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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Why me? Testimony of a Missionary of Mercy in Mali

We have received and are pleased to publish the testimony of a dear friend of ours appointed by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy, Don Toussaint Ouologuem, a Mali priest.  We are very grateful to Toussaint for this beautiful testimony for, knowing him as we do, we know that he will be capable of announcing the love and infinite mercy of our Father to whomever he meets.

Fr. Toussaint Ouologuemi

If they had asked me to choose a priest in my diocese to be a Missionary of Divine Mercy, I would never have chosen myself. Not because I have a lack of faith in myself or a low opinion of myself but because it is Mercy which is involved, Divine Mercy.

Summing up all my sins, weaknesses, spiritual, intellectual and moral frailties and adding to these my severity of judgment, my search for justice at any cost, the difficulty I have in giving people a second chance, above all those who have in some way, offended me. And to conclude, my youth and lack of experience in the priesthood ( two and a half years). Putting all this together, I would certainly not have chosen myself as a Missionary of Mercy. A sinner, too severe, too young and little experience, I would have defined myself as inadequate for such an important mission.

But here I am; chosen by the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, through the Urban College, approved by my bishop and designated by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy. And I ask myself: why me?

Regardless of the Urban College’s choice, regardless of my bishop’s approval, his Green Light, regardless of the letters and e-mails between myself and the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, regardless of any other human intervention,  I can’t help but see the hand of God in the fact that I was chosen. It is my faith which is asking this of me, my spirituality that is telling this to me, my vocation to the priesthood that is shouting it out loudly. So, I ask myself: why me?

This is the question I have never stopped asking myself and God ever since I was approached the first time because someone, somewhere proposed my name.  With huge joy, with fascination on the one hand and tremendous fear on the other, I willingly accepted this mission.  But ever since then I have been asking myself: why me?

I am now sure that I will ask myself this question way beyond this year, until the end of my days, seeking to understand better the full meaning hidden and desired by God, a meaning both for me and for others.

A few days after my consecration as a Missionary of Mercy, after a Eucharistic Adoration in one of the Churches in Torbe, a holy hand gave me a book, a book called «We  cannot keep quiet about what we have seen». I started to read it straight away a sentence struck me, a sentence which answered my continual question. In fact, the sentence said «when God touches your life he assigns you a duty: to give yourself wholly to Him and be happy in Him in order to announce it to others».

Between conferences on Mercy and missions on the radio and the TV, between homilies and Penitential Celebrations and some personal encounters, I try in every way to carry out my mission as a priest promoting Divine Mercy and spread word of my happiness. But it is never enough. That is why I have never missed an opportunity of asking people to pray for me, just as Pope Francis does on many occasions,  asking people to pray for him.

Many stories about vocation in the Holy Scriptures make us understand that God, for the most part, doesn’t choose someone because that person is already able to accomplish his mission, but he chooses him in order to make him able, suitable for that mission. Therefore it is my duty to be vigilant in order to receive such Grace as God may give me for my mission. May God help me in this.!

This is a Year of Grace which has been granted us.  It is a year in which we have the task of meditating (personally) on God’s Mercy, benefiting from his Divine Mercy (by the sacrament of penitence) and living it (the 14 works of Divine Mercy).

Towards the end of his Bull, Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis says:” In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us”. I wish to add that we need to allow ourselves to be surprised … by ourselves, : surprised at what we can do that is  beautiful, great and extraordinary meditating on, benefiting from, living and sharing Divine Mercy. God bless us all!

 

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A blessed crisis

We are pleased to publish the afterword of the recent book by the Vatican journalist of Rai 1 Italian television channel Aldo Maria Valli, titled “C’era una volta la confessione” (Once was Confession), published by Ancora. It is a reflection on the Sacrament of Confession at the time of Pope Francis and has also been published in the March 10 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, at page 7 .  This is our translation from the  original in Italian Language. We remain at disposal for promptly removing this post if it is not appreciated by the right owners.

Fr. Francesco Pesce

I belong to a generation that was educated to fear God, rather than to love him; during seminary, a new sense of duty was required, in the face of which it proved hard to remain free and joyful. I can still see this fear and twisted sense of duty today in many people who approach the Sacrament of Confession. Fear of God, fear of themselves, fear of others and their judgement. Confession as an obligation, not as a desired meeting with our Father, who is always willing to forgive us. I must confess that I was surprised to hear Pope Francis, in preparation for the Jubilee, speak of the «missionaries of mercy». I asked myself: but aren’t priests by definition missionaries of mercy? Isn’t forgiveness a very hallmark, so to speak, of the priest? Then I remembered that I had seen with my own eyes, in some confessionals, the Book of Canon Law, ready for use, like in a law court, and I also remembered the accounts of several penitents, injured by some priests who had been very harsh. And this helped me understand Francis’ idea. My experience as a confessor, in fact, has taught me that the advent of Pope Francis has blown away the old sense of fear and duty, and replaced it with the desire to meet a merciful Father. Not only have confessions increased exponentially, but the quality has improved too. Nowadays, many people enter the confessional holding a copy of the Gospels, having adopted his suggestion to read at least one passage every day. And so they confess themselves based on what they read. This fills me with a great joy. It is a true miracle worked by this man, Francis, sent to us by God. I can see that, thanks to God, people do not feel more sinful (I think that there are already too many people oppressed and humiliated by their sins), they now feel that their Father is more merciful. I wish to add that I see rather clearly, if I may say so, that when a person feels welcomed, respected, encouraged, then he or she can better understand his or her sins and ask for forgiveness. Indeed, he or she can understand that his or her sin, in a certain sense, has already been forgiven, that he or she is inside the confessional to accept the forgiveness that has already been granted, because God is love, in the brief, yet sublime, words of John the Evangelist. This is also why I believe that to speak of a crisis of the sacrament of confession is a contradiction in terms; it is the way in which the priestly ministry is practised, if anything, that is undergoing a crisis. Because this priesthood is confined to the sacristies, rather than lived out in the streets, it is a priesthood that prefers the smell of incense, and money, rather than that of the flock of sheep. Therefore, I see it as a “blessing crisis”. My experience has taught me that men and women come to confession in equal numbers. But two things do strike me, although I find them hardly surprising. The first is that the confessions of those who appear closest to the Church, who ways attend, are more predictable, matter-of-fact, and soulless; sometimes they even expect a good punishment rather than forgiveness. They are also those who don’t very much like Pope Francis, precisely because, they say, he’s «a communist, a pauperist, too predictable», plus other nonsense disseminated by the 21st century crusaders and by some very godless and hardly devout atheists.

I would like to give you an example: I have been a priest for sixteen years and I still have to struggle enormously to explain to catechists (who are otherwise saintly persons) that teaching children «Dear God, I repent and regret my sins, because by sinning I have deserved your punishment» is not the best thing. This should at least be better explained and replaced with other biblical acts of contrition. I also wish to mention those who find it absolutely necessary to confess themselves on a given day, otherwise they feel they have broken their devotional service and have to start all over again? Is this not an obsession rather than devotion?

The other thing that strikes me are the confessions of the members of certain ecclesial movements, and of one in particular, which is also quite widespread. These confessions all seem to be the same, as if part of a stock repertoire, totally lacking the sense of thanksgiving for the good there is out there. To these I always say: «Excuse me, but something nice and good must have happened to you since you last confessed, or is everything just sin?».

I would like to conclude by saying that I find it disheartening to see confession hours put up in churches. As much as I understand the need for planning and organisation, but the church is not a post office. My experience has taught me (I work as a parish priest in the centre of Rome) that priests should be available primarily at lunchtime and in the evenings, after the evening Mass, to meet the needs of working people. Of course, this can only be done if we keep our church doors wide open, like God’s heart, who we call upon as «Our Father, who is in heaven», not «Our Judge and Master, who lives in the confessionals».