Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Luke 8:1-3 The Interview

Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Week In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.  Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities...

A few days ago I gave a talk to a group of women entitled "Faith in a hostile world."  During the questions and answers, someone asked me if it were possible to be holy in today's world.  "Of course," I said, "all we have to do is Google 'Pope Francis' and do as he does."

I was being totally serious and I now consider my response as Holy Spirit inspired.  After all, on the front page of today's Dallas Morning News and New York Times (NYT), you will find some interesting articles regarding Pope Francis' 12,000 word interview with the Jesuit magazine, Civiltà Cattolica. [translated into English by "America", another Jesuit magazine.]

According to this most recent interview, the Pope would like Catholics to stop "obsessing" over certain issues such as abortion, gay marriage and contraceptives.  But guess what?  Guess what made headline news from the Pope's 12,000 word interview?  You got it.  The very things the Church apparently "obsesses" over!  You just can't win Holy Father! 

Now remember, the Dallas Morning News is the same newspaper that never found it newsworthy to publish a single front page article of the Pope's trip to Brazil.  Wait, I stand corrected.  They did.  But only when the Holy Father was returning back to Rome and spoke on the issue of gays in the priesthood.  That made it on their front page!

Given all the news coverage, I wonder:  Is the Holy Father saying the Church is obsessed with gay marriage or are gay marriage advocates obsessed with it?  Is the Church obsessed over abortion or are abortion rights advocates obsessed with unrestricted abortion?  Is the Church obsessed with sex or is our entertainment industry and society in general obsessed with sex?  I'm confused.

Again, what makes headlines in our newspapers?  Let's face it:  Gay marriage and abortion.  In fact, who is the latest darling of our local media?  A particular politician and a likely candidate for governor.  Why?  Because she became a national star - a sort of messiah - the day she - guess what? - filibustered a bill that would have made abortions rarer, safer and legal.  Uh- huh.  That's right.

Well, like most media outlets, the NYT missed the mark entirely.  It's not their fault, though. We must remember that reporters are not necessarily historians or intimate members of the institutions they report on.  That's very unfortunate, especially when you're reporting on an institution such as the Catholic Church that is so vast, so old and so unique.  Now if some the reporters from the NYT actually went to church on Sunday, then they would know that the Church is not obsessed with gay marriage, abortion or contraceptives.  After all, when was the last time you heard a pastor speak about contraception?  When was the last time you heard a priest give a homily on abortion?  When was the last time you heard a priest address homosexuality?  Do you see what I mean?

And if they actually did say something, then what you most likely heard was a call to love, to help and to understand.  And this is precisely the Holy Father's point.  Meet people were they are.  Reach out to people.  Show compassion towards others.  Invite all people. 

After reading the Pope's interview, I am convinced he was speaking on behalf of his own personal experiences, especially his experiences back in Argentina, where the clergy may not be so understanding of others.  But I am not naïve  I know this happens everywhere, especially outside the Church. 

Regardless, what this "son of the Church" keeps telling us (and showing us) is that we must bring love and understanding into our conversations, especially in our dealings with atheists, abortion rights advocates and extreme members of the LGBT community.  [As a child, I will never forget how some members dressed like nuns and priests and publicly insulted them.  They always seemed to appear at every parade.]

The Holy Father is not asking bishops and priests to ignore these particular important social issues or gloss over them.  Rather, the Pope wants a Church that is poorer and more merciful, just like another Francis wanted long ago.  And just like him, the Pope is not interested in changing the mind of the Church; he is interested in changing her heart. 

People are hurting and they need to feel the warmth of the Church.  People are struggling, and they need to feel the embrace of the Church.  In his interview, Pope Francis called the Church "a field hospital after battle."  She exists to “heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” He says: “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds...."

Looking down the road from now, my gut tells me there will be many in the media who will say this Pope failed to deliver on his message.  He said a lot but didn't change much. 

Well, they will be wrong, very wrong, for what they were always hoping would change was never the Pope's plan to change.  And so it will happen that as the world rejected the Lord, so to the world will reject His Apostle's successor. 

It is just another piece of evidence of how the world continues to have a problem with the Church, but first and foremost, how it continues to have a big problem with Jesus Christ. 


  1. Father Alfonse - I was very pleased by Pope Francis' interview. I think he is a Pope for the people and not a Pope for strict, obsessive enforcement of doctrine. He wants to take a "balance" approach in his leadership. A trait so much a part of Ignatian Spirituality. He's less scholarly which is such a breath of fresh air. Could Pope Francis see Bishops as being ultra-conservative when they should take a moderate approach to controversial issues? Maybe this is why he says the Church is "obsessed" with abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage? He sees these as small matters compared to "bigger" issues facing the world today such as poverty, hunger, and war.



    1. Jennifer. Sorry, I didn't get a chance to respond earlier.

      The balance approach the Pope is referring to is the same balanced approach the Church (especially) in America has been doing for some time now: that is, speak on issues only when necessary and continue to reach out to people.

      He's not less scholarly. If he were, then he would be incoherent and inconsistent in his statements.

      "Ultra-conservative." What exactly does that mean? Does it mean far right from where I stand? Probably. Isn't this what the Pope does not want us to do? Label people according to our standard, not Christ's standard?

      What's the moderate approach to abortion? Abortion on demand? Is killing of innocent children still killing of innocent children or is it something less?

      I think I made it clear in my meditation that it is our society that is obsessed with abortion, homosexuality and sex.

      I don't think he thinks that these are small matters and that poverty, hunger and war are "bigger" issues. I think they are all important. The only thing small about abortion are the victims that end up dead, not the number of women who regret ever having this procedure.

      You have to remember that the people at the forefront against abortion are not the Bishops or the priests but the women who had this awful experience.

    2. Wow, Father Alfonse. I was not expecting a response....

      Abortion, the dreaded "A" word. I think a "moderate" approach would be to stop making it the number #1 social issue. Maybe hold more prayer vigils and lobby in opposition to the death penalty, euthanasia, gang violence, and war. Demonstrate concern for ALL life issues and not just unborn babies. Will shutting down abortion clinics in Dallas stop domestic violence, child abuse, rape, neglect, broken homes, or addictions? Is preventing the death of an unborn child somehow more important than the death of a child killed by a drunk driver? How I see it, the media sees the Church as "obsessed" with all things related to women and procreation. The media will continue to pounce on the Church for what they interpret as ultra-conservative stances that appear archaic and not with the times. Don't you think Pope Francis ideally wants an end to all of the "obsessive" backlash from Media?


    3. "Is preventing the death of an unborn child somehow more important than the death of a child killed by a drunk driver?"

      No. It's not. But what is important are the sheer numbers.

      So, can you tell me how many children were aborted this year in the USA (approx. is okay)? Now can you tell me the number of babies killed by drunk drivers this year (approx. is okay)?

      I don't think you would argue that if people were dying in the millions that that would not constitute a serious issue, right? But in the United States, most babies are not dying of poverty, nor are they dying of war or hunger. They are dying of abortion. This is what makes abortion a number one issue.

      When it comes to domestic violence, I can't think of abortion as anything other than a form of domestic violence. I can't think of abortion as anything other than the death penalty, or child abuse, or neglect.

      Jennifer, I think the problem is abortion is not a number one issue for you. That's okay. You give your reasons. I give mine. But I hope my facts speak louder than someone's subjective feelings and/or apparent disregard for the numbers.

    4. Thank-you for your comment, Anonymous. I appreciate the open and honest discussion. :)

      Ok...1.2 million children killed annually by abortion in the U.S. ( versus approximately 238 children killed by drunk drivers (according MADD 2011) Sadly, the abortion statistics are staggering. I'm very well- aware and do not disregard the numbers. I'm trying to be objective and not subjective.... We also have millions of people killed in wars and famines. Killing is an epidemic all over the globe. "Thou Shall Not Kill" applies to everyone and not just the 1.2 million unborn babies. Domestic violence affects adult women and already-born children as well as families and friends.

      You'd be amazed the number of children dying in poverty, hunger, and war outside of the United States. (Don't have the stats but I'm sure a Google search can bring up some numbers.) Life issues affect the entire globe yet many Americans don't realize the atrocities. They just see abortion as killing. I suggest reading the enlightening book "Half the Sky" which discusses the horrible plight of women in other third-world country. Abortion is not the only killer of women and babies.

      I pray that Catholics can see outside the abortion box of thinking and reflect on other social issues plaguing the world even if these alternative issues seem statistically insignificant!



  2. It is unfortunate that people will attempt to hold Pope Francis and/or the Church accountable for people choosing not to act according to the message he has delivered to help us get closer to God and to one another.
    -Rosa E.

  3. I find it interesting how God sends the Church exactly what we need in every age. The different spiritualties given to the Church such as poverty (St Francis), prayer (St Theresa of Avila), and obedience (St Ignatius) were given as gifts for that specific time, and what our world was going through. In my eyes, now it is unity. Even though these spiritualties are all Church, I think what God was/ is trying to say is what He wants us/ The Church to ‘emphasize’, what will guide us for this age, in this present environment.

    This is how I read Pope Francis today. Healing each other’s wounds can only mean to love one another. For me personally, I am now so careful not to waste; it is to live without some things so that not only can I give this money away to those who need it more than I, but to be an example to my children who have more than they should. My dad would always say “The more you have, the more you want.” How very true. It’s basic Christianity!! ‘They will know we are Christians by our love.”

    Must I argue with others? If we could only see what each other sees, I don’t think we would have much to argue over.

    Great Meditation Father.


  4. These areas of concern are not mutually exclusive. Unborn babies die from miscarriage caused by domestic violence. Humanae Vitae predicted that women and children would be used and abused if contraception became widespread. Contraception also leads to abortions. We as Catholics should be concerned about all these things. Let there be peace on earth!


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