Thursday, June 2, 2016

Saint June 3 : St. Clotilde : Patron of #Brides , #Adopted Children and #Widows


St. Clotilde
QUEEN
Feast: June 3


Information:
Feast Day:June 3
Born:475, Lyon, France
Died:545, Tours, France
Patron of:brides, adopted children, parents, exiles, widows
Was daughter of Chilperic, younger brother to Gondebald, the tyrannical king of Burgundy, who put him, his wife, and the rest of his brothers, except one, to death, in order to usurp their dominions. In this massacre he spared Chilperic's  two fair daughters, then in their infancy. One of them became afterwards a nun; the other, named Clotildis, was brought up in her uncle's court, and by a singular providence, was instructed in the Catholic religion, though she was educated in the midst of Arians. It was her happiness in the true faith, to be inspired from the cradle with a contempt and disgust of a treacherous world, which sentiments she cherished and improved by the most fervent exercises of religion. Though she saw herself surrounded with all the charms of the world, and was from her infancy its idol, yet her heart was proof against its seductions. She was adorned with the assemblage of all virtues; and the reputation of her wit, beauty, meekness, modesty, and piety, made her the adoration of all the neighboring kingdoms, when Clovis I., surnamed the great, the victorious king of the Franks, demanded and obtained her of her uncle in marriage granting her all the conditions she could desire for the free and secure exercise of her religion.1 The marriage was solemnized at Soissons, in 493. Clotildis made herself a little oratory in the royal palace, in which she spent much time in fervent prayer and secret mortifications. Her devotion was tempered with discretion, so that she attended all her business at court, was watchful over her maids, and did every thing with a dignity, order, and piety, which edified and charmed the king and his whole court. Her charity to the poor seemed a sea which could never be drained. She honored her royal husband, studied to sweeten his warlike temper by Christian meekness, conformed herself to his humor in things that were indifferent; and, the better to gain his affections, made those things the subject of her discourse and praises in which  she saw him to take the greatest delight. When she saw herself mistress of his heart, she did not defer the great work of endeavoring to win him to God, and often spoke to him on the vanity of his idols, and on the excellency of the true religion. The king always heard her with pleasure; but the moment of his conversion was not yet come. It was first to cost her many tears, severe trials, and earnest perseverance. After the baptism of their second son, Clodomir, and the infant's recovery from a dangerous indisposition, she pressed the king more boldly to renounce his idols. One day especially, when he had given her great assurances of his affection, and augmented her dowry by a gift of several manors, she said she begged only one favor of his majesty, which was the liberty to discourse with him on the sanctity of her religion, and to put him in mind of his promise of forsaking the worship of idols. But the fear of giving offence to his people made him delay the execution. His miraculous victory over the Alemanni, and his entire conversion in 496, were at length the fruit of our saint's prayers.

Clotildis, having gained to God this great monarch, never ceased to excite him to glorious actions for the divine honor: among other religious foundations he built in Paris, at her request, about the year 511, the great church of SS. Peter and Paul, now called St. Genevieve's. This great prince had a singular devotion to St. Martin, and went sometimes to Tours, to prostrate himself in prayer at his tomb. He sent his royal diadem, which is called, to this day, The Realm, a present to pope Hormisdas, as a token that he dedicated his kingdom to God. His barbarous education and martial temper made it, in certain sallies of his passions, difficult for Clotildis to bridle his inclination to ambition and cruelty, so that he scarce left any princes of his own relations living, except his sons. He died on the 27th of November, in the year 511, of his age the forty-fifth, having reigned thirty years. He was buried in the church of the apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, now called St. Genevieve's, where his tomb still remains. An ancient long epitaph, which was inscribed on it, is preserved by Aimoinus, and copied by Rivet. His eldest son Theodoric, whom he had by a concubine before his marriage, reigned at Rheims over Austrasia, or the eastern parts of France, which comprised the present Champagne, Lorraine, Auvergne, and several provinces of Germany. Metz was afterwards the capital of this country. As to the three sons of Clotildis, Clodomir reigned at Orleans, Childebert at Paris, and Clotaire I., at Soissons. This division produced wars and mutual jealousies, till, in 560, the whole monarchy was reunited under Clotaire, the youngest of these brothers. St. Clotildis lived to see Clodomir defeat and put to death Sigismund, king of Burgundy; but soon after, in 524, himself vanquished and slain by Gondemar, successor to Sigismund; Gondemar overcome and killed by Childebert and Clotaire, and the kingdom of Burgundy united to France. The most sensible affliction of this pious queen was the murder of the two eldest sons of Clodomir, committed in 526, by their uncles Childebert and Clotaire, who seized on the kingdom of Orleans. This tragical disaster contributed more perfectly to wean her heart from the world. She spent the remaining part of her life at Tours, near the tomb of St. Martin, in exercises of prayer, almsdeeds, watching, fasting, and penance, seeming totally to forget that she had been queen, or that her sons sat on the throne. Eternity filled her heart, and employed all her thoughts. She foretold her death thirty days before it happened; having been admonished of it by God at the tomb of St. Martin, the usual place of her tears. In her last illness, she sent for her sons Childebert, king of Paris, and Clotaire, king of Soissons, and exhorted them, in the most pathetic manner, to honor God and keep his commandments; to protect the poor, reign as fathers to their people, live in union together, and love and study always to maintain tranquillity and peace. She scarce ever ceased repeating the psalms with the most tender devotion, and ordered all she had left to be distributed among she poor; though this was very little; for she had always been careful to send her riches before her by their hands. On the thirtieth day of her illness she received the sacraments, made a public confession of her faith, and departed to the Lord on the 3d of June, in 545. She was buried, by her own order, in the church of St. Genevieve, at the feet of that holy shepherdess, and is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 3d of June. See St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc., and Fortunatus; and among the moderns, Abbe Du Bos and Gilb. le Gendre, Antiquites de la Nation et Monarchie Francoise, & c. (Image Source: http://catholicteen15.blogspot.ca/2013/06/st-clotilde.html )
Text : Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler

#PopeFrancis "...Jesus, who is the Father’s mercy incarnate." FULL TEXT + Video at Retreat on #Mercy

Pope Francis arrives to deliver his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major. - ANSA
Pope Francis arrives to deliver his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major. - ANSA
02/06/2016 13:


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major.
Thursday’s retreat is part of the Jubilee for Priests taking place from 1-3 June.
In his second mediation, Pope Francis reflected on the “vessel of mercy.” “Our sin is like a sieve, or a leaky bucket,” he said, “from which grace quickly drains.” But God keeps forgiving us, and applies mercy to our weakness, creating a clean heart within us. It is precisely our experience of mercy that leads us to be merciful to others.
This, the Pope said, is seen in the life of saints, such as Peter and Paul, John, Augustine, Francis, and Ignatius. In fact, it is precisely those who have experienced mercy who often are the “best practitioners of mercy.”
But it is the sinless Virgin Mary who is the “simple yet perfect vessel that receives and bestows mercy.” The Holy Father contrasted Mary’s “yes” to grace with the sin of the prodigal son, the subject of his first meditation.
Pope Francis, recalling his visit to Mexico and his prayer before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, reflected on the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin.
He concluded his second meditation by leading the priests in the prayer of theSalve Regina.
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for his second meditation for the Retreat for Priests:
SECOND MEDITATION:  THE VESSEL OF MERCY
The vessel of mercy is our sin.  Our sin is usually like a sieve, or a leaky bucket, from which grace quickly drains.  “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13).  That is why the Lord had to teach Peter the need to “forgive seventy times seven”.  God keeps forgiving, even though he sees how hard it is for his grace to take root in the parched and rocky soil of our hearts.  He never stops sowing his mercy and his forgiveness.
HEARTS CREATED ANEW
Let us take a closer look at this mercy of God that is always “greater” than our consciousness of our sinfulness.  The Lord never tires of forgiving us; indeed, he renews the wineskins in which we receive that forgiveness.  He uses a new wineskin for the new wine of his mercy, not one that is patched or old.  That wineskin is mercy itself: his own mercy, which we experience and then show in helping others.  A heart that has known mercy is not old and patched, but new and re-created.  It is the heart for which David prayed: “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 50:12). 
That heart, created anew, is a good vessel; it is no longer battered and leaky.  The liturgy echoes the heartfelt conviction of the Church in the beautiful prayer that follows the first reading of the Easter Vigil: “O God who wonderfully created the universe, then more wonderfully re-created it in the redemption”.  In this prayer, we affirm that the second creation is even more wondrous than the first.  Ours is a heart conscious of having been created anew thanks to the coalescence of its own poverty and God’s forgiveness; it is a “heart which has been shown mercy and shows mercy”.  It feels the balm of grace poured out upon its wounds and its sinfulness; it feels mercy assuaging its guilt, watering its aridity with love and rekindling its hope.  When, with the same grace, it then forgives other sinners and treats them with compassion, this mercy takes root in good soil, where water does not drain off but sinks in and gives life. 
The best practitioners of this mercy that rights wrongs are those who know that they themselves are forgiven and sent to help others.  We see this with addiction counsellors: those who have overcome their own addiction are usually those who can best understand, help and challenge others.  So too, the best confessors are usually themselves good penitents.  Almost all the great saints were great sinners or, like Saint Therese, knew that it was by sheer grace that they were not.
The real vessel of mercy, then, is the mercy which each of us received and which created in us a new heart.  This is the “new wineskin” to which Jesus referred (cf. Lk 5:37), the “healed sore”.
Here we enter more deeply into the mystery of the Son, Jesus, who is the Father’s mercy incarnate.  Here too we can find the definitive icon of the vessel of mercy in the wounds of the risen Lord.  Those wounds remind us that the traces of our sins, forgiven by God, never completely heal or disappear; they remain as scars.  Scars are sensitive; they do not hurt, yet they remind us of our old wounds.  God’s mercy is in those scars.  In the scars of the risen Christ, the marks of the wounds in his hands and feet but also in his pierced heart, we find the true meaning of sin and grace.  As we contemplate the wounded heart of the Lord, we see ourselves reflected in him.  His heart, and our own, are similar: both are wounded and risen.  But we know that his heart was pure love and was wounded because it willed to be so; our heart, on the other hand, was pure wound, which was healed because it allowed itself to be loved.
OUR SAINTS RECEIVED MERCY
We can benefit from contemplating others who let their hearts be re-created by mercy and by seeing the “vessel” in which they received that mercy.
Paul received mercy in the harsh and inflexible vessel of his judgement, shaped by the Law.  His harsh judgement made him a persecutor.  Mercy so changed him that he sought those who were far off, from the pagan world, and, at the same time showed great understanding and mercy to those who were as he had been.  Paul was willing to be an outcast, provided he could save his own people.  His approach can be summed up in this way: he did not judge even himself, but instead let himself be justified by a God who is greater than his conscience, appealing to Jesus as the faithful advocate from whose love nothing and no one could separate him.  Paul’s understanding of God’s unconditional mercy was radical.  His realization that God’s mercy overcomes the inner wound that subjects us to two laws, the law of the flesh and the law of the Spirit, was the fruit of a mind open to absolute truth, wounded in the very place where the Law and the Light become a trap.  The famous “thorn” that the Lord did not take away from him was the vessel in which Paul received the Lord’s mercy (cf. 2 Cor 12:7).
Peter receives mercy in his presumption of being a man of good sense. He was sensible with the sound, practical wisdom of a fisherman who knows from experience when to fish and when not to.  But he was also sensible when, in his excitement at walking on water and hauling in miraculous draughts of fish, he gets carried away with himself and realizes that he has to ask help from the only one who can save him.  Peter was healed of the deepest wound of all, that of denying his friend.  Perhaps the reproach of Paul, who confronted him with his duplicity, has to do with this; it may be that Paul felt that he had been worse “before” knowing Christ, whereas Peter had denied Christ, after knowing him…  Still, once Peter was healed of that wound, he became a merciful pastor, a solid rock on which one can always build, since it is a weak rock that has been healed, not a stumbling stone.  In the Gospel, Peter is the disciple whom the Lord most often corrects.  Jesus is constantly correcting him, even to the end: “What is that to you?  Follow me!” (Jn 21:22).  Tradition tells us that Jesus appeared once again to Peter as he was fleeing Rome.  The image of Peter being crucified head down perhaps best expresses this vessel of a hardhead who, in order to be shown mercy, abased himself even in giving the supreme witness of his love for the Lord.  Peter did not want to end his life saying, “I learned the lesson”, but rather, “Since my head is never going to get it right, I will put it on the bottom”.  What he put on top were his feet, the feet that the Lord had washed.  For Peter, those feet were the vessel in which he received the mercy of his Friend and Lord.
John was healed in his pride for wanting to requite evil with fire.  He who was a “son of thunder” (Mk 3:17) would end up writing to his “little children” and seem like a kindly grandfather who speaks only of love.
Augustine was healed in his regret for being a latecomer: “Late have I loved thee”.  He would find a creative and loving way to make up for lost time by writing his Confessions.
Francis experienced mercy at many points in his life.  Perhaps the definitive vessel, which became real wounds, was not so much kissing the leper, marrying Lady Poverty or feeling himself a brother to every creature, as the experience of having to watch over in merciful silence the Order he had founded.  Francis saw his brethren divided under the very banner of poverty.  The devil makes us quarrel among ourselves, defending even the most holy things “with an evil spirit”.
Ignatius was healed in his vanity, and if that was the vessel, we can catch a glimpse of how great must have been his yearning for vainglory, which was re-created in his strenuous efforts to seek the greater glory of God.
In his Diary of a Country Priest, Bernanos recounts the life of an ordinary priest, inspired by the life of the Curé of Ars.  There are two beautiful paragraphs describing the reflections of the priest in the final moments of his unexpected illness: “May God grant me the grace in these last weeks to continue to take care of the parish… But I shall give less thought to the future, I shall work in the present.  I feel such work is within my power.  For I only succeed in small things, and when I am tried by anxiety, I am bound to say that it is the small things that release me”.  Here we see a small vessel of mercy, one that has to do with the minuscule joys of our pastoral life, where we receive and bestow the infinite mercy of the Father in little gestures.
The other paragraph says: “It is all over now.  The strange mistrust I had of myself, of my own being, has flown, I believe for ever.  That conflict is done.  I cannot understand it any more.  I am reconciled to myself, to the poor, poor shell of me.  How easy it is to hate oneself.  True grace is to forget.  Yet if pride could die in us, the supreme grace would be to love oneself in all simplicity – as one would love any of those who themselves have suffered and loved in Christ”.  This is the vessel: “to love oneself in all simplicity, as one would love any of those who themselves have suffered and loved in Christ”.  It is an ordinary vessel, like an old jar we can borrow even from the poor.
Blessed José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, the Argentinian priest soon to be canonized, “let his heart be shaped by the mercy of God”.  In the end, his vessel was his own leprous body.  He wanted to die on horseback, crossing a mountain stream on the way to anoint a sick person.  Among the last things he said was: “There is no ultimate glory in this life”; “I am quite happy with what God has done with me regarding my sight, and I thank him for that.  While I could serve other people, he kept my senses whole and strong.  Today, when I can no longer do so, he has taken away one of my physical senses.  In this world there is no ultimate glory, and we have our more than enough misery”.  Often our work remains unfinished, so being at peace with that is always a grace.  We are allowed to “let things go”, so that the Lord can bless and perfect them.  We shouldn’t be overly concerned.  In this way, we can be open to the pain and joy of our brothers and sisters.  Cardinal Van Thuan used to say that, in prison, the Lord taught him to distinguish between “God’s business”, to which he was devoted in his free life as priest and bishop, and God himself, to whom he was devoted during his imprisonment (Five Loaves and Two Fish, Pauline Books and Media, 2003).
MARY AS VESSEL AND SOURCE OF MERCY
            Ascending the stairway of the saints in our pursuit of vessels of mercy, we come at last to Our Lady.  She is the simple yet perfect vessel that both receives and bestows mercy.  Her free “yes” to grace is the very opposite of the sin that led to the downfall of the prodigal son.  Her mercy is very much her own, very much our own and very much that of the Church.  As she says in the Magnificat, she knows that God has looked with favour upon her humility and she recognizes that his mercy is from generation to generation.  Mary can see the working of this mercy and she feels “embraced”, together with all of Israel, by it.  She treasures in her heart the memory and promise of God’s infinite mercy for his people.  Hers is the Magnificat of a pure and overflowing heart that sees all of history and each individual person with a mother’s mercy.
            During the moments I was able to spend alone with Mary during my visit to Mexico, as I gazed at Our Lady, the Virgin of Guadalupe and I let her gaze at me, I prayed for you, dear priests, to be good pastors of souls.  In my address to the bishops, I mentioned that I have often reflected on the mystery of Mary’s gaze, its tenderness and its sweetness that give us the courage to open our hearts to God’s mercy.  I would now like to reflect with you on a few of the ways that Our Lady “gazes” especially at priests, since through us she wants to gaze at her people.
            Mary’s gaze makes us feel her maternal embrace.  She shows us that “the only power capable of winning human hearts is the tenderness of God.  What delights and attracts, humbles and overcomes, opens and unleashes is not the power of instruments or the force of the law, but rather the omnipotent weakness of divine love, which is the irresistible force of its gentleness and the irrevocable pledge of its mercy” (Address to the Mexican Bishops, 13 February 2016).  What people seek in the eyes of Mary is “a place of rest where people, still orphans and disinherited, may find a place of refuge, a home.”  And that has to do with the way she “gazes” – her eyes open up a space that is inviting, not at all like a tribunal or an office.  If at times people realize that their own gaze has become hardened, that they tend to look at people with annoyance or coldness, they can turn back to her in heartfelt humility.  For Our Lady can remove every “cataract” that prevents them from seeing Christ in people’s souls.  She can remove the myopia that fails to see the needs of others, which are the needs of the incarnate Lord, as well as the hyperopia that cannot see the details, “the small print”, where the truly important things are played out in the life of the Church and of the family.
            Another aspect of Mary’s gaze to do with weaving.  Mary gazes “by weaving”, by finding a way to bring good out of all the things that her people lay at her feet.  I told the Mexican bishops that, “in the mantle of the Mexican soul, with the thread of its mestizo features, God has woven in la Morenita the face by which he wishes to be known”.  A spiritual master teaches us that “whatever is said of Mary specially is said of the Church universally and of each soul individually” (cf. Isaac of Stella, Serm. 51: PL 194, 1863).  If we consider how God wove the face and figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe into Juan Diego’s cloak, we can prayerfully ponder how he is weaving our soul and the life of the whole Church. 
They say that it is impossible to see how the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was “painted”; it seems to have been somehow “imprinted”.  I like to think that the miracle was not only that the image was imprinted or painted, but that the entire cloak was re-created, transformed from top to bottom.  Each thread – those threads of maguey leaf that women had learned from childhood to weave for their finest garments – was transfigured in its place, and, interwoven with all the others, revealed the face of our Lady, her presence and her surroundings.  God’s mercy does the same thing.  It doesn’t “paint” us a pretty face, or airbrush the reality of who we are.  Rather, with the very threads of our poverty and sinfulness, interwoven with the Father’s love, it so weaves us that our soul is renewed and recovers its true image, the image of Jesus.  So be priests “capable of imitating this freedom of God, who chooses the humble in order to reveal the majesty of his countenance, priests capable of imitating God’s patience by weaving the new humanity which your country awaits with the fine thread of all those whom you encounter.  Don’t give into the temptation to go elsewhere, as if the love of God were not powerful enough to bring about change” (Address to the Mexican Bishops, 13 February 2016).
            A third aspect is that of attentive care.  Mary’s gaze is one of complete attention.  She leaves everything else behind, and is concerned only with the person in front of her.  Like a mother, she is all ears for the child who has something to tell her.  “As the wonderful Guadalupe tradition teaches us, la Morenita treasures the gaze of all those who look to her; she reflects the faces of all who come to her.  There is something unique in the face of every person who comes to us looking for God.  We need to realize this, to open our hearts and to show concern for them.  Only a Church capable of attentive concern for all those who knock on her door can speak to them of God.  Unless we can see into people’s suffering and recognize their needs, we will have nothing to offer them.  The riches we possess only flow forth when we truly encounter the needs of others, and this encounter take places precisely in our heart as pastors” (ibid.).  I asked your bishops to be attentive to you, their priests, and not to leave you “exposed to loneliness and abandonment, easy prey to a worldliness that devours the heart” (ibid.).  The world is watching us closely, in order to “devour” us, to make us consumers…  All of us need attention, a gaze of genuine concern.  As I told the bishops: “Be attentive and learn to read the faces of your priests, in order to rejoice with them when they feel the joy of recounting all that they have ‘done and taught’ (Mk 6:30).  Also do not step back when they are humbled and can only weep because they ‘have denied the Lord’ (cf. Lk 22:61-62).  Offer your support, in communion with Christ, whenever one of them, discouraged, goes out with Judas into ‘the night’ (cf. Jn13:30).  In these situations your fatherly care for your priests must never be found wanting.  Encourage communion among them; seek to bring out the best in them, and enlist them in great ventures, for the heart of an apostle was not made for small things” (ibid.).
            Lastly, Mary’s gaze is “integral”, all-embracing.  It brings everything together: our past, our present and our future.  It is not fragmented or partial:mercy can see things as a whole and grasp what is most necessary.  At Cana, Mary “empathetically” foresaw what the lack of wine in the wedding feast would mean and she asked Jesus to resolve the problem, without anyone noticing.  We can see our entire priestly life as somehow “foreseen” by Mary’s mercy; she sees beforehand the things we lack and provides for them.  If there is any “good wine” present in our lives, it is due not to our own merits but to her “anticipated mercy”.  In the Magnificat, she proclaims how the Lord “looked with favour on her loneliness” and “remembered his (covenant of) mercy”, a “mercy shown from generation to generation” to the poor and the downtrodden.  For Mary, history is mercy.
            We can conclude by praying the Salva Regina.  The words of this prayer are vibrant with the mystery of the Magnificat.  Mary is the Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.  Her eyes of mercy are surely the greatest vessel of mercy, for their gaze enables us to drink in that kindness and goodness for which we hunger with a yearning that a look of love alone can satisfy.  Her eyes of mercy also enable us to see God’s mercy at work in human history and to find Jesus in the faces of our brothers and sisters.  In Mary, we catch a glimpse of the promised land – the Kingdom of mercy established by our Lord – already present in this life beyond the exile into which sin leads us.  From her hand and beneath her gaze, we can joyfully proclaim the greatness of the Lord.  To Mary we can say: My soul sings of you, Lord, for you have looked with favour on the lowliness and humility of your servant.  How blessed I am, to have been forgiven.  Your mercy, Lord, that you showed to your saints and to all your faithful people, you have also shown to me.  I was lost, seeking only myself, in the arrogance of my heart, yet I found no glory.  My only glory is that your Mother has embraced me, covered me with her mantle, and drawn me to her heart.  I want to be loved as one of your little ones.  I want to feed with your bread all those who hunger for you.  Remember, Lord, your covenant of mercy with your sons, the priests of your people.  With Mary, may we be the sign and sacrament of your mercy.

Saint June 3 : Sts. Charles Lwanga, Joseph Mkasa, Martyrs of Uganda : Patrons of African Catholic Youth



Feast Day:
June 3
Born:
Buganda, Uganda
Died:
June 3, 1886, Namugongo, Uganda
Canonized:
October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI
Major Shrine:
Basilica Church of the Uganda Martyrs, Namugongo
Patron of:
African Catholic Youth Action, converts, torture victims
ST. CHARLES LWANGA AND COMPANIONS
The 22 Martyrs of Uganda
Died 1886-1887

Charles was one of 22 Ugandan martyrs who converted from paganism. Though he was baptized the night before being put to death, he became a moral leader. He was the chief of the royal pages and was considered the strongest athlete of the court. He was also known as "the most handsome man of the Kingdom of the Uganda." He instructed his friends in the Catholic Faith and he personally baptized boy pages. He inspired and encouraged his companions to remain chaste and faithful. He protected his companions, ages 13-30, from the immoral acts and homosexual demands of the Babandan ruler, Mwanga.
Mwanga was a superstitious pagan king who originally was tolerant of Catholicism. However, his chief assistant, Katikiro, slowly convinced him that Christians were a threat to his rule. The premise was if these Christians would not bow to him, nor make sacrifices to their pagan god, nor pillage, massacre, nor make war, what would happen if his whole kingdom converted to Catholicism?
When Charles was sentenced to death, he seemed very peaceful, one might even say, cheerful. He was to be executed by being burnt to death. While the pyre was being prepared, he asked to be untied so that he could arrange the sticks. He then lay down upon them. When the executioner said that Charles would be burned slowly so death, Charles replied by saying that he was very glad to be dying for the True Faith. He made no cry of pain but just twisted and moaned, "Kotanda! (O my God!)." He was burned to death by Mwanga's order on June 3, 1886. Pope Paul VI canonized Charles Lwanga and his companions on June 22,1964. We celebrate his memorial on June 3rd of the Roman Calendar. Charles is the Patron of the African Youth of Catholic Action.
Text source : Savior.org

#PopeFrancis June #PrayerIntention and New Video with FULL TEXT to SHARE


The full text of the Pope’s Video is below
In our cities the elderly and sick are neglected. Can we ignore it? Our cities should be characterized above all by solidarity, which entails not only giving to the needy , but also taking responsibility for one another and fostering a culture of encounter. Will you join me in my prayer? That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find–even within the huge cities of the world–opportunities for encounter and solidarity.
June Prayer Intentions of Pope Francis
Universal: Human Solidarity
That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find–even within the huge cities of the world–opportunities for encounter and solidarity.
EvangelizationSeminarians and Novices
That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Thurs. June 2, 2016


Thursday in the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 356


Reading 12 TM 2:8-15

Beloved:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory.
This saying is trustworthy:

If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.

Remind people of these things
and charge them before God to stop disputing about words.
This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.
Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God,
a workman who causes no disgrace,
imparting the word of truth without deviation.

Responsorial PsalmPS 25:4-5AB, 8-9, 10 AND 14

R. (4) Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

AlleluiaSEE 2 TM 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself

is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

#Alpha has New Film Series for Global use in Evangelization


ALPHA LAUNCHES THE NEW ALPHA FILM SERIES GLOBALLY The completely re-­‐imagined version of the widely successful Alpha Course WATERLOO, Ontario – Canadian churches have consistently identified a clear gap in resources to communicate the timeless, transformational truth of the Gospel to a changing culture and new generations.. In response, on April 14th, 2016 Alpha Canada will participate in the global release of the brand new Alpha Film Series, with 16 new, 30-­‐minute, documentary-­‐style episodes. This series will help churches in Canada empower their people to live out their baptismal call. With 29 million people globally having already experienced Alpha, the Alpha Film Series will engage a broadly global and multicultural audience while covering the traditional Alpha content such as: Who is Jesus?, How can we have faith?, Why and how do I pray?, How does God guide us?, and Who is the Holy Spirit? It features inspiring stories and interviews using interactive cinematography, as well as visual illustrations and motion graphics. These interviews and stories will feature contributors with various backgrounds and experiences including: • Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna. • Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household. • Bear Grylls, world-­‐renowned adventurer, writer and television presenter. • Julia Immonen, Sky Sports News presenter and double Guinness World Record Atlantic Ocean rower. • Ugo Monye, former English international rugby union player. • Jackie Pullinger, one of the world's best-­‐known missionaries, based in Hong Kong. • Jose Henriquez Gonzalez, one of the thirty-­‐three miners trapped for sixty-­‐nine days at the San Jose mine in Chile. • Alister McGrath, professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford. • Scott Harrison, founder of Charity: Water Along with Alpha Pioneer Nicky Gumbel and his wife Pippa, the series will feature two new hosts – Toby Flint and Gemma Hunt. Toby is a pastor at Holy Trinity Brompton church in London and Gemma is an award-­‐winning BBC children's television host. The new series releases on the heels of the 2013 Alpha Youth Film Series that was developed by Alpha Canada, and which has seen more than 60,000 students in Canada experiencing Alpha and is being used globally to reach young people. Alpha Canada has similarly invested heavily in the new Alpha Film Series, both with finances and talent. Shaila Visser, National Director of Alpha Canada, says, “This is the next critical step towards reaching our goal of 1,000,000 Canadians experiencing Alpha. We are so excited to be able to serve the local church in a way that we’ve never been able to before.”
Affirming Alpha’s commitment to equipping the local church, Christian Riesbeck, Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa, says, “The Alpha course was initially one of the principle mediums through which many of my parishioners were evangelized or “awakened” in their faith life. They were motivated to delve deeper in their relationship with Jesus to the point where they became leaders in the parish and intentional missionary disciples.” The first episode of the Alpha Film Series will be available free online on April 14, 2016, and new episodes will be released every week through April and May. It will later be available in DVD format and also in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and Hindi, by the end of 2016. As part of the widespread global launch, there will be three Canadian launch events held at Performance Works, Vancouver, BC, on April 14th at 7 p.m., North Bramalea United Church in Brampton, ON on April 25th at 7 p.m. and Gateway Church in London, ON on May 1st at 7 p.m. Registration is required for all launch events, and media are welcome and invited to attend. Watch the teaser here: alphacanada.org/afs Watch episode one: alphacanada.org/afsepisode1 What is Alpha? Alpha is a tool for evangelization that is being used by thousands of Catholic parishes in over 70 countries. Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over 10-­‐12 weeks. Each session looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create a safe place with conversations about life, faith and God. Alpha is run all around the world, and everyone's welcome. It runs in cafés, churches, universities, homes, bars – you name it.
 No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: food, a talk and good, open discussion. 29 million people have tried Alpha in 169 countries and 112 languages, including over 698,000 in Canada. alphacanada.org

#ProLife Launch of Protect Human Rights and Freedoms!


Human Rights and Freedoms Forever!, is a new non-profit organization to educate, equip, and help coordinate human-life-and-freedom-lovers for effective response to many recent worldwide attacks on human life, religious freedom, and DEMOCRACY ITSELF in a “Creeping Totalitarianism” born of our Western democracies ignorantly eroding the traditional Western values concerning the value of human life without realizing these were the historical and logical foundations of all Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms.

Take the Pledge and Join a Worldwide Movement of Educated Citizens Standing Up in Solidarity to Ensure Human Rights and Democracy Last Forever!

VISIT the SITE

In Summer 2014, I became aware of a major movement to restrict the human rights and democratic freedoms of doctors in Ontario, Canada, by forcing them to facilitate the killing of human lives against their conscience, or else they would lose their licences to be doctors, hence losing their jobs and their livelihood (similar measures have already been taken in some European countries).  Seeing doctors in a supposedly democratic country so very scared that they would have to either shut up about the high value they assign to the human lives they are supposed to treat and heal as doctors in order to keep their jobs, or else give up their livelihood, made me realize that democracy itself was under serious attack here in Canada.  Why on earth should anyone in a democracy be scared that they could lose their jobs if they don’t assist the taking of human lives and shut up about it?  Why would valuing every human life without exception, which is the historical and logical foundation of all democracies which hold that every human life MATTERS enough that all should have a democratic say in how they are governed, be something that one could lose one’s job and livelihood for?   This is something that should only happen in a totalitarian state.
As a scholar and educator/professor with a good sense of the history of ideas and their development in Western Civilization, with a certain specialty in the First Millennium during which the groundwork for all later human rights and democracy was laid, I realized just what it was in modern times, rooted in ignorance of the historical development of human rights and freedoms, that led to such a serious erosion of the foundations of democracy that doctors’ democratic freedoms could become so compromised.  In response to the government-regulated agency that was so intent on restricting doctors’ human rights and freedoms, I wrote what I now call The Education Necessary to Preserve Democracy Now Under Attack.  As not just Canada but the U.S.A. and European and other democracies have suffered the same trend which seriously threatens the long-term maintenance of these democracies unless this ignorance is corrected with education, I offer this work to all who love their human rights and democratic freedoms and who want to make sure our grandchildren are raised in a democracy as we were.
BY: Peter William John Baptiste SFO

brotherunity@ymail.com

or Call 1 (613) 761-0147 

#PopeFrancis " The heart that God joins to this moral misery of ours is the heart of Christ..." FULL TEXT

Pope Francis greets priests at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Holy Father led a retreat for priests on the occasion of the Jubilee for Priests, taking place 1-3 June. - ANSA
Pope Francis greets priests at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Holy Father led a retreat for priests on the occasion of the Jubilee for Priests, taking place 1-3 June. - ANSA
02/06/2016 09:10




(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis led a retreat for priests on Thursday, offering a series of three meditations on the theme of mercy.
The retreat was part of the Jubilee of Priests, one of a series of special Jubilees for various groups within the Church during the Holy Year of Mercy.
The Jubilee for Priests began on Wednesday, and will conclude tomorrow, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Holy Father delivered his meditations for the priest’s retreat in the Papal Basilicas of St John Lateran, St Mary Major, and St Paul’s Outside the Walls.
“God’s name is mercy,” Pope Francis said in his first meditation. “If we reflect on this natural feeling of mercy we begin to see how God Himself can be understood in terms of this defining attribute by which Jesus wished to reveal Him to us.”
At the papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran, Pope Francis focused on the parable of the prodigal son. He reflected on the “embarrassed dignity” of the son who returned to his father – he is embarrassed by what he has done, but his father restores him to his dignity. Mercy, the Pope said, helps us to maintain the balance between acknowledging that we are sinners, and recognizing our dignity as children loved by the Father. If we can see ourselves in the place of the son, who was shown mercy by the father, we in turn will be led to be merciful to others. 
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for his first meditation for the Retreat for Priests:
RETREAT FOR PRIESTS 2016
            Mercy, seen in feminine terms, is the tender love of a mother who, touched by the frailty of her new-born baby, takes the child into her arms and provides everything it needs to live and grow (rehanim). In masculine terms, mercy is the steadfast fidelity of a father who constantly supports, forgives and encourages his children to grow. Mercy is the fruit of a covenant; that is why God is said to remember his covenant of mercy (hesed). At the same time, it is an utterly free act of kindness and goodness (eleos) rising up from the depths of our being and finding outward expression in charity. This all-embracing character means that everyone can appreciate what it means to be merciful, to feel compassion for those who suffer, sympathy for those in need, visceral indignation in the face of patent injustice and a desire to respond with loving respect by attempting to set things right. If we reflect on this natural feeling of mercy, we begin to see how God himself can be understood in terms of this defining attribute by which Jesus wished to reveal him to us. God’s name is mercy.
            When we meditate on mercy, something special happens. The dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises takes on new power. Mercy helps us to see that the three ways of classical mysticism – the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive – are not successive stages that, once experienced, can then be put behind us. We never cease to be in need of renewed conversion, deeper contemplation and greater love. Nothing unites us to God more than an act of mercy, for it is by mercy that the Lord forgives our sins and gives us the grace to practise acts of mercy in his name. Nothing strengthens our faith more than being cleansed of our sins. Nothing can be clearer than the teaching of Matthew 25 and the Beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7), for our understanding of God’s will and the mission he has entrusted to us. We can apply to mercy the Lord’s statement that “the measure you give will be the measure you receive” (Mt 7:2). Mercy makes us pass from the recognition that we have received mercy to a desire to show mercy to others. We can feel within us a healthy tension between sorrow for our sins and the dignity that the Lord has bestowed on us. Without further ado, we can pass from estrangement to embrace, as in the parable of the prodigal son, and see how God uses our own sinfulness as the vessel of his mercy. Mercy impels us to pass from personal to the communal. We see this in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, a miracle born of Jesus’ compassion for his people and for others. Something similar happens when we act mercifully: the bread of mercy multiplies as it is shared.
THREE SUGGESTIONS
             The free and joyful familiarity that comes about at every level between those who treat one another with mercy – the familiarity of the Kingdom of God as Jesus describes it in his parables – leads me to offer three suggestions for your personal prayer today.
            The first has to do with two practical counsels that Saint Ignatius gives. He tells us that “it is not great knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the ability to feel and savour the things of God interiorly” (Spiritual Exercises, 2). Saint Ignatius adds that whenever we encounter and savour something we desire, we should pray in peace, “without being anxious to move forward as long as I am satisfied” (ibid., 76). So too, in these meditations on mercy we can begin with what we savour most and linger there, for surely one work of mercy will lead us to others. If we start by thanking the Lord for having wondrously created us and for even more wondrously redeemed us, surely this will lead us to a sense of sorrow for our sins. If we start by feeling compassion for the poor and the outcast, surely we will come to realize that we ourselves stand in need of mercy.
            My second suggestion for your prayer has to do with the way we speak about mercy. By now you have realized that in Spanish I like to use “mercy” as a verb: “We have to ‘show mercy’ [misericordiar] in order to ‘receive mercy’ [ser misericordiados]”. Mercy joins a human need to the heart of God, and this leads to immediate action. We cannot meditate on mercy without it turning into action. In prayer, it doesn’t help to intellectualize things. With the help of grace, our dialogue with the Lord has to focus straightaway on that sin for which I most need the Lord’s mercy, the one of which I am most ashamed, the one for which I most desire to make reparation. From the outset, too, we have to speak of what most moves us, of all those faces that make us want to do something to satisfy their hunger and thirst for God, for justice, for tenderness. Mercy is contemplated in action, but in a kind of action that is all-inclusive. Mercy engages our whole being – our feelings and our spirit – and all other beings as well.
            My last suggestion has to do with the fruit of these Exercises, namely the grace that we ask to receive. It is, in a word, the grace to become priests ever more ready to “receive mercy” (misericordiados) and to “show mercy” (misericordiosos). We can concentrate on mercy because it is what is most essential and definitive. By the stairway of mercy (cf. Laudato Si’, 77), we can descend to the depths of our human condition – including our frailty and sin – and ascend to the heights of divine perfection: “Be merciful (perfect) as your Father is merciful”. But always for the sake of “reaping” even greater mercy. This fruit should also be seen in a conversion of our institutional mindset: unless our structures are vibrant and aimed at making us more open to God’s mercy and more merciful to others, they can turn into something very bizarre and eventually counterproductive.
            This retreat, then, will follow the path of that “evangelical simplicity” which sees and does all things in the key of mercy. That mercy is dynamic, not so much a noun with a fixed and definite meaning, or a descriptive adjective, but rather a verb – “to show mercy” and “to receive mercy” – that spurs us to action in this world. Even more, it is a mercy that is “ever greater” (magis), a mercy that grows and expands, passing from good to better and from less to more. For the model that Jesus sets before us is that of the Father, who is ever greater and whose infinite mercy in some sense constantly “grows”. His mercy has no roof or walls, because it is born of his sovereign freedom.
FIRST MEDITATION: FROM ESTRANGEMENT TO CELEBRATION
            If, as we said, the Gospel presents mercy as an excess of God’s love, the first thing we have to do is to see where today’s world, and every person in it, most needs this kind of overflow of love. We have to ask ourselves how such mercy is to be received. On what barren and parched land must this flood of living water surge? What are the wounds that need this precious balm? What is the sense of abandonment that cries out for loving attention? What is the sense of estrangement that so thirsts for embrace and encounter?
            The parable which I would now propose for your meditation is that of the merciful Father (cf. Lk 15:11-31). We find ourselves before the mystery of the Father. I think we should begin with the moment when the prodigal son stands in the middle of the pigsty, in that inferno of selfishness where, having done everything he wanted to do, now, instead of being free, he feels enslaved. He looks at the pigs as they eat their husks… and he envies them. He feels homesick. He longs for the fresh baked bread that the servants in his house, his father’s house, eat for breakfast. Homesickness… nostalgia. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Like mercy, it expands the soul. It makes us think back to our first experience of goodness – the homeland from which we went forth – and it awakens in us the hope of returning there. Against this vast horizon of nostalgia, the young man – as the Gospel tells us – came to his senses and realized that he was miserable.
            Without dwelling on that misery of his, let us move on to the other moment, once his Father had embraced him and kissed him. He finds himself still dirty, yet dressed for a banquet. He fingers the ring he has been given, which is just like his father’s. He has new sandals on his feet. He is in the middle of a party, in the midst of a crowd of people. A bit like ourselves, if ever we have gone to confession before Mass and then all of a sudden found ourselves vested and in the middle of a ceremony.
            AN EMBARRASSED DIGNITY
            Let us think for a moment about the “embarrassed dignity” of this prodigal yet beloved son. If we can serenely keep our heart balanced between those two extremes – dignity and embarrassment – without letting go of either of them, perhaps we can feel how the heart of our Father beats with love for us. We can imagine that mercy wells up in it like blood. He goes out to seek us sinners. He draws us to himself, purifies us and sends us forth, new and renewed, to every periphery, to bring mercy to all. That blood is the blood of Christ, the blood of the new and eternal covenant of mercy, poured out for us and for all, for the forgiveness of sins. We contemplate that blood by going in and out of his heart and the heart of the Father. That is our sole treasure, the only thing we have to give to the world: the blood that purifies and brings peace to every reality and all people. The blood of the Lord that forgives sins. The blood that is true drink, for it reawakens and revives what was dead from sin.
            In our serene prayer, which wavers between embarrassment and dignity, dignity and embarrassment, let us ask for the grace to sense that mercy as giving meaning to our entire life, the grace to feel how the heart of the Father beats as one with our own. It is not enough to think of that grace as something God offers us from time to time, whenever he forgives some big sin of ours, so that then we can go off to do the rest by ourselves, alone.
            Saint Ignatius offers us an image drawn from the courtly culture of his time, but since loyalty among friends is a perennial value, it can also help us. He says that, in order to feel “embarrassment and shame” for our sins (but without forgetting God’s mercy), we can use the example of “a knight who finds himself before his king and his entire court, ashamed and embarrassed for having gravely wronged him, after having received from him many gifts and many favours” (Spiritual Exercises, 74). But like the prodigal son who finds himself in the middle of a banquet, this knight, who ought to feel ashamed before everyone, suddenly sees the King take him by the hand and restore his dignity. Indeed, not only does the King ask him to follow him into battle, but he puts him at the head of his peers. With what humility and loyalty this knight will serve him henceforth!
            Whether we see ourselves as the prodigal son in the midst of the banquet, or the disloyal knight restored and promoted, the important thing is that each of us feel that fruitful tension born of the Lord’s mercy: we are at one and the same time sinners pardoned and sinners restored to dignity.
            Simon Peter represents the ministerial aspect of this healthy tension. At every step along the way, the Lord trains him to be both Simon and Peter. Simon, the ordinary man with all his faults and inconsistencies, and Peter, the bearer of the keys who leads the others. When Andrew brings Simon, fresh from his nets, to Christ, the Lord gives him the name Peter, “Rock”. Yet immediately after praising Peter’s confession of faith, which comes from the Father, Jesus sternly reproves him for being tempted to heed the evil spirit telling him to flee the cross. Jesus will go on to invite Peter to walk on the water; he will let him sink into his own fear, only then to stretch out his hand and raise him up. No sooner does Peter confess that he is a sinner than the Lord makes him a fisher of men. He will question Peter at length about his love, instilling in him sorrow and shame for his disloyalty and cowardice, but he will also thrice entrust to him the care of his sheep.
            That is how we have to see ourselves: poised between our utter shame and our sublime dignity. Dirty, impure, mean and selfish, yet at the same time, with feet washed, called and chosen to distribute the Lord’s multiplied loaves, blessed by our people, loved and cared for. Only mercy makes this situation bearable. Without it, either we believe in our own righteousness like the Pharisees, or we shrink back like those who feel unworthy. In either case, our hearts grow hardened.
            Let us look a little more closely at this, and ask why this tension is so fruitful. The reason, I would say, is that it is the result of a free decision. The Lord acts mainly through our freedom, even though his help never fails us. Mercy is a matter of freedom. As a feeling, it wells up spontaneously. When we say that it is visceral, it might seem that it is synonymous with “animal”. But animals do not experience “moral” mercy, even though some of them may experience something akin to compassion, like the faithful dog keeping watch at the side of his ailing master. Mercy is a visceral emotion but it can also be the fruit of an acute intellectual insight – startling as a bolt of lightning but no less complex for its simplicity. We intuit many things when we feel mercy. We understand, for example that another person is in a desperate state, a limit situation; something is going on that is greater than his or her sins and failings. We also realize that the other person is our peer, that we could well be standing in his or her shoes. Or that evil is such an immense and devastating thing that it can’t simply be fixed by justice… Deep down, we realize that what is needed is an infinite mercy, like that of the heart of Christ, to remedy all the evil and suffering we see in the lives of human beings… Anything less than this is not enough. We can understand so many things simply by seeing someone barefoot in the street on a cold morning, or by contemplating the Lord nailed to the cross – for me!
            Moreover, mercy can be freely accepted and nurtured, or freely rejected. If we accept it, one thing leads to another. If we choose to ignore it, our heart grows cold. Mercy makes us experience our freedom and, as a result, the freedom of God himself, who, as he said to Moses, is “merciful with whom he is merciful” (cf. Dt 5:10). By his mercy the Lord expresses his freedom. And we, our own.
            We can “do without” the Lord’s mercy for a long time. In other words, we can go through life without thinking about it consciously or explicitly asking for it. Then one day we realize that “all is mercy” and we weep bitterly for not having known it earlier, when we needed it most!
            This feeling is a kind of moral misery. It is the entirely personal realization that at a certain point in my life I decided to go it alone: I made my choice and I chose badly. Such are the depths we have to reach in order to feel sorrow for our sins and true repentance. Otherwise, we lack the freedom to see that sin affects our entire life. We don’t recognize our misery, and thus we miss out on mercy, which only acts on that condition. People don’t go to a pharmacy and ask for an aspirin out of mercy. Out of mercy we ask for morphine, to administer to a person who is terminally ill and racked with pain.
            The heart that God joins to this moral misery of ours is the heart of Christ, his beloved Son, which beats as one with that of the Father and the Spirit. It is a heart that chooses the fastest route and takes it. Mercy gets its hands dirty. It touches, it gets involved, it gets caught up with others, it gets personal. It does not approach “cases” but persons and their pain. Mercy exceeds justice; it brings knowledge and compassion; it leads to involvement. By the dignity it brings, mercy raises up the one over whom another has stooped to bring help. The one who shows mercy and the one to whom mercy is shown become equals.
            That is why the Father needed to celebrate, so that everything could be restored at once, and his son could regain his lost dignity. This realization makes it possible to look to the future in a different way. It is not that mercy overlooks the objective harm brought about by evil. Rather, it takes away evil’s power over the future. It takes away its power over life, which then goes on. Mercy is the genuine expression of life that counters death, the bitter fruit of sin. As such, it is completely lucid and in no way naïve. It is not that it is blind to evil; rather, it sees how short life is and all the good still to be done. That is why it is so important to forgive completely, so that others can look to the future without wasting time on self-recrimination and self-pity over their past mistakes. In starting to care for others, we will examine our own consciences, and to the extent that we help others, we will make reparation for the wrong we ourselves have done. Mercy is always tinged with hope.
            To let ourselves to be drawn to and sent by the beating heart of the Father is to remain in this healthy tension of embarrassed dignity. Letting ourselves be drawn into his heart, like blood which has been sullied on its way to give life to the extremities, so that the Lord can purify us and wash our feet. Letting ourselves be sent, full of the oxygen of the Spirit, to revive the whole body, especially those members who are most distant, frail and hurting.
            A priest once told me about a street person who ended up living in a hospice. He was consumed by bitterness and did not interact with others. He was an educated person, as they later found out. Sometime thereafter, this man was hospitalized for a terminal illness. He told the priest that while he was there, feeling empty and disillusioned, the man in the next bed asked him to remove his bed pan and empty it. That request from someone truly in need, someone worse off than he was, opened his eyes and his heart to a powerful sense of humanity, a desire to help another person and to let himself be helped by God. A simple act of mercy put him in touch with infinite mercy. It led him to help someone else and, in doing so, to be helped himself. He died after making a good confession, and at peace.
            So I leave you with the parable of the merciful Father, now that we have we have entered into the situation of the son who feels dirty and dressed up, a dignified sinner, ashamed of himself yet proud of his father. The sign that we have entered into it is that we ourselves now desire be merciful to all. This is the fire Jesus came to bring to the earth, a fire that lights other fires. If the spark does not take, it is because one of the poles cannot make contact. Either excessive shame, which fails to strip the wires and, instead of freely confessing “I did this or that”, stays covered; or excessive dignity, which touches things with gloves.
            AN EXCESS OF MERCY
            The only way for us to be “excessive” in responding to God’s excessive mercy is to be completely open to receiving it and to sharing it with others. The Gospel gives us many touching examples of people who went to excess in order to receive his mercy. There is the paralytic whose friends let him down from the roof into the place where the Lord was preaching. Or the leper who left his nine companions to come back, glorifying and thanking God in a loud voice, to kneel at the Lord’s feet. Or the blind Bartimaeus whose outcry made Jesus halt before him. Or the woman suffering from a haemorrhage who timidly approached the Lord and touched his robe; as the Gospel tells us, Jesus felt power – dynamis – “go forth” from him… All these are examples of that contact that lights a fire and unleashes the positive force of mercy. Then too, we can think of the sinful woman, who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears and dried them with her hair; Jesus saw her excessive display of love as a sign of her having received great mercy. Ordinary people – sinners, the infirm and those possessed by demons – are immediately raised up by the Lord. He makes them pass from exclusion to full inclusion, from estrangement to embrace. That is the expression: mercy makes us pass “from estrangement to celebration”. And it can only be understood in the key of hope, in an apostolic key, in the key of knowing mercy and then showing mercy.
            Let us conclude by praying the Magnificat of mercy, Psalm 50 by King David, which we pray each Friday at Morning Prayer. It is the Magnificat of “a humble and contrite heart” capable of confessing its sin before the God who, in his fidelity, is greater than any of our sins. If we put ourselves in the place of the prodigal son, at the moment when, expecting his Father’s reproof, he discovers instead that his Father has thrown a party, we can imagine him praying Psalm 50. We can pray it antiphonally with him. We can hear him saying: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your kindness; in your compassion blot out my offence” … And ourselves continuing: “My offences, truly I (too) know them; my sin is always before me”. And together: “Against you, Father, against you, you alone, have I sinned”.
            May our prayer rise up from that interior tension which kindles mercy, that tension between the shame that says: “From my sins turn away your face, and blot out all my guilt”, and the confidence that says, “O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow”. A confidence that becomes apostolic: “Give me again the joy of your help; with the spirit of fervour sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways, and sinners may return to you”.
Video has been Changed to First Reflection