Fr. José Tolentino Mendonça continues exploring the theme of thirst with Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia during their Spiritual Exercises.
By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannnews)

“Jesus’ thirst,” and “Tears tell thirst’s story!” are the titles of the reflections given by Fr. Tolentino on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.

Jesus Thirsts

On Tuesday afternoon, Fr. Tolentino took inspiration for his meditation using a verse from John’s Gospel: “After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst’ “ (John 19:28). There are other occurrences in John’s Gospel that help us understand Jesus’ words: 1) When Jesus is thirsty and asks the Samaritan woman for a drink (John 4:13-15); 2) The declaration “whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35); and 3) The words of Jesus spoken in the temple during the Feast of Booths: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Fr. Tolentino observes that Jesus’ “I thirst” spoken from the cross in the present tense makes it “intense, current and uninterrupted. Jesus still says today ‘I thirst’. This helps us understand how Jesus fulfills his destiny.” His mission being fulfilled, he says, “I thirst.”

Mother Teresa experienced Jesus’ thirst

Mother Teresa, he says, experienced Jesus’ thirst in a mystical experience. “In an almost physical way she felt Jesus’ thirst calling her to give her life in service to the thirst of the poor and rejected, to the poorest of the poor.” The gift given to us to satiate our thirst is the Holy Spirit, Father Tolentino reminds us. “We are called to live even suffering, persecution, illness, and joyfully. We are called to live every situation with lively hope. Why? Because the Holy Spirit, God’s strength, wind, breeze, breath, is in us.”

Women open the Gospels to us

The protagonists for Fr. Tolentino’s Wednesday morning meditation are the many women who populate Luke’s Gospel. “The women in the Gospel prefer to express themselves with gestures. Their faith seeks comfort through touch—tangible, emotional, disarming–rather than through abstraction,” he explains. Commenting on Luke’s description of those following Jesus, Fr. Tolentino points out that the way women accompanied the Lord was different than their male counterparts. “The women ‘were with’ Jesus exactly in the same way as the Twelve. They made his destiny their own destiny. But the text adds one thing regarding only them: “they were serving Jesus.” The women’s reaction is profoundly evangelical. They never ask Jesus the questions that the disciples ask him such as “Lord, will only a few people be saved” (Luke 13:23)? Or “Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25)? Their declarations are concrete such as, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed” (Luke 11:27).

Women’s faith

With women, there is a “ripple of reality that intervenes in order to shape faith. In this way it does not remain a prisoner—as often happens to our faith—rationalistic, lived mechanically according to doctrine or ritual.” It is because they are in touch with daily life that they give “perfume to the faith.” The women in Luke’s Gospel—the widow of Naim, the “sinner,” the women of Jerusalem—also cry, notes Fr. Tolentino. St, Gregory Nanzianzen describes these tears as a baptism—which many other saints have experienced. Fr Tolentino then concludes his meditation with the image of the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. What this woman gave thus “serves Jesus as the litmus text” for what the Pharisee “refused to give.” “It is this unheard of hospitality which Jesus wants to praise—that thirst, expressed in tears—which is our turn to learn.”


Story by Agnès Pinard Legry and Daniel Esparza | Feb 21, 2018 for Aleteia (This article originally appeared in the French edition of Aleteia and is translated and adapted here for an English-speaking audience.

Faith moves mountains … in more than one way.

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord and stand in the holy place? The one with pure heart and innocent hands” (Psalm 23). One might dare to say that Haylesilassie Kahsay, an Ethiopian Coptic priest, is one of them.

In the mountains of Gheralta, in northern Ethiopia, Father Kahsay walks for two hours every day and then climbs a cliff to reach the Abuna Yemata Guh, a church carved into the side of the cliff, adorned with colorful frescoes and two full domes.

It is customary to make the ascent into the church barefoot and with no ropes. The local Christian tradition claims the “Nine Saints” (the original group of missionaries from the 5th century who fostered the growth of Christianity in what is now Ethiopia) protect those who climb these cliffs.

The Abuna Yemata Guh church was carved in the cliff by St. Abuna Yemata, one of the Nine Saints himself, in the 6th century, when he arrived in the region from Syria. Some historians, though, claim some of the Nine Saints might have arrived in the region from either Constantinople or Rome. (CLICK ON Abuna Yemata Guh for spectacular photos. Abuna means Father).

Father Haylesilassie Kahsay’s daily life is all about work and prayer. He gets up at dawn and works at his house until 6 o’clock in the morning. After eating, he starts his two-hour walk to get to the church.

That’s when the climbing begins. It includes a 10-meter fully vertical section. “I do not get afraid when I climb to the church because I climb every day. It is very difficult, but I find it manageable,” said Fr. Kahsay to the BBC.

Once he gets to the church, he spends his time in prayer and study. He devotes most of his time to the study of old books. “I am happy reading my book for the whole day. Because it is very quiet here, there really isn’t anyone to talk to. You communicate with God and share your secrets with him. And then your mind becomes free and happy.”

For centuries, the priests who came here to care for this church have also been buried in it. But none of them has ever died, tripped, or had an accident during the ascent. “The nine saints who live in these mountains have kept them safe,” smiles Father Kahsay.

Click here for video: https://aleteia.org/2018/02/21/this-priest-climbs-a-steep-cliff-every-day-to-get-to-church-video/


I leave very early tomorrow morning for Chicago to attend the farewell events for Cardinal Francis George, a very good friend of mine, as you known from these pages. I doubt I’ll be able to post tomorrow but always check in – you never know! I will do my best to post something while I am in Chicago. I’ll be downtown for three nights and then wil spend two nights with a cousin in Glenview before I return to Rome.

There’s always something big happening in Rome and today, April 21 is often the biggest day of the year for Romans and visitors. You see, April 21 is Rome’s birthday. The Eternal City is 2,768 years old – born in 753 BC!  There are endless events – cultural, musical, etc. – celebrated both on this day and during the weekend closest to this date. It is also a day of free entrance to monuments such as the Colosseum, etc.

Read on for two important stories: The first is dated today and concerns Bishop Finn’s resignation as shepherd of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and the second story is the papal message sent yesterday to the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church when the Holy Father learned of the killing of 28 Ethiopian Christians kidnapped in Libya by ISIS.


(CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has resigned, nearly two and a half years after being the first U.S. bishop convicted of a misdemeanor in failing to report suspected child abuse by a priest in his diocese.

The Vatican confirmed Pope Francis’ acceptance of Bishop Finn’s resignation according to Canon 104 Article 2 in the Code of Canon Law in an April 21 statement, released at noon local time. Article 2 of Canon 104, according to the Vatican’s website, refers to a situation when “a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

Finn’s resignation will take effect immediately, and although he will still be a bishop, he will no longer lead a diocese. It is up to Pope Francis to choose his successor.

The brief Vatican statement gave no word as to what Bishop Finn will do following his resignation. Last September, two years after Bishop Finn’s trial and guilty verdict, an archbishop held a visitation on behalf of the Vatican and met with Bishop Finn. The reasons for the visitation were not revealed, however some reports indicate that the visitation was intended to evaluate the bishop’s leadership of his diocese.

In September 2012, Bishop Finn, now 62, was convicted on a misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected child abuse after he and his diocese failed to report that lewd images of children had been found on a laptop belonging to Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a priest of the diocese, in December 2010. The diocese’s vicar general had told Bishop Finn about one of the images, but the bishop did not see them himself.

Fr. Ratigan attempted suicide after the images were discovered and initially had not been expected to live. Diocesan officials told law enforcement officials about the images in May 2011, months after their discovery. A diocese-commissioned independent investigation said diocesan officials conducted “a limited and improperly conceived investigation” into whether a single image, which the vicar general did not see, constituted child pornography. The diocese’s legal counsel also said that that single image did not constitute child pornography.

Further investigation revealed that the photos had been taken in and around churches where the priest had worked. In 2012, Fr. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years’ probation for failing to report suspected abuse.

The diocese settled two lawsuits from the parents of two girls photographed by Fr. Ratigan for a total of $1.8 million in February 2014. The Fr. Ratigan case has also triggered further legal action from an arbitrator who levied a $1.1 million penalty against the diocese, on the grounds that the diocese violated the terms of a 2008 abuse lawsuit settlement in which Bishop Finn and the diocese agreed to report suspected child abusers to law enforcement. The diocese objected to the arbitrator’s penalty, but it was upheld in court and the diocese paid the fine.


(VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis sent a message to the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abuna Matthias, upon hearing of the slaughter of 28 Ethiopian Christians kidnapped in Libya by the group ISIS. (photo from news.va)


“With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya. I know that Your Holiness is suffering deeply in heart and mind at the sight of your faithful children being killed for the sole reason that they are followers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I reach out to you in heartfelt spiritual solidarity to assure you of my closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia.

“It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ! The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands.

“At this time we are filled with the Easter joy of the disciples to whom the women had brought the news that ‘Christ has risen from the dead’. This year, that joy – which never fades – is tinged with profound sorrow. Yet we know that the life we live in God’s merciful love is stronger than the pain all Christians feel, a pain shared by men and women of good will in all religious traditions.

“With heartfelt condolences I exchange with Your Holiness the embrace of peace in Christ Our Lord.”