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)

Leave a comment

Eyes that search

Reflections on Gospel of III Ordinary Sunday, Year C

don Francesco

The eyes of all were fixed on Him” is the way the evangelist Luke narrates what happened after Jesus had proclaimed the Word from the scroll of Isaiah.

We also know from the Gospels that Jesus desired to see Zacchaeus and Zacchaeus desired to see Jesus. Ultimately, Christian life is the outcome of these glances. God and human look for each other because they have nostalgia for each other. It’s not a Christian life to look at oneself and never at others. It’s not a Christian life first of all to look at one’s own sins. It’s not a Christian life to look at only at norms or regulations. Jesus first of all looks at the person and his needs that which he lacks to be fully human. All of us must always recover a positive look at ourselves and at others, to grow in our image and likeness of God.

Jesus, then, calls you by name, loves properly you with your personal history, your contradictory aspects, your joys and your sorrows. I would like to enter into your house and sit at the table, to live not with a judgment but with a profound intimacy. The Christian life is an intimate relationship with God the Father, revealed by Jesus on the other hand, not a list of humiliating sins to be confessed nor a mortifying punishment to be expiated. The love of God, His mercy are the foundations of everything and prevents everything. “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Not tomorrow nor after the resurrection but today, in daily occurrences, in breaking every day’s bread we already enjoy the presence of God, we enjoy the presence of the Spirit in the anticipation of the ultimate fulfillment.

Those who had fixed their eyes on Jesus felt loved by Him as one day felt by Peter and Paul, woman aught in adultery or the born blind person, Zacchaeus, or many others as narrated in the Bible.

Feeling loved is the real beginning of the conversion which has its foundation in Christ. The ‘conversions’ based on norms or moral principles result in fanaticism, rigidity or elite form of pseudo Christianity. Those who feel  loved by Lord, find the strength to break open pessimism and are no more slaves to their poverty but become free humans.

There’s need to live the life of grace, which is life in accordance with Beatitudes with free hands and heart that feels loved, ready to love.

Leave a comment

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).


Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Towards the Synod on youth

The Preparatory Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “Young people, the faith and e vocational discernment” is guiding the process of preparation of the Pre-Synodal Meeting of March and the Synod of October.
As it is known, tche Holy Father wished to accompany this synodal journey with his personal letter to the youth of the whole world : “A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls” (the letter of Pope Francis to the young people).
By now the questionnaire of consultation, sent to the representative bodies by law (Synods of Bishops and Councils of the Hierarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Episcopal Conferences, Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and Union of Superior Generals) proved to be a very useful tool. There is also the great novelty of a consultation of all young people through an Internet site, with a questionnaire about their expectations and their lives. The answers to the two questionnaires formed the basis for the drafting of the “Instrumentum Laboris”(working instrument) which will be the point of reference for the discussion of the Synod. Once again Pope Francis amazes us and encourages us to be protagonists of the Gospel and authentic and courageous witnesses of Christian life. All the young people of the world are “summoned”; they are called to make their voices heard, too often suffocated by the world of adults.
I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38-39; the letter of Pope Francis to the young people).
As the Vatican has announced already, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Pope Paul VI during the Synod of Bishops; a great gift for the youth of the world.
Let us begin this synodal journey knowing that the Lord calls us to follow Him with trust and passion, certainly He will always be with us during the journey.

Leave a comment

On The Road towards Easter

don Enrico Ghezzi

What is paradise? It will be an awareness of our Inner Self. It is to become finally aware that our Inner Self was created in God’s image (Gen 1 27 :” So God created man in His own image…”). I shall see in myself the image of God the Creator. Everyone will see in himself a reflection of God; like a ray of sun born from the incandescent origin of God’s love. I will know I am part of God’s eternal love.

God will be present and known by billions of creatures who will live in the incandescence of His love, the Holy Spirit of God. The entire cosmos will be displayed in the sun of love.

Then paradise will be for each and all of us the enjoyment of God who created us in his image. I shall contemplate him in myself, immersed in His love; the love which unites us all in God.

cristo risorto

This was what John meant in his First Letter 3 1-2: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.”  “Beloved, now we are the sons of God , and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But we know that when He shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”. In fact: “Love is God, and everyone who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. In this was manifested the love of God toward us because God sent his only begotten son into the world ”(1 John 4.7-10). Paradise will be to know and live in the likeness of god, the Father.

But there will be more: the Son sent by the Father, the Word of God has taken on and included in his ‘divinity’ , flesh similar to our flesh, to our body. “And the Word was made flesh ”(John 1 14). He is the “first-born” of the new creation, after the creation of Adam and Eve. The flesh of every man, in his suffering which penetrates the human experience and the entire cosmos has been absorbed and lived by the body of Christ.

In embracing all humanity, on the cross, Jesus leads us to descend into death to be resurrected with him on Easter Day. Paradise will be the glory of our resurrection in the resurrection of Jesus. We shall know each other and we shall love each other in the love of God with our body created for happiness. We shall live always in our love of the Spirit which lives eternally between the Father and the Word of God, the Son made man. Creation and Incarnation, these are the mystery of light and happiness.

Leave a comment

Pope Francis, “a gift from Benedict XVI”

Reflections on the Church of Francis five years on from the renunciation of Benedict XVI.

From 11th February until 13th March in the Year of Our Lord 2013, a strong wind of the Spirit blew over the Church and the Earth.

“Brothers and sisters, good evening! […]“And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer to our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him”. The prayers Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory to the Father were then recited. “And now, we take up this journey: Bishop and People.”

Thus, Francis, the new Bishop of Rome, received the complex legacy of Benedict XVI’s papacy

«Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered…»(Heb5,8). We may say that as Pontiff, Benedict XVI also learned obedience from the things which he suffered.  For many things in life we can have masters of all kinds. How many masters there are for politics, science, literature! But when we enter into the shadow of suffering there is no master because all voices cease. It is then that we learn, in obedience, – and in particular five years ago in Poe Benedict’s obedience – what it means to serve and not to serve the Church, what it means to love and not use the Church. Only the experience of suffering, of betrayal, in a word, Gethsemane, leads us to listen humbly to the voice of a love which is stronger than death.

Risultato immagine per papa Francesco e papa Benedetto

On that particular 11th February, “Professor Ratzinger” gave the Church and the World a great lesson; his last act of love as the Universal Pastor.

By his renunciation, Benedict XVI also provided the Spirit with the space in which to present us with the gift of Pope Francis, who has opened up a new era for the Church.

We know from the Gospels that Peter’s profession of faith, the rock upon which Jesus wanted to build His Church, was immediately “denied by the facts”. Jesus reproached Peter with harsh words because he did not accept the annunciation of the cross. At first, the Apostle was blessed by the Father but immediately afterwards he even became an obstacle, a stumbling block on the path towards Jesus. Peter and the others still had a long way to go, many things to understand.

The temptation is to follow a Christ without a cross but Jesus reminds us that His path is that of love and there is no real love without sacrificing oneself.

Pope Francis has taken Christ’s cross on his shoulders and takes it everywhere with him in the world, not as an ensign but indicating it as an instrument of salvation for all men.

The Pope is swimming against the current, he has an uphill battle. He tells us that only the love of Christ gives meaning and happiness to life. Every day, by his example he shows us that if we organize our life on love as Jesus did, our life will not be sterile but fertile.   He tells us that in the Eucharist, Jesus loses himself in order to find all of us.

Notwithstanding his witness of a Gospel “sine glossa” (or perhaps because of this?), the opposition to the Church of Francis, the Church of the poor and the least, is very active, also on the web and on certain traditionalist blogs. Often in an inept way thus invalidatings it, today they accuse the Pope of having cast the Church into doctrinal, moral and pastoral confusion. Curiously, these blogs speak to each other, they quote one another, they gather mutual strength from creating groups which remain minority groups – although what they come out with is very serious. They pose almost as the new Fathers of the Church. In reality they weigh like dust particles on the scales. Their tones and their arguments discredit them, but they are responsible for generating doubt and confusion among the People, above all among simple people and the lowly. But as the Gospel says, scandals must occur so that the true believers are revealed.

Pope Francis who came “from the end of the world” has today turned his attention to the entire world, to Christians, to other religions and naturally to the entire Catholic Church, indicating the Gospel as the safe route for the Church’s ship to sail and giving witness to it in his dialogue with believers in other faiths as well as non-believers, focusing “on what unites rather than what divides”.

Leave a comment

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 .

Leave a comment

Great care for the family 

In  a “Motu Proprio” issued on 8th September and published yesterday, Pope Francis re-founded the Institute for Marriage and Family set up by Saint John Paul II.

The title of this pontifical document is “Summa Familiae Curaˮ (Great Care for the Family) and right at the start recalls the steps taken by the Church after the Bishops’ Synod in 1980 and the Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Christian Family in the Modern World) promulgated in 1981, which gave a more definite form to the Pontifical Institute at the Lateran University.

Today, after two Synods on the family in 2014 and 2015 and after the publication of the Exhortation Amoris laetitia (The Joy of Love), the Church has reached, says Pope Francis «a renewed awareness of the Gospel of the family and the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian Community is called to respond».

On reading the Pope’s document, the great importance of this text and the centrality of the pastoral perspective do not escape us. The Pope talks of an indispensable requirement in his reflections on the family, saying that: “also at the level of academic formation the pastoral perspective and attention to the wounds of humanity must never be lacking”. We do:« well to focus on the concrete reality of the family», given the «anthropological-cultural changes that today influence all aspects of life and require a diversified and analytical approach» and «do not permit us to limit ourselves to pastoral and missionary practice that reflects forms and models of the past ».

A new way of looking at the reality of the family; looking with the eyes of the Spirit, looking with the eyes of the Church as a mother and not just a teacher.

The academic work of the Pontifical Institute, too, is broadening its horizons” both in relation to the new dimensions of the pastoral task and ecclesial mission and with reference to the developments in human sciences and anthropological culture in such a fundamental field for the culture of life».

No-one can question the beauty of the family as announced by the Church. This “Christian” family has contributed much to the good of society and the history of humanity. Now we are seeing that the institutions are creaking, that what once were our certainties and our ties are wavering, and these same sentiments are seeking new forms of expression. Where and how does the Christian family fit in to all this transformation? The foundations of the Christian family are not written on the stone tables of the law, but as Jesus said, the law of the Spirit is written on the “tables of our hearts”. For this reason, above all today, with the strength of the Spirit the Christian family can be an efficient witness to the beauty, the nobleness and profundity of its vocation. With all this in mind, let us now ask ourselves a question: Christian family, what can you tell us about yourself? Allow us to see the beauty and originality of your calling, let us feel the presence of the Lord in your midst. This is almost a silent appeal that the world is making to the Church. The problem is that often it is the Christian families who have lost the “taste of the salt”, they are no longer the “yeast” in the flour of history, no longer the light which illuminates the path. The birth rate in our Western World, the cradle of Christianity, is close to zero and this must make us all think deeply.

Pope Francis is once again is widening our outlook and reforming, rather re-founding an institute which, for a long time, was entrenched in principles often far from reality and refused any change. The Theological Institute will have: «the power to confer iure proprio on its students the following academic degrees: the Doctorate in Matrimonial and Family Sciences, the Master’s Degree in Matrimonial and Family Sciences and the Diploma in Marriage and Family Sciences».


Leave a comment

Exemplary servants of the gospel

Pope Francis pilgrim on the road of Father Mazzolari e Father Milani

In Bozzolo, Pope Francis was welcomed by the Bishop of Cremona, Monsignor Antonio Napolioni, who immediately announced that the process to beatify Don Primo Mazzolari will start on 18th September next.  The Pope then went to the Parish of Saint Peter’s to pray on the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari where he made a truly memorable address speaking, among other things, of the  “magisterium of the parish priests”.

In Barbiana he was welcomed by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and where he also wished to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani on the fiftieth anniversary of his death.  In church he met the Prior of Barbiana’s students and then gave a commemorative address in the forecourt of Don Lorenzo’s vicarage which will be very difficult to forget. His educative passion represented faithfulness to the Gospel and to all those who were entrusted to his care, said the Pope.  He then added: “today, the Bishop of Rome recognizes in that life an exemplary way of serving the Gospel, the poor and the Church; take Don Lorenzo’s torch and carry it onwards”.

Don Primo Mazzolari and Don Lorenzo Milani, are ” two priests who offer us a message which we truly need today”, said Pope Francis last Sunday during the Angelus prayer.

Recently, from many places in and outside the Church there have been various analyses and comments on this pilgrimage of the Pope.  Some have spoken of “rehabilitation”, others of “homage” for two priests who were always in the front line of their ministry.  Whatever the right interpretation, it is a good thing to leave room for the facts.  Pope Francis knelt before two great protagonists of the Church and Italian society in the twentieth century, recognizing in them a Church which placed itself at the service of the poor and announced the Mercy of Christ for everyone.  

This act of kneeling is of strong symbolic importance.  As we all know very well, Don Mazzolari and Don Milani were not short of “enemies”, as today there is no shortage of these for Pope Francis. They are enemies of  various origin, especially ecclesial ones and among these there are those who, at the first breath of wind, change flags, ready to change again whenever necessary. It’s like listening once more to the story of St. Paul when he recounts his experience of: “perils among false brethren”    ( 2Cor 11,26).  Opposition to the Church of the Poor and the Last is very active on the web and in some traditionalist blogs.  They accuse the Pope today, as they accused Don Primo and Don Lorenzo yesterday, of having thrown the Church into doctrinal, moral and pastoral confusion. Curiously, these blogs speak to each other, quote each other almost as if they were young Fathers of the Church. In reality, it is these defenders of an old church,  a church that no longer exists, who are in confusion today, who have been an elitist community for much too long, without any  sensitivity and  ignoring different voices, ignoring the poor. During the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, some lay and clerical pseudo Catholics reduced a part of the Church to a cavern of thieves  behind the backs of the two Popes, carrying on their business intrigues with the powerful people of the times, betraying the Gospel for a few pence; scheming with both the gay and financial lobbies, contracting out all evangelization work to the ecclesial movements, humiliating the parishes and the people of God; pseudo Catholics who defend principles by which they do not live and judge the dramas of people to whom they don’t listen, with whom they share nothing.

It is of paramount importance that we return immediately to the Church of Mazzolari, Milani and Pope Francis who divulge the Gospel with the Spirit of the Council, to attract not to proselytize.

It is with the strength of the prayer of Jesus and the Church as a whole that Pope Francis is undertaking his pastoral mission to bear witness to his brothers in the faith. He started off, as we all know, from the “outskirts”, from the island of Lampedusa, indicating to the world the centrality of both physical and existentialist outskirts.

Today, in Bozzolo and Barbiana, Pape Francis affirmed that the eye of the needle through which we need pass in order to speak to God is the outcast.   Every day, the cries of the outcast strike us, louder and louder,  “overturning” our Church pews, calling our attention back to essential things.

The Pope reminds us that the “Good News” of Jesus is not a new philosophy but the answer to the desire of all men throughout the ages: to be loved and free from slavery.

Whoever cures the wounds of the world, defends his people, teaches true freedom, excludes no-one a priori, is in the very heart of God.

Pope Francis, who came from the “end of the world”, today turned his face towards the entire world and the entire Catholic Church by indicating these two priests as models of the Gospel.

The Gospel reminds us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep. Pope Francis has made the “ odour of the sheep” the perfume of all missionary works. And it is the odour of the sheep, says Pope Francis, which can reawaken the Church, people’s suffering and solitude, their desire for life and redemption, the frontier on which to build the field hospital which is the Church.

Let us thank the Lord for the gift of Don Primo and Don Lorenzo and let us ask the Spirit to give us the strength to carry on teaching the Gospel with their courage and coherence.  Let us also ask the same Spirit go give us the humility to ask for forgiveness, as baptized persons, as lay persons, as priests and as the Italian Church, from these two great witnesses of Christ.

From today onwards, after this pilgrimage made by Pope Francis, unless the Italian Church, and indeed the entire Catholic Church, follows in the footsteps of Don Mazzolari and Don Milani, it will be a Church that disobeys the Spirit and Peter.

Leave a comment

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.