We’re publishing The Church of Mercy – A Vision for the Church. Collected from the Pope’s speeches, homilies, and papers during his first year, The Church of Mercy is the first Vatican-authorized book detailing his vision for the Church. You may or may not have heard that Loyola Press got the North American rights to this book after a fairly robust bidding war. We are enthusiastic about having the opportunity to get the Holy Father’s message out to the world and happy that pre-orders seem to indicate that we will have a best seller.
For the Thursdays of April, I’m going to pull a quote from the book and comment on it.
The above quotation immediately called to mind something written by the wonderful Fredrick Buechner in The Magnificent Defeat. He is talking about the disciples on the way to Emmaus and how they are disillusioned and confused. They flee Jerusalem but it is precisely when they attempt to escape that Jesus comes and walks beside them. Buechner tells us that it is precisely when we try to get away from God that God is closest to us.
I love that idea. It fills me with consolation and I think it is what Pope Francis is getting at in the quote above.
Today Pope Francis makes it official that Jose d’Anchieta, S.J. (1534-1597) will be made a saint of the Catholic Church.
Often referred to as “the Apostle of Brazil,” he, like Saint Ignatius, came from the Basque country. He was missioned to the Portuguese colony of Brazil and was one of the founders of both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. But he was only getting started…
Father d’Anchieta is also known as the Father of Brazilian literature. He wrote with equal ease in Spanish, Portuguese, Latin and the indigenous language, Tupi. He wrote a poem to Our Lady, and legend has it that he wrote it on wet sand each morning and memorized it until he much later wrote its 4,900 verses (!) on paper. He was an accomplished musician and dramatist with several published works. He also managed to be the Jesuit Provincial Superior, a historian, naturalist and surgeon.
Where did you find God in… or Where do you need to find God in… a time of sadness?
What came to mind immediately were the deaths of both my parents and my eldest sister. My sister had the only tragic death. Alone, after the passing of her husband, she fell down the stairs at home and was found a day later by a friend coming to take her to lunch.
Even though both my parents had long and, I hope, happy lives, their deaths were probably no less sorrowful and difficult for me and for my family.
And yet, what I most remember about our coming together for their funerals was how kind we all were to each other and how well we worked together to make sure that our parents got the send offs they so richly deserved.
I had the sense that God was very close to us in those days and that we were buoyed up by the love and support of our relatives and friends.
Have you felt God close to you in a moment of deep sadness?
Some of you will remember the British TV Series, All Creatures Great and Small which was about a veterinary practice in the Yorkshire Dales. I recently came upon this piano version of its theme tune and found it charming.
I may one of the last people to have come across this, because when I looked for it on the internet, it seemed to be everywhere. These are given as Ghandi’s Top Ten Fundamentals for Changing the World:
At a meeting of our 19th Annotation (Spiritual Exercises) group, one of my colleagues reminded us of a distinction Joe Tetlow, S.J. uses to help distinguish between good and not-so-good movements of the spirit.
He suggests we ask ourselves, “Am I drawn towards this? (by the Lord) or “Am I driven to this?” (by our baggage and compulsions.)
I have found this a very helpful distinction and have been able to identify — sadly mostly only later — when I have allowed myself to be driven to something that is neither sound or healthy.
The man looked worried and Hodja asked him what was troubling him.
“I have this terrible dream,” said the man. “Every night I dream there’s a monster hiding under the bed. When I get up and look there’s no one there. I can’t sleep afterwards. I am on my way to the doctor’s house now. He says he can cure me for a hundred dinars.”
“A hundred dinars!” exclaimed Hodja. “I can rid you of your problem for five!”
The man immediately took out 5 dinars and gave them to Hodja.
“Now tell me what to do,” said the man.
“The remedy is simple,” said Hodja, pocketing the money.