confession. Just like surfing, progression in the spiritual life involves commitment and escaping our comfort zone.

To our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are separated from the Catholic Church: You may be surprised to find that early Christian writings (such as Ignatius, Clement, Irenaeus and the Didache) contain what Catholics believe today. Unity with the Church, which Sacred Scripture describes as the ‘pillar and foundation of the truth’ [1 Timothy 3:15 NAB] is vital in building the Kingdom of God and a culture of life.

May Mary, Star of the Sea and our spiritual mother (John 19:27), be a shining example of faithfulness to God and a sure guide through the stormy waters of our earthly pilgrimage.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Larry Silva

Bishop of Honolulu

January 5, 2013

THE LAZY, HAZY SUMMER DAYS OF FERRAGOSTO

THE LAZY, HAZY SUMMER DAYS OF FERRAGOSTO

Today in Italy we are celebrating the biggest holiday of the summer season “Ferragosto,” the name Italians give to the August 15 solemnity of the Assumption. Ferragosto refers to the feriae augusti, meaning “holidays of August.” These appear to have originated in 18 BC when the Roman Emperor Augustus declared that the entire month of August would be dedicated to the feriae, a series of festivals and celebrations, the most important of which fell on the 13th and was dedicated to the goddess Diana.

Though the term ferragosto is pagan in origin, in Italy it refers to the mid-summer holidays but is interchangeable with the feast of the Assunta, the Assumption, strictly a religious celebration. There has been a constant tradition in the Church that Mary was assumed into heaven, and as early as the fifth century, this feast was celebrated in Syria, spreading to other parts of the world over the centuries. In the 12th Century, this feast was celebrated in the city of Rome, and in France. From the 13th century onwards, this was a certain tenet of faith and in 1950, Pope Pius XII declared this dogma infallibly and ex cathedra.

The pace of life is much slower in Rome in July and August, particularly August, and you’ll see a lot of chiuso per ferie (closed for vacation) signs posted on the shutters of stores, pharmacies, florists, some restaurants and coffee bars, newsstands, tobacconists, hardware stores, movie theaters, and small, neighborhood food markets known as alimentari or delicatessens. The phones of friends, including many who work in the Roman Curia, ring empty.

The local toy store:

A local café:

I was out this morning for Mass and the peace and quiet of Rome, due to shuttered stores and greatly reduced traffic, was simply marvelous. It seemed like you could shoot a cannon down the middle of some of the city’s main streets and not hit a thing!

Mail Boxes

Another neighborhood store:

Souvenir stores and the mini markets that dot every street in Rome will be open for business as usual. The markets open about 7 in the morning and close at or after midnight.

Life is extra quiet in the Vatican. When the Pope is away on vacation (or, in Francis’ case, on a reduced work schedule in the Vatican), this mini-state is deserted. The Vatican stores, pharmacy and medical center all have reduced hours because many employees are away on prolonged vacations. Vacations are quite generous in the summer, at Christmas and at Easter for employees of Vatican City State or the Roman Curia. Employees who live outside of Italy receive an added three days of vacation for travel time and those who live outside of continental Europe receive five additional days.

These vacations usually compensate for working six days a week the rest of the year, which makes weekend travel generally impossible. There are few public and private audiences when the Pope is on vacation. Curial activity slows down in the summer, and stops completely on August 14, 15 and 16. Only the press office and Secretariat of State are open for business, but with only a skeleton staff.

However, 2017 is a vast improvement over the early years I lived in Italy, especially when there were very few supermarkets. Once upon a time, Italians bought most of their food at three places: the local alimentari, the neighborhood butcher and the local fruit and vegetable store. Each one was assigned a letter – either A or B – for summer vacations. When A stores closed, B could not. And vice versa. This was to avoid all stores in one neighborhood closing at the same time, forcing people to go longer distances for food.

I can also remember when the local newspapers actually published the names of the few doctors, including specialists, who were available in Rome at vacation time, as well as a list of the few pharmacies that would be open in a given period.

Years ago, many coffee bars and restaurants closed for close to a month in the summer, especially because so few had air-conditioning. Since the historically hot and brutal summer of 2003 (four non-stop months of record heat, ending in mid-September), more and more stores, bars and restaurants have installed air-conditioning. Ten thousand people died in France that summer, and approximately 1,000 died in Italy.

By law restaurants and bars must close one day a week and that day is always posted outside the entrance or on the shutter. Some overlook this law, while others ask special permission to open on a seventh day. For example, if a restaurant had its weekly closing on a Monday but Monday of a given year was Christmas or Ferragosto, the owner would ask permission from the proper authorities to open that day (or simply open, without the proper permission!).

Until the summer of 2013, Popes generally spent all or much of the summer period at Castelgandolfo. St. John Paul and Benedict XVI often spent some time in July in northern Italy at a vacation home belonging to a diocese or diocesan seminary. Long walks in the woods, some picnics, down time for reading and, in the case of Benedict, quiet time to play the piano, and cooler temps marked those periods.

That time in northern Italy was usually followed by two months at Castelgandolfo – August and September, with a return to Rome in late September. Both John Paul and Benedict loved the papal palace, its views of Lake Albano, the cool air, and the lovely gardens with their many spots for prayer and meditation. On August 15. they always celebrated Mass on the feast of the Assumption in the small local parish of San Tommaso.

Pope Francis does not spend time in the historic and beautiful Castelgandolfo residence as his predecessors have done. His has admitted to “not knowing” how to take a vacation. His idea of a vacation is not to change residences but to change his schedule just a bit, perhaps sleeping later, dedicating more time to reading, etc. In July there were no general audiences, nor were there guests at the morning Masses in the Santa Marta. General audiences resumed on August 2 but Francis’ August appointment schedule has a lot of blank pages.

The residents of Castelgandolfo miss “their” Pope. Businesses once thrived when John Paul and Benedict spent time there, not just in the summer but often after a long trip or an arduous Holy Week. Today those businesses are suffering and if you seen a sign on a building that says chiuso, it may be more permanent than just a few weeks of vacation.

 

TURN TO FAITH, NOT FORTUNE TELLERS, WHEN LIFE GETS TOUGH

Weekend tweets from Pope Francis:

August 12: Dear young people, you are the hope of the Church. Do you dream about your future? Then take part in #synod18! https://t.co/XNDm29yp3s

August 13: In Mary we see that humility is not a virtue of the weak but of the strong who don’t have to treat others badly to feel important.

TURN TO FAITH, NOT FORTUNE TELLERS, WHEN LIFE GETS TOUGH

(Vatican Radio) “When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers, you sink”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square. He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea.

The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.”

Peter’s invocation: “Lord, command me to come to you!” And his cry, “Lord, save me”, the Holy Father noted  “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.”

Pope Francis explained, that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,   “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”.

The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.

But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.

VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL – POPE ORDERS BROTHERS OF CHARITY TO STOP OFFERING EUTHANASIA – KOREAN CATHOLICS TO PRAY ROSARY FOR PEACE ON AUGUST 15

Today’s papal tweet: When something makes us suffer, let us listen to the voice of Jesus in our hearts: “Do not fear! Go ahead! I am with you!”

VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee. Since we taped this in Rome, I have also learned that Vicki has been named as a corresponding member of the Pontifical academy for Life. She was a member in the academy previously but its strategies, membership and statutes have been reformed under Pope Francis…another topic for another time.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE ORDERS BROTHERS OF CHARITY TO STOP OFFERING EUTHANASIA

(A follow up to my FB post of yesterday)

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has ordered the Belgian arm of the Brothers of Charity religious order to stop offering euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals.

The Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Pope gave his personal approval to a Vatican letter sent at the beginning of August, which gives the Catholic charity until the end of August to stop the practice at all of its 15 centers in Belgium.

Euthanasia is legal in the country, and in May the Brothers of Charity Group which administers the Belgian hospitals announced it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia on psychiatric patients.

The charity said in a statement it would be performed only if there were “no reasonable treatment alternatives”.

Joint letter affirming magisterium

Pope Francis also ordered Brothers of Charity who serve on the group’s board to sign a joint letter to their Superior General declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brothers who refuse to sign the joint letter renouncing the practice of euthanasia will face sanctions under canon law, while the Catholic charity group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the Church if it fails to change its policy.

Brothers of Charity statement

Bro. René Stockman, General Superior of the Brothers of Charity, released a statement in response to the position of his Belgian brothers.

“The central point and the foundation within Christian ethics is that life is absolute, which cannot be touched. Life is a gift from God and entails an assignment. And because life is absolute, it is a state worthy of protection,” he wrote.

Mattias De Vriendt, a spokesman for the Belgium charity, said it had received the Vatican’s request but had not yet responded.

He confirmed the charity’s hospitals had received requests from patients seeking euthanasia recently but could not say whether any procedures had been performed.

KOREAN CATHOLICS TO PRAY ROSARY FOR PEACE ON AUGUST 15

Expressing great concern over mounting tension in the Korean peninsula and beyond over North Korea’s missile and nuclear bravado, South Korean bishops are seeking spiritual aid to diffuse the situation.  The bishops are urging their faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in their land, in view of the upcoming solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Aug. 15.

In a message, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul asked Catholics to pray the rosary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in Fatima.  “The Virgin Mary urged us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world,” said Cardinal Yeom. “The rosary is our spiritual weapon to defeat evil effectively and it will help us overcome challenges in our faith and transfigure us to become workers for world peace,” he said.

The August 15 feast of the Assumption is profoundly linked with Korean history.  The National Liberation Day of Korea‎ is marked in commemoration of that day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.  The Catholic Church in South Korea is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother and it considers its liberation as a “gift from Mary.”

“For the safety and the future of all Koreans, North Korea should come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons,” said Cardinal Yeom expressing grave concern over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes. (Vatican Radio)

 

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR AUGUST DEDICATED TO ARTISTS

Apologies for the fact that the link to OWL in my story yesterday about the Vatican Apostolic Library did not work. I had tested it and for some reason it worked for me but when I went back to my piece today, I could not access it either.

OWL means Online Window into the Library and you can access it here: https://www.vatlib.it/newsletter/201708EN.pdf

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR AUGUST DEDICATED TO ARTISTS

A few days late but here is the papal prayer intention for the month of August:

Pope Francis has released a video message with his monthly prayer intention for August:: “That artists of our time, though their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation.”

The text of the video message: The arts give expression to the beauty of the faith and proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation. When we admire a work of art or a marvel of nature, we discover how everything speaks to us of Him and of His love. That artists of our time, though their creativity, may help us discover the beauty of creation.

The worldwide Apostleshièp of Prayer develops these intentions for Pope Francis. For decades it was traditional for Popes to have two monthly prayer intentions – a general intention and a missionary one. Pope Francis has changed that, creating only one intention for each month and releasing it with a video.

THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER IN ROME

The following is from one of the emails I receive on occasion from Bob Moynihan of Inside the Vatican Magazine. I felt it depicted summer in Rome, especially the hot and heady ‘dog days’ of summer, with a bull’s eye precision. If you are reading this in Rome, you’ll understand every word.  If you are not in Italy, you might want to wait till September! With Bob’s kind permission I offer you this page from his Journal.
August 5, 2017, Saturday
Dog days
In these days in Rome, the heat is infernal.
And the Italians are saying so.
A headline here reads: “Lucifero non ha fretta, l’Italia è un inferno.” (link)
Meaning: “Lucifer is not in a hurry, Italy is an inferno.”
(Here, a Roman centurion crossing the road despite the heat, with the Colosseum in the distance. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP)
The report goes on: “Lucifero non ha fretta di andare in ferie. Resterà a tenerci compagnia con le due lingue di fuoco almeno fino al fine settimana.”
Meaning: “Lucifer isn’t in a hurry to take a vacation. He will remain to keep us company with the two tongues of flame at least until the end of the week.”
And also this: “A ferragosto sono attese temperature infernali.”
Meaning: “On August 15, infernal temperatures are expected.”
So it seems likely that this will continue a bit longer…
Today at midday in Rome it was 40 degrees Celsius — 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
There was hardly a flicker of a breeze, perhaps 2 miles an hour every so often.
And, though it seems quite dry for Rome, the humidity here is still about 25 percent.
That’s the problem with Rome — not so much the heat, but the humidity.
In fact, one report says “humidity and other factors are making it feel much hotter with the so-called ‘perceived’ temperature in Campania, the region around Naples, estimated at a broiling 55°C (131°F) on Friday.” (link)
That’s what it says: 131 degrees… Of course, that’s just “perceived” temperature.
But it’s still pretty hot, if you are the perceiver….
It is so hot that you feel you are inside a pizza oven when you are out in the sun.
It is so hot that, as you walk, you look right and left for any shady spot, under a colonnade, by the walls of any building, under cafe awnings, anywhere there s a bit of shade, rather than stay in the sunlight.
Anything for a bit of relief from the sun’s pounding bright rays.
Still there are pilgrims, God bless them, many of them seemingly Chinese, gathering by the doors of the Vatican museums, walking up the long walls, braving the heat of the day in order to see the treasures.
But many old people and shut-ins are in trouble. In Milan, there has been a spike in calls from old people as thousands have called for medical assistance.
Animals and crops are also in trouble. Cows are producing 20 percent less milk. And Italy’s olive and grape harvests this fall are expected to be down by a similar amount due to the heat and dryness. The water level in Lake Garda in the north is almost one-third below capacity.
===================
Patrick Browne, a writer for TheLocal website, has written an account of how the ancient Romans dealt with the heat (link).
“The Romans were no strangers to the summer heat,” Browne writes. “In fact, the modern term: ‘the dog days of summer”’ actually comes from the Latin ‘dies canincula,’ the Roman term used to describe the stuffy, hot period of weather between July and mid-August.
“The name comes from the fact that Sirius (the dog star) rises with the sun at this time of year. Romans thought this was the reason for the increase in temperature.
“While they may not have been experts in meteorology, the Romans did know a few practical ways of coping in a heatwave — so what advice can they give us?”
The account below to the end is by Patrick Browne (patrick.browne@thelocal.com).
1. Go to the Frigidarium
(An ancient Roman Frigidarium. Photo: Carole Raddato/Flickr)
The frigidarium was a large cold pool at the Roman baths where Romans went to cool down… The waters of the frigidarium were kept chilly in the summer months thanks to the addition of snow and ice that had been imported from the Alps.
2. Leave work early
(When in Rome…leave work early. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)
The Ancient Romans did not do a nine-to-five day.
In fact, the average Roman only had a six-hour workday, toiling from sunrise until noon.
This stopped them from having to labour during the hottest part of the day and left them with plenty of time to go to and sit in the frigidarium with their friends…
3. Eat snow
(Granita – a delicious way to keep cool. Photo: Alt Altendord/Flickr)
Before the gelato was invented, Romans hoping for a cool snack had to use what nature offered them.
While the rich patricians and Roman nobility would often have huge stores of imported snow at home to keep them cool, citizens had to visit the snow shop.
There, mountain ice was kept in underground pits and could sell for more money than wine…
4. Turn on the air conditioning
Air conditioning in ancient Rome? Yep. The Romans were master architects and kept their homes cool during the summer months by employing a series of architectural tricks that provided ancient forms of air conditioning.
For example, some rich residents pumped cold water through the walls of their homes to freshen their dwellings during the summer months.
Obviously, this was only for a select few and the average Roman homes, or insulae, were probably very stuffy indeed…
5. Leave the city
(Villa Adriana in Tivoli near Rome. Photo: santirf/Depositphotos)
Many wealthy Romans escaped the heat of the summer months by going to their country houses in the hills outside Rome.
With its restricted airflow, and masses of heat-storing marble, Ancient Rome was a furnace in summer and the city’s wealthy patricians were fully aware of                                what is known today as the “urban heat island effect,” meaning cities often feel hotter than they are.
Urban centres are one to three degrees Celsius hotter during the day than the surrounding countryside, while at night the difference can be as much as 12C.
That’s the difference between a good night’s sleep and a sweaty night spent tossing and turning.
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GOD’S MERCY IS “DRIVING FORCE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE” – POPE “DEEPLY SADDENED” BY CHURCH KILLINGS, VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS – THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY HAS AN OWL

GOD’S MERCY IS “DRIVING FORCE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE”

In the coolness of the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall, on yet another day of scorching temps in Rome, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “in our continuing catechesis, we now consider God’s mercy as the driving force of Christian hope.”

He said, “when Jesus forgives the sinful woman, his action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of the time.  Instead of rejecting sinners, Jesus embraces them, those who are outcast, ‘untouchable’.  With a compassion that literally causes him to tremble in his depths, he reveals the merciful heart of God. This astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy, and gives a sure foundation to our hope.”

Francis explained that, “we who have experienced God’s forgiveness should avoid the danger of forgetting that this mercy was purchased at a great price: Christ’s death on the Cross.  Our Lord died not because he healed the sick, but because he did what only God can do: forgive sins.  This divine mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.  Our Lord, who rejects no one, graciously bestows upon us the mission to proclaim his mercy to the world.”

POPE “DEEPLY SADDENED” BY CHURCH KILLINGS, VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS

At the end of the general audience on Wednesday; pope Francis once again pleaded for an end to “every form of hatred and violence,” most especially “in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic.

The Holy Father said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.” At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

The Pope then added, “unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community,” and said such attacks on places of worship should cease. “I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

He asked the faithful at today’s audience to remember their brothers and sisters in these countries in prayer, and then led the faithful in reciting the Hail Mary.

THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY HAS AN OWL

What do the Vatican Apostolic Library and an OWL have in common?

The answer comes in the latest email missive from Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. OWL is just wonderful, and ever so instructive, if you are fan of libraries in general and the Vatican Apostolic Library in particular:

Dear Friends,

I am sending you the link to the second edition of OWL, the Official Newsletter of the Vatican Apostolic Library. OWL means Online Window into the Library

In this edition: – The Real “Hidden” Treasures of the Vatican Library: Palimpsests – The Dialogue of the Vatican Apostolic Library with Artists – Ninety Years since the Beginning of the Library’s “American Experience” – “Terra mariana”: the President of Latvia’s Visit to the Vatican Library – The Royal Family of the Netherlands Visit the Apostolic Library – An Encounter with Russian Librarians

Enjoy your summer reading!