Is Pope Francis a Breath of Fresh Air?

When the white smoke came out of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican on March 13, 2013 and a cardinal came out to announce “Habemus papam”, there was a wild cry of elation and relief at the St. Peter’s Cathedral Square and around the Catholic world watching the event on TV.  We have a Pope he said. Shortly after that, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was introduced as the new pope who would be named Pope Francis.  People wondered “Who is he?”

He turned out to be a first in various categories: first from the Americas, first Jesuit to be pope, first to be named Francis which he chose in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, a man who dedicated his life to simplicity and poverty.

Almost a year after his election, Pope Francis is proving to be a most popular Pope. He has maintained his dedication to the poor.  When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he gave up his palace and limousine for a small apartment and public transportation so he could visit the slums.  In the same way, he did not stay at the official residence of the Pope, the Apostolic Palace.  He lives at the Vatican guest house and eats with the other priests at their residence, Domus Sanctae Marthae, the easier perhaps for him to visit the poor.

By seeking out the poor and the marginalized, Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ who came not for the saved but for the sinners.  An early step Pope Francis did was to remove the bonuses for Vatican employees and put the funds towards helping the poor.

Another significant early move he made was to appoint an advisory board of eight cardinals from all the continents except Antarctica.  Recently, Pope Francis brought in new personnel changes that seem to continue his desire to broaden and open up a traditionally reclusive Vatican.  On January 15, he replaced four of the five cardinals appointed to govern the Vatican Bank, an entity that has been suspected of money-laundering.  Gone was the former secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, replaced by the new secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.  The other three new ones are Cardinals Santos Abril y Castillo, Christoph Schonborn and Thomas Collins, the last two having been critical of bank operations.  The one who remains is Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Commission of Inter-religious Dialogue.

We are hopeful and prayerful that Pope Francis solves the many problems confronting the Church such as the issues of pedophile priests, Vatican leaks, women priesthood and the apparent control of women religious leadership.  An important move he can make is to reinstitute seventy-five-year old Fr. Roy Bourgeois to the priesthood and to the Maryknoll Order of Fathers and Brothers. Father Roy, you will recall, was excommunicated for celebrating mass and giving the homily at the ordination of a Janice Sevre-Duszynska as a woman priest in Lexington, Kentucky in August, 2008.

But don’t hold your breath. Based on his pronouncements as a Cardinal-Archbishop, Pope Francis seems to hold traditionalist views on women priesthood and the role of women in the church.  But things can change as he gets more input from the wider constituency.  For example, when asked for his thoughts on homosexuals, he gave the now popular non-papal reply, “Who am I to judge?”  Ten years ago, he probably would have launched into a homily on the sanctity of the holy marriage between a man and a woman.

Sooner or later, the Catholic Church will have to face the problem of a drastically dwindling number of celibate male priests.  One possible solution is to ordain married men.  (Earlier, married men may be ordained to priesthood.  Until the twelfth century, priests, bishops and 39 popes including the first Pope, St. Peter were married.  Movements for celibacy started because of inheritance problems and celibacy was imposed following the Second Lateran Council in 1139.  Not quite in accord with the Lord!) But more than this practical aspect is the implicit arrogance of the unjust claim that only a man can fathom and convey the divinity of God.

Is Pope Francis a breath of fresh air? Indeed, he is.  His willingness to listen and to hobnob with the lowly and aggrieved tends to open up a close and strictly orthodox church.  He said that the church had concerned itself with small-minded rules and was so prone to condemn those who break them.  He doesn’t believe that the church’s pastoral ministry should be obsessed with the transmission of disjointed doctrines to be imposed insistently.  He wants a new balance to bring forth “the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel”.  And he is showing his love by his actions.

Written by Dr. Eusebio Koh

Past Grand Knight: Santo Nino Council #12415

Filipino Journal: Columnist

Jan. 20 – Feb. 05, 2014 | Volume 28, Number 02


and You Gave Me Food

Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry … (Matthew 25:37)

Blessed Sacrament Parish has two special collections each year to support our neighbour, the Marian Centre in the downtown Regina.

“Marian Centre provides meals and used clothing for men in need. We try to witness to a spirit of simplicity and poverty. But most of all, we try to offer friendship and warm hospitality to all who enter. There is no charge for meals, no question asked, no judgement made.”

This year Pope Francis launched the 2014 Caritas’ “One Human Family, Food for All” lenten campaign.  The Pope gave his blessing and encouraged actions to bring an end to hunger.

On March 14, 2014 Fr. Barry, Pastor of Blessed Sacrament visited Doreen, Nancy, Charlie, Shaun and Hugo to deliver the parish lenten collection to help Marian Centre feed and cloth the men they serve.



Calculating 40 Days of Lent

How Are the 40 Days of Lent Calculated?

Lent, the period of prayer and fasting in preparation for Easter, is 40 days long, but there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and Easter. How can that be?

The answer takes us back to the earliest days of the Church. Christ’s original disciples, who were Jewish, grew up with the idea that the Sabbath—the day of worship and of rest—was Saturday, the seventh day of the week, since the account of creation in Genesis says that God rested on the seventh day.

Christ rose from the dead, however, on Sunday, the first day of the week, and the early Christians, starting with the apostles (those original disciples), saw Christ’s Resurrection as a new creation, and so they transferred the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

Since all Sundays—and not simply Easter Sunday—were days to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, Christians were forbidden to fast and do other forms of penance on those days.  Therefore, when the Church expanded the period of fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter from a few days to 40 days (to mirror Christ’s fasting in the desert, before He began His public ministry), Sundays could not be included in the count.

Thus, in order for Lent to include 40 days on which fasting could occur, it had to be expanded to six full weeks (with six days of fasting in each week) plus four extra days—Ash Wednesday and the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday that follow it.  Six times six is thirty-six, plus four equals forty.  And that’s how we arrive at the 40 days of Lent!


Eucharistic Adoration

Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter entitled Eucharist For The People, item 25 states; “The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church.  This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass – a presence which lasts as long as the species of bread and of wine remain – derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual.  It is the responsibility of Pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species.”

“This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of many saints.  Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote:  “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us”.  A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ in the spirit cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the body and blood of the Lord.”

Blessed Sacrament Parish provides Eucharistic Adoration approximately one hour before every Mass.  The form of adoration is simple silence for personal prayer and/or contemplation with the inclusion of traditional litanies and the Holy Rosary.