Since his election on March 13 of this year, he has caught the attention of the world. Even non-believers and non-practicing Catholics are paying attention. Pope Francis surprises and inspires, even as he challenges us to love the poor and in them to meet Jesus anew.
In the first part of this series on sacred music, I described the meaning of sacred music, the music of the Church’s sacred liturgy, as distinct from “religious music.”
The Holy Father has allowed the granting of Plenary indulgences for the faithful during the Year of Faith at places and dates determined by the local bishop. An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment for sin the guilt of which is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful obtains under certain conditions.
That the popular culture in America has changed dramatically in the past half century is news to no one. Nor should it be surprising that such a dramatic change in culture would greatly impact Catholics since we make up nearly a quarter of our nation’s population.
“Give me liberty or give me death,” Patrick Henry’s famous cry, at our nation’s birth, continues to stir hearts today; the struggle for freedom is no less urgent now, as evidenced in rallies and fortnights throughout our country protesting against the HHS mandates and other threats to religious liberty.
“Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). These words of the Mother of God at the Wedding Feast of Cana are like a bright beacon pointing the way to our happiness and the way to the Heart of Christ.
The Catholic standard for discerning the viability and wisdom of when to assimilate to a culture, or when to resist assimilation, must be the Gospel of Jesus as handed down to us within the Church, and as celebrated in the Sacred Liturgy.
Married love “advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God” (#122), says Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of Love in the Family. There is no limit to the spouses’ ability to participate in the infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit (cf. #134). “Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations, they daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving. Each progresses along the path of personal growth and development. On this journey, love rejoices at every step and in every new stage” (#163). On this journey to full maturity in Christ, the Church accompanies married couples and assists them in the lifelong task of formation of conscience which, as the Catechism says (#1784), “guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.”
Pope Francis also hears their cry and has made service of the poor a top priority in his life and ministry. Repeatedly, since his election as pope, he has called for a Church of the poor, a Church for the poor. Let us see why pastoral concern for the poor is so important.
A hundred years ago, on the 13th day of every month from May through October of 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three children near Fatima in Portugal, bringing them an urgent message, calling for repentance and prayer, a message that has no less urgency today.