The Catholic Apostolate Center offers condolences and prayers for the victims and their families and all those affected by the tragedy during the Boston Marathon and the on going violence experienced. Please join us in continuing to pray for an end to violence and for peace throughout the world.
Mary, Queen of Peace and Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Prayer Attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
This new pope literally had me at “hello” — unimposing, humble hand wave from the balcony and all. And this humble legacy continues; Pope Francis is turning heads left and right of both the “left” and “right,” consistently shunning the traditional trappings the papacy has offered for hundreds of years. His latest press-stunner: he will not be sleeping in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace, but rather in the Vatican guesthouse—a less luxurious living arrangement that puts him in community with those who will be working with and for him. As a Catholic, I’m shocked and amazed. As a Franciscan (and a Capuchin to boot!) I’m humbled and inspired. “He’s out-Franciscan-ing the Franciscans!” I’ve heard people say. And I must agree. This new pope is certainly living up to his namesake—trading the regality and legality of the position and opting for, in my opinion, something a little more expected of a “servant of servants.”
Fortunately for us “fledgling Franciscans” in studies, we are being given a great example from our new leader. I’m not lying when I say that this pope has made me reflect on my own life of simplicity and ask some tough questions that I can’t necessarily provide ready answers for at the moment. This is how I know when someone is dripping with authenticity: when the example they give calls my own integrity into question. I just didn’t think it would be a Jesuit that would do it!
I have to remind myself that while this pope chose the name Francis (and is living up to the title!), his colors as a Jesuit are shining more true than ever. My experiences with Jesuits are limited, but what I have experienced has been nothing short of impressive. The Jesuits of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia heard my confessions as a bright-eyed Capuchin postulant with utter compassion and sensitivity. The Jesuit Retreat House in Parma, Ohio have led myself and thousands of others on spiritual journeys through retreats and programs—sharing with the Church the wealth of Jesuit spirituality and discernment. My uncles and cousins who were educated by them in Toledo, Ohio boast of their Jesuit education with a glowing pride, as I’m sure others can attest to throughout the United States in the plethora of Jesuit institutions of learning. Their missionary zeal speaks for itself in their martyrology. It’s a life given over in love for the sake of the people. Needless to say, these men are made of the stuff of saints—and I constantly remind myself that I’m selling this guy short when I boast of his Franciscan spirit and put aside his life-long service and evangelical influence as a faithful Jesuit.
Our new pope bears the name Francis, loves the poor, lives simply and humbly, and upholds the teachings of the Church—and every one of these decisions of his grow fruitfully, no doubt, from a life given to Christ and His Church in the Jesuit tradition. This pope has, ironically, helped me realize less of what separates Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola and more of what they have in common: a burning desire to serve the poor of this world in charity and humility. Who could have figured that it would take a Jesuit to show me how to be a real Franciscan!
Brother Brian Stacy, O.F.M. Cap. is a Capuchin Franciscan from the St. Augustine Province and is currently studying at The Catholic University of America.
A Jesuit with the name Francis! No one saw it coming. For weeks now we have heard whispers of Cardinal Scola or Cardinal Turkson, while here in the States we have heard arguments for the candidacy of Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal O’Malley. Yet, no one thought a Jesuit would be next, even more so a Jesuit choosing the name Francis! As I watched the live stream on the phone with a good friend, he shared the following short phrase: “‘Francis, rebuild my church’ - how appropriate for this time in our Church.”
Bonaventure in his work Life of Francis wrote the following passage that is worth revisiting this day, as we reflect on the gaudium magnum which we received yesterday:
“One day when Francis went out to meditate in the fields he was passing by the church of San Damiano which was threatening to collapse because of extreme age. Inspired by the Spirit, he went inside to pray.
Kneeling before an image of the Crucified, he was filled with great fervor and consolation as he prayed. While his tear-filled eyes were gazing at the Lord's cross, he heard with his bodily ears a voice coming from the cross, telling him three times: 'Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruin.'
Trembling with fear, Francis was amazed at the sound of this astonishing voice, since he was alone in the church; and as he received in his heart the power of the divine words, he fell into a state of ecstasy. Returning finally to his senses, he prepared to put his whole heart into obeying the command he had received. He began zealously to repair the church materially, although the principle intention of the words referred to that Church which Christ purchased with his own blood, as the Holy Spirit afterward made him realize [...]”
Although the event described by St. Bonaventure took place in 1204, this voice from the Cross fills our Church yet again, beckoning us to build up Christ’s Body and bring about God’s Kingdom through love. Similar to St. Francis’ initial reaction upon hearing God’s call, many of us are amazed at the news of who has been chosen as the next successor to St. Peter. But let us also follow in St. Francis’ footsteps by laboring zealously to repair the Church – both local and universal – with the guidance of Pope Francis who has already witnessed to us great humility, compassion, and strength.
There is much more to say and to learn about our new Holy Father, but we cannot provide everything here. We invite you to visit our Pope Francis Portal for up-to-date information, videos, and resources on the newly elected Roman Pontiff, the humble servant of the servants of God – servus servorum dei.
Pam Tremblay is the Blog Editor for the Catholic Apostolate Center.
“With a happy and cheerful face, we can prove that the imitation of Christ fills our lives with joy.”
– St. Vincent Pallotti
We live in a celebratory society. We celebrate the birth of a child, the graduation of a student, and the birthday of a friend. In my family, there is always an excuse for a party. This past year, in particular, offered many opportunities for celebrations: the birth of my niece, my Grandma’s 85th birthday, my sister-in-law’s new job, the wedding of two different cousins this past fall, and my own wedding last summer. As a society and in our families, we have parties for holidays, sporting events, and sometimes for no particular reason at all. Why not take those every day celebrations and lead them into a celebration of the life of our faith? Why not live our faith life with joy?
Our Catholic faith is one of celebration; we are an Easter people, a joyful people! In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells the disciples: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4). We are urged in our faith to rejoice and celebrate all we have been given from God.
In his book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life, Rev. James Martin, SJ tells a story of meeting the Superior-General of the Jesuits, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, during his formation. When Martin asks Kolvenbach what the best ways are to increase vocations, the Superior-General replies, “Live your own vocation joyfully.” Martin goes on to say, “Joy attracts people to God. Why would anyone want to join a group of miserable people?” (88). If we are living out our faith joyfully, others will take notice.
We can even look to the saints as examples of how to live our lives joyfully. St. Therese of Lisieux lived her vocation joyfully as a Carmelite nun, doing little acts for those around her; living out her faith in a simple way. St. Francis of Assisi felt that his life was a gift of love and spent his life in thanksgiving for that gift.
No matter what our vocation in life is and no matter what we are facing, we need to remember we are an Easter people and strive to live life with joy. This doesn’t mean that we have to be happy all the time or that there won’t be periods of darkness or indifference. It means that we need to cherish what we have been given, aim to serve others, and celebrate our faith in God.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.”
Monica Thom Konschnik serves as the Administrator for the Catholic Apostolate Center and the Pallottine Seminary at Green Hill.
It is no secret that when disaster strikes, human beings band together to take care of each other. Regardless of race, age, gender, or belief system people come together to help rebuild homes and people’s spirits. This held true in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: a hurricane that barreled up the eastern seaboard bringing destruction to parts of New Jersey and New York. Across the country, people held food and clothing drives to try and bring relief to the affected areas. In the midst of a tragedy faith, hope, and love were restored because of the actions of people across the country.
Thankfully, there was no damage done to my home when Hurricane Sandy hit, but some of my other friends were not as lucky. Their homes have been destroyed and all their memories have been washed away with the floodwaters. After talking to some of the people who did lose everything, they said their faith in humanity was restored through the charity of others. When they said it, I didn’t think much about it. But then I began to think of what the word charity and being charitable truly means.
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words”. Charity is an action that embodies this idea. When sharing our faith and living out what it means to be a Catholic, we do not have to use words and preach to people. Instead, we can use actions to evangelize and show the world what it truly means to be a Catholic. Actions speak louder than words and this holds true for the New Evangelization. This has been true for years, but I have not seen it displayed as prominently as I have through the hurricane relief efforts. Regardless of age, people are pitching in and donating both time and money. Their actions are showing what it means not only to be charitable but also Christian.
Young adults can use charity and Catholic Social Teaching to live out the New Evangelization not only during a time of crisis but during their everyday life. Catholic Social Teaching provides guidelines that people can use to live a just and moral life. Seven key themes of the Church’s social teaching include: life and dignity of the human person, call to family, community, and participation, rights and responsibilities, option for the poor and vulnerable, dignity of the rights of workers, solidarity and care for God’s creation. Catholic Social Teaching offers ways to live out our faith in everyday life and helps us in becoming tangible signs of Christ’s love.
I tell my students everyday that what we learn in class does not stop when they walk out the door. We are all walking signs of God’s love and it is our mission to spread it to everyone. Through our actions let us work to restore faith, hope and love in our world and be part of this New Evangelization.
Erin Flynn is a religion teacher at The Mary Louis Academy in New York.