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Twitter chatter and main stream secular media dubbed him the Rock Star Pope. Indeed, Pope Francis took the media,the U.S. Congress, New York and Phildelphia by storm. Crowds, hungry for spiritual nourishment, roared with delight calling out "Viva Papa" as he passed by in a motorcade, fell pin-drop silent in a million plus open air Mass.
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Grief is a tsunami of emotions. Loss abounds throughout life. Loss of friends, family, marriage, work, community, belief systems. On it goes. One of the major challenges is that, too often, we do not realize we are grieving. Easy to do. Society roars along as it deals with rampant change. Stopping, or even allowing time to take the side road to work through grief, is forbidden in today's society.
Among the various responsibilities of a Catholic university is the call to be faithful to its mission in all its dimensions. This includes the duty to do what is possible to promote a vibrant and just political order. This particular obligation is especially pertinent for Catholic higher education in Canada in this federal election year, when a period of seemingly bottomless cynicism pervades the ranks of much of Canada's youth about the nature of federal politics.
Jesus taught this and, I suspect, we generally don't grasp the full range of it meaning. We tend to take Jesus' words to mean the following: What good is it if someone gains riches, fame, pleasure, and glory and then dies and goes to hell? What good is earthly glory or pleasure if we miss out on eternal life? Well, Jesus' teaching does mean that, no question. But there are other lessons in this teaching that have important things to instruct us about health and happiness already here in this life.
Of all the sights and sounds that filled the air during Pope Francis's inspiring visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, I was most moved by his surprising references to Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Of course, I was deeply honoured to have the privilege of meeting Pope Francis myself, but it was his praise of two persons who combated establishment thinking of the time to work for peace that really lifted me up.
I retired from my position at the Social Justice Office at the Edmonton Archdiocese last June. My last public job responsibility was to assist with presenting Pope Francis' new encyclical Laudato si to the Edmonton media. This meant studying the preparatory materials and speed reading the encyclical text just prior to its date of publication. Since then, Laudato si continues to be very much part of my life as I am being asked to dig deeper into this remarkable document, and to help lead study sessions with different Catholic and ecumenical groups.
I have a little crucifix on the wall above my desk. Nothing much, some 15 cm high and made of plastic. I found it on a top shelf at a Goodwill store, where odd figurines, strangely shaped cups and plaster Christmas trees await an interested eye. The crucifix was almost invisible, as it lay flat between a large, colourful merry-go-round and a statuette of a wizard holding a glass bowl.
We all have a profound need for the mercy of Jesus in our lives. The human heart can never be fully awakened unless we encounter his mercy in a personal way. In this week's Gospel we read: "As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizeable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.
As an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, it has fascinated me to what a Christian mystery when I distribute the Body of Christ at Sunday Mass in my home parish of Holy Trinity Parish. The mystery goes beyond handling and physically distributing Communion, placing the transformed white wafer into the hands of outstretched souls; the mystery is how I see the Eucharist and how it has changed me.