Archive for the 'Papal Address' Category

Joh Paul II and the Beggar Priest

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

JPIIDr Scott Hahn shared the following true story on April 25, 2001, on “Mother Angelica live.” This story was related to Dr. Hahn by his spiritual director. He heard the story while in New York City visiting a priest who is in the Archdiocese of NY. This priest related the story of what happened on his last trip to Rome.

The priest was scheduled to have a private audience with John Paul II. On the appointed day, the priest decided to stop in a basilica to say a prayer. On the steps of the church, he thought that he recognized one of the beggars. After entering the sanctuary, he knelt down to pray and then it hit him. The priest rushed out and approached the beggar: “I know you. Didn’t we go to seminary together?” The man gave a nodded. “So you are a priest then?” he said to the beggar. The man replied, “Not anymore.” He said that he had “crashed and burned” in his vocation. “Please leave me alone,” the beggar said. The priest was mindful of his approaching appointment with the Holy Father. “I’ve got to go — I’ll pray for you.” The beggar replied, “A lot of good that will do.”

The private meetings with the Pope are typically very formal. There are a number of people who have been granted a private audience at the same time, and when the Holy Father makes his way toward you, his secretary hands him a blessed rosary, and the pope in turn hands it to you. At this point, one would probably kiss the Pope’s ring and say something heartfelt. However, as Pope John Paul II approached, the priest gave in to a holy impulse, got down on his knees and implored the Pope: “Pray, Holy Father, for this particular man. I went to the seminary with him and now he is a beggar. He’s lost. Pray for him.” The priest told the Pope the entire story. The Holy Father looked concerned and he assured the priest that he would pray for his friend. As he moved on, he whispered something to an aide.

Later that day, the priest was contacted by the Vatican. They told the priest that he and the beggar – the former priest – were invited to see the Pope for dinner. Excited, he rushed back to the church where he last saw his classmate. Only a few beggars were left, and as luck (or grace) would have it, his former classmate was among them. He approached the man and said, “I have been to see the Pope, and he said he would pray for you. And there’s more. He has invited us to his private residence for dinner.”

“Impossible,” said the man. “Look at me. I am a mess. I haven’t showered in a long time… and my clothes …” The priest said, “I have a hotel room where you can shower and shave, and I have clothes that will fit you.” Again, by God’s grace, the beggar priest agreed. The Pope’s hospitality was wonderful. At the close of dinner, the pope’s secretary whispered to the priest, “He wants us to leave,” at which point the priest and the secretary left the Holy Father alone with the beggar. After quite some time, the beggar emerged from the room in tears. “What happened in there?” asked the priest. The most remarkable reply came. “The Pope asked me to hear his confession,” choked the beggar. After regaining composure, the man continued, “I told him, ‘Your Holiness, look at me. I am a beggar. I am not a priest.’”

“The Pope looked at me and said, ‘My son, once a priest always a priest, and who among us is not a beggar. I too come before the Lord as a beggar asking for forgiveness of my sins.’ I told him I was not in good standing with the Church, and he assured me that as the Bishop of Rome he could reinstate me right then and there.”
The man relayed that it had been so long since he had heard a confession that the Pope had to help him through the words of absolution. The priest friend asked, “But you were in there for some time. Surely the Pope’s confession did not last that long.”

“No,” said his friend, “But after I heard his confession, I asked him to hear mine.” The final words spoken by Pope John Paul II to this prodigal son came in the form of a commission. When the NY priest was invited back in from the hallway, the Pope asked him about the beggar, “Where was the parish where you found him?” The priest told him and then the Pope said to the beggar priest. “For your first pastoral assignment, I want you to go to the pastor there and report for duty because you’ll be an associate there with a special outreach for your fellow beggars.”

And that is where the beggar is today, fulfilling his new priestly role ministering to the homeless and the beggars on the steps of the very church from where he had just come.

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Thank you Faithful Men and Women

Monday, October 21st, 2013
Pope John Paul II on Mount Nebo

Pope John Paul II on Mount Nebo

Here’s a thought for the day, courtesy of Pope Francis — visit an elderly priest or religious!

At his daily Morning Mass (See Zenit for complete story) on October 18, Pope Francis called to mind three Biblical figures who endured the solitude and anguish of their older days.

First, there was Moses, “the courageous leader of the People of God” who led God’s people out of the slavery of Egypt into the Promised Land. But at the end of his life, he stands on Mount Nebo looking towards Jerusalem but he himself will not enter it.

Then, there was St. John the Baptist whose life “finished under the power of a weak, corrupt and drunken ruler who in turn was under the power of an adulteress’ jealousy and the capricious wishes of a dancer.”

Finally, there is Saint Paul who said in his second Letter to Timothy (read at Mass on Friday) (2 Tim 4:10-17)) that everyone had abandoned him yet, says the Holy Father, “the Lord was close to him and gave him the strength to complete his mission of announcing the Gospel.”

Remember the priests and religious whose active ministry might be complete but whose active prayer life and wisdom is a blessing for the world. It is also wonderful to give to the Retirement Fund for Religious appeal to help those who have insufficient funds for their care.

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Defend Life, But Watch for Wolves

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

francisrioAs someone who does not have cable TV, I miss out on a lot (whether this is good or bad is debatable). But I did miss most of the coverage of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and his trip to Brazil as covered by EWTN. Therefore, watching this video, put out by the Mercedarians, is a real treat.

The Mercedarians have taken footage of Pope Francis’ drive through the enormous crowds as the backdrop for a very interesting narrated talk that the Holy Father gave when he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Given on August 31, 2005, the feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus (one of the first Mercedarians), he spoke about the culture of death and the need, in the face of persecution, to stand up for life. He picked a very appropriate feast day for this talk because St. Raymond Nonnatus (which means “not born”) was cut from his mother’s womb after her death in childbirth, thus his life was spared.

Here are a few tidbits of the then-Cardinal’s talk:

I was reading a book a while back, where this disturbing phrase was found: “In the world of today, the cheapest thing is life, what costs the least is life” — which is, therefore, the most disregarded thing, the most dispensable thing.

This elderly man, this elderly woman, are useless; discard them, let’s throw them in the nursing home like we hang up the raincoat during summer, with three mothballs in the pocket, and let’s hang it in the nursing home because they’re now disposable, they’re useless.

This child who is on the way is a bother to the family. “Oh no, for what? I have no idea.  Let’s discard him and return him to the sender.”

That is what the culture of death preaches to us.

This child that I have at home, well, I don’t have time to educate him. Let him grow up like a weed in the field, and this other child who doesn’t have anything to eat, not even little shoes to go to school, and well, I’m very sorry, but I’m not the redeemer of the whole world.

That’s what the culture of death preaches. It’s not interested in life.  What interests it? Egoism. One is interested in surviving, but not in giving life, caring for life, offering life.

Today, in this shrine dedicated to life, in this day of the patron saint of life, Jesus again says to us: “Care for it! I came to bring life, and life in abundance, but care for it!  You are going to be surrounded by wolves; you are to be the ones to defend life, to care for life.

Care for life! What a beautiful thing one sees — which I know! — that a grandfather, a grandmother, who perhaps can no longer speak, who is paralyzed, and the grandson or the son comes and takes their hand, and in silence cherishes them, nothing more.  That is caring for life.  When one sees people who take care so that this child can go to school, so that another doesn’t lack food, that is caring for life.

Open your heart to life!

St. Raymond, Patron Saint of expectant mothers and midwives, pray for us!


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Entrustment to Mary

Monday, August 5th, 2013

On this feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major which Pope Francis visited on the eve of his departure for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, it seems appropriate to post the counsel he gave to seminarians, novices and those discerning a vocation in a gathering held on July 7, 2013:

I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy.

She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear.

May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation,

without being afraid of joy,

she will help you to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross,

to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord in prayer.

Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.

With cloistered Nuns in Rio de Janeiro

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Go and Make Disciples

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time,” but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of Himself, but the whole of Himself, He gave His life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God.

 Krakow 2016



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The Source of Mission

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

On Sunday, July 7, Pope Francis celebrated Mass before 6000 seminarians and novices who have been on a 4-day pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter, reflecting on their call from God and their vocation.

The Holy Father described the three reference points to the missionary call, part of his reflection on the Sunday readings.

First: the joy of consolation. “If we first experience the joy of being consoled by Him, of being loved by Him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others!”

Second: the Cross of Christ. “The fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by becoming conformed to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and spending oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross – the Cross that is always present with Christ – which guarantees the fruitfulness of our mission.”

Third: Prayer. “If the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength for his action. Our mission ceases to bear fruit, indeed, it is extinguished the moment the link with its source, with the Lord, is interrupted.”

The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

To see the complete text, visit the Vatican News website.

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The Winds of the Holy Spirit

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails

and drives it forward,and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit.

Lacking His impulse and His grace, we do not go forward.

The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God

and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself;

He impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel,

to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.

Pope Francis

Pentecost Sunday

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The Absurd Dichotomy

Saturday, May 18th, 2013


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Vocations are Born from Prayer

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

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Spiritual Motherhood

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

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