Pope Francis at WYD

July 28, 2013

FrancisIn some of his addresses at World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero, Pope Francis has been using the term “missionary disciples.”  This term immediately resonated with me.  Having recently studied Sherry Weddell’s book Intentional Disciples, I had been left with a nagging discomfort with her phrase.  The reason:  redundancy.  Though I understand (and agree with) Sherry’s purpose and intent, for me, already inherent in the meaning of the word “disciple” is an attitude of ‘intentionality’.  Thus, I much prefer the term “missionary disciples’ for its emphasis on our responsibility to reach out.

Here are several other notable snippets from the (published) addresses of Pope Francis at WYD:

From his chat with his brother bishops:

…the results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love.


That is why it is important to devise and ensure a suitable formation, one which will provide persons able to step into the night without being overcome by the darkness and losing their bearings; able to listen to people’s dreams without being seduced and to share their disappointments without losing hope and becoming bitter; able to sympathize with the brokenness of others without losing their own strength and identity.


Communion is a fabric to be woven with patience and perseverance, one which gradually “draws together the stitches” to make a more extensive and thick cover. A threadbare cover will not provide warmth.

From his homily at the Mass with bishops, priests and seminarians:

Let us spare no effort in the formation of our young people! Saint Paul uses a beautiful expression that he embodied in his own life, when he addressed the Christian community: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Let us embody this also in our own ministry! Let us help our young people to discover the courage and joy of faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who gave his Son Jesus for our salvation. Let us form them in mission, in going out and going forth. Jesus did this with his own disciples: he did not keep them under his wing like a hen with her chicks. He sent them out! We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They too are invited to the table of the Lord.


At times, it seems that for some people, human relations are regulated by two modern “dogmas”: efficiency and pragmatism.

From his address after the “Way of the Cross”:

I have three questions that I hope will echo in your hearts this evening as you walk beside Jesus: What have you left on the Cross, dear young people of Brazil, during these two years that it has been crisscrossing your great country? What has the Cross of Jesus left for you, in each one of you? Finally, what does this Cross teach us?


3. But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to always look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them.

From his remarks to Argentinian youth:

What do I expect as a consequence of the Youth Day? I expect a mess. There will be one. There will be a mess here in Rio? There will be! But I want a mess in the dioceses! I want people to go out! I want the Church to go out to the street! I want us to defend ourselves against everything that is worldliness, that is installation, that is comfortableness, that is clericalism, that is being shut-in in ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions, exist to go out!

From his homily at the concluding Mass:

Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission!


1. Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).
Careful, though! Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time”, but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”


Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.


A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!


He is with us! “Do not be afraid!” When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.


Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission.


“I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more” (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself “a slave to all”. Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.


COTL’s Bucket Exercise Workout

July 21, 2013

In order to help their members grow in their ability to live out their Community’s founding charism (“Receptivity and Commitment to the Person and Culture of the Holy Spirit, particularly in Covenant Love”), The City of the Lord Community is promoting a unique and intriguing program:  The Bucket [Spiritual] Exercise Workout Program.  Read the details here.

bucket pic

Hermitage update

July 19, 2013

Years ago, some Community members made a weekend retreat at Mount St Francis, with each of us occupying a hermitage cabin like this:


Here’s their new/updated website.  The facility is now home to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.


July 10, 2013

The front page of the website of the Alleluia Community currently carries an essay written by a couple in the Community.  It’s thought-provoking, so I posted it here for future reference, since it will eventually be replaced by something else on the Alleluia webpage.

Intentional Simplicity
By Jonathan and Sharon Cosper

The Holy Spirit has been exhorting the two of us to deepen in simplicity. A word we have been repeatedly receiving in our prayer time over the past few months has been: “You are close. If you want to come closer, you must become simpler. You have too many things that keep you from hearing My voice and seeing My face.”

And this is the picture that one of us received to go along with it: Jesus is standing on one side of a large room with me on the other. All of my things, whatever they may be (physical, emotional, social), are lined up single-filed between Him and me. The more I have, the further I am from Him.

We believe we are being asked two questions: What are we willing to give up in order to come closer to the Lord? What are we willing to give up in order to hear and see the Lord? And then there is encouragement, because once we have given up enough, we will be able to reach out and touch Him and then, eventually, we will be embraced.

The following is taken from a prophecy that was given at a conference in the early days of community:

“In order to be able to hear Me, you simply must be willing to give up everything. My plan cannot succeed through a mixture of your desires and My word to you. You must give up everything. I know what this means to you. For those of you who are young, it means laying down before me the choices for your very life. For those of you who are older, it means laying before me the entire life you have built over the years.”

Jesus says to Martha, “You are anxious and worried about many things” (Luke 10:41). Jesus never says these many things are sin, but maybe they do or can keep us from becoming closer to Him. The nature of many things in itself lends to distraction and divided attention. It seems He is not bringing her correction but encouraging her to become simpler, as her sister Mary is. He continues, “There is need of only one thing” (42). He never says Martha does not have the “one thing,” just that she has many. We can love and serve the Lord, even if we have those many things, but Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the better part” (42). It is better to put aside the many things of this world so that we can fully focus on the Lord, hear His voice, see His face, and sit at His feet as Mary did.

As we have studied intentional simplicity and observed the many examples of people who live it, we have found it to be tied directly to abandonment, stewardship, and generosity.

We have to be willing to abandon all our things, whatever they may be (physical, emotional, social) to the Lord. This means relinquishing or renouncing any interest, claim, privilege, or right we believe we have to any of those things with the intent to never again resume or reassert it. It is no longer our “thing” but the Lord’s. This way, it can no longer exist as a distraction and burden and should therefore cause us no anxiety or worry.

This passage is from the book On Living Simply by John Chrysostom:

“The art of being poor in spirit is to distinguish between use and ownership. A person who owns something — or regards himself as owner — believes he has the sole right to determine how that thing is used. He may use it himself or authorize another person to use it. But this sense of ownership is a terrible snare, because it prevents a person’s soul from marching onward to God. The person who wishes to move toward God must free himself from all sense of ownership. He must regard all things as loans from God, even the things which he himself owns. A loan is to be used for a period, and then paid back. This is precisely how we should regard our houses and fields, clothes and furniture; they are loans which God grants us for our short span on earth, to be repaid at the moment of death. To be poor in spirit does not mean to be destitute, lacking in even the basic comforts and necessities. It means to regard nothing as your own, and everything you have as a temporary loan.”

If we do this and believe fully that we are giving up our ownership of these things, we will then develop a mindset of stewardship. We will feel a responsibility to take care of all these things that the Lord has loaned to us.

And then, of those things that the Lord calls us to be generous with, we will give freely and eagerly. Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up … for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come” (Luke 18:29). Our heart will be open and excited to give of all the things we have.

The Alleluia Rule of Life states that we will be faithful to a monthly budget and living within our means. One of the Ten Words is “Owe no man.” Living by these rules will give us the ability to be generous with what we have, while avoiding giving what we really do not have, and foster a life of Christian simplicity.

If we abandon our things to the Lord, He is free to use them as He pleases. He will see us as His stewards ready to serve Him to the best of our ability.  When He calls us to be generous and give up any of these things, then we will do it freely and without reserve as the poor widow gave of her two coins (Mark 12:41-44). Through these choices we draw close enough to be embraced by Him.

A quote from The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila helps the two of us keep an eternal perspective and focus on simplicity:

“Above all else, help me always to remember that I have only one soul, that I have only one short life that must be lived by me alone, that I have only one death to die, and that there is only one glory that is eternal. If I do this, as you have promised, there will be many things I will not care about at all.”

What things are we holding on to? Who is the owner of our vineyard?

Jonathon and Sharon Cosper have been underway members of the Alleluia Community since April 2011. They are both second-generation members and alumni of Alleluia Community School. Jonathon is an accountant/controller and Sharon is an occupational therapist. They have been married for four years, have two daughters and attend St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church in Augusta, Georgia.

Holy housewives

July 5, 2013

Devotion in a married woman is most praiseworthy, but she must never forget that she is a housewife.  Sometimes she must leave God at the altar, to serve Him in her housekeeping.
(St Frances of Rome)

A few months ago, on the Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction website blog, Fr John Bartunek LC responded to an inquiry concerning married women growing in spirituality/holiness.  His response, along with many of the Comments from readers (which can be found at the end of the article), offered quite a few suggestions.  Perhaps this topic might interest some women in our Community, or provide them with resources to suggest to their daughters or daughters-in-law.

Scranton Conference reminder

July 3, 2013

Only 15 days remaining to get the early-bird discount on your registration for the Scranton Charismatic Conference.

Inspiring video

July 2, 2013

This month’s feature video at the ‘Net for God TV’ site, entitled “The humble beginnings of the Chemin Neuf Community,” is an inspiring 30-minute history of an ecumenical charismatic community.  The community started in France 40 years ago, and is now in 28 countries.  The song at the end will have you dancing in front of your computer!

Sacred Heart review

July 1, 2013

July is here, and we’re now out of the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  However, if you didn’t encounter anything during June that gave you a deeper appreciation for the Heart of our Savior, give a listen to this talk by Fr Scott McCaig CC given back in 2010.  He passionately explains the relevance of the Heart of Christ to our growth in holiness, and to our efforts at evangelization.