NEW QUAKE CAUSES DAMAGE, DESPERATION IN NORCIA

NEW QUAKE CAUSES DAMAGE, DESPERATION IN NORCIA

Here is the latest letter from Fr. Benedict, subprior of the Monks of Norcia, a town struck once again by Wednesday’s earthquake in central Italy:

Dear friends, I am hesitant to implore you all again for prayers and support. In the midst of so much suffering, one cannot help but feel a kind of embarrassment to invite your attention to our situation so soon after the first series of earthquakes in August. Since then, we monks have been trying to determine God’s will for our lives and community. Perhaps, at least for us, this second quake is God yelling even louder His will for our lives. We pray for understanding.   Over the past 24 hours, a powerful series of earthquakes passed through Norcia, once again graciously sparing the lives of the monks and inhabitants to Norcia. Unfortunately, however, it has brought many of the townspeople to the brink of despair and more damage than any of us can yet assess. As before, we are busy at work trying to respond to the crisis on multiple levels. Therefore, my time is short to update all of you, even though you each have found so much time to support us through your prayers and donations.

The Basilica fared the worst. Entire walls of decorative plaster crashed to the floor and the dome has begun to cave in. The roof collapsed in two places, leaving the ancient Basilica exposed to all the elements. Most dramatically, perhaps, the Celtic Cross which adorned the 13th century facade came crashing down.

celtic-cross

The 50% of the monastery which had been considered “habitable” after the August quakes has now been damaged far beyond what one might call safe livable conditions. At 10:30 PM last night, 5 of the town monks escaped to San Benedetto in Monte to join the 8 of us already here, where, after a common sip of Birra Nursia Extra, we camped out for a night of turbulence. After a few scant moments of sleep, we rose at 3:30 AM for Matins and started to accept once more that our life is not our own and God had altered our path once again, solidifying it here on the mountain top. Sadly, for the foreseeable future, this means it will no longer be possible for us to offer Mass in the crypt of the Basilica for the public. But, if God wills it, we will soon offer Mass here on the mountain.

In closing, and on a note of hope, I want to tell you about a special visitor we had this morning. In an act of both ecclesiastical solidarity and paternal support, and as the ground beneath us continued to tremble, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, became the first Bishop to offer Mass in the private chapel of our modest dwellings. The Bishop was in Norcia to participate in the fifth annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage. (photo from Summorum Pontificum)

abp-sample

Following the earthquake, the pilgrimage’s Norcia events were cancelled, and so the Bishop spent time with our community. He was able to join us for coffee and offered soothing words of support, which we in turn repeat and offer to all of those in the region affected by natural disaster: “God will bring good to you out of this suffering and this earthquake will become the cornerstone on which generations of monks will build their monastic life.”

POPE FRANCIS GRANTS PRE-TRIP INTERVIEW TO JESUIT JOURNAL

POPE FRANCIS GRANTS PRE-TRIP INTERVIEW TO JESUIT JOURNAL

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called making war in the name of religion “satanic” and a “blasphemy.”

His words came in an interview with the Jesuit Catholic journal La Civilta Cattolica ahead of his ecumenical apostolic trip to Sweden. The interview was conducted by Father Ulf Jonsson S.J., the director of the Swedish cultural journal of the Jesuits, Signum.

Pope Francis mentioned the recent interreligious meeting for peace in Assisi, which he called “very important.”

“All of us talked of peace and we asked for peace,” – the Pope said – “ We together said strong words for  peace, what the religions truly want.”

When asked about the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East, Pope Francis called the region “a land of martyrs.”

“I believe that the Lord does not leave his people on their own,” said the Holy Father. “He will not abandon them. When we read of the hard trials of the people of Israel in the Bible or remember the trials of the martyrs, we see how the Lord always comes to the aid of his people.”

The purpose of the trip to Sweden is to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and much of the discussion in the interview covered ecumenical affairs.

Speaking about the mutual enrichment possible between Christian communities, the Pope was asked what Catholics could learn from Lutherans.

“Two  words  come  to  my  mind:  ‘reform’ and  ‘Scripture’,” – Pope Francis said – “I will try to explain. The first is the word ‘reform’.  At the beginning, Luther’s was a gesture of reform in a difficult time for the Church. Luther wanted to remedy a complex situation.  Then this gesture —also  because  of  the  political  situations,  we  think  also  of  the cuius  regio  eius religio (whose realm , his religion) —became a ‘state’ of separation, and not a process of reform of the whole Church, which is fundamental,  because the Church is semper reformanda (always  reforming).”

“The second  word  is  ‘Scripture’,  the  Word  of  God,” – the Pope continued – “Luther took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people. Reform and Scripture are two things that we can deepen by looking at the Lutheran tradition. The General  Congregations  before  the  Conclave comes  to  mind and how the request for a reform was alive in our discussions.”

The Holy Father was later asked about how the ecumenical movement can move forward. He responded by saying “theological dialogue must continue,” and pointing to the Joint Declaration on Justification as an important point, but added “it will not be easy to go forward because of the different ways of understanding some  theological questions.”

“Personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift towards common prayer and the works of mercy — work done together to help the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned,” – Pope Francis said – “To do  something  together is a high and effective form of dialogue.   I also think about education.  It is important to work together and not in a sectarian way. There is a policy we should have clear in every case: to proselytize in the ecclesial field is a sin.”

The full text of the interview can be found on the website of La Civiltà Cattolica here: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articoli_download/extra/Interview_with_PF.pdf