ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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To live the truth

Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent “laetare”

The 4th Sunday of Lent which is also called as “Laetare”, is a pause on the long journey towards Easter, marked by the fast for forty days. On this Sunday the Church was pausing for a while, interrupting the fast for a day. The liturgy has a joyous beginning since the entrance antiphon, taken from the prophet Isaiah: Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast”, the joy of being almost close to the Easter.

In 587 B.C. the king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar seizes and destroys Jerusalem, sets the temple on fire and deports the most useful/capable part of the population to slavery leaving back the older folk. The liturgy of today in the first reading presents us the conclusion of the second book of the Chronicles, whose anonymous author meditates on this disaster that no Israelite could ever have imagined. They looted/ plundered the temple of God. How could this happen?

The reason for deportation is – in the light of faith – the pride of the people of Jerusalem who despised, mocked and ignored the prophets – who were the truth bearers of God. It is not the temples that will save us – the temples with all that they mean of power and privilege, they will be destroyed – it is the truth of the love of God that precedes us, that saves us.

The truth that saves us is that God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son (Jn 3:16)… This verse is the pivot around which the whole history of God with man lives. God has loved, a past that however continues, lasts forever and flourishes even today. The Truth is the Good News that we should repeat on every awakening, on every difficulty, on any distrust. We are not Christians because we love God more; we are Christians because we believe that God loves us.

 In the Gospel “to love” is not abstract instead it is something concrete that which realizes in ‘giving’, donating’ and ‘sacrificing’. This is also with God who never retained anything, even his only Son, which he gave to the world so that the world may be saved in and through him. Hence, God does nothing else but giving eternally, his Son Jesus Christ, who came from the Father as an intention of good, for our life, and calls us to remove that false image of a punitive God who frightens us and in which we were often educated. Love never causes fear;

Nicodemus goes to Jesus at night. Jesus through the darkness of narrow mindedness takes him to the understanding, in the light of the world surrounding him. Let us remember that the world is not bad or evil (as states the false and ignorant spirituality), the world is just a place where freedom plays its entire game: with God, without God, against God, indifferent to God. It’s our choices that determine our exile or our liberation. The God of Jesus Christ, the revealer of the Father, is always beside us, and leaves us free to choose. We too must learn from God to respect everyone’s freedom. Listening to the Word of God means entering into this logic, that is, proclaiming the Gospel without overpowering, with the certainty that even when we move away from him, we always find him near us, because Jesus never abandoned us, even during the time of the exile. Not even in the exile of pain, of unbelief, can snatch us from the arms of his paternal love that illuminates us every night like as it was for Nicodemus.

It is necessary to note the verse 21 of the Gospel of John in chapter 3 which concludes the verses quoted by the liturgy; we have a strong expression: “to live the truth”. We are used to, to seek, to know the truth (science, philosophy), but we are not used to “to live it”. Here, while science and philosophy legitimately seek the truth, the faith instead does what is true, it completes it. What is the truth in John? The Greek term alētheia has more or less the meaning of the term mystērion in St Paul. It indicates the depth of our being where there is the synthesis between love and pain, the meeting point between the human experience and the divine presence, between freedom and the gift. For John as for Paul, the truth is a person who comes to meet us; to be true means to let ourselves to be loved by Christ who comes to meet us and to do the same with the brothers who come to meet us.

This is why in John the “Truth” is related to “the judgment” because choosing it means taking a position for or against the person of Jesus, coming to light, coming out of the superficiality hidden by the darkness. Truth is judgment because it compels a choice and requires an assessment of what we are and what we do. Christianity is a behavior.

This is the mission of the Church as it is a “sacrament”: it should always reveal Christ-Truth to be met, not as a system of doctrines to be known because there is the perennial risk of making it an ideology, a moral philosophy. Unveiling the Truth/Christ means helping men and women to descend into the deep well of their conscience and to remain there listening to the voice of the one who comes to call you them by name because only he knows what is in each of us (Jn. 2:24).

 

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Joy, praise, Love: The Pontificate of Francis

Today, March 13th, five years have passed since Pope Francis sits on the Chair of St. Peter and it shines with a unique light that manifests the working of the Spirit in the Church.

Evangelii Gaudium   Laudato Sì    Amoris Laetitita  Joy, Praise and Love. The very names of  Pope Francis’ magisterial documents give one clear insight to understanding the faith in God and the trust in man that inhabit the priestly heart of Francis. A compelling biblical joy emerges: “I announce to you a great joy that will be of the entire people”.  A joy that has entered the world and that is not reserved only to an exclusive elite of “pure”.

The one who speaks always and only of “doctrine” and separates it from the Gospel, which is its foundation, is a sad Christian and cannot be a credible witness. The disciples teach, first of all, with love, by accepting people as they are, by journeying with them, correcting them as a father would, but above all by contagiously attracting them through their coherent and joyful witness of Christian life.

If we do not “give up looking for those personal or communitarian remedies or fixes that permit us to maintain a distance from the crux of the human drama” (AL), we can not understand the “drama” of the Kerigma; the Kerigma is not a doctrine but a narrative that unfolds. Announcing the Gospel without personal involvement is an illusion, it is not only useless, but counterproductive. Without the smell of the sheep, the Shepherd is no longer a shepherd and becomes a wolf, he smells only of incense and of ink, he no longer wears the dirty clothes proper to the shepherd, but rather cloaks of the Constantinian era, which the sheep will not recognize.

Let’s go over some significant moments of the ministry of Pope Francis. At the end of October 2017, Pope Francis was in Lund, Sweden, to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation together with the Lutheran World Federation.

In 2016, Francis, Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, and Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia (while signing a joint Declaration) embraced in Cuba. They did not propose an alliance, but pledged to walk together towards unity announcing Christ to the world. The Pope stresses that unity is realized by walking together.

Risultati immagini per papa Francesco immagini

Pope Francis has also undertaken with prudence and evangelical determination a path of reconciliation and dialogue with China. This process of  reconciliation and dialogue takes up the important steps of his predecessors in this direction, especially the Letter to the Chinese Catholics, which perhaps was already conceived under the Pontificate of John Paul II and brought to light by Benedict XVI, and presents to China, in the course of a long and tortuous journey, a Church of dialogue, of mutual respect,and of mercy, a Church where one looks and works on “what unites us, rather than on what divides us”.

Pope Francis, as the bishop of Rome, has also indicated the direction that the Church in Italy must undertake. He began his pilgrimage in Italy from Lampedusa paying homage to two great prophetic figures, led by the Spirit namely, Don Milani and Don Mazzolari. In the coming weeks Pope Francis will continue his  pilgrimage in the footsteps of Don Tonino Bello and don Zeno Saltini. In the ecclesial convention of Florence, Francis once again proposed his exhortation Evangelli Gaudium to all the Italian bishops as the principal instrument of evangelization.

We cannot forget the Jubilee of Mercy which began in one of the poorest countries in the world – the Central African Republic – offering the gift of opening the “Holy Door” not only in Rome, but throughout the world, in order to reach everyone, even those most distant.

“No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him” In other words, it is God who makes himself known through the Incarnate Word in the Son of Man, otherwise this God would not be the Christian God, but rather a concept, or even an ideological instrument, and one who doesn’t say anything to our heart. The people of God need pastors who are capable of touching the heart, they do not need instructions for use.  A warm heart is like clay, more easily malleable from which little by little masterpieces are formed; in contrast, a heart that is inhabited only by instructions for use may be beautiful on the exterior, but interiorily it does not palpitate or feel and thus cannot be molded in any way.

“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God”. In a certain sense, we are not born children of God, but we become his children. One becomes a child of God by accepting Jesus and imitating his life of love, spelled out in the Beatitudes. Pope Francis has made the Church be confronted by the Gospel and invites all of us to be imitators of Christ.

The language of Christianity is a universal language. It is a language of unity, but not of uniformity. Pope Francis, guided by the Spirit, teaches us daily to speak this universal language, the language of love in the joy of the Lord who comes and to praise the great things he has done for us and continues to do for us.


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In frozen and loveless isolation

Pope Francis’ message for Lent

This year in his message for Lent, Pope Francis addresses believers and the men of good will: “I would like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church and reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice”. The Holy Father is asking everyone to be very careful about what can get in our way along the path of faith and life, in particular, says the Pope, the danger of our love growing cold. Dante Aligheri’s beautiful image  picturing Satan seated on a throne of ice is very striking: “he lives in frozen and loveless isolation”. In fact, the title of the Pope’s message refers to the Gospel according to Matthew – Mt24,12: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold”.

lent 2018

What shall we do then, says the Pope? “Perhaps we see deep within ourselves and all about us the signs I have just described.  But the Church, our mother and teacher, with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in this Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting”.

The Prophet Habakkuk had already cried out: “Why do you show me iniquity and look upon oppression?” Habakkuk’s cry belongs to many.  In many instances of life we are often victims and witnesses of iniquity, injustice and oppression of all kinds. It is also true that at times we are accomplices, by our silence or by turning our heads and looking the other way. The Prophet then listens to God’s answer:“ write the vision,  for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie and though it tarry, wait for it because it will surely come ”. He concludes: “the righteous man shall live by his faith”. What is faith then?  It is that faith which gives us the strength to fight while awaiting His return.  In fact, we are living the Eucharist “until He shall come again” “waiting for His coming”. Then we must always remember that faith was not born from memory of Jesus, from someone who only told us about it..

Faith was born from a presence, not from a remembrance (without disturbing the sleep of the traditionalists who are living a Church of remembrance not presence). Christ shall return and we are waiting for him, but he is already present in the gift of the Spirit.  He stood in the midst of those who tell us about the Risen one in the Gospels. Jesus becomes a presence within a community able to sustain the fear, the danger, but I would say, above all, for eight days we also bear on our shoulders the incredulity, Thomas’s unbelief, his lack of faith and who knows of how many others. Thomas doubts, he does not believe and yet he stays within the community and nobody even thinks of chasing him away: he stays in a group which does not exclude him, sustains and does not isolate anybody.  How beautiful is the Church which welcomes and does not exclude or isolate anybody. A Church which, just like Jesus, is always waiting for you with open arms, indeed it comes looking for you, respectful even of our little faith and our fears.

We must all be very careful about parting too quickly from faith, hope and charity because deep down they are one thing only. Throughout history we have known men of faith who destroyed so much hope, especially that of the poor. We have known men of faith without charity who have killed other men.  It is also not a good thing to distinguish too rigidly between believers and unbelievers.  There are some who say they believe in God but they do not believe in man; others say they do not believe but serve man, especially the weak and the undefended. Only the Spirit can distinguish among them while we wait for the Truth.

For this reason must we  begin the Lenten journey with so much faith. “If at times the flame of Charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He always gives us a chance to begin loving anew”.


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The caress that changed history

The absurd choice of proclaiming Saint John XXIII as the Patron Saint of the Italian Army

The choice of naming Saint John XXIII as Patron Saint of the Italian Army leaves us more than a little perplexed. Even today if we go into Italian homes – and not only Italian ones – just inside the entrance we find a somewhat faded photograph of Pope John, with his serene and assuring face. In the collective conscience, Pope John is associated with his goodness, with his historic encyclical on peace, which bore not only his name but was a banner, Pacem in Terris; he is associated with his visits to the Regina Coeli prison in Rome as well as the Bambino Gesù Hospital. His is a daily holiness that penetrates all homes. The whole world still remembers his caress to be given to children in that unforgettable speech at the opening ceremony of the Second Vatican Council. What should we say today when we get home: “ give your children a helmet and a rifle “?

This choice, made some time ago, at least since 1966, although formally motivated, has a musty, old Curia flavour. It seems out of place, stretching a point, the flick of a tail of past history, a choice against conciliation. The People of God doesn’t appear to need a patron saint of the army but urgently needs men of peace.
Roncalli ,Patriarch of Venice, wrote to his successor, Montini: “the Pope desires the presence of this priest in Rome; to grant this request is a grave sacrifice for Venice, but I grant it because it is ‘necessary to look far and wide’ in the Church”. There is no question at all that throughout his life, Pope John XXIII contributed to bringing the Church out of the shallows of time and enabling it to sail to the ends of the earth, starting it off on that great adventure of the Spirit that was the Council. In contrast, the choice of making him the Patron Saint of the Italian Army appears to be inappropriate and short-sighted.
Pope John XXIII witnessed that the Word of God does not make war but is a Word of love that God announced to us, to the world, to history and that caress was like a gentle breeze on our life. . He witnessed that the Word of God is an effective Word that performs what it was sent to do. He witnessed that the Word of God bears within it the lament of all flesh and all humankind on the road towards the fullness of God. .
The posthumous involvement of Mons Loris Capovilla , the Pope’s personal secretary also appears to be in bad taste. If it hadn’t been him that evening when the Council opened, to convince the Pope, with his intelligence and bonhomie, to appear at the window once again after a long and tiring day, children, sick people, old people and men of peace all over the world would today be lacking that caress. The caress that changed History.
Many authoritative voices have been raised against the title of Patron Saint of the Italian Army for John XXIII. The Bishop of Pescara- Penne Valentinetti “it is disrespectful to name him as Patron Saint of the Armed Forces ”. “Pope John XXIII is in all hearts as the Good Pope, the Peace Pope, not the Pope of armies” declared Mons. Giovanni Ricchiuti, Bishop of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti and President of Pax Christi Italia. «I don’t want to go into the matter because unfortunately I was only informed about it this morning» declared the Chairman of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti .


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When praying say Father

For nearly two millennia Christian prayer was within the daily rhythms of individual and social life, had its deadlines, its rituals, its prescriptions, but also its hypocrisy. For example, we can think to the medieval rite of Carroccio. In that period, the Italian municipalities, before joining a battle, deployed a wagon on which the Eucharist was celebrated, and immediately afterwards war began killing each other. This example reminds us that symbols and rites are not enough to identify prayer.

Jesus’ words say what prayer is. Jesus gives us the model of prayer, a simple thing, that in its simplicity casts light on our often complicated way of praying. Praying means recognizing our needs and our fragility to be creatures. In fact, strong and superb men do not pray but rather they are praying. Prayer then expresses humility before God and in front of other men. “When you pray, say, Father” is the simple imperative of Jesus. All the prayers of Jesus begin with this word Father. With God we have not to use the words of His divinity (eg the omnipotent). The word divine and human is Father, because Jesus has come to restore the relationship between the Father and us children in the Son. Jesus then gave us a single guarantee as a fruit of prayer; The Father will give the Holy Spirit. What does the Spirit need? The Spirit is the love of the Father and of the Son for each of us. God responds to our prayers by not leaving us the laws to obey and by giving his Spirit, guiding us infallibly in our daily lives. In this regard, the liturgy today offers two significant verses:

“I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out “(Gen 18,21). We have to learn looking at our personal history, and we have to see the world with the eyes of the Spirit and not with those of the law. We find every day that confidence and serenity that the Lord promised us giving His Spirit.

In Christ, God also gave life to us, “obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross (Col 2:14). We ask the Lord in prayer to help us to remove the prescriptions that humiliate man and are a barrier to mercy. Be humble  people who are preventing mercy, appealing to pseudo-doctrine or to a pseudo-tradition that instead represents men’s precepts as Jesus told. These people are not able to pray and do not know how to love.


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The Spirit sends away the fears of the world

The Cenacle, which had seen the Apostles witnesses of the Lord’s Supper, is the place where they had been together to hear His Word many times and now the Cenacle becomes a refuge, a hiding place “for fear of the Jews” as the Evangelist John remembers. And the Acts say to us, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” (Acts 2: 1).

We have to remember that the Apostles in Jerusalem had few friends because they had been opposed to religious and political power, and they were considered  fanatical followers of one of the many messianic factions of the time. They threatened their lives to just preach that Jesus was the Son of God who was truly dead and truly resurrected. And in fact, the Acts tell us that soon the first martyr arrived: Stephen, who is stoned.

Today what are our fears, which make us lock in our groups? If we exclude the Church of the martyrs who, as we well know, still exists in many parts of the world today, we notice that there is also a strong temptation in the Church and among Christians to lock in an elite, often sectarian, excluding the world, seen as evil and an enemy of which to be afraid, and therefore tends to judge rather than love. It may happen that sometimes our faith, our Christian community, our ecclesial group, instead of being a space of fraternity and proclamation of the Gospel, turn into an impregnable fortress, where those in the interior judge the ones outside and also exclude them . “Outgoing Church” according to the teaching of Pope Francis also means not to be afraid and not to judge, but on the contrary be strong in the faith and widen the spaces of welcome.

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It is in this climate of fear and closure that breaks the Spirit. “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” (Acts 2: 1). In that cenacle that has become closed and frightened, the Spirit intervenes, acts and transforms it, changes the hearts of those deceived men and recreates a new fraternity extended to the ends of the earth. That is why everybody was talking in their native language, always remembering the Acts.

Even today the Spirit calls us to look forward, to open the spaces of our heart, to listen to the Word. The Gospel is not a script to be copied, the Church is not a museum to guard. The Christian community of the origins had the courage of the Spirit to welcome the un-circumcised, dared to write the Good News, and it was pilgrim to the boundaries of the known world. Today, it is our time to transmit ‘the Gospel that we have received’, without fear, shame, and wherever we go in this globalized world. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:26).

It is not a simple thing to witness the Church of Pentecost, because it is the Church of Joy (as the Blessed Pope Paul VI reminded us) but also of martyrdom. Nobody feels that we have not have to pay a price, even personal. On the contrary, living the gospel of sacred habits, locked in the sacristies, hidden behind the smell of incense is undoubtedly easier. The Spirit instead calls us to risk the paths of life, to walk the way (ódos), just as the Gospel is called in the Acts of the Apostles. The hardest language to speak is that of who we meet, who is facing us, who will be against us, perhaps believing they do well. The Spirit teaches us to talk about that too.


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Mary Queen of China Our Lady of Sheshan

Last Sunday, Pope Francis at the prayer of Queen Coeli, asked to join the prayer of Chinese Catholics, on the feast day of May 24, the World Prayer Day for the Church in China instituted by Pope Benedict XVI.

In the Sheshan Chinese Shrine, where the Virgin Mary “Help of Christians” is highly revered by Catholics in China, Mary presents her Son to the world with her arms wide open in a gesture of love and mercy. Love and mercy are the main roads where the gospel walks and incarnates in the great Chinese world.

Each year in the sanctuary thousands of Chinese pray especially at the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, who is also the patron saint of China. Pope Benedict XVI wrote the prayer to the Virgin of Sheshan, entrusting her all over China and the church in China. Benedict XVI had entrusted in the letter to the bishops, the priests to consecrated persons, and to the lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China, requesting that the day of the liturgical memory of Our Lady of Sheshan on 24 May become a worldwide day of proximity and prayer for the Church in China.

The church dedicated to the Virgin was built in the 19th century and is located on top of a hill just a few kilometers southwest of Shanghai. The devotion to Mary in China has always been and still is today a determining factor of unity in the church.

We ask, in this Easter time, at the thresholds of Pentecost, to the Spirit to break forth once again in the beloved China Church. The Spirit calls us to an original and always new identity to which we must leavewith confidence. The Spirit tells us that Jesus Christ is not a guardian of a fortress, He is not a reference point of the past, He is not the stool of any egotism, even ecclesial, but is the guarantee for the future.

We know that even in the church in China, there is no future without memory. Our memory, however, can no longer be made by professions of faith proclaimed with the sword in hand, with the tendency to excommunicate others who do not think as us.

The unity of the Church in China cannot be done in accordance with a criterion of selfishness and with the desire to raise other barriers, widening further the “Jericho moat”. It has to be done with the help of the Spirit and with the prayer with Mary. The language of Christianity is a universal language; it is a language of unity and not of uniformity; The Spirit teach us to speak this universal language, even in the great Chinese nation