What if Pope Francis gave you a special mission? Wouldn’t you find it hard to ignore? I, for one, paid attention when the Holy Father issued a commission to me and my companions during a private audience in Rome back in October 2013.
By all accounts and according to worldly standards, the Australian-born model Essena O’Neill had it made. She had built a career on social media, becoming an overnight Internet sensation with hundreds of thousands of followers and a nice chunk of change to the tune of several thousand dollars per selfie. With money and fame that went well beyond any nineteen-year-old’s wildest dreams, what could possibly be missing?
There is a line in the holy Quran that edifies just as it disarms us: “O people of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you.” That verse speaks of what is lacking between Muslims and Christians: peaceful convergence and dialogue. It’s as though God, the first champion of interreligious dialogue, is inspiring us to shelve our differences and speak with civil tongues.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta strips you and me of every excuse to do nothing to help the hungry, the sick, the lonely, the unloved, the rejected, the hurting, the confused, the imprisoned.
Over and over again the tiny woman, who will be officially proclaimed a saint on September 4, asks us not to praise her but to join her; to remember that slums, homes for the dying, and prisons are not the only places where mercy, love, and attention are needed. Her canonization will take place one day before the 19th anniversary of her death, in 1997 at age 87.
Every week, I receive prayer petitions that are sent along with St. Anthony Messenger magazine subscription renewals. The prayer petition slips are about the size of a number 10 envelope. The last batch that I received weighed 14 pounds when they were mailed to me. That is a lot of prayer petitions!
Let’s say I’m a nine-year-old boy. My sister is six. I’m bigger, stronger, and feistier. Is it in my interest to accommodate? Or would I be inclined to solve conﬂicts in my favor? Is self-love stronger than sibling love? Can you imagine my nine-year-old self saying to my sister, “OK, Harmony, let’s try to work this out. Since I’m the big brother, I will sacriﬁce. You play with the Legos ﬁrst, all by yourself, for the next ﬁfteen minutes. See, isn’t that better? And Mom can enjoy her nap.” If by some quirk of nature, you have a child like this, I’d say let him solve all conﬂicts. In fact, I’d say let him raise himself—and his sister, too.
The ground beneath the city of Pompeii began to heave days before a crisis erupted that threatened the lives of all who lived there and in the surrounding towns. At first, residents of the Roman city did not worry. Earthquakes were a common occurrence. Life went on. Maybe a few people looked up and out, toward Mt. Vesuvius, visible in the distance. But people did not seem to connect the tremors with a possible eruption – at least not at first.
For over 50 years, Father Murray Bodo, OFM, and I have been close friends, confreres, and admirers of Saint Francis of Assisi. We met as fellow students in 1951 at St. Francis Minor Seminary, located on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Murray, whose name was Louis at the time, had boarded a Greyhound Bus in his hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, and headed east some 1,500 miles on a ribbon of highway. He arrived in Cincinnati two days later.