Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Can God Get Close to You?

I've studied the spiritual life, looked at my relationship with God through many years, under many circumstance. I'm just a plain old ordinary man, uncomplicated trying to make sense of the world. That's truly it, nothing more than that pursuit at this time in my life. The few things that I've learned about the mystery of God is that to really encounter Him, in a manner in which you can grow and listen to Him, you have to develop what I call a spiritual life. I think a good analogy would be someone who is an outdoor person. A person who spends a great deal of time outdoors, could be farming, hunting, fishing, trail walking, gardening etc. That person becomes attuned to the external world, he or she becomes sensitive to the small nuances of the the things in nature. The breeze, or stillness of the air, moisture, the angle of the sun, coolness and warmth, the sounds of birds, insects, the ground as you walk. There is a heightened awareness of these things that is missing from an indoor person. Today unfortunately we have many more indoor persons than outdoor persons. In the spiritual life, it is absolutely necessary to understand two things, first silence is an absolute necessity and material attractions prevent the inner self to loose itself. God is always present, but in our quiet meditative persona or state, we can find the course that leads us to Him. To me God and more specifically Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity is the source for understanding the world, the means to figuring things out. The thing to figure out is what happens after my last breath comes out. That's it if you are not in a state conducive to seeking and finding God (if you are in a state of mortal sin, this becomes extremely difficult), God will not become close to you, not because He can't but because you won't let Him.                                              

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Silent Night

I haven't written a post in this blog since last April when Pope Benedict XVI decided to step down and the conclave had started. Many were surprised at Pope Francis election, he has since demonstrated his very Christ-like imitation in his service to the poor and outcasts of society. He has called on all Christians to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ and identifies evangelization as the center of the Church's concern. I am fond of Pope Francis and see his work not in a radically different direction but rather a synthesis of the philosophy of Pope John Paul II, the theology of Pope Benedict XVI. It is in knowing God, through reason and expounding on his mysteries that we encounter Jesus Christ, who then "lives within us." The title of the post "Silent Night" has for me several different themes: the song itself evokes the wonder, and awe and splendor of a silent night, when God mysteriously enters, yes Christmas is getting near, but I think we should focus on that cold, silent and still night and what is about to happen, why it is about to happen, and why it happened to you and me, focus on it on a very personal level. The other theme of Silent Night is the silence of a world that has shut the door on God. A world that is super materialistic, self absorbed, shallow and superficial. A silent night where church pews are empty, where immorality, violence and sensual pleasure take precedence. A silent night where the pursuit of power and money leaves no room for charity and even less room for God. Yet another theme is the silent night for those living in poverty, the voices that fall silent to the world. Finally, there is a silent night, one that at times is dreadful, as we make our spiritual journey realizing how great sinners we are. The night is still and dark as we await the only real hope we have. We need as Jesus tells us" to stay awake," to hang in there, to turn away from evil, immorality, and turn towards good, findind a place to prepare in our heart for Christ the Savior.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Yes we have a Conclave!

VATICAN CITY — The identity of the new pope fuels enormous anticipation, but the next most breathlessly discussed topic here has been when the cardinals will actually get down to choosing him.
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Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Brazil, center, and Cardinal Geraldo Agnelo of Brazil arrived for a meeting in the Synod Hall at the Vatican on Friday.

Examining the Conclave

Cardinals Hold 4th Day of Talks on New Pope (March 8, 2013)
Memo From Rome: Pope Wanted. Must Possess Magnetic Charm. And Grit. (March 8, 2013)
The Lede: Video of Preparations Inside the Sistine Chapel for Conclave (March 8, 2013)

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The answer is Tuesday. The cardinals, after five days of meetings and plenty of speculation, settled on the date within a half-hour of the start of an afternoon session on Friday. The news was transmitted by an e-mail from the Vatican press office. Cutting their discussions short suggests that they have moved closer to drawing up a list of candidates, or at least the qualities they want in a new pope — a pastoral communicator, a firm administrator, a reformer of the Vatican’s scandal-tainted bureaucracy. But the field remains wide open, with no one considered a heavy favorite. A two-thirds majority, or 77 of the 115 elector cardinals, is required to elect a pope.

Given the record of conclaves in the past 110 years, it is likely that Catholics will have a new pontiff by the end of next week, in plenty of time for the beginning of Easter ceremonies, starting with Palm Sunday on March 24. The longest of those conclaves was in 1903 (ending in the selection of Pius X) and 1922 (Pius XI), each lasting five days. Three lasted two days, including the one that elected Benedict XVI in 2005.

On Tuesday, the cardinals will first attend a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for papal elections, and then in the afternoon they will file into the Sistine Chapel to begin their secret, anonymous balloting. They will hold one round of voting that afternoon and return to cast their ballots again on Wednesday.

The cardinals began meeting on Monday, four days after Benedict XVI left the Vatican forever as pope, the first man to resign the office in nearly 600 years. As part of the rules of papal transition, the cardinals take charge of the church, gather daily to discuss its future and share their hopes and expectations for the next vicar of Christ on earth.

A logistical task comes next: the assigning by lot of rooms for the 115 cardinals at the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence for the duration of the conclave, where they will be denied contact with the outside world. The random assignments ensure a spirit of objectivity, said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. It ensures that cardinals cannot pick their neighbors, he added.

At their daily briefing on Friday, Vatican press officials showed silent video images of the modest accommodations — a sitting room with a table and facing chairs, a single bed with a wrought-iron headboard, a small television (which will presumably be removed or deactivated), unadorned white walls. The officials also showed images of a luxury suite destined to house the new pope while his apartment in the Apostolic Palace is prepared.

Father Lombardi said that slightly more than 100 of the 150 or so cardinals present had given short speeches about the state of the church and what was needed in the next pope, a subtle form of politicking and auditioning. Another session is scheduled for Saturday.

Vatican analysts and Vaticanisti, those journalists who closely cover the Holy See and papal matters, have offered theories about the significance of the length of the meetings. One view is that Italian cardinals and insiders wanted to move quickly to a conclave to stave off too much scrutiny of the scandals that have washed over the Vatican in recent months. Another is that outsiders and foreign cardinals feel the need to explore questions of corruption and mismanagement more deeply, pushing to extend the talks.

But other factors are at play. The congregation meetings are the last opportunities for cardinals older than 80 — who are not eligible to vote in the conclave — to voice their views publicly about the direction of the church and the kind of pope who should lead it. A more prosaic cause for the timing of the conclave announcement is an interpretation of Vatican rules on declaring a conclave that requires all the elector cardinals to be present to do so. Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Vietnam was the last to arrive on Thursday.

The formal discussions have not been organized according to subject matter. The cardinals speak in the order of their requests.

Normally, the conclave should start 15 to 20 days after the end of a papacy, a period intended to include preparations for a papal funeral and for mourning. But Benedict, in the days before he stepped down, revised the rules to allow an earlier start.

Two of the 117 cardinals under 80 are not attending. They are Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja of Indonesia, who cited ill health, and Britain’s most senior cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who said he would not be attending after being accused of “inappropriate acts” with priests. He later acknowledged that he had been guilty of sexual misconduct.

On Friday, the cardinals voted to accept the reasons given for the two absences, as they are required to do. The vote was a reminder of the need to choose a pope who is untainted by improprieties. “They’re very concerned about getting somebody clean,” said Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for The Tablet, a London-based Catholic weekly. “The O’Brien scandal is right in their faces.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 8, 2013

An earlier version of this article misidentified the week in that begins with Palm Sunday, this year on March 24. It is Holy Week, not Easter week. (Easter week is the week that begins with Easter Sunday.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Candidates for the March Conclave

Cardinal Angelo Scola - Milan
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez - Honduras
Cardinal Leonardi Sandri - Argentina
Cardinal Mark Ouellet - Canada
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco - Genoa
Cardinal peter Turkson - Ghana
Cardinal Timoth Dolan USA

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Let the Conclave Start - A New Pope for Holy Week & Easter

Vatican Raises Possibility of Early March Conclave

AP Photo Alessandra Tarantino

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican raised the possibility Saturday that the conclave to elect the next pope might start sooner than March 15, the earliest date possible under current rules that require a 15-20 day waiting period after the papacy becomes vacant. Vatican spokesman The Rev. Federico Lombardi said that the Vatican rules on papal succession are open to interpretation and that "this is a question that people are discussing." "It is possible that church authorities can prepare a proposal to be taken up by the cardinals on the first day after the papal vacancy" to move up the start of conclave, Lombardi said. He explained that the 15-20 day rule is in place to allow time for the arrival of "all those (cardinals) who are absent" to take part in the conclave in the usual circumstances of convening after a pope dies. But in this case, the cardinals already know that this pontificate will end on Feb. 28 with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, and therefore can get to Rome in plenty of time to take part in the conclave, Lombardi said. The date of the conclave's start is important because Holy Week begins March 24, with Palm Sunday Mass followed by Easter Sunday on March 31. In order to have a new pope in place in time for the most solemn liturgical period on the church calendar, he would need to be installed as pope by Sunday, March 17. Given the tight time-frame, speculation has mounted that some sort of arrangement would be made to start the conclave earlier than a strict reading of the law would allow. Questions about the start of the conclave have swirled ever since Benedict announced on Feb. 11 that he would retire, the first pontiff in 600 years to abdicate rather than stay in office until death. As a result, his decision has created a host of questions about how the Vatican will proceed, given that its procedures for the so-called "sede vacante" - or vacant seat - period between papacies won't begin with a pope's death. Lombardi also gave more details about Benedict's final audiences and plans for retirement, saying already 35,000 people have requested tickets for his final general audience to be held in St. Peter's Square on Feb. 27. He said Benedict would spend about two months in the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome immediately after his abdication, to allow enough time for renovations to be completed on his retirement home - a converted monastery inside the Vatican walls. That means Benedict would be expected to return to the Vatican, no longer as pope, around the end of April or beginning of May, Lombardi said. He was asked if and when the pope would meet with his successor and whether he would participate in his installation Mass; like many open questions about the end of Benedict's papacy, both issues simply haven't yet been resolved, Lombardi said.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI

Now that the shock has run its course on Pope Benedict's resignation as the Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ. Here are some of my thoughts and those of others. I love Pope Benedict XVI. He's a brilliant, holy, and blessed servant of God. He connected this generation to that of his predecessor Pope John Paul II. No one on that joyous day in April 2005, thought his papacy would be very long, he was already 78 years old. I loved his sweet Bavarian accent, it reflected his humility and his love for his flock. I love how he faked out his critics by making his first Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" about Christian charity. His stature as a theologian is world renown, and his voice resonated against the evils of the world, partcicularly the extreme danger of relativism. The Pope demonstrated Catholic discernment in his remarks. We Christians are not robots whom God dictates to do this or that. There aren't voices going off randomly that tell us what to do after we read a particular Scripture passage. The Pope tells us,  After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God... He is fully aware of the magnimity of his decision, conscious of his role in the Church at this moment and the future. He is the Servant of the Servant. After this discernment and mutiple examination of conscience he concludes I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. He is doing this of his own volition, For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter... It is in our acts of true freedom with the guidance from God that we discern what and where God wants us to be. This is the model for discovering our vocations, as we read in Sunday's Gospel after Peter's fishing encounter with Christ, he and the others, When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
We are family in this Church and Our Holy Father has decided to pass the mantel of Shepherding us to anothyer man. We need to pray this Lenten season that God through the Holy Spirit brings to us a vibrant, dynamic, holy and spiritual leader who will stem the tide of secularism, with the Truth of Jesus Christ.