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Heart Speaks to Heart

Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in Saint Peter's Basilica with seminarians, novices, and young people discerning a vocation to religious life. He told them:

Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and pressing duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord! Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lk 10:4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

The full homily is here.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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And as he said yesterday to the same group:

"And then Pope Francis took seminarians and novices to task for being “too serious, too sad”. ``Something's not right here,'' Francis told them pointing out that `'There is no sadness in holiness,'' and adding that such clergy lack `'the joy of the Lord.''

“To become a priest or a religious is not primarily our choice; it is our answer to a calling, a calling of love”.


`'If you find a seminarian, priest, nun, with a long, sad face, if it seems as if in their life someone threw a wet blanket over them,'' then one should conclude `'it's a psychiatric problem, they can leave - `buenos dias."


Text from page

of the Vatican Radio website 

The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger.

I have to wonder if those who love Pope Francis from the left may have a rude awakening in store.


Pay attention to the following satement: "Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. Where does mission originate? The answer is simple: it originates from a call, the Lord’s call, and when he calls people, he does so with a view to sending them out."  Who does the Lord call?  See limitations?  The call is bigger than some of the narrow views of vocation.   What can this mean?

Marc --

I suspect that it's the trads who need to fear that their world-view must change.  Francis also said this week:

" . . . this newness, he said, “goes beyond us,” it renews us and “renews the structures.” This is why Jesus says that new wineskins are necessary for new wine:

“In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to this, with dialogue with cultures . . . It always allows itself to be renewed according to places, times, and persons. The Church has always done this! From the very first moment, we remember the first theological battle: was it necessary to carry out all of the Jewish practices in order to be Christian? No! They said no! The gentiles could enter as they are: gentiles . . . Entering into the Church and receiving Baptism. A first renewal of the structures. . . ."

Renewal means change, Mark. Renewal is active.

Hopefully, in the best of all worlds, nobody  is in for a rude awakening. Maybe we have a Pope who can remind us the the Church is big enough to embrace all of us.

Our church was big enough to embrace Peter and Paul, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux.

It takes all types to be a Catholic.

Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and pressing duties.

Easier said than done!


Why did my whole post appear in bold type?  What did i do wrong?

Jim Pauweis,

I agree that we all face this challenge, but I think the core of the challenge to be these words of the Pope: "let your heart be the more closely united to Christ's heart."

We can seek to achieve this in many ways: visits to the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary, centering prayer, short pauses in the course of the day when we attentively place ourselves in the presence of God.

Do you know the writings of Martin Laird? I just finished his short book, "A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation." Perhaps not everyone's way; but as I suggested above, there's not one way; or, better, the one Way is Christ with whose heart we seek to unite ourselves ever more closely.

let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart - See more at:


There's a good book about prayer that I read a couple of years ago, "Deep Calls to Deep: Going Further in Prayer" by David Foster. 

Jim P., and all --

Centering prayer is an excellent practice for people without much time.  It's very different from what is generally taught in Catholic schools, but the practice goes all the way back to the Desert Fathers.  Once you see how it works, you can do it anywhere for any small amount of time.  It's not the same thing as lectio divina (which requires some time to do a scriptural reading), but they are often done in sequence.  Here are some FAQs from the Contemplative Outreach site:

The classic book of instruciton is Fr. Thomas Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart.


Thanks for the background on centering prayer.   I had heard of it before but was not familiar with it.  Maybe it's somewhere the left and right can meet.

Mark, you would think that Centering Prayer would indeed be a meeting place for all. But, for at least some on the Catholic "right", that is not the case. They warn the "faithful" that CP is dangerous - that it is "new age" and too "eastern".  If you google the term "centering prayer catholic", a few examples of this view will turn up near the top of the list..  It's rather sad.  

The Contemplative Outreach website that Ann  O linked to has a directory of churches and contacts for CP groups around the country if you wish to experience it yourself. Most groups meet once/week and the idea of the group is to help the individual develop the discipline for the dailypractice of CP on their own and provide spiritual companionship.  It is an ecumenical prayer movement, so CP groups are  found in both Protestant and Catholic parishes. Those who participate in the groups also usually come from a range of christian denominations, not necessarily that of the hosting church.  This aspect of CP is one of the beauties of it for me  - differences in denomination and doctrine fade away - are totally unimportant -  and you are left with prayer only.  It is beautiful.

Mark --

Here's an interesting article in today's NYT about  some experiments testing one benefit of mindfulness meditation.  The experiments show that mindfulness meditation increases compassionate feelings and action.

It has long been established that *all* kinds of meditation have many mental and physical benefits as well as valuable spiritual benefits in many cases.  "Meditation" is usually defined these days as the mental state in which the brain produces alpha-waves, at least predominantly, and this includes many religious practices (see Centering Prayer and the Jesus Prayer among many, many others).  In all cases mindfulness meditation involves withdrawing one's  attention from the external world and concentrating on something mental or focusing on the sensations of one's own body.  For instance, classical methods concentrate on one's breathing or on the mental acts which go flowing by in consciousness.  These are thoroughly passive practices. 

Centering Prayer and the Jesus Prayer (and many other Christian, Jewish and Muslim practices) are similar to mindfulness meditation in that they withdraw attention from the external world, but also from the body, and in the case of Centering Prayer consciousness focuses only on the presence of God within one's soul.  

Mindfulness meditation usually is not a religious sort of meditation.  It is used by Buddhists as a preliminary to their more advanced methods.  But certain mindfulness techniques can be used in preparation of religious meditation of various sorts, including CP and the Jesus Prayer.  I recommend  the non-religious varieties of mindfulness too.

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