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By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/20/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We need an evangelical renewal in the Catholic Church. Our Pope is leading us along the way.

Reports concerning this blunt homily are beginning to circulate through media sources around the world. It was a strong message to Catholic clergy who have lost their first love, by losing their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. There have been other times in the history of the Church when the clergy have been corrupted by sin. God seems to begin His Spring cleaning in His own house. Perhaps, as the Apostle Peter wrote to the Church of the first millennium during another great missionary age: " the time has come for judgment to begin with the House of God." (1 Peter 4:17)

Reports concerning this blunt homily are beginning to circulate through media sources around the world. It was a strong message to Catholic clergy who have lost their first love, by losing their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Reports concerning this blunt homily are beginning to circulate through media sources around the world. It was a strong message to Catholic clergy who have lost their first love, by losing their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/20/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Clergy abuse, sex abuse, Catholic reform, clergy reform, renewal, evangelical renewal, Pope Francis, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis is a Parish Priest kind of Pope. His heart is pastoral and it is reflected in his daily homilies. He speaks from the heart and out of prayer over the daily readings. The daily homilies are not primarily doctrinal. However, they are directive and reflective.

He is also a prophetic figure in Christian history. Like his namesake, the little poor man of Assisi named Francis, he is unafraid to address the roots of sin and expose them. He cuts to the chase when such cutting is necessary. That is precisely what he did on Thursday morning, January 16, 2014, during his homily at daily Mass at the Chapel of St. Martha.

Like a good parish priest, Father Francis used the readings from the Holy Mass for his homily. He broke them open as food for the faithful. The Catechism, citing the wonderful Vatican II document on the Word of God (Dei Verbum) reminds us, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body. (CCC#103)

Francis gives us a regular example of letting the scriptures come alive and feeding upon them as bread. In fact, his daily homilies are not only inspiring, they can be of assistance to anyone ordained to preach.

The first reading was taken from the Old Testament Book of Samuel (1 Sam.4:1-11) which tells the story of the people of Israel going down to utter defeat by the Philistines even though, in their arrogance, they thought they were doing some of the right things. It was because they had fallen away from their first love, their relationship with the Lord. Their leaders had become corrupted as a result of sin, which is separation from God.

The Holy Father used the biblical account to get to the heart of the sexual abuse crisis the Church is suffering through. Its root cause is sin. Its remedy requires conversion. Vatican Radio gave a summary of the homily entitled Pope Francis: scandals happen when there is no true relationship with God.

*****
Scandals in the Church happen because there is no living relationship with God and His Word. Thus, corrupt priests, instead of giving the Bread of Life, give a poisoned meal to the holy people of God: that's what Pope Francis affirmed in his homily Thursday morning during the Mass celebrated in the Santa Marta guesthouse.

Commenting on the day's reading and responsorial Psalm which recount the crushing defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, the Pope notes that the people of God at that time had forsaken the Lord. It was said that the Word of God was "uncommon" at that time . The old priest Eli was "lukewarm" and his sons "corrupt; they frightened the people and beat them with sticks." In their battle against the Philistines, the Israelites brought with them the Ark of the Covenant, but as something "magical," "something external." And they are defeated: the Ark is taken from them by their enemies. There is no true faith in God, in His real presence in life:

"This passage of Scripture," the Pope says, "makes us think about what sort of relationship we have with God, with the Word of God: is it a formal relationship? Is it a distant relationship? The Word of God enters into our hearts, changes our hearts. Does it have this power or not? Is it a formal relationship? But the heart is closed to that Word!

It leads us to think of the so many defeats of the Church, so many defeats of God's people simply because they do not hear the Lord, do not seek the Lord, do not allow themselves to be sought by the Lord! And then after a tragedy, the prayer, this one: ' But, Lord , what happened ? You have made us the scorn of our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us the laughing stock (it: favola) among nations! All the nations shake their heads about us. '"
And of the scandals in the Church, Pope Francis said:

"But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know...We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money.... The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?

Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! 'But, I wear a medal,' 'I carry the Cross ' ... Yes, just as those bore the Ark! Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those for whom scandals come ... And here the scandal hit: bringing decay (it: decadenza) to the people of God, including (it: fino alla) the weakness and corruption of the priests."

Francis concluded his homily, turning his thoughts to the people of God, saying:

"Poor people! We do not give the Bread of Life to eat; we do give - in those cases - the bread of Truth! And many times, we even offer a poisoned meal! 'Awaken! Why do you sleep, Lord?' Let this be our prayer! 'Awaken! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?' We ask the Lord that we never forget the Word of God, which is alive, so that it enters into our hearts and never to forget the holy people faithful to God who ask us to nourish and strengthen them. "

*****
Reports concerning this blunt homily are beginning to circulate through media sources around the world. It was a strong message to Catholic clergy who have lost their first love, by losing their intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. There have been other times in the history of the Church when the clergy have been corrupted by sin. God seems to begin His Spring cleaning in His own house. Perhaps, as the Apostle Peter wrote to the Church of the first millennium during another great missionary age: " the time has come for judgment to begin with the House of God." (1 Peter 4:17)

After all, every man, woman and child ever created is called to live in the Church. She is to become the home of the whole human race. We need to make the Church a place of safety where all men, women and children can truly find redemption and discover the fullness of their destiny in Jesus Christ. The Church must be purified so that she can more effectively rise to the challenge of this new missionary age of which Francis speaks so passionately. 

That means that her clergy (Bishops,Priests and Deacons) must be holy as the Lord is holy. They must be men of intimate communion with the Lord; the kind of intimate communion which can only come about through an encounter with the Risen Lord through prayer. Yesterday's prayer will not sustain any of us today. Continuing in an intimate and dynamic relationship of encounter with the Lord requires continual conversion and a lifestyle of communion with Him. 

We need to pray for Pope Francis as he leads the Church through this time of purification, reform and renewal. We need to pray for all of the clergy of the Church. All of us, no matter what our state in life or vocation, need to respond to the universal call to holiness by cultivating lives of daily prayer and communion with the Lord. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we can immerse ourselves in the Word of the Lord. Francis approaches the Word of God out of prayer and communion. He shows us the way to do the same.
 
In the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum (The Word of God) we also find these words, (I)n the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. (Paragraph 21)

Prayer and communion with the Lord are the key to reading and hearing the Bible in a way in which it comes alive and transforms us. The Living Word, Jesus, speaks to us through the written word. The written word puts us in touch with the Living Word. Prayer is the connection.

We need an evangelical renewal in the Catholic Church. Our Pope is leading us along the way.

---


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


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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


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