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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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.

he-qi-pentecost1

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

 


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One died for all: the Ecumenical Path and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This year marks 500 years since the Lutheran Reformation. At the end of October, Pope Francis went to Lund in Sweden to commemorate this important anniversary together with the World Lutheran Federation. In an interview with the Swedish Jesuit, Ulf Johnsson, published in the journal “CiviltàCattolica”, Pope Francis highlights the positive aspects of the Reformation, underlining in particular two words. “Scripture”,because Luther was the first to translate the Bible into the vernacular language and, said the Pope “ took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people”.  The other word is “reform”:“At the beginning, Luther’s was a gesture of reform at a difficult time for the Church”, added the Pope.  The Bishop of Rome underlined that Ecumenism must be a continuous “moving ahead, walking together! We must not stay closed in a rigid perspective because there is no possibility for reform in this”.

The Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity has done excellent work during these years in order to reach this commemoration together. Its report, “ From Conflict to Communion”  states that “both the traditions approach this anniversary in an ecumenical age, with the achievements of fifty years of active dialogue behind them and a renewed understanding of their history and theology”.Separating the controversial aspects, from the theological progress of the Reform, the Catholics gather the stimuli of Luther for the Church of today, recognizing him as a “witness of the Gospel” (From Conflict to Communion n. 29). For this reason, after many centuries of – even bloody – conflict, today, in 2017 for the first time in their history,  Lutheran and Catholic Christians will commemorate the inception of the Reform together.

Even with our Orthodox brothers, the path towards unity is living an historical Spring. In this new climate and with such concrete steps we are living the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity chosen for this year: “The love of Christ compels us towards reconciliation” (see 2 Corinthians 5, 14-20). This verse summarizes the text of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, the reference chosen for Common Prayer. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the  Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches have reflected and prayed together on these verses in order to get ready for these days – in particular – and the entire year of common prayer. The traditional days for living the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are customarily from the 18th to the 25th January, the week  chosen and desired, since 1980, by Reverend Paul Watson because it included the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle and that of the Conversion of Saint Paul. No-one missed the symbolic force of this reference to the Apostles.  Peter was the first to profess his faith and Paul spread faith to the boundaries of the world.

We entrust this important week and the entire Ecumenical Path to Peter;  hewas a weak man who betrayed the Lord at the most important time, but it was because of the sincerity, the depth, the complete selflessness of his love thatthe Risen Christentrusted him to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith.

Let us entrust ourselves also to Paul; in the past he had been a violent persecutor of Christians but he experienced the power of Christ’s tendernessand felt himself to be loved by Him right from his mother’s breast.

To love and to feel loved is the fundamental ecumenical choice which overcomes any weakness and relativizes all historical wounds, in a path towards complete unity which surely has more future than past.

Eight days

The text of 2 Corinthians 5, 14-20, scans the Eight Days of Prayer, where some of the theological themes of the individual verses are developed, as follows:

First

Day:

  Onedied for all
Second

Day:

  No longer live for oneself
Third

Day:

  No longer evaluate anyone with the criteria of this world
Fourth

Day:

  Old things  have passed
Fifth

Day:

  Everything is new
Sixth

Day:

  God has reconciled the world with him
Seventh

Day:

  Annunciation of the reconciliation
Eighth

Day:

  Reconcile yourself with God

 

 


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Replenish the Water of Baptism with a Word of Justice

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which concludes the Christmas period helps us to reflect on the profound sense of our baptism. Today, thanks to the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis, we find ourselves in the midst of a crisis, a crisis which does us a lot of good. We are passing from belonging to a Church of a sacred nature, in which the sacraments are like military ranks, that is they mark your level of belonging (from baptism onwards), to  a messianic vision of the Church, built on Jesus the servant of  man.This providential crisis is the reason why we must rethink the form, language and access times of the sacraments. For example, more room should be given to the Word of God in the liturgy of the sacraments.  If I pour a bit of water on the head of a child while I baptize him or her, I am performing a simple act;but if I say “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, this is the Word of God which lets you be born again; we really must give the Word back to the water, to the oil, to the bread. Otherwise we risk becomingsacramentalized, listed in a dusty old register in the Sacristy.

To be baptized means to be sent forth; it means Church on the Move. To be baptized means to profess faith in Jesus and state publiclyI wish to live like Him, doing goodand freeing all men and women from slavery. Peter’s words in this regard are of paramount importance:” Of atruth I perceive that Godis no respecter of persons but accepts from every nation he who fears him and does what is right ”(Acts 10,34).

First of all we must realize that whoever loves justice is in the heart of God, he is already one of us marching towards the completeness which is the act of faith. The distinctions between near and far, believers and non-believers, come later, they are important but they all come later,  not only later, but they must remain within this common human solidarity; we must be men among men like Jesus who put himself in line with other men and certainly not in the first row.   Thus the Lord will say to each one of us:” You are my beloved son” not because we have performed sacred rites and marched in processions, but if we have done so while serving other men.

Jesus saw heaven open and the Spirit descending like a dove. Heaven opened say the Gospels. Asign of hope  for the world, heaven open forever, and not closed menacingly in any law or doctrine.  Let us ask the Lord for forgiveness for the times we have closed heaven in someone’s face imposing burdens which we do not even  touch with a finger, like Jesus said.

From this open heaven the Spirit comes like a dove, i.e.  the very life of God. It descends on you, loves you, stretches out its hand to you and will never leave you.  No obstacle, no difficulty, no human or superhuman force will prevent God from loving us forever.

 


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Non violence: a style of politics for peace

Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace 2017 was published with the title: “Non violence: a style of Politics for Peace” .  Fifty years have gone by since Paul VI, with an almost prophetical intuition, established that the first of January each year would be dedicated to the crucial issue of peace. This year, the Pope has proclaimed that active “non violence” is “ a peace-building strategy, the pivot on which the message revolves. The names of great, non violent peace builders come to mind such as Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Nelson Mandela and also the enormous commitment of the Italian Radical Party in such a delicate field.

The first violence is that of the eye; we work for peace and build it, learning day after day to look at the world with the eyes of the Spirit, learning how to examine the signs of our times. Fatalism, judgement without the right to appeal, are only ways to hide our disengagement, to seek shelter outside the real world.  The Pope challenges us, instead, to “construct Society and communities with the style of peace builders”. We can see it clearly even today: the repercussions of war fall above all on the poor. However, we can also see the strength of the evangelic message, which has survived through the ages and is always able to  ring out resoundingly: «blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek…». When the poor regain hope,  then war is stripped naked showing all its absurdity and uselessness. We see  many wars in these times but also much hope not defeated or annihilated by the warlords.

Moreover, we are faced with an inexorable decadence in a part of the world which has created history and is now using arms to try and stop history  changing.  History has, however, already changed and now the shadow of death, caused not by war but by self-destruction, hangs over many Western skies.  The future has migrated elsewhere and passes through those places in the world where the  outcasts, widows, orphans and the poor live; the evangelical categories of those who have never counted as anything in the eyes of the warlords and their silent and opulent accomplices. None of us can allow ourselves to stay on the outskirts of this true revolution of the poor who are seeking peace. In order to be efficient, this revolution must always begin in the private sphere and the distinction between private and public is, in this sense, a deception worked out across the board by a part of that culture of which we are heirs.  Pope Francis writes: “ may charity and non violence  govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life”.

We must begin to live the change by modifying the private spaces of our responsibilities. Only men of the Beatitudes can build peace and integrate naturally into the great peace processes of history.  The powerful, the privileged, the lobbies will always be foreign bodies in the peace process and will become, almost without realizing it, allies of war. When I want to qualify non violence, I say, justice, respect of diversity, peace, common good.  I say the Beatitudes, words which give many names to this single truth to which Jesus was the first witness.  Jesus is the witness of non violence, this non violence of the many names, which are the beatitudes.

When someone has authority, a company a position of leadership, or when a country owns resources, they should not defend them by the sword.  Jesus said to Pilate: if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight.  To fight by the sword is to kill, is the violence which creates only defeats and no victors. In fact, our history is a river of blood spilt in the name of the principle that without a sword a kingdom cannot go on existing. This is why we are always at war. «Put your sword back in its sheath» said Jesus to Peter, otherwise right will always be with the strongest, the most violent, the cruellest and the best armed.  Certainly, at times, we must even be afraid when the powerful make peace.  We must never forget and underestimate the fact that Jesus was crucified when Pilate and Herod became friends and made peace over his tortured body.

We must never ask Politics to defend religion; how many times do we hear that politician, that party defends Catholic values. We must never ask Politics to defend religion because we risk turning the Lord’s house into a market and a cavern of thieves; indeed, it is not even a risk but a certainty. We must demand instead that Politics, the kingdoms of this world that is, to defend the dignity and liberty of mankind, of every man and woman and especially today, migrants and all minorities.

Let us then  world leaders, to make peace, real peace, and not on the shoulders of the poor.  Let us pray for peace which is not a burden for the poor. For example, a peace envisaging the continuous use of arms and leads to famine in half the world is not peace. Let us pray then to our Lord Jesus Christ, King of Peace. A kingliness which, with the enormous efforts of Pope Francis, is freeing itself from all the robes and crowns of the age of Constantine, becoming a ripe seed to build a non violent world where: “we don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace but to get together, to love each other” ( Mother Teresa of Calcutta speech when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979).

 


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Contemplate this Holy Year, by starting from the Cross

On Mount Calvary, in front of the Cross, it is better not to talk or to cry out but only to contemplate.    Let us contemplate the Cross as a synthesis of all those who give their lives for love.  Let us also contemplate this Holy Year which has ended, by starting from the Cross; let us contemplate it, not by referring to numbers, or to major events but only to the Mystery of the Cross.   I would also like to say let us contemplate the Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Sì, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s three great documents as well, starting here, from a Pope who just like Jesus wishes to give his life for  the human family he so loves and who tells the Church “You must do this too” as he tells each and everyone of us.  We have received with joy  Pope Francis’s  Apostolic Letter  “Misericordia et Misera” in order to listen to the final words of the Bishop of Rome on the Holy Year of Mercy.

Meanwhile let us contemplate the Cross. ”Ecce Homo”.  Whoever sees this man on the cross sees God, our faith tells us.  It is Jesus on the Cross not Caifa . This point is very important.   We have to be careful of the Politics which wants to defend religion.   How often do we hear that such and such a politician or party defends  Catholic values? We must be careful because there is the risk of turning God’s house into a market or a cavern of thieves;  indeed, it is not a risk but almost a certainty. We must rather ask  Politics, the kingdoms of this world that is,  with force to defend the dignity and freedom of men and women, of all men and women and especially, today, migrants and all minorities.  Let us therefore ask Trump and Putin and other world leaders, to make peace but real peace. Not only do we have to fear when the Mighty make war but also when they make peace.  Jesus was nailed to the Cross when Pilate and Herod made peace over Him, on His suffering.

Let us pray for a peace which will never again be shouldered by the poor.   For example, a peace made  when brandishing arms is not true peace.    Nor can peace between people who in private are immoral or amoral  be called peace.

Let us pray then to Jesus with his two biblical titles.  Let us pray today to Christ the King of Peace.  A kingdom which is freeing itself of all the cloaks and crowns of Constantine as a result of the enormous missionary efforts made by Pope Francis; the kingdom of Christ  is Peace and Mercy.   Let us pray to Christ the King of Peace and Mercy. Let us then pray to the Son of Man who, even though he was the son learned obedience from the things he suffered: Jesus King of Peace and Mercy suffered the violence of Power which rebelled against him;  power, also causes the Pope to suffer, but just like Jesus, he doesn’t answer. 

It might appear that by dying on the Cross, Jesus lost;  it might appear that the Church of Mercy is destined to lose;  so mighty is Power. Instead, Christ has already won, the Pope of Mercy has already won, because mercy is not only in the hands of certain holy people whom we meet throughout history but also in the hands of Our Father who is in Heaven.

That cross, that Son of Man, was resurrected by the Father who made him the Lord!  Where? On which throne? Not on any throne. This King’s throne is the conscience of those men and women who believe in mercy, peace, dialogue, ecumenism and universal brotherhood and are prepared to give their life for this faith.   This is why the Church of Mercy has already won.   For the other worldly things, we may have many teachers but when we enter the sphere of pain and death, there is no teacher;  all voices fall silent.  Only from this Pulpit which is the Cross, can the suffering experienced by so many poor people teach us to listen and to contemplate a love  which is even greater than death.   Only a Church of Mercy is the Church of Christ.