Catholic News

Friend of Jean Vanier ‘heartbroken’ for abuse victims, but hopeful for the future of L’Arche

CNA General News - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 11:35 PM

Denver, Colo., Feb 27, 2020 / 04:35 pm (CNA).- On the news that Jean Vanier, Catholic founder of L’Arche International, has been credibly accused of serially sexually abusing women, Professor Stanley Hauerwas said he is “devastated.”

“That is the way anyone must feel on hearing the news of Jean Vanier’s sexual misconduct,” Hauerwas said in comments to CNA. “Vanier was supposed to be different and in many ways he was. But the difference makes his behavior all the more devastating. He should have known better,” he added.

Hauerwas, a world renowned theologian with joint appointments at Duke Divinity School and Duke Law School, was a personal friend of Vanier, who died at the age of 90 on May 7, 2019.

Vanier was the once-revered founder of L’Arche, an international community of people with intellectual disabilities and their supporters, and of Faith and Light, an ecumenical Christian association of prayer and friendship for those with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Last April, L’Arche commissioned GCPS, an independent U.K. consultancy specializing in the reporting of exploitation and abuse to investigate allegations related to Fr. Thomas Philippe, an abusive Dominican priest sanctioned by Church authorities in 1956, whom Vanier described as his “spiritual mentor.”

On Feb. 22, 2020, L’Arche International published the results of the investigation, detailing “credible and consistent” accounts of sexual misconduct by Vanier against six adult women without disabilities in the context of spiritual direction.

Hauerwas said he considered Vanier a friend and mentor, and is “heartbroken by this revelation of his terrible misconduct and utterly condemn it as an abuse of power.”

Hauerwas noted that Vanier seems to have convinced himself the abuse was consensual, which he said was “some desperate attempt to justify his actions. Which is but a reminder that self-deception often is the result of trying to make sense of our lives and why we all need accountability, especially those held in high esteem.” 

“One suspects his gentleness allowed him to get away with anything but his actions involving the women were anything but gentle,” he said.

Still, Hauerwas said he is “indebted” to Vanier for what he taught him about how to love and care for disabled people, and he hopes that the good of L’Arche’s work will not be lost along with the revelations of abuse.

“So much of (Vanier’s) life was morally exemplary. That is one of the problems. How can we continue to learn from his witness with his intellectually disabled friends without excusing his predatory sexual behavior? At this time when we are trying to receive this devastating news the only advice I have is not to be in a hurry to answer that question,” he said.

Rather than rush to decisions, Hauerwas urged those effected by the report to pray.

“We must pray first for the women he betrayed,” he said. “We must pray for the members of the L’Arche movement. We must pray for ourselves that God will help us to carry on the work of L’Arche because that work is, in and of itself, independent of the actions of its founder.”

He added that the international L'Arche community “are proving to be quite extraordinary in terms of how they're responding and how they have responded.”

L’Arche International has set up an additional centralized reporting procedure for any further information that people may wish to report. Any such information will be received by a task force composed of people outside of L’Arche.

“I continue to believe that in those homes the glory of God is manifest for all to see.”

The Holy Father’s Address for February 27 Penitential Liturgy

Zenit News - English - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 11:34 PM

To mark the beginning of Lent, a traditional penitential liturgy was held for clergy of the Diocese of Rome on Feruary 27, 2020. The ceremony took place in the Archbasilica of St John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese.

After a meditation by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Angelo De Donatis, the priests of the diocese had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation during a penitential liturgy at St John Lateran. Normally, Pope Francis, as the Bishop of Rome, is present for the event, and personally hears the confessions of several priests. This year, however, due to a “slight indisposition”, the Pope “preferred to remain in the vicinity of Santa Marta”, according to a statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office. The Holy Father’s prepared remarks were read out to the Roman clergy by Cardinal De Donatis.

In his address, Pope Francis reflects on the “bitterness” some priests experience, while expressing the hope that it might “show us [clergy] the way to greater adoration of the Father, and help us to experience anew the power of His merciful anointing”.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s Address for today’s Penitential Liturgy, read by H.E Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, His Holiness’ Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome.

* * *

 The Holy Father’s Address

The Bitterness in the Priest’s Life

A Reflection ad Intra

 I don’t want to reflect so much on the tribulations that stem from the priest’s mission; they are well-known things and amply diagnosed. On this occasion, I wish to speak to you of a subtle enemy that finds many ways to camouflage and to hide himself and, as a parasite, slowly robs us of the joy of the vocation to which we were called one day. I wish to speak to you of that bitterness focused around the relationship with the faith, the Bishop  <and> brethren. We know that other roots and situations can exist, but these synthesize the many meetings I’ve had with some of you.

I make two things noted right away: the first is that these lines are the fruit of listening to some seminarians and priests of different Italian dioceses, and they cannot and must not refer to a specific situation. The second: that the greater part of priests, whom I know, are happy with their life and consider this bitterness as part of normal living, without dramas. I prefer to give back what I’ve heard rather than express my opinion on the subject.

To look at our bitterness in the face and to confront it enables us to have contact with our humanity, with our blessed humanity. And so to remind ourselves that, as priests, we aren’t called to be omnipotent but forgiven sinful men and sent. As Saint Irenaeus of Lyon said: “what isn’t assumed isn’t redeemed.”

We also let this bitterness point out the way to a greater adoration of the Father and to help us experience again the strength of His merciful anointing (Cf. Luke 15:11-32). To say it with the Psalmist: “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may praise Thee and not be silent” (Psalm 30:11-12).

First cause of bitterness: problems with the faith.

“But we had hoped that He was the One,” confided to one another the disciples of Emmaus (Cf. Luke 24-21). At the root of their bitterness is a disappointed hope. However, it’s necessary to reflect: is it the Lord that has disappointed us or have we exchanged hope for our expectations? Christian hope, in reality, doesn’t disappoint and doesn’t fail. To hope is not to convince oneself that things will go better, rather that everything that happens has meaning in the light of Easter. However, to know in a Christian way it’s necessary  — as Saint Augustine taught Proba — to live a substantial prayer life. It’s there that one learns to distinguish between expectations and hopes.

Now, the relationship with God  — more than pastoral disappointments — can be the profound cause of bitterness. Sometimes it almost seems that He doesn’t respect the expectations of a full and abundant life that we had on the day of our Ordination. Sometimes unfinished adolescence doesn’t help to pass from dreams to spes. Perhaps as priests, we are too “proper” in our relationship with God and we don’t hazard to protest in prayer, as the Psalmist does, instead, very often — not only for ourselves but also for our people; because the Pastor bears also the bitterness of his people –; but the Psalms have also been “censured” and it’s hard for us to have a spirituality of protest. So we fall into cynicism: unhappy and somewhat frustrated. The true protest — of the adult — is not against God but before Him, because it’s born precisely of trust in Him. The man of prayer reminds the Father who He is and what is worthy of His Name. We must sanctify His Name, but sometimes it’s up to the disciples to waken the Lord and say to Him: “Don’t you care that we are lost?” (Mark 4:35-41).  So the Lord wants to involve us directly in His Kingdom, not as spectators but taking part actively.

What difference is there between expectation and hope? Expectation is born when we spend our life to save our life: we get angry, seeking securities, rewards, advancements . . . When we receive what we want we almost feel as if we will never die, that it will always be like that! — because we are the point of reference. Hope, instead, is something born in the heart when one decides not to defend oneself anymore. When I recognize my limitations, and that not all begins and ends with me, then I recognize the importance of having trust. The Theatine Lorenzo Scupoli already taught it in his Spiritual Combat: the key to all is in a double and simultaneous movement: to mistrust oneself and to trust God. I hope, not when there is nothing more to do, but when I stop getting busy only for myself. Hope is based on an alliance: God has spoken to me and on the day of my Ordination He promised me that mine would be a full life, with the fullness and savor of the Beatitudes: certainly troubled — as that of all men –, but beautiful. My life is tasty if I live Easter, not if things go as I say.

And here, something else is understood: it’s not enough to listen only to history to understand these processes. It’s necessary to listen to history and <see>our life in the light of the Word of God. The disciples of Emmaus overcame their disappointment when the Risen One opened their mind to the intelligence of the Scriptures. See: things will go better not only because we will change Superiors, or missions, or strategies, but because we will be consoled by the Word.  The Prophet Jeremiah confessed: “Thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (15:16).  Bitterness, which isn’t a fault, is accepted. It can be a great occasion. Perhaps it’s also salutary because it makes the interior alarm bell ring: pay attention, you have exchanged security for an alliance “foolish and late of heart.” There is a sadness that can lead us to God. Let us accept it <and> not get angry with ourselves. It could be a good turn. Saint Francis of Assisi also experience it, he remembered it in his Testament (Cf. Franciscan Sources, 110). Bitterness will change into great sweetness, and the easy, worldly sweetness will be transformed into bitterness.

Second cause of bitterness: problems with the Bishop

 I don’t want to fall into rhetoric or look for a scapegoat, and even less so to defend myself or defend those of my ambit. The commonplace, which finds in Superiors the faults of everything, no longer holds. We are all lacking in the small and in the great.  Today one seems to breathe a general atmosphere (not only among us) of a widespread mediocrity, which does not let us clamber over easy judgments. However, the fact remains that much bitterness in a priest’s life is caused by the omissions of Pastors.

We all experience our limitations and deficiencies. We face situations in which we realize that we are not adequately prepared . . . However, rising to services and ministries with greater visibility, the deficiencies become more evident and lauder; and it’s also a logical consequence that in this relationship one plays a lot, in the good and in the bad.  What omissions? One is not alluding here to the divergences often inevitable regarding managerial problems or pastoral styles. This is tolerable and is part of life on this earth. Until Jesus is all in all, we will all seek to impose ourselves on all! It’s the fallen Adam that is in us to make these jokes.

The true problem that embitters is not the divergences (and perhaps not even the errors: a Bishop also has the right to err as all creatures do!) but, rather, two very serious and destabilizing motives for priests.

First of all, there is a certain soft authoritarian tendency. Those among us who think differently aren’t accepted. Because of a word, one is transferred to the category of those that row against, for a “distinction” one is registered among the discontented. The parrhesia is buried by the frenzy to impose projects. The cult of initiatives goes substituting the essential: one faith, one baptism, one God Father of all. Adherence to initiatives risks becoming the measure of communion. However, the latter does not always coincide with unanimity of opinions. Nor can it be pretended that communion is exclusively unidirectional: the priest must be in communion with the Bishop . . . and the Bishops in communion with the priests: it’s not a problem of democracy, but of paternity.

In the Rule, — we are in the famous chapter III — Saint Benedict recommends that the Abbot, when he must address an important question, must consult the entire community including the youngest members. Then he continues to confirm that the ultimate decision corresponds to the Abbot, who must dispose everything with prudence and fairness. For Benedict, authority is not in question. Quite the opposite, it’s the Abbot who answers before God the way he conducts the monastery, however, it’s said that, in deciding, he must be “prudent and fair.” We know the first word well: prudence and discernment are part of the ordinary vocabulary.

Less common is “fairness”: fairness means to take into account the opinion of all and to safeguard the representativeness of the flock, without having preferences. The Pastor’s great temptation is to surround himself with his “own,” those “close” to him, and so, unfortunately, real competence is supplanted by a certain presumed loyalty without distinguishing any longer between one who pleases and one who advises in a selfless way. This makes the flock suffer very much, which often accepts without externalizing anything. The Code of Canon Law reminds that the faithful “have the right and even sometimes the duty to manifest to the sacred Pastors their thought on what concerns the good of the Church” (canon 212 § 3). Of course, in this time of precariousness and widespread fragility, the solution seems to be authoritarianism (this is evident in the political realm). However, the true cure — as Saint Benedict counsels — lies in fairness, not in uniformity.[1]

Third cause of bitterness: problems among ourselves

In these last years, the priest has suffered the blows of scandals — financial and sexual. The suspect has drastically made relationships colder and more formal; the gifts of others are no longer enjoyed, rather, it seems that it’s a mission to destroy, minimize, make one suspect. In the face of the scandals, the Evil One tempts us, pushing us to a “Donatist” vision of the Church: the impeccable inside, those in error outside!. We have false concepts of the Militant Church, in a sort of ecclesiological Puritanism. The bride of Christ remains the field in which the wheat and the tares grow until the Parousia. One who has not acted on this evangelical vision of reality exposes himself to unspeakable and useless bitterness.

In any case, the public and publicized sins of the clergy have made all more wary and less disposed to tighten significant bonds, especially in order to share the faith. If we multiply the common appointments — permanent formation and others – but one participates with a less willing heart. There is more “community” but less communion! The question we ask ourselves when we meet a new brother rises silently: who do I really have before me? Can I trust him? “

It’s not about solitude: that isn’t a problem but an aspect of the mystery of communion. Christian solitude,  — that of one who goes into his room and prays to the Father in secret — is a blessing, the true wellspring of loving welcome of the other. The true problem lies in not finding more time to be alone. Without solitude, there isn’t free love, and others become a surrogate of voids. In this connection, as priests, we must always learn again to be alone “evangelically,” as Jesus at night with the Father.[2] Here the drama is isolation, which is something other than solitude. Isolation not only and not so much exterior — we are always in the midst of the people –, but inherent to the soul of a priest. Beginning of the most profound isolation to then touch it in a largely visible way.

Isolated in regard to grace: lapped by secularism, we don’t believe or feel any longer that we are surrounded by heavenly friends — the “great cloud of witnesses” (Cf. Hebrews 12:1) –; we seem to feel that our story, the afflictions, don’t touch anyone. The world of grace has become little by little foreign to us, the saints seem to be only the “imaginary friends” of children. The Spirit that dwells in the heart — essentially and not figuratively — is something that, perhaps, we have never experienced because of dissipation or negligence. We know but we don’t “touch.” The distance from the force of grace produces rationalisms or sentimentalisms, never a redeemed flesh.

To isolate oneself in regard to history: everything seems to be consummated in the here and now, without hope in the goods promised and in the future reward. Everything opens and closes with us. My death isn’t the passing of a witness, but an unjust interruption. The more one feels special, powerful, rich in gifts, the more one closes the heart to the continuous meaning of the history of the People of God to which one belongs. Our individualized conscience makes us believe that there was nothing before and nothing after. This is why we work so hard to take care of and guard what our predecessor initiated that was good: we often arrive in the parish and we feel it a duty to have a tabula rasa, to distinguish ourselves and mark the difference. We are not capable of continuing to make the good live to which we didn’t give birth! We begin from zero because we don’t feel the taste of belonging to a community journey of salvation.

Isolated in regard to others: isolation in regard to grace and to history is one of the causes of the incapacity among us to establish significant relationships of trust and of evangelical sharing. If I am isolated, my problems seem unique and insurmountable: no one can understand me. This is one of the preferred thoughts of the father of lies. We recall Bernanos’ words: “Only after much time one recognizes him, and the sadness that announces him, precedes him, how sweet it is! It’s the most substantial of the elixirs of the devil, his ambrosia!”[3] Thought that little by little takes shape and closes us in ourselves, moves us away from others and puts us in a position of superiority because no one is up to the height of the demands. Thought that by dint of being repeated ends up by nesting in us. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

The devil doesn’t want you to speak, to tell, to share. And then you search for a good Spiritual Father, a clever elderly man that can accompany you. Never isolate yourself, never! One only has a profound sentiment of communion when one personally becomes aware of the “us” that I am, was and will be. Otherwise other problems come in cascades: of isolation, of a community without communion competition is born and certainly not cooperation; the desire for recognition arises and not the joy of a shared sanctity; one enters in relationship either to compare oneself or to support one another.

We recall the people of Israel when, walking in the desert for three days, arrived at Mara, but couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. In the face of the people’s protest, Moses invoked the Lord and the water became sweet (Cf. Exodus 15:22-25). The faithful holy People of God is known more than any other. They are very respectful and know how to accompany and take care of their Pastors. They know our bitterness and they pray to the Lord for us. Let us add our prayer to theirs, and ask the Lord to transform our bitterness into sweet water for His people. Let us ask the Lord to give us the capacity to recognize what is making us bitter and so allow ourselves to be transformed and to be reconciled persons that reconcile, peaceful persons that pacify, full of hope that infuse hope. The People of God expect from us teachers of spirit capable of pointing out the wells of sweet water in the middle of the desert.




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Archbishop Follo: Lent – Conversion of love

Zenit News - English - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 11:33 PM

Roman Rite – 1st Sunday of Lent – Year A – March 1, 2020

Gen 2: 7-9; 3, 1-7; Ps 51; Rom 5, 12-19; Mt 4, 1-11


Ambrosian Rite – 1st Sunday of Lent

Is 58, 4b-12b; Ps 102; 2Cor 5, 18-6,2; Mt 4, 1-11

Hunger for life, hunger for relationships, hunger for God


  • Lent is for the conversion to a relationship of love

A few days have passed since Ash Wednesday when we were reminded that we are dust and that we are called to conversion, that is, to love.

On this first Sunday of Lent, the Church makes us pray in this way: ” Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.”(Collect Prayer) In fact, charity takes us into the truth of God and it is a conversion because it makes our heart and mind turn to God and do good deeds. However, conversion is not only doing good deeds; it is a change to reveal the ultimate truth of us, human beings made in the image and likeness of God.

In conversion, the human being, with heart and mind, turns completely to God. When Jesus says “ Repent “, he means that all our being, the center of the being, must turn to God and not only our will or our intelligence (it is not enough to theologize and it is not enough to even engage oneself only in virtues).

“Conversion” means to turn; therefore, it implies a new sense (to be understood not only as a direction but also as a meaning) of life. And what does this turn mean? It is living in us, in our human nature, what the three persons of the Trinity live among them: a pure relationship of love.  Our conversion is a turning of our whole being to God. We do not live without love: for every human being to live means to love. But be careful, we can love ourselves, our body, our pride, we can even love evil, but we can also love God.

Conversion is love turned to God and, in him, to our neighbor. Let’s live Lent as a way to turn permanently to God. The conversion to which we are called therefore consists of a relationship: “You turn to One who calls you, you meet with one who speaks to you; you see him, you turn to him and you open yourself to love “(Divo Barsotti)

2) Lent: 40 days of exodus to go to the promised land, The Kingdom of God

The way to live the conversion of love in this Lenten period is to remember and relive with Christ the 40 days of fasting and prayer that he spent in the desert, and that ended passing three tests.

The three diabolical temptations that Christ overcomes summarize the three weak sides of man’s life, which prevent him from loving in truth: 1 – possession and disproportionate accumulation of material goods (the stones to be transformed into bread); 2 – the search for selfish and oppressive power (possession of the kingdoms of the earth); 3 – the desire for omnipotence (refusal to worship God). To overcome these tests, man has an infallible tool: the Word of God. In this regard, we recall this sentence of Saint Augustine of Hippo: “When you are seized with the pangs of hunger – and I allow myself to add also temptation – let the Word of God become your bread of life ”.

In the narration that Jesus did ​​for his disciples the three temptations, which summarize this time of trial, let quite clearly understand that, in a battle that foreshadowed his agony, He chose the love of the Father and the charity for us, and started drinking the cup of the New Covenant which He would have later sealed with his offering on the Cross.

This love offered and refused is already presented in the first reading, taken from the book of Genesis, that shows that man is dust shaped by the “creative hands” of God and animated by His breath of life and mercy. A few lines later, the book of Genesis presents the tragedy of wrong choices in front of good and evil, an evil that is born in the heart of man from his choices, his refusals and his stubbornness in using his own criteria instead of those of God. We are asked to reflect on the seriousness of the refusal to fit into God’s plan demanding absolute autonomy in deciding what is good and what is bad. It is the claim to be the equal of God, to be God to ourselves and to others.

Then, in the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Romans, we see that St. Paul refers to the narration of Genesis and compares the behaviors of Adam and Christ and the results of their actions. The rebellion and the disobedience of the first caused his separation from God and the death of all men; the perfect obedience of Christ, on the other hand, has obtained fullness of grace and of life for all. Adam and Eve experiment that their presumption has taken them away from each other, from the creation and from God.  Jesus repairs this tear and cancels this gap.

Finally, the passage from the Gospel of Matthew, offered to us today as third reading, presents the same temptation of Adam and Eve but shows how Jesus is victorious and points out the way to live a life faithful to God and free from the profound evil that threatens us.

The devil puts into question the fact that Jesus is the son of God (” If you are the Son of God …”) which had been established at the time of his baptism on the banks of the Jordan River. In fact, the temptation concerns neither bread nor material things but how to live the relationship with things, with people and with God. We can live as children of God like Jesus or reject the loving fatherhood of God who offers a relationship stable, alive and vivifying with Him.

God offers a covenant between two freedoms: his, which is the initiative of infinite love, and ours, which is called to live and flourish from and for the loving freedom of God.

If by grace we overcome temptation, God expands our heart so that it may have the gift of Him who is Love and gives us the way to do good in order to make our entire life a praise to Him.

3)  Hunger and desert.

One thing that is not secondary is that today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is tempted by Satan after forty days and forty nights of fasting that made him hungry.

But his is not only a bodily hunger. Like every human being Jesus has three hungers:

a- for life which lures man to possession and accumulation of disproportionate assets (the stones to turn into bread),

b- for human relations that can be of friendship or of power (symbolized by the availability of power),

c- for omnipotence, which pushes to suffocate the desire for God, which is the yearning for the infinite and limitless freedom, leading to the temptation of designing one’s own human existence according to the criteria of ease, success, power, and appearance, that is, the temptation to worship the Liar (the devil) instead of worshiping the true provident Love.

Jesus chose another criterion, that of the faithfulness to God’s plan which He fully endorses and of which He is the Word made ​​flesh, taking our condition marked by poverty and suffering and choosing with courage to become the servant of all.

To overcome these trials, this hunger for life, relationships and God, man has an infallible tool: the Word of God. Let’s then rewrite the sentence of St. Augustine: When you’re caught by the pangs of hunger – and we can also add of temptation – let the Word of God become your bread of life, let Christ be your Bread of Life.

At this point, I think it is fair to ask why Jesus went into the wilderness to fast.

In the biblical tradition, the desert was the place of preparation for a divine mission. It had been for Moses, who knew the revelation of Yahweh (Exodus 3.1)[1], and for the people out of the slavery that experienced the fatigue of freedom. It was for Elijah, who listened to the word of God (1st Kings 19:18). Therefore, also Jesus remained in the solitude of the desert for forty days[2] before beginning His public ministry.

Jesus has done so to teach us to live life as an exodus in the desert as it was for the Jewish people, and as it must be for the Church, pilgrim toward heaven. This means that we cannot plan our life nor we can decide it, but we must abandon ourselves to a Word of promise. God says to us: “Nothing you’ll miss, but everything you must expect from me.” This is the meaning of faithnot only the assent to a body of doctrine, but trust in love and belief in love: a love that has started without us (the exodus from Egypt for the people of Israel as for us the exit from our mother’s womb), but that will only continue if it finds our acceptance.

We are asked to translate our daily behavior and the care for ourselves into the Other who has made us free.

Almost all of us are called to exist tomorrow not in the emergency of the desert but in the normal situation of a land to cultivate and to inhabit. However, all of us are called to have the same basic attitude: to live on that land but with a heart of desert.

This kind of heart is particularly requested to Consecrated Virgins who, in physical solitude, are called to a face to face with God.

The desert, the virginal solitude, is the special place, the place where we are face to face with God. The Bridegroom cannot force the bride to love Him. The Lord, however, has an infallible tool, as described by the prophet Hosea. In chapter 2, Hosea speaks of the terrifying adultery that is the return to worship the idols that the old fathers worshiped. The Lord, grieved and distressed, intervenes and says that he has a tool and will put it into action. He will return the people to the desert, will point out again the old roads, and will speak again to their heart in the desert when the evil categories and the opaque diaphragms have fallen. Then the heart of man, that is his intelligence, and the heart of God, that is the divine Wisdom, will be face to face and their encounter immediate, possible and fruitful.

The consecrated virgins live the “desert” of their vocation as total availability. Theirs is the spirituality of the generous availability to others and of the total availability to the Lord from whom they expect everything.

With prayer, almsgiving and fasting let’s learn this availability to walk united in the “desert” of Lent and of life so that hunger will become holy desire of  God. We will be the Tent where the Emmanuel, God with us always, is at home.

* * *


From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop

(Ps. 60, 2-3: CCL 39, 766)

In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame the devil

Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth. That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth;that is, on all sides.Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained life for you; he suffered insults in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcame the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.


[1] The Christian interpretation of Exodus is guided by the reading that is usually called “typological”.  Everything about Israel (characters and events, rituals and institutions) is the figure – the typos – of what happens in Christ and in the Church. Let’s recall briefly the main steps of Exodus to see how they are reproduced and reinterpreted based on the Christian event.

First stop: Egypt (and the Pharaoh) is intended as the figure of sin and especially of the universal condition of sin that, before the coming Christ, held the humanity enslaved. But Egypt can be also the one that causes sin, Satan, or his historical transcription, the pagan idolatry. As a result, the deliverance from Egypt through the passage of the Red Sea will be the figure of baptism, and the sacrificed Passover lamb will become the symbol of Christ in his passion.

The stop in the desert is taken as a figure of the believer’s life on the road. In it, as for Israel, test and temptation appear, but also the divine protection will unfold with intensity. The miracles of the Exodus become the miracle of the sacramental existence: the rock- Christ from which the water of baptism flows, and manna – the Eucharist. The desert can be internalized as the individual journey of the soul to contemplation and spiritual perfection or can be experienced as a journey (Lent) to prepare Easter celebrations.

The Christian meaning of the Law is found, following Saint Paul indication, in the condensation of all ethical and social laws into charity, while the ritual laws find their truth in the Christian worship.

Finally, the Promised Land proposes once again the sacramental reason: the passage of the Jordan, like the one of the Red Sea, refers to baptism, while in the “land flowing with milk and honey” the Fathers of the Church see a striking figure of the Eucharistic banquet. Next to this, and even more frequently, is the interpretation of the promised land as the image of the eternal life with God

We can sum it all up by saying that the typological sense of Exodus is the route of the Christian people from the slavery of sin, through baptism and life in faith and charity, up to the heavenly homeland.


[2] Forty is a symbolic number.  In this case, besides being connected to the forty years spent by the people of Israel in the wilderness, it means a whole generation. Jesus, becoming man, was tempted all his life.

The post Archbishop Follo: Lent – Conversion of love appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Vatican City implements health measures over coronavirus

CNA General News - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 10:00 PM

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican has implemented special health measures and canceled some events as more than 500 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy.

Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in Vatican City offices, and there is a nurse and a doctor on call at a Vatican clinic to give immediate assistance, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told Vatican News. 

While there have been no diagnosed cases of the coronavirus in Vatican City, Bruni said Feb. 24 that Vatican health staff have worked with the Italian Ministry of Health on procedures which can be brought into action, and are in close contact with the regional authorities in Lazio.

“In compliance with the provisions of the Italian authorities, some events scheduled for the next few days in indoor places and with an important influx of public have been postponed," Bruni said.

With Pope Francis’ Lenten retreat scheduled for March 1-6, there are no papal audiences scheduled for next week, but conferences in Rome and other indoor events have been canceled. 

A conference schedule to take place March 5-6 at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the opening of Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII has been canceled, as has a March 2-7 communications workshop at the Pontifical Urbaniana University for global representatives of the Pontifical Missions Societies.

An event for a book on Cardinal Celso Costantini Feb. 25, at which Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Luis Antonio Tagle, and Fernando Filoni were expected to speak, was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

As of Feb. 27, Pope Francis is still scheduled to give his Sunday Angelus address on March 1 before leaving for his Lenten retreat. 

Pope Francis did not cancel his Wednesday general audience Feb. 26, but he was later seen coughing during his Ash Wednesday Mass. 

The pope chose not to attend a scheduled liturgy with priests in Rome Feb. 27 “due to a slight indisposition,” according to the Holy See press office. However, the pope’s other appointments, such as Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, took place as usual.

Italian authorities reported 528 cases of the coronavirus Feb. 27 with 14 deaths. Nearly all of the reported cases are in northern Italy. In response to the outbreak, Italian officials have also imposed quarantine restrictions on several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, where most of the infections have occurred.

The Archdiocese of Milan suspended Masses beginning on the evening Feb. 23 until further notice. The Patriarch of Venice, Archbishop Francesco Moraglia, suspended Masses and other liturgical celebrations, including baptisms and Stations of the Cross, until Sunday March 1.

In Rome’s region of Lazio there have been just three reported cases: an Italian, who has recovered, and two Chinese tourists, who are being treated in a hospital.

“I wish to express again my closeness to the coronavirus patients and the health workers who treat them, as well as to the civil authorities and all those who are working to assist the patients and stop the infection,” Pope Francis said Feb. 26.

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