Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Tthe stigmata of littleness."




In "Witness" by Whittaker Chambers, p. 134


The Education of Whittaker Chambers by Les Miserables - “Witness”[1]

“I lifted from the top of one barrel a big book whose pages were dog-eared, evidently from much turning by my grandfather. It was an old-fashioned book. The text was set in parallel columns, two columns to a page. There were more than a thousand pages. The type was small. I took the book to the little diamond-shaped attic window to read the small type in the light. I opened to the first page and read the brief foreword…
“The book, of course, was Victor Hugo’s Les MiserablesThe Wretched of the Earth. In its pages can be found the play of forces that carried me into the Communist Party, and in the same pages can be found the play of forces that carried me out of the Communist Party. The roots of both influences are in the same book, which I read devotedly for almost a decade before I ever opened a Bible, and which was, in many respects, the Bible of my boyhood. I think I can hear a derisive question:  ‘How can anyone take seriously a man who says flatly that his life has been influenced by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables?” I understand. I can only answer that, behind its colossal failings, its melodrama, its windy philosophizing, its clots of useless knowledge, its overblown rhetoric and repellent posturing, which offend me, like everybody else, on almost every page, Les Miserables is a great act of the human spirit. And it is a fact that books which fall short of greatness sometimes have a power to move us greatly, especially in childhood when we are least critical and most forgiving, for their very failures confess their humanity. AS a boy, I did not know that Les Miserables is a Summa of the revolt of the mind and soul of modern man against the materialism that was closing over them with the close of the Middle Ages and the rise of industrial civilization – or, as Karl Marx would later teach me to call it: capitalism.
“I took the book downstairs and read for the first time that first line of its story: In 1815, Charles Francois Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne.’ I do not know how many times I have since read that simplest of leads, which has for me, like many greater first lines, the quality of throwing open a door upon man’s fate.
“I read and reread Les Miserables many times in its entirety. I taught me two seemingly irreconcilable things  - Christianity and revolution. It taught me first of all that the basic virtue of life is humility, that before humility, ambition, arrogance, pride and power are seen for what they are, the stigmata of littleness, the betrayal by the mind of the soul, a betrayal which continually fails against a humility that is authentic and consistent. It taught me justice and compassion, not a justice of the law, or, as we say, human justice, but a justice that transcends human justice whenever humanity transcends itself to reach that summit where justice and compassion are one. It taught me that, in a world of force, the least act of humility and compassion requires the utmost exertion of all the powers of mind and soul, that nothing is so difficult, that there can be no true humility and no true compassion where there is no courage. That was the gist of its Christian teaching. It taught me revolution, not as others were to teach me – as a political or historical fact – but as a reflex of human suffering and desperation, a perpetual insurgence of that instinct for justice and truth that lay within the human soul, from which a new vision of truth and justice was continually issuing to meet the new needs of the soul in new ages of the world.
“I scarcely knew that Les Miserables was teaching me Christianity, and never thought of it that way, for it showed it to me, not as a doctrine of the mind, but in action in the world, in prisons, in slums, among the poor, the sick, the dying, thieves, murderers, harlots and outcast, lonely children, in the sewers of Paris and on the barricades of revolution. Its operation did not correspond to anything I knew as Christian in the world about me. But it corresponded exactly to a need I felt within myself.         
Les Miserables gave me my first full-length picture of the modern world – a vast complex, scarcely human structure, built over a social abyss of which the sewers was the symbol, and resting with crushing weight upon the wretched of the earth (…).
“It was, above all, the character of the Bishop of Digne and the stories about him that I cherished in Les Miserables. As a boy I read them somewhat as other people read the legends of the saints. Perhaps it is necessary to have read them as a child to be able to feel the full force of those stories, which are in many ways childish and appeal instantly to the child mind, just as today they appeal to what is most childlike in me as a man.
“That first day, when I sat in our living room and read how the Bishop came to Digne, I knew that I had found a book that had been written for me. I read how the Bishop moved into his palace with its vast salons and noticed next door a tiny hospital with its sick crowded into a few small rooms. The Bishop called in the director of the hospital and questioned him: How many rooms are there in the hospital; how many sick; how many beds in each room? ‘Look,’ he said at last, ‘there is evidently some mistake here. You have my house and I have your. Give me back my house and move into yours.’ The next day the bishop was in the hospital and the patients were in the palace. ‘He is showing off,’ said the solid citizens.
“The Bishop’s views on human fallibility fixed mine and made it impossible for me ever to be a puritan. ‘To be a saint,’ he sometimes preached to the ‘ferociously virtuous,’ ‘is the exception; to be upright is the rule. Err, falter, sin, but be upright. To commit the least possible sin is the law for man… Sin is a gravitation.’
“He first raised in my mind the question of relative human guilt. Everybody was praising the cleverness of a public prosecutor. A man and woman had been arrewt3ed for some mischief. There was no evidence against the man. By a trick, the prosecutor convinced the woman falsely that the man had been unfaithful to her. She testified against him. ‘Where are the man and woman to be tried?’ asked the Bishop. ‘At the assizes;’ ‘And where,’ asked the Bishop, ‘is the prosecutor to be tried?’
“The Bishop lodged in my mind a permanent suspicion of worldly success and pride of place that never changed in all the changes of my life. He was not one of the ‘rich mitres.’ In Paris he did not ‘catch on.’ He was not considered ‘to have any future.’ For, said Hugo, ‘We live in sad society. Succeed – that is the advice that falls, drop by drop, from the overhanging corruption.’
“The story about the Bishop that I liked best also invovlved the question of worldly appearances. Once day the Bishop had to visit a parish in the steep mountains, where no horse could go. Few bishops would have gone there, either. The Bishop of Digne went, riding on a sure-footed donkey. The solid citizens of the town turned out to greet him. When they saw the Bishop climbing down from his donkey, some of them could not hide their smiles. ‘My bourgeois friends,’ said the Bishop pleasantly, ‘I know why you are smiling. You think that is pretty presumptuous of a poor priest to use the same conveyance that was used by Jesus Christ.’ Thus I first learned the meaning of the word bourgeois, so that, unlike most Americans, I was quite familiar with it when I came across it later in the writings of Marx and Lenin.
“Finally, the Bishop’s view of the world left a permanent, indelible impress on me: ‘He inclined toward the distressed and the repentant. The universe appeared to him like a vast disease; he perceived fever everywhere; he auscultated suffering everywhere. And without try8ing to solve the enigma, he sought to staunch the wound. The formidable spectacle of created things developed a tenderness in him…
“… Even as a Communist, I never quite escaped the Bishop. I put him out of my mind, but I could not put him out of my life.”




[1] Witness Whittaker Chambers, Regnery Gateway (1952) 133-137. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Church is Joyful "When She Goes Out of Herself"

Reflects on the Church's Mission in Searching for the 'Lost Sheep'
By Junno Arocho Esteves
ROME, December 09, 2014 (Zenit.org) - A Church closed in on Herself is a "hopeless Church that is more of a spinster than a mother". These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning. 

According to Vatican Radio, the Pope reflected on today's Gospel from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who went in search of the lost sheep. "And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray," Jesus says. "In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

The Holy Father explained that the Church is joyful and happy "when she goes out of herself." He also explained that the shepherd in the Gospel could have taken a business approach and see losing one sheep as a small loss.

"No, he has the heart of a shepherd, he goes out and searches for [the lost sheep] until he finds it, and then he rejoices, he is joyful," the Pope said.

“The joy of going out to seek the brothers and sisters who are far off: This is the joy of the Church. Here the Church becomes a mother, becomes fruitful”
However, the Pope warned that when the Church closes in on herself, it becomes stagnant and disheartened. Without joy or peace, he said, it becomes "a Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother."

"The joy of the Church is to give birth; the joy of the Church is to go out of herself to give life; the joy of the Church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost; the joy of the Church is precisely the tenderness of the shepherd, the tenderness of the mother," he said.
Concluding his homily, the Pope called on the faithful to pray for grace of being joyful Christians, who may have organizational perfection in the Church, yet are barren and do not give fruit.

"May the Lord console us with the consolation of a Mother Church that goes out of herself and consoles us with the consolation of the tenderness of Jesus and His mercy in the forgiveness of our sins," concluded.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Immaculate Conception 2014

1)      Colossians 1, 16: “All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together… For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven. By making peace through the blood of his cross.”
2)      Robert Barron comments: “In this Jesus, all things have come to be; he is the prototype of all finite existence, even of those great powers that transcend the world and govern human affairs. … Individuals, societies, cultures, animals, plants, planets and the stars – all will be drawn into an eschatological harmony thorough him. Mind you, Jesus is not merely the symbol of an intelligibility, coherence, and reconciliation that can exist apart from him; rather, he is the active and indispensable means by which these realities come to be. This Jesus, in short, is the all-embracing, all-including, all-reconciling Lord of whatever is to be found in the dimensions of time and space.”
In this regard, consider Ephesians 1, 4 that speaks of Christ as pre-existing the world: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as his sons…”
3)      And then, there is sin, and we make ourselves into God and separate ourselves from Him to death.
4)      But Love as Mercy is more powerful than death. And Christ appears in time and space for the recreation of all things in Him. And as Christ Who is the second Person of the Trinity and, with the Father and the Spirit, is Being Itself giving reality as being to the world, receives a body from  the Virgin to become a being in the world. But as it is the humanity of the eternal Person of the Son, the humanity and the Virgin who gave it to him, also exist outside of time – although the birth takes place in time and space.
5)      Joseph Ratzinger notes: “The question arises in our minds: What kind of history must it have been that truly created at last the “space,” the conditions, for the incarnation of God! What kind of human beings must they have been who traveled the final stretch of the journey! What integrity and maturity of spirit must have been attained at the point at which this supreme transformation of man and the world could take place! But if we approach the text with these kinds of expectations, we shall find ourselves disappointed. The history of which Jesus becomes a part is a very ordinary history, marked by all the scandals and infamies to be found among human beings, all the advances and good beginnings, but also all the sinfulness and vileness – an utterly human history!
“The only four women named in the genealogy are all four of them witnesses to human sinfulness: Among them is Rahab the harlot, who delivered Jericho into the hands of the migrating Israelites. Among them, too, is the wife of Uriah, the woman whom David god for himself through adultery and murder. Nor are the males in the genealogy any different. …

The point: “Is that the context into which the Son of God could be born? And the Scriptures answer: Yes. But all this is a sign for us. It tells us that the incarnation of God does not result from an ascent on the part of the human race but  from  the descent of God. The ascent of man, the attempt to bring forth God by his own efforts and to attain the status of superman – this attempt failed wretchedly back in Paradise. The person who tries to become God by his own  efforts, who highhandedly reaches for the stars, always ends up by destroying himself.”[1]

6)      The last step to the God-man is the Virgin conceived without sin, and therefore says Yes! to the call to make of self to the Revealing God: And the Word became flesh and re-creates the world in Himself. (to be continued)



[1] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching,” Franciscan Herald Press 20-21.

Read This. Last Sentence: "There's still a great deal left to be done."




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Dr. Ian Crozier, back center, with children he helped save in Sierra Leone.

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PHOENIX — The medical record, from an Ebola case, made for grim reading, but Dr. Ian Crozier could not put it down. Within days of the first symptom, a headache, the patient was fighting for his life. He became delirious, his heartbeat grew ragged, his blood teemed with the virus, and his lungs, liver and kidneys began to fail.
“It’s a horrible-looking chart,” Dr. Crozier said.
It was his own. Dr. Crozier, 44, contracted the disease inSierra Leone while treating Ebola patients in thegovernment hospital in Kenema. He was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Sept. 9, the third American with Ebola to be airlifted there from West Africa. He had a long, agonizing illness, with 40 days in the hospital and dark stretches when his doctors and his family feared he might sustain brain damage or die. His identity was kept secret at his request, to protect his family’s privacy.


Now, for the first time, he is speaking out. His reason, he said, is to thank Emory for the extraordinary care he received, and to draw attention to the continuing epidemic. He and his family granted their first interviews to The New York Times, and gave permission to interview his physicians.

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Dr. Crozier, back center, with a group of Ebola survivors and a nurse at the government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

His account offers glimpses of the hardships and dangers that have confronted doctors and nurses who volunteered to fight an epidemic that has claimed the lives of more than 330 health care workers — most of them African — and of the desperate need that has drawn them to the front lines. Dr. Crozier told of three brothers, just 4, 5 and 11, who fought for their lives on his ward in Kenema. Not long after, he lay near death in an isolation room at Emory, with his mother reading him poetry through an intercom.
Dr. Crozier, soft-spoken and genial, is now on the mend in Phoenix, where his parents and sister live. But the disease has taken its toll. Six-foot-5 and 220 pounds before he got Ebola, he has lost 30 pounds, much of it muscle. He tires easily, but has begun a grueling physical therapy program to rebuild wasted muscles.
“Ian was by far the sickest patient with Ebola virus that we’ve cared for at Emory,” said Dr. Jay B. Varkey, an infectious-disease specialist.
Doctors say his recovery has taught them that aggressive treatments, even life-support measures like ventilators and dialysis, can save some Ebola patients. Dr. Bruce S. Ribner, who leads the Emory team, said that until recently the general practice was not to bother intubating Ebola patients or put them on dialysis, because if they got that sick they were going to die.
“One of the things Ian taught us was, guess what, you can get sick enough to need those interventions and you can still walk out of the hospital,” Dr. Ribner said. “I think it has sent a message to our colleagues around the world.”
Young Brothers in Peril
Dr. Crozier was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but his family moved to the United States when he was 10, and he became an American citizen. He went to medical school at Vanderbilt University on a scholarship, specializing in infectious diseases.
He was always drawn back to Africa. He was living in Uganda, treating patients with H.I.V. and training doctors at the Infectious Diseases Institute in Kampala, when Ebola broke out in West Africa. He wanted to help.
“Anyone who was on the ground in Africa and not in West Africa, you would think, maybe we’re missing the bus, missing something remarkable,” he said. “And my skills meet the need.”
Dr. Crozier signed on with the World Health Organization — expenses only, no pay — and by August he was in Kenema. He planned to stay three or four weeks.
It was even more wrenching than he had imagined — the sights, the sounds, the smells, the steady stream of deaths. There were often 60 to 80 patients, sometimes more, suspected and confirmed cases, from all over the country. They arrived day and night.
Blood, stool and vomit were ever-present though cleaners mopped with chlorine several times a day. Choruses of delirious patients with bloodshot, eerily vacant eyes would shout “Doctor! Doctor!” over and over. Some were too sick to clean or feed themselves, and there were never enough staff members to tend to them. A patient might lie in one bed and a corpse in the next, waiting to be disinfected, bagged and taken away.
“Those isolation wards are horrible places,” Dr. Crozier said.

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Dr. Crozier last week in Phoenix, where he is recuperating after an Ebola infection that nearly killed him.CreditNick Cote for The New York Times

But there were moments of grace. Mothers whose babies had died would feed children who were orphaned or alone.
“Childless parents took care of parentless children,” he said.
The protective gear required to enter the ward — hood, masks, rubber boots, goggles, double gloves, Tyvek suit — was stifling. No one could wear it for more than an hour without becoming dangerously overheated. Dr. Crozier would go into the ward two or three times a day for as long he could stand it. When he came out to cool off, he would pour the sweat out of his boots.
One night, the three young brothers were brought in. All were infected. Their mother had died, and their father was absent.
“I didn’t think they’d survive,” Dr. Crozier said.
The oldest, Victor, 11, was also the sickest. Dr. Crozier, the oldest of four children in his family, saw a bit of himself in Victor. The boy had taken on the role of father, and even when he was lying on a mattress on the floor, soiled by vomit and diarrhea, the younger ones, Shaku and Ibrahim, would not leave him.
“They were this little band of brothers,” Dr. Crozier said. Sometimes he wished he could rip off his protective gear and hold them.
The last thing he would do at night was make sure they and the other children were fed.
Returning to the ward each morning, he kept expecting to find that one or more of the brothers had died. But they kept surprising him.
“They just sort of pushed each other through it,” he said.
They recovered enough to race around the ward with other children — including two boys named Success and Courage — playing, laughing and making a nuisance of themselves, Dr. Crozier said.
“In such a dark place, they were little cracks of joy,” he said. The brothers survived, but others like them did not.
Many local nurses had contracted Ebola and died in Kenema. Aid workers from other countries also became infected, and Dr. Crozier arranged medical evacuation flights for several of them. He never dreamed he would become a passenger on that plane.



On the morning of Saturday, Sept. 6, during rounds on the ward, he developed a fever and a headache. He isolated himself in his hotel, hoping he had malaria. A colleague brought equipment so that Dr. Crozier could draw his own blood for an Ebola test.
She called him the next morning, crying: His Ebola test was positive.
He had no idea how he had become infected.
The plane picked him up on Monday. The World Health Organization paid for the flight, and his medical care. Neither W.H.O. nor Emory would provide an estimate of the cost, but a spokesman for Emory acknowledged that treating Ebola patients was very expensive.
Dr. Crozier took pictures of himself during the flight as his face swelled and he broke out in a rash. It may have been a way to disconnect from fear, he said.
“I had seen seven, eight, nine, 10 people a day die from what I had,” he said, adding, “If I had stayed in Kenema, I would have been dead in a week.”
Deteriorating Condition
He has no memory of the three weeks after he arrived at Emory. The isolation unit there was built 12 years ago at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is less than a mile away.


His family and girlfriend filled with dread as they watched him decline. They could not enter his room, but could see him through a window and talk to him over an intercom. His temperature was 104 degrees. His hands shook violently. He spent more and more time sleeping, and sank into delirium, his mind still in Kenema.
The family had been warned that Ebola often causes such intense diarrhea that patients can lose eight or 10 quarts of fluid a day, and Dr. Crozier was heading toward that stage. He would be pumped full of fluids and salts to prevent dehydration, which kills many Ebola patients. The family thought that once he got through that phase, he would start to improve.
Instead he got worse. By Friday he was struggling to breathe, his chest heaving. The sight tore at his relatives. On Sunday morning, he was placed on a ventilator.
“It seemed to signify final stages,” said his sister, Anne.

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A nurse who had also been infected in Kenema, Will Pooley — whose evacuation Dr. Crozier had supervised — flew to Emory from England and donated several units of plasma. Survivors have antibodies that may help fight off the virus, and a number of patients have been given such transfusions. Dr. Crozier’s virus levels began dropping, but his kidneys failed, and he was connected to a dialysis machine. He had swelled up with 20 pounds of excess fluid, and all that his relatives could see through the window were tubes, machines and a bloated face they barely recognized. He had begun having abnormal heart rhythms. Doctors warned that he might not survive.
He was on the ventilator for 12 days, and on dialysis for 24. Members of his family read him emails from friends, played his favorite music and told him over and over that he would be all right. They gave his nurses dozens of family photos to tape to his walls.
His mother, Pat, spent most nights at the hospital. She spoke to her son, hummed hymns and every day read him a poem that her brother in Zimbabwe, the poet and novelist John Eppel, had written for him. The poem recalled Dr. Crozier as a bald, bigheaded boy who waged war with syringa berries, “the stick-breaker, the toddler I carried on my shoulders up and down the dirt tracks.”
Mrs. Crozier had been a nurse-midwife, and her training made her painfully aware of signs that her son was deteriorating.
"The really tough part was the thought that he was going to die and that I was not going to be able to touch him before he left the earth,” she said. “So he was either going to go in a body bag to the C.D.C. for research, or he was going to be incinerated rapidly.”
Work Lies Ahead
He began to recover physically. But there were ominous signs that he might have suffered brain damage: His eyes wandered in different directions, and he took a long time to wake up when his sedation was withdrawn.
“I thought we’d be discharging him to a nursing home as a cognitively impaired person,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, one of his doctors. She said his difficult course had left her in a "dark psychological place” that for a while had made her feel hesitant about treating more Ebola patients, for fear that they might be as sick as Dr. Crozier.
When he finally did open his eyes at the end of September, a few days after his 44th birthday, he looked around the room in a way that reminded his sister, Anne, of a newborn baby. She spoke softly through the intercom, as if he were a child. Her voice, reassuring him that he was all right, is the first thing he remembers.
At first, he had trouble making conversation. But he grilled doctors about his lab results, so the family knew his mind was intact.
There are scarlike lesions on his retinas, and it is not clear whether they are getting better or worse. Though people around him do not notice it, he says his mind is not working as fast as it should, and he sometimes has trouble thinking of the word he wants to say.

“It’s a fear,” he said. “Am I going to be myself again, completely?”
Dr. Crozier hopes to return to West Africa by February or March to help treat more Ebola patients. Survivors are thought to be immune to the strain that infected them, so he figures he has built-in protection.
“There’s still a great deal left to be done,” he said.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Alert: HHS Ruling Could Put Little Sisters of the Poor Out of Business.


Sarah Berlinghieri

Nov 29 (1 day ago)
to
We are praying for the Little Sisters and their case against the HHS mandate.  Please see the information below.  If you start a novenatomorrow(Nov. 30), it will end on the Immaculate Conception, their day in court!  Thank you for your prayers for my sister's order!


 

Dear Friends:
 
It has been some time since we have heard news regarding the continuing battle against the government abortion/contraception mandate (the so-called "HHS mandate").  However I bring it back to your attention because it is reaching a critical moment in the history of our nation.  See email below from Ed Mechmann, Director of Public Policy to further explain: 
 
Three federal appeals courts have heard cases brought by religious non-profit organizations, challenging the so-called "accommodation" (see my blog, explaining this "accommodation": http://blog.archny.org/steppingout/?p=3276).  Unfortunately, all three courts have ruled against the religious organizations (which included the University of Notre Dame, the Michigan Catholic Conference, Priests for Life, and the Archdiocese of Washington DC).  While there have been many lower court rulings against the HHS mandate and accommodation, these rulings by appellate courts (which are just one step below the Supreme Court) are very troubling. 
 
The next major court battle is just around the corner.  On December 8th  the Little Sisters of the Poor will have their day in court in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.  This is a critical moment.  The Little Sisters present perhaps the best and clearest example of a religious organization that is faced with an existential threat by the HHS mandate (see my explanation here:http://blog.archny.org/steppingout/?p=3076).  A victory by the Little Sisters will send a clear message to the Supreme Court, and will increase the chances that other religious non-profits will be protected from the ruinous fines that would be imposed under the HHS mandate.  A defeat could subject the Little Sisters to as much as $50 million in fines for following their conscience -- that would put them out of business, and also send an ominous message about the future of religious liberty in America.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
Edward T. Mechmann, Esq.
Director of Public Policy
Archdiocese of New York
 
I would urge you to spread word of this via all social media outlets (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).  It is vitally important that we show our support for the Little Sisters of the Poor http://www.littlesistersofthepoor.org/ and pray for the attorneys who will be representing them at the Becket Fund for Religious Libertyhttp://www.becketfund.org/littlesisters/  and also pray for wisdom for the three judges who will be hearing their case.   If you are able to offer some form of fast/sacrifice for this intention that would be great. 
 
Finally, since December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, let us ask our Lady, Patroness of the United States of America, to powerfully intercede to protect our nation and its God given freedoms.  For prayer resources see http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/prayer-resources.cfm  
 
Thank you and God bless you. 
 
Sr. Lucy Marie
Respect Life Coordinator
Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Ave, 7th floor
New York, NY  10022
Mon-Thurs 9:45am-4:45pm

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

(Talk 3, unscripted version of the October 3 talk) “EUROPE, RETURN TO JESUS!” by Pope Francis



“EUROPE, RETURN TO JESUS!”

(Talk 3, unscripted version of the October 3 talk)
by Pope Francis


Dear brother bishops,

I greet all of you with affection on the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe. And I thank Cardinal Peter Erdõ for the words with which he introduced this meeting. I will have this address distributed to you and permit myself to say a few things that are in my heart and that the words of His Eminence have brought to the surface.

What is happening today in Europe? What is going on in the heart of our mother Europe? Is she still our mother Europe, or grandma Europe? Is she still fertile? Has she fallen into sterility? Is she unable to give new life? For one thing, this Europe has committed a few sins. We must say this with love: it has not wanted to recognize one of its roots. And because of this it feels and does not feel Christian. Or it feels Christian somewhat in secret, but doesn't want to recognize it, this European root.

The Europe of today has been invaded. It may be the second invasion of the barbarians, I don't know. First it opened its doors in order to profit from labor. But now it feels this “invasion” of people who are coming to look for work, who are fleeing from their homeland in search of freedom and a better life.

Europe is wounded. I'll go back to that image that says so much to me, and I say that the Church today seems to me like a field hospital because there are so many wounded in the Church. But Europe is wounded too. Wounded by all the trials it has undergone. It has gone from the time of prosperity, of great well-being, to a worrying crisis in which young people too are discarded. In the newspapers the other day it said that here in Italy youth unemployment is up to 43 percent, I think. In Spain it’s 50 percent. And the Spanish bishops have told me that in Andalusia it is almost at 60 percent.

Cardinal Erdõ talked about the discarding of children and the elderly. And it's true. But now there is also the discarding of a whole generation of young people. I don't know if it is only in Europe, or in Europe and in the developed countries, that there is talk of 75 million from the age of twenty-five and down. But it's a whole generation. As European bishops, what are we doing for the young people? Giving them something to eat? Yes, that's the first thing. But that doesn't give dignity to a young person, to anyone. Dignity comes from work. And there is the danger that the children of mother, today practically grandma Europe, are losing their dignity because they do not have jobs and cannot bring bread home. Europe has discarded its children. A bit triumphantly. I remember that when I was studying in one country the clinics that did abortions then prepared everything to send it to cosmetic factories. Makeup made with the blood of innocents. And this was something to brag about, because it was progressive: the rights of the woman, the woman has the right over her body.

I don't know about here in Italy, I don't want to say because I'm not sure, but what will happen when the state is unable to pay the pensions, because there aren't enough young people working according to the law, because there is that black market for labor that they do, not always but… And the elderly - I've said this about Latin America, about my country, but I believe it's a universal problem or of many countries or some other continents - the elderly are discarded with stealth euthanasia. The social services cover medical treatment up to a certain point, and then you're on your own!

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness.

Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe -- or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe -- only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

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(Talk 4, prepared version of the October 3 talk)

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE
COUNCIL OF THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCES OF EUROPE (CCEE)


Consistory Hall
Friday, 3 October 2014

Dear Brother Bishops,

I affectionately greet all of you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and I thank Cardinal Péter Erdő for the words with which he introduced this meeting.

As Pastors close to your community and attentive to the needs of the people, you know well the complexity of the situation and the pressing challenges to which the mission of the Church is subjected, also in Europe. As I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, we are called to be a Church which “goes forth”, moving from the centre to the peripheries to go towards all, without fear and without diffidence, with apostolic courage (n. 20). How many brothers and sisters, how many situations, how many contexts, even the most difficult, are in need of the light of the Gospel!

I would like to thank you, dear brothers, for the commitment with which you have welcomed this text. I know that this Document is increasingly the object of deep pastoral reflection and the starting point for paths of faith and evangelization in many parishes, communities and groups. This too is a sign of communion and the unity of the Church.

The theme of your Plenary: “Family and the Future of Europe” presents an important occasion to reflect together on how to value the family as a precious resource for pastoral renewal. I feel it is important for Pastors and families to work together in a spirit of humility and sincere dialogue so that the respective parish communities may become a “family of families”. In this context interesting experiences have blossomed, which call for proper attention in view of furthering fruitful cooperation in your respective local Churches. Engaged couples who seriously live marriage preparation; married couples who welcome foster or adopted children; groups of families who in parishes or in movements help each other on the path of life and faith. There is no lack of experience of different types of pastoral care of the family and of political and social commitment in supporting families, both those who live traditional married lives and those marked by problems or by breakup. It is important to take these important experiences in the various contexts and in the life of the men and women of today, as a propitious time to exercise careful discernment in order to “network” them, thus involving other diocesan communities.

The cooperation between Pastors and families also extends to the field of education. Indeed, the family, which already fulfills its role with regard to its members, is a school of humanity, brotherhood, love, communion which forms mature and responsible citizens. Open cooperation between the clergy and families will favour the maturation of a spirit of justice, of solidarity, of peace and the courage of one’s convictions. This will come about by supporting parents in their responsibility to educate their children, thus protecting their inalienable right to provide their children with the education they deem most suitable. Parents, in fact, remain the first and foremost educators of their children, thus they have the right to educate them according to their moral and religious convictions. In this way, you will be able to outline common and coordinated pastoral directives necessary to promote and effectively support Catholic schools.

Dear brothers, I encourage you to maintain your commitment to promote the communion of the various Churches in Europe, facilitating appropriate cooperation for fruitful evangelization. I also invite you to be a “prophetic voice” within society, above all where the process of secularization, taking place on the continent of Europe, tends to render speaking of God increasingly marginal. May the heavenly intercession of the Virgin Mary and Saints and Patron Saints of Europe sustain you in this task. I ask you to please pray for me and I bless you from my heart.

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Final note: This does not mean that this above text is not correct. It is the text that was prepared for the occasion; so it is correct. But, Pope Francis set it aside and spoke from the heart, extemporaneously, and that text is the prior one, published yesterday for the first time by Magister from the notes of an unknown source.

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The Anthropological Question - at the bottom of all Robert Moynihan letters:

"You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing." —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos