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Posts from the ‘Personal Ministry Updates’ Category

Pope Francis on Lent – Part 2

For Lent this year, Pope Francis looked at a line from the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). In Part 1 of his reflection, the Holy Father’s looked at the root of the problem. In Part 2 below, the Pope answers the question “What can we do against such forces?”


Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described.  prayer #7But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.


Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbor as a brother or sister.  What I possess is never mine alone.  How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!  How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:10).  This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need.  Yet, even in our own daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we see such requests as coming from God himself.  When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children.  If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs?  For no one is more generous than God.


And what about fasting? Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth.  It allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure.  It also expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God.  Fasting wakes us up! It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor.  It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.


I would like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice.  Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family.  Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.  If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God!  He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.

One such moment of grace will be the invitation of the the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation, perhaps even within the context of Eucharistic adoration. Inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness,” this takes place in our churches, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession (Edited).

During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle.  Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly.  “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds,” and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.  By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing.  Please do not forget to pray for me.


Remain in my Love – a Spiritual Reflection

Reflecting on the beauty of what Christ has revealed about marriage and family life.

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Presentation on Purgatory

Copy of the slides from the presentation on purgatory given to the St. Monica women in Walking With Purpose

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Pope Francis on Lent – Part 1

For Lent this year, Pope Francis looked at a line from the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12). In Part 1 of his reflection, the Holy Father’s examines the root of the problem. In Part 2 (next week) Pope Francis answers the question “What can we do against such forces?”

These words of Christ, recounted in the Gospel of Mathew, were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. Jesus foretells a great tribulation and a situation in which the community might find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

Who are these “false prophets?” Some are “snake charmers,” who manipulate human emotions to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go.  So many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness!  Men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which makes them slaves to profit and petty interests!  Many go through life believing that they are sufficient living by themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!

Beware of false prophets

False prophets can also be “charlatans,” who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove useless.  Young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains!  More are ensnared in “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless!  These swindlers peddle things that have no real value and rob people of all that is precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love.  They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us.

We should not be surprised.  To confound the human heart, the devil – the “liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44) – has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth.  Thus, each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets.  We must look closely and recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because only that comes from God and is truly for our benefit.

In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation.  How charity can turn cold within us.  What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool? More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10).    The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments. This leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties:” the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbor who does not live up to our expectations.

Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity.  Consider the impact on our ecology. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest.  The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration.  The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Love can also grow cold in our own communities.  In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal. What are we to do? …   (See continuation next week)


St. Catherine’s “Stairway to Heaven” Homily, 3rd Sunday of Lent

What is "Satan's table" that Jesus really want to toss over?

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Spiritual Athletes and That “Church Thing” … A Spiritual Reflection

In the glow of Philadelphia's celebration of Super Bowl LII, what are “spiritual athletes?”

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