Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mass Chat: Blessed are the poor in spirit... Blessed are the merciful...

Hopefully everyone will soon calm down and understand that everything is fine... 

I love the fact that the Holy Father said Mass at the little Vatican parish of St. Anna today, instead of in St. Peter's.  I love his homily and his Angelus address.  Today he reminds me of Pope John Paul I, with his great emphasis upon mercy and humility.  [I pray our Lord will let him stay with us longer than John Paul I did.]

Could it be we have become too focused upon other issues that we have forgotten the practice of mercy?  That we have lost sight of the meaning of Christ's words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" and, "Blessed are the merciful"?  Even the well educated and most esteemed amongst us - priests and others online are wondering, 'what is the Holy Father talking about when he talks about the poor?  I am not sure what "poor" means.' 

I'm so surprised by this and I wonder: 'How can this be?  Why are people so confounded by this?'

I don't know.

Read what the Holy Father said about Mercy.
“Never forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving us. Have you thought about the patience that God has with each of us?” These were the words that Pope Francis addressed to the nearly 200,000 people who had travelled from around Italy and from around the world in previous days to be able to live this first Angelus with the new Pope.
In this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. It captures Jesus' attitude: we do not hear words of contempt, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, that invite us to conversion. 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more!' Well, brothers and sisters! God's face is that of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience that He has with each of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, is always patient with us, understanding us, awaiting us, never tiring of forgiving us if we know how to return to him with a contrite heart. 'Great is the Lord's mercy', says the Psalm. - 1st Angelus Address
The Pope's homily on Mercy.
In his homily, the Holy Father recalled that, before this story, Jesus had retired to the mountain to pray and later had gone down to the Temple where everyone listened to him. In the end, they left him alone with the woman. “Jesus' solitude!”, he said. “It is a fruitful solitude—both that of His prayer with the Father as well as the other, so beautiful, ... of his mercy toward this woman. This is the Church's message today.”

There is a difference between the people,” he continued. “On the one hand are the people who come to listen to him and before whom He takes a seat and teaches. These are the people who want to listen to Jesus' words; the people with open hearts, in need of the Word of God.” Nevertheless, “there were others who didn't listen, who could not listen. Among those were the ones who had gone to him with that woman, wanting him to condemn her. … I also think we are like this people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but, on the other hand, at times, like to be cruel to others, isn't that right? To condemn others, right? This is Jesus' message: mercy. On my part, I say it with humility; this is the the Lord's strongest message: mercy. He himself said: 'I did not come for the righteous'. The righteous can justify themselves. … Jesus came for the sinners.”

For example, think of the gossip after the call of Matthew: 'but that one keeps company with sinners!' And He has come for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee before the altar—'Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.'—then we do not know the Lord's heart and we will never have the joy of feeling this mercy! It is not easy to trust in God's mercy because it is an incomprehensible abyss. But we must do it!”

The Pope explained that sometimes people say to priests: “'Oh, Father, if you knew my life you wouldn't say that.' 'Why? What have you done?' 'Oh, I've done bad things.' 'Good! Go to Jesus; He likes you to tell him these things. He forgets. He has the special ability to forget. He forgets them, kisses you, embraces you, and tells you only: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.' He only gives you this counsel. A month later we are the same … We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us. Let us ask for this grace.” - Homily for  Fifth Sunday in Lent

"The righteous can justify themselves. … Jesus came for the sinners.” - Francis

So you see,  I get the impression this Pope, like his venerable predecessor, would never kick a Cardinal out of his church, as some wanted to believe he did with Cardinal Law.  This Pope will not condemn a Cardinal who bungled his way through the sex scandals, and who tweets little sarcasms.  This Pope welcomes sinners, and those who separated themselves, and eats with them... 'at the table of sinners' - as Little Therese said of herself.

Oh Lord, have mercy upon me a sinner, I own nothing but my sins:  Have mercy upon me and free me from my sins.



  1. "The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us."

    I love that.

  2. As you say, there's a hint of St Therese in today's Angelus address. And of St Faustina. Though the first comparison that came to mind was Elder Porphyrios. Pope Francis talks a lot about Jesus, Mary, mercy, confession, the Holy Spirit.... The passage quoted by James M was the one that stood out for me, too.

  3. Our new pope has shown us the Face of Christ in a new way.

    Oh, but I am not good, because I was hoping the story about Cardinal Law was true!

  4. Everyone seems very excited these past few days. Is it something of a novelty to recognise holiness in a person? Francis is not the first pope or priest to speak of Mercy and forgiveness. Or was I just not listening?

    Isn’t that what proclaiming the gospel is all about – reconciling with God and each other?

    And if I can see holiness in others, then what does that say about my own obligation? Holiness if for everyone – every day, every moment. That’s what following Christ is – being holy – being close to him – in his company.

    But I am free to make choices and exclude myself from God’s company and go into the dark, and all the time continue to point accusing fingers at others while I drift further away from the path of holiness because I prefer to focus on the sins of others and adopt a holier-than-thou attitude.

    It has to stop. Pope Francis will set an example for me, lead me. I must pray that I have the grace of strength to pick up my cross daily and follow the call to holiness. Time moves on. No more excuses.


  5. I think Fr. Ray Blake asked a legitimate question and that post was a good read. And while I would like to see the Holy Father do something about the likes of Mahony, I can always hope he at least ends up behind bars. Maybe it's his lack of humility and willingness to admit he did wrong that keeps me from being merciful. But who am I?

    Aaaand... I'll keep reading you whether you like it or not, and whether I like you or not, because you do give me good food for thought. I am sorry I said you worship the Pope. Thank you.

  6. What makes you think I was writing about Fr. Blake? One of my favorite blogging priests BTW. ;)

    Anyway - thanks Katharine - no need to apologize - it forces me to clarify my statements.

    I actually prefer to be unpopular, you know - I'm much less tempted to believe I'm something that way.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.