The are several great things we have to attend to with the Pope’s address today in Rome. Two quick ones: “losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation; thus we are no longer able to read what Benedict XVI calls “the rhythm of the love story of God and man.” WOW! Bingo!
We live in an era where disposability and waste is routine: shoes, cars, pencils, clothes, human life, etc. Don’t like it, not the “right color”, it is not right for me: all these sentiments are clear indications that you and I are careful on how and why we use our material and human resources. The Pope in his weekly Wednesday audience today drew our attention to the reality of waste. During the pontificate of John Paul II we Catholics were introduced to the concept of solidarity. But we were also introduced dramatically to the concept of encounter with the Lord, and with one another. The examination of conscience we will do today ought elicit some painful realizations that I hope will encourage meaningful and concrete change in how we relate to God, the other person, and to creation. Call what Francis did many things: naming the culture of death, pointing to a mentality of waste, singling a need to change our behavior so that the poor may eat. Francis’ teaching is not new –it re-proposes the beauty of our Catholic teaching. Pope Francis exposes a deep wound in our relationships that needs healing.
What is our response? What response can we find with the help of the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Franciscans? What can the laity do with the clergy to be more attentive to these rhythms of God’s love story???
Today I want to focus on the issue of the environment, which I have already spoken of on several occasions. Today we also mark World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which sends a strong reminder of the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food.
When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it (cf. 2:15). And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb “to cultivate” reminds me of the care that the farmer has for his land so that it bear fruit, and it is shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone. Benedict XVI recalled several times that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not “care” for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation; thus we are no longer able to read what Benedict XVI calls “the rhythm of the love story of God and man.” Why does this happen? Why do we think and live in a horizontal manner, we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.
Dear friends of the Diocese of Bergamo,
I am pleased to welcome you here, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, in this place that is home to every Catholic. I affectionately greet your Pastor, Bishop Francesco Beschi, and thank him for the kind words he addressed to me on behalf of all.
Exactly fifty years ago, just at this moment, Blessed John XXIII left this world. Those who, like me, [are of] a certain age, retain a vivid memory of the commotion that spread everywhere in those days: St. Peter’s Square had become a sanctuary in the open, day and night welcoming the faithful of all ages and social conditions, in trepidation and prayer for the Pope’s health. The whole world had recognized in Pope John a pastor and a father: a shepherd because [he was] father. What made him such? How could he reach the hearts of so many different people, even many non-Christians? To answer this question, we can refer to his episcopal motto, oboedientia et pax: obedience and peace. “These words,” noted the then-Archbishop Roncalli on the eve of his episcopal ordination, “are [in a way] my story and my life.” (Journal of a Soul, retreat in preparation for consecration as bishop, 13-17 March 1925).
Mother of the silence that preserves the mystery of God, deliver us from the idolatry of the present, to which those who forget are condemned. Purify the eyes of pastors with the balm of memory:that we might return to the freshness of the beginning, for a praying and penitent Church.
Mother of the beauty that blossoms from fidelity to daily work, remove us from the torpor of laziness, of pettiness, and defeatism. Cloak Pastors with that compassion that unifies and integrates: that we might discover the joy of a humble and fraternal servant Church.
Mother of the tenderness which enfolds in patience and mercy, help us burn away the sadness, impatience, and rigidity of those who have not known what it means to belong.
Intercede with your Son that our hands, our feet and our hearts may be swift: that we may build the Church with the truth in charity.
Mother, we will be the People of God, on pilgrimage towards the Kingdom. Amen.
23 May 2013
One of the things I like about Pope Francis is the common imagery used in his homilies. No long ago he warned of becoming a babysitter church. Today’s Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae with members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches the Holy Father used the biblical –and common– metaphor of salt to speak about faith, hope and charity. Mark’s gospel for Mass today provides a good amount of grist for the mill. Salt helps to savor the faith as much as it opens taste buds to share this faith with others.
I think one of the reasons the Holy Father latched onto the use of the image of salt is basic encouragement of Eastern Christians to resist becoming “Museum-piece Christians.” So often the Eastern Christians are treated pretty poorly by Western Christians that it is too shameful to speak about; however, Eastern Christians also love the ghetto mentality. Isolation is a value for them, it seems. Frequently, you hear them complain and criticize the Roman Church for negligence when in reality they seem to prefer being someone’s door mat. If you read between the lines the Pope is giving a personal witness to Eastern Christians in living differently. Later in his homily, the Pope talks about Christianity’s originality. For me, I think the pope is criticizing those who want a uniform theological and liturgical tradition, which is not what it means to be Catholic. Francis, said,
“Salt makes sense when you [use] it in order to make things more tasty. I also consider that salt stored in the bottle, with moisture, loses strength and is rendered useless. The salt that we have received is to be given out, to be given away, [in order] to spice things up: otherwise, it becomes bland and useless. We must ask the Lord not to [let us] become Christians with flavor-less salt, with salt that stays closed in the bottle. Salt also has another special feature: when salt is used well, one does not notice the taste of salt. The savor of salt – it cannot be perceived! What one tastes is the flavor of the food: salt helps improve the flavor of the meal.“