“In Antioch, the disciples were for the first time, called Christians.” – Read Acts 11:19-30
Series: Saints of Our Time
On April 27, Pope Francis will declare the two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, saints. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881-1963) was already 77 when he was elected pope and took the name of John XXIII. Because of his advanced age and his grandfatherly yet captivating bonhomie, many thought he would be a “transitional” pope. Instead, with the unexpected announcement of the Second Vatican Council, he opened a window in the Church for the “winds of the Spirit” to enter and gave rise to the greatest religious event of the 20th century. On the other hand, Karol Jozef Wojtyla (1920-2005), throughout his 27-year pontificate, was seen as a global champion. While keeping the Church on a steady course, he performed some of the most original and forward-looking gestures in connection with the great challenges of our time: ecumenism, dialogue between religions, commitment to peace and even geo-politics, contributing to the fall of Communism. Both popes died under the full scrutiny of the world. The spectacle of their saintly deaths revealed the incredible, universal love they had attracted to themselves. By canonizing two popes with very different personalities at the same time, Pope Francis is emphasizing the unifying characteristic that made the two commit themselves to the good of the Church and, especially, to the cause of the Second Vatican Council – their holiness. Through this act, Pope Francis is implicitly telling the Church that it is this same holiness that will solve her increasingly grave and delicate problems, today and in the future.
The pastoral care of people in very remote areas in South Sudan has truly enlightened the heart of young Comboni missionary, Fr. Gregory Schmidt. Along with three other companions in mission, they are living among the pastoralists of Nuer, dedicating their lives in caring for the different communities in and around Old Fangak, fostering education, and empowering the local people to build a better future for the Africa’s youngest nation. Though these areas have been neglected by the government, and isolation and lack of infrastructures are obstacles, nothing can stop these young missionaries, all under the age of 40, from living the missionary heritage of St. Daniel Comboni and giving their lives completely to the Nuer people.
“Suffering” and “death” are the only two words that seem to characterize the devastation brought about by Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in Central Philippines, as clearly heard from victims’ stories and seen in the news. Despite the appaling destruction, though, “hope” and “joy” also shine forth amid that anguish – a hope and joy that can only come from the promise of Christ’s Resurrection.
Jesus’ Resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. However, without a clear understanding of why He died…or got killed…the Resurrection may become a mere supernatural tale to the uninitiated. Christ’s Death was caused by His desire for change: from old to new, from fear to love, from darkness to light.
In Latin America and Africa, where the Church continues to grow rapidly, the work of the Church was not always easy. Violence and political strife always compounded the work of priests, missionaries and lay persons. Even in the face of death, however, these modern-day martyrs served as a beacon of Christ wherever they went, spreading His message of love and the hope of the Resurrection.
Fifty years after the landmark encounter between the heads of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Jerusalem, Pope Francis will revisit the Holy Land amid continuing tension in the Middle East and lingering roadblocks to Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.
They approached, embraced His feet, and did Him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.” (Mt 28:19)
An election is always a good sign in every democratic society. Amid the fanfare and the mudslinging, the result ultimately boils down to a matter of choice, as expressed by the society’s people. But for India, the world’s largest democracy, the selection process for their representatives in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, may not be a simple exercise.