Tag Archives: Rome

“the true treasures of the church”

On this Good Friday I want to share a photo and brief story from my FACEBOOK feed. What a truly beautiful way to celebrate the joy of Easter.
How we treat the least of these is exactly how we treat their Creator. Pope Francis demonstrates a love for the poor that we all should emulate.
'Here are some of the 150 homeless men, women and children invited to the Sistine Chapel yesterday by Pope Francis.  The Pope met privately with them, asked for their prayers and said, "This is your home."  Afterwards they were invited to a special dinner.  

This beautiful photo is itself a meditation on many truths: First, we are reminded of St. Lawrence bringing the poor to a third-century Roman emperor and saying, "Here are the true treasures of the church."  Indeed, here they are: the greatest treasures of the church before the greatest artistic treasure.  Second, it is a unique meditation on the communion of saints, above and below.  The people in this photo, seated below, are part of the great communion of saints, who are included in Michelangelo's masterpiece, which depicts not only those going to hell but the saved, those being invited into heaven.  And what is the litmus test for entrance into heaven?  As Jesus says in Matthew's Gospel, it is how you treat the poor.  Third, it is a meditation on humility.  The Pope asked that no photos of himself be taken.  Fourth, it is a meditation on how the church can treat the poor: the way that the father treats the prodigal son in Jesus's parable in Luke's Gospel: lavishly, prodigally, over the top.  Why should we stint when it comes to helping the poor?  Finally, it is a meditation on joy.  Look at the faces of these these men and women when they are treated as human beings, and not simply as objects of charity or as bothersome problems in our cities and towns.  The Joy of the Gospel, Evangelium Gaudium, is real, and it can be found here on earth. 

(Photo from L'Osservatore Romano.)'

Here are some of the 150 homeless men, women and children invited to the Sistine Chapel yesterday by Pope Francis. The Pope met privately with them, asked for their prayers and said, “This is your home.” Afterwards they were invited to a special dinner.

This beautiful photo is itself a meditation on many truths: First, we are reminded of St. Lawrence bringing the poor to a third-century Roman emperor and saying, “Here are the true treasures of the church.” Indeed, here they are: the greatest treasures of the church before the greatest artistic treasure. Second, it is a unique meditation on the communion of saints, above and below. The people in this photo, seated below, are part of the great communion of saints, who are included in Michelangelo’s masterpiece, which depicts not only those going to hell but the saved, those being invited into heaven. And what is the litmus test for entrance into heaven? As Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, it is how you treat the poor. Third, it is a meditation on humility. The Pope asked that no photos of himself be taken. Fourth, it is a meditation on how the church can treat the poor: the way that the father treats the prodigal son in Jesus’s parable in Luke’s Gospel: lavishly, prodigally, over the top. Why should we stint when it comes to helping the poor? Finally, it is a meditation on joy. Look at the faces of these these men and women when they are treated as human beings, and not simply as objects of charity or as bothersome problems in our cities and towns. The Joy of the Gospel, Evangelium Gaudium, is real, and it can be found here on earth.

(Photo from L’Osservatore Romano.)

Pope of the poor

I am a fan of Pope Francis. Let me amend that statement. I am a big fan of this Pope.

Since the first moment he became the head of the Roman Catholic Church this man has consistently demonstrated a preferential treatment to the poor. He has an authentic spirituality that reflects the love of Christ, and he is changing the culture of the Church. He is a true leader and his faithfulness to the gospel is worth paying attention to.

This recent article by Sébastien Maillard is a good example of why I admire Pope Francis. We could all take lessons from the treatment of the poor by this Pope.

In Francis’ Vatican, the Homeless Get VIP Treatment

Posted: 03/26/2015 2:00 pm EDT Updated: 03/26/2015 2:00 pm EDT

“Following Francis” is a monthly blog on the latest happenings of Pope Francis. It is prepared exclusively for The WorldPost by Sébastien Maillard, Vatican Correspondent for La Croix, Rome

ROME — Visitors had to leave the Sistine Chapel earlier than usual on the afternoon of March 26 — before 4:00 p.m. — and not because of some exclusive VIP event. A group of around 150 homeless were granted a private visit before being offered supper inside the Vatican Museums’ cafeteria. They were separated into three groups, with a guide showing the masterpiece of Michelangelo as part of a tour of the Vatican’s museums and gardens. The session also included passing close by Santa Marta’s residence, where Pope Francis lives and works.

After the visit, Francis greeted the homeless: “Welcome, this is a house for all. Your house.” He then spent 20 minutes meeting his special guests, one by one.

Homeless people don’t appear as just words in a speech or a prayer for the “pope of the poor.” They have become part of the Vatican’s daily life. On March 22, 400 of them helped deliver pocket Gospels that Francis was offering to the crowd gathered on St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer at noon. One hundred homeless people also did the same a month before, handing out another booklet for Lent.

The Vatican not only attracts tourists worldwide but also beggers standing around Bernini’s colonnade. At night, some homeless find shelter at the doorstep of Vatican offices. In Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio used to walk all by himself, as cardinal, inside the slums surrounding Argentina’s capital. He cannot do this anymore as the bishop of Rome, so he told Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, whom he appointed as almoner, “You can sell your desk. You don’t need it … You need to go out and look for the poor.”

praying for the Pope

Jesus wasn’t crucified for telling his listeners to consider the lilies and how they grow. He was nailed to the cross for pointing to the thieves and saying look how they steal. And the thieves to which he was pointing were the religious leaders who were most loudly proclaiming their religiosity.

Jesus was crucified because he was threatening the established religious order. The religious leaders in Jerusalem encouraged the Roman government to take care of the growing menace Jesus posed to their control of the faithful.  Jesus was drawing far too much attention to the disparity between their sanctimonious proclamations and the ugly reality of their lifestyles. He had to be silenced.

The Romans pulled the trigger. But it was the religious leaders that pointed the gun.

All of that is to say that I am praying daily for Pope Francis. He continues to demonstrate true prophetic courage in addressing the critical issues of our day. And there is true danger in that.

The Pope’s humility is real, but so is his call for change.  George Weigel, a conservative Catholic, recently wrote that, “Pope Francis is a revolutionary. The revolution he proposes, however, is not a matter of economic or political prescription, but a revolution in the self-understanding of the Catholic Church.”

I  disagree. Pope Francis is definitely working to clean out the thieves from the temple and put the Catholic Church back into order. But, he has also demonstrated he is committed to living out the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just mouthing platitudes.

Pope Francis is addressing the economic inequities of our world and he is doing it in a manner that points a finger at those in positions of power. He is truly showing preferential treatment towards the poor, the weak and the dispossessed. Such  prophetic faithfulness is powerful. It is also imminently dangerous. It was in Jerusalem. And it certainly is in Rome.