For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about Pope Francis lately. He is deep into his 81st year and there seems to be no let-up to his energy level. I’ve been looking over his daily homilies which he gives Monday thru Friday at Casa Santa Marta, his home in the Vatican.
Pope Francis will be in Fatima for the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on 13 May where he will canonise two of the visionaries of the Marian apparitions there – the young shepherds Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Here in Ireland on the same day people are invited to pray the Angelus or a decade of the Rosary for vocations to the priesthood and religious life at 12noon. It is also encouraged that on the 13th of each month, from May – October 2017, that a decade of the rosary be prayed for vocations in Ireland.
The days, weeks and months – and even years – following the death and resurrection of Jesus was a time of fear and confusion for his followers. The shock of the empty tomb and rumours of sightings by his disciples were fast becoming the stuff of legend. To be alive after death was not normal. But it opened up to those who believed a new world of courage and hope.
It was late Good Friday when they finally buried Jesus. Early on Easter morning the tomb was empty. The first visitors to the tomb were disturbed and frightened by what they found. Soon, others were on the scene and word spread that something very strange had occured. Not only had the body gone but several had reported encounters with Jesus.
Lisa Goertz lost her family – husband, children, siblings and parents – in the Jewish holocaust. In her book she told her telling story. Having lost everything and everyone dear to her Lisa, overcome by grief, became suicidal and decided to end it all. And then an extraordinary thing happened. “I walked out into the night feeble with hunger, half-crazy with fear and fatigue, and made my way to the river Neisse. ‘In a few hours it would be all over,’ I told myself. What a relief! And then it happened. Across the dark river I saw the Cross
“If you knew the gift of God…..” There is one who knew this gift of God, one who did not lose one particle of it, one who is so pure, so luminous that she seemed to be the Light itself….One whose life was so simple, so lost in God that there is hardly anything we can say about it.
Age and Understanding
Growing old is a journey into gratitude; into serenity, wisdom, empathy and into a kind of solitude – each reflecting a center like the sides of a prism. Those of us of a certain vintage are on those journeys and, like any growth journey, they’re not without pains and bruises. Of embarrassments and goodbyes, I’ve had my share along the way.
Public comment on the “Tuam babies” and Magdalen laundries (**), the cover-up and protection of clergy sexual abuse, Marie Collins’ resignation from the papal commission and the subsequent cover-up by Vatican beauracy all point in the one direction: the institutional church as we know it chronically dysfunctional and is currently unfit for purpose.
The Western Wall, or “wailing wall” in the old city of Jerusalem, is the holiest place in the world where Jews come to pray. It’s all that remains of the Temple which stood there in the time of Jesus Christ. An 84 year old Rabbi prayed at the wall twice daily for more than seventy-two years, and when asked about prayer by a priest he is reported to have said, “Prayer is talking to the Wall.”
Christianity grew out of Judaism. It didn’t replace it but, largely unknown to ourselves, we inherited much of Judaism’s biblical insights and traditions. The idea of the Sabbath is a case in point that I find to be enriching.