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Issue 128 - Pope Francis in the USA - September 2015

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Pope Francis brought bold messages to the U.S. this week during his historic visit. Americans were listening and watching. The 911 Memorial Interfaith Service reached out to believers and non-believers in a powerful gesture of unity. Videos of each of his appearances can be seen from this collection .

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

124-Botanical Garden 

126-Call of the King 

127-Living Our Stories      

Link to all past issues     


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Reflection of the Man Jesus
       "One of the deepest human desires and needs is to live in peace, to be in peace - but hatred, fear, and violence seem so prevalent, and sometimes our world seems to have lost its bearing and become mad with suicide bombings, hostage takings, and war mongering. We all yearn for peace." *
       During the Pope's visit to the U.S., his message consistently is peace, mercy, and unity with each other and all of creation. How could one hear his words, observe his demeanor, or notice his mercy, peace, and joy and not be touched?
       These days during Francis' visit hopefully will distract us from our pervasive hatred, fear, and violence for a moment of relief -- and hopefully, conversion. Just look at the man. Francis seems to be one who holds up a mirror - in his mirror's reflection is the face of Jesus. Francis appears to walk the walk of mercy as did Jesus. Many of us feel he still needs to do more : to address lingering concerns over clergy sexual abuse (I suggest that these men - of all ranks - be removed from their cushy palatial jobs and be assigned to contemplative eremitical retreat centers to pray for their victims); and to fully recognize the ministerial gifts of women (ancient writings confirm that women supported the ministry of Jesus with active participation). Did anyone notice the near absence of women in the celebration of Mass? Were some of the clergy there the ones who should have been absent? There is still much to be done. But let us embrace the reflection of the man whose message is peace, mercy, and unity. We all yearn for peace.
       This morning a woman driving the black Cadillac Escalade ESV with a crystal rosary hanging from the rear view mirror and an ichthus magnet on the tailgate cut me off and nearly caused a collision on IH-10. I must ask myself, "Who am I to judge?"
                                                               --by Jan

Jean Vanier, Finding Peace. Toronto, Anansi, 2003. P. 5.
Is the Pope Catholic?
The answer to that old punch-line is, "Of course." People who know Roman Catholicism better than I have commented about how very Jesuit Pope Francis is.
Of course, Pope Francis is Catholic. But as one commentator (I cannot remember who) observed, this is a pope more interested in preaching the gospel than in teaching the catechism (or enforcing it). And like his namesake, Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis believes in "preaching the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."
The words of Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S. have sometimes been provocative; often eloquent and moving. But it is his manner, his way of being, his humble sincerity and his obvious joy that preach most effectively. 
As Nicholas Kristof puts it, the pope's " humility and compassion ... benefit the reputation of Christianity itself, by helping to recast it from pointing fingers to helping hands."
Even Francis' obvious provocations have a gospel flavor. As Fareed Zakaria observed, " the pope is [not] proposing an alternative system of politics or economics. He is simply reminding each of us that we have a moral obligation to be kind and generous to the poor and disadvantaged - especially if we have been fortunate. If you have a problem with this message, you have a problem not with Pope Francis, but with Jesus Christ."
Of course, the Pope is Catholic. Of course, this Pope is also provocative. After all, he's been listening to Jesus.
--  Bill   
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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
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