In These Times (Part 2)

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The Crucifix of St Damien from which Francis heard the voice telling him to go and repair ‘my house which is falling in ruin”
It was Leonardo Boff in his book “St. Francis: a Model for Human Liberation”  said:

The Church carries within itself constant tension; it proclaims what can never be put into practice, the utopia of the kingdom and radical fraternity amoung the people. It was precisely these values that Francis lived: the man of the Gospel, sincere, simple and authentic, but radical to the greatest degree, which always allowed him to be obedient to the church of tradition as well as to the church of the poor.
 
What is the “Church” of which Pope Francis 1st is the leader?
 
Which “Church” he speaks of when he said that he wants the “Church” to be poor?
 
Without a doubt he is speaking of the Church of Rome but at the same time, maybe he is not forgetting the growing wealth of the other “Church” in South America.
 
(Vatican 2. Lumen Gentium. People of God)
15. “The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. “
 
 
 
It is said that “Brazil’s evangelical churches are now deeply embedded in the country’s culture. Huge temples modeled on Solomon’s in Jerusalem are being erected in Brazilian cities. One Pentecostal church already owns the country’s second biggest television broadcaster. In the Congress in Brasília, the so-called ‘evangelical caucus’ is courted by the ruling Workers’ Party, to the dismay of many of its activists.”
 At the moment that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has become the face of Catholicism in the Southern Hemisphere and the world, his own country is becoming far less religious. Only about 25% of Argentines regularly attend church.
Many Catholics have stopped attending the Catholic Church and now attend some of the protestant Evangelical Churches.
From these churches flow the “prosperity theology” and somehow it has its effect on all Christians.
 

“The Neo-Pentecostal movement has been characterized in part by an emphasis on prosperity theology, which gained greater acceptance within charismatic Christianity during the late 1990s. By 2006, three of the four largest congregations in the United States were teaching prosperity theology, and Joel Osteen has been credited with spreading it outside of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement through his books, which have sold over 4 million copies.”

Because most prosperity churches are non-denominational and eschew traditional Presbyterian polity and church hierarchies, where the pastor or preacher is accountable to a council of elders or an otherwise higher church authority, this allows prosperity churches to make their charismatic pastors the sole authority and the one person between parishioners and God.

This attribute of most prosperity churches has led to controversy, as some prominent ministers like Creflo Dollar openly flaunt their religiously-acquired wealth. Dollar, founder and head of the World Changers Church International, reportedly owns a few Rolls Royces, private jets, a million dollar home in Atlanta and a $2.5 million home in New York City. This seems only to affirm the power of the teachings, resulting in a flood of donations. From the New York Times: “According to church officials, the New York church collects an average of $345,000 a month, which works out to more than $4 million annually; the Atlanta church’s operating budget is $80 million a year.”

The model of St Francis of Assisi upsets the cart.

 
Thus the spirit of the world is jealous and tries to find things to say to condemn Pope Francis 1st.
 
The spirit of this world is an unforgiving one. On the pretext of “Justice”, there is no forgiveness. and when there is no sin, one has to be found until no one is left innocent and the spirit of world can go back to its dirty games.
 
Ever since the beginning of the very foundation of the Church, the world willingly forgets that Peter was not without fault and that he even said three times “I do not know the man!”   Yet he was forgiven and became the leader.  Also Paul who persecuted and dragged Christians to their death, was forgiven and he too became a leader.
 
So who are we to point fingers to a man who asks pardon and asks for prayers and shows a humilty in a role that we have not seen the like in centuries.
 
And so we join with St Francis the prayer he used as he knelt before the crucifix of St Damien:

 Most high glorious God, bring light to the darkness of my heart.

Give me right faith, certain hope and perfect charity, insight and wisdom, so I can always observe your holy and true command. 

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In These Times March 2013 (part 1)

 

St Francis of Assisi:   A Saint for all at all times
 
 
 
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Painting by Aidan Hart
 
“After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he joined the poor in begging at the doors of local churches, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) said that he had a mystical vision of Jesus in the country chapel of San Damiano, just outside of Assisi, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified said to him, “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.” 

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” 
(Stuart Chase)

 
Pope Francis

Pope Francis says he took his papal name after St Francis of Assisi, ‘the man of the poor’. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Francis described on Saturday how he was inspired to take the name of Saint Francis of Assisi by the importance of helping the poor.

At his first press conference in the Vatican, Pope Francis broke from his prepared comments to describe the final hours of the conclave that elected him pope. He said: “Let me tell you a story.”

Francis said he was comforted by his friend, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, as it appeared the voting was favouring him and it seemed “a bit dangerous” that he would reach the two-thirds necessary to be elected.

“He hugged me. He kissed me. He said don’t forget about the poor,” Francis recalled. “And that’s how in my heart came the name Francis of Assisi.”

He said some people have asked why he took the name, Francis, since it also could suggest references to other figures including the co-founder of the pope’s Jesuit order, Francis Xavier. But he said his intention came to his heart as an inspiration immediately after the election. St. Francis of Assisi, the pope said, was “the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation and in this moment we don’t have such a great relationship with the creator. The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man who wanted a poor church.” (World News The Guardian. 16th March 2013)

These are the headline news these days as we listen and witness history unfolding before our very eyes.  I wonder how many of us realize the seriousness of the moment. How many of us realize the beauty. It certainly re-awakens thoughts and reflections about the Poverello, St Francis of Assisi whose name is staged and talked about. 

I would like to pause here and allow the reader to take time and think of what we do know of St Francis of Assisi, and myself, I would like to pray and reflect before writing the second half.