Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/15/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I was again moved by this Pope named Francis. He said the poor are the flesh of Christ. Wow! His message pierces the heart

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He also recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of material goods. It knows many faces and the face of Christ is revealed in them all. Pope Francis visited Jesus on Tuesday because he knows that Jesus is identified with refugees. (Matt. 25) He challenges us all to love Jesus in the poor. And yes, he suggested that empty convents and religious houses be used to provide the housing for the poor.  If that suggestion seems controversial, I have a feeling he is just getting warmed up.

Empty convent

Empty convent

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/15/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Centro Astalli, Jesuit Refugee Service, preferential option, love of preference, charity, solidarity, poverty, poor in spirit, Pope Francis, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, empty convets, Deacon Keith Fournier


ROME, Italy (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday September 10, 2013, Pope Francis visited Centro Astalli in Rome served by the Jesuit Refugee Service. You can visit their wonderful web site here. As is obvious by now, he is at home in places where the poor are welcomed as Christ.

After greeting those who had gathered for lunch he moved to the chapel for some private prayer. He then thanked those who serve Christ in the poor at the nearby Church of Jesus. It is there where Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the founder of the Jesuit Refugee Service, is buried.

The Pope listened to the stories of two of the refugees, a Sudanese man and a Syrian woman. Then he shared from his heart. The part of the message that grabbed headlines came later in the message, when he questioned whether empty convents and religious houses should be used to house the poor rather than seen as potential money sources for the Church.

In the first part of the message, he offered characteristically simple but profound insights into the nature of authentic Christians charity: "It is not enough to offer a sandwich if this is not accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one's own two feet."

"Charity that leaves the poor in the same situation as before is not adequate. True mercy - that which God gives and teaches us - asks for justice, asks that the poor find the way out of their poverty."

"It asks us - the Church, the city of Rome, the institutions - it demands that no-one should be in need of a meal, of a temporary shelter, a legal assistance service, to enable the recognition of his or her right to live and to work, to be recognized fully as a person".
 
"To serve and to accompany both mean to defend, they mean "to place oneself on the side of the weakest. How often are we unable or unwilling to echo the voices of those who have suffered and suffer, to those who have seen their rights trampled, who have experienced so much violence that it has even suffocated their desire for justice? The Lord calls us all to live with more courage and generosity". 
 
It was later in the remarks, after he told the listeners - and all of us - that active, real love for the poor is not limited to specialists but is the vocation of all Christians - that he shared the words which drew the headlines.   

He called the whole Church to welcome the poor "in communities, in houses, in empty convents. Empty convents are not to be sold to be transformed into hotels to make money for the Church. The empty convents are not ours; they are for the flesh of Christ, for the refugees."

He continued, "This certainly isn't simple, and requires criteria, responsibility, and also courage. We do much, but we are perhaps called to do more, welcoming and sharing decisively that which Providence has given us to serve".

I was again moved by this Pope named Francis. He said the poor are the flesh of Christ. Wow! His message pierces the heart. It is always spoken in words and prophetic gesture.  He again sounded and acted like his namesake, the little poor man of Assisi named Francis.

It is a little known part of the story of St. Francis that he was never ordained a Priest. Some sources say it was because he never felt worthy. However, he did allow himself to be ordained a Deacon. He certainly understood the call to be configured to Christ the Servant.

I also thought of Lawrence the Deacon, martyred under the vicious emperor Valerian in the third century.  Valerian issued an edict to the Roman Senate that all the Christian clergy-bishops, priests and deacons-were to be arrested and executed.

There were so many holy people among the martyrs of early Rome. That makes it even more remarkable that the life and death of this one humble Deacon named Lawrence is attributed with "all of Rome becoming Christian" according to one ancient source. 

According to the tradition, Deacon Lawrence, knowing that the fervor of Valerians' hatred was extending to all Christians who owned property, began to give it all away. He distributed the money and treasures of the Church to the city's poor-believing the clear admonition of the Savior that they were blessed and especially loved by Him.

Valerian heard the news and wanted the treasure for himself, to satisfy his unbridled lust for worldly power. So, he offered Deacon Lawrence a way out of sure death. If he would show him where the Church's great gold and silver were located, he would issue an order of clemency, sparing his life so that he could continue his work.

The deacon asked for three days to gather all the gold and silver of the Church together in one central place! Valerian was delighted. For three days Lawrence went throughout the city and invited all the beloved poor, handicapped, and needy who were all being supported by a thriving early Christian community who understood the Gospel imperative of love.

When Valerian arrived, Deacon Lawrence presented him with the true gold and silver of the Church, the poor! The emperor was filled with rage! Beheading was not enough for this Christian Deacon. He ordered Deacon Lawrence to be burned alive, in public, on a griddle. Witnesses recorded the public martyrdom. The deacon cheerfully offered himself to the Lord Jesus and even joked with his executioners!

The tradition records massive conversions to the Christian faith as a result of the holy life and death of Deacon Lawrence who understood the true heart of his Christian vocation. He was poured out, like his Master, Jesus Christ the Servant, in redemptive love, on behalf of others. He also lived out what is called a love of preference for the poor in contemporary Catholic Social Teaching.

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He also recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of material goods. It knows many faces and the face of Christ is revealed in them all.

Dorothy Day, a heroic witness and prophetic voice of the 20th century, grasped this mystery so well. That is why she is moving forward in the cause for canonization. She lived in the aftermath of the industrial age where human persons were too often treated as products to be used.

Though some get stuck in her circuitous and intriguing journey into the fullness of the truth as found in the Catholic Church, she gave herself away, living with and loving the poor, because she truly understood and embraced her own poverty with brutal honesty. That is the stuff out of which holiness is fashioned.

So too did her brother in that work of authentic solidarity and charity, Peter Maurin. He once wrote with simplicity and searing honesty: "We cannot imitate the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary by trying to get all we can. We can only imitate the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary by trying to give all we can".

Pope Francis visited Jesus on Tuesday because he knows that Jesus is identified with refugees. (Matt. 25) He challenges us all to love Jesus in the poor. And yes, he suggested that empty convents and religious houses be used to provide housing for the poor.  If that suggestion seems controversial, I have a feeling he is just getting warmed up.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Europe

'Our meeting is the message': Pope Francis' historical meeting with top Sunni imam Watch

Image of

By Ann Schneible (CNA/EWTN News)

Pope Francis on Monday embraced the grand imam Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib during a meeting at the Vatican, a move which is being seen as a step toward reopening dialogue between Christians and Sunni Muslims. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "Our meeting is the ... continue reading


'It will be a first': Pope Francis to meet Sunni Islamic leader Watch

Image of Pope Francis will meet Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb this week (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis has decided to meet with Sunni Islam's Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb on Monday. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP, "This audience is being prepared and has been scheduled for Monday. It will be a first."The pontiff's ... continue reading


Bizzare! Europe to release documentary on 'Human Pups' Watch

Image of 'Spot' is a 'human pup' to be featured in the new documentary (ZentaiSpot/Twitter).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In what most claim is a non-sexual "dog play," human pups have become the latest rage to spread across the UK - so much so that a new documentary will reveal the inner workings of the human pups' lives. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Channel 4, the ... continue reading


You won't believe what this Christian artwork reveals about Da Vinci! Watch

Image of Leonardo da Vinci's art may help researchers unveil his DNA (Pinterest).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, Adoration of the Magi, will soon be undergoing testing that could help digitally reconstruct the artist's face and offer clues about his life and health. Florence, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - According to the U.K. outlet Sky News, ... continue reading


London boasts first Muslim Mayor despite racial and religious tensions Watch

Image of Sadiq Khan has become London's first Muslim Mayor (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Islamophobia spreads as ISIS continues its terror attacks - but one city has taken a step toward accepting the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - London has elected its first Muslim Mayor. Sadiq Khan won with 56.8 percent of ... continue reading


'The Evil': Exorcism classes forced on Spanish students Watch

Image of Spanish students were forced to take an exorcism class (Brendan Hoffman).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Anyone who has ever been in college knows there is a list of required classes to take before you are eligible for graduation. Some classes seem unnecessary, such as a Chemistry major forced to take art classes, but what if universities and colleges required exorcism ... continue reading


28 killed in refugee camp targeted by Assad's missiles Watch

Image of Innocent civilians targeted by Assad despite temporary cease-fire (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Humanitarian group reported airstrikes targeting a refugee camp full of innocent men, women and children during a cease-fire. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Syrian refugee camp erected near the Turkish ... continue reading


Vatican under investigation - 5,000 bank accounts closed Watch

Image of Vatican auditors make move after three-year investigation (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Vatican auditors closed nearly 5,000 suspected Vatican bank accounts on suspicion of tax evasion. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The scandal includes a three-year investigation of 544 suspected transactions mainly involving tax evasion.To meet international ... continue reading


MASONS HACKED! Secrets of the Masons spilled - French media to expose highest-ranking Masons Watch

Image of The Masons have been hacked. A secret dump of documents will reveal their secrets to the world.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Hackers have just released thousands of documents in a new document dump to the media, this time, they contain the secrets of the Masons. The data dump is known as "Masonleaks" and journalists say it will take several months to complete their review of the documents. ... continue reading


Belgian minister warns against offending Muslims, wait until you see the scary reason why! Watch

Image of Muslims take over a Parisian street for prayers.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Belgian minister has a telling warning for his country as hearings begin into the Brussels attack that killed 32 people at an airport in March.  The reason for the warning is quite compelling. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A Belgian minister is warning ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: He will never leave you
  • Woman diagnosed with 'nightmare bacteria' in US
  • St. Maximinus of Trier: Saint of the Day for Sunday, May 29, 2016
  • Daily Readings for Sunday, May 29, 2016
  • WARNING: Exorcist claims demon is targeting families
  • Advent Prayer HD Video
  • Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jude 1:17, 20-25
17 But remember, my dear friends, what the apostles of our Lord Jesus ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6
2 Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing your power and your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:27-33
27 They came to Jerusalem again, and as Jesus was walking in the Temple, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 28th, 2016 Image

Bl. Margaret Pole
May 28: Martyr of England. She was born Margaret ... Read More