Monday, March 17, 2014


An Irish Prayer for you:
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


In a couple of months we will witness the canonization of two great popes - John Paul II and John XXIII...For those who have not heard much of the latter here is an incident that gives us an inkling into what made this wonderful and warm pope tick...

Do you recall any incidents from the years you were with Angelo Roncalli, from 1953 to 1962, which revealed his character and spirituality?

Yes. After Pope John was made Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, he wished to visit all the priests of the diocese. One priest, perhaps out of a natural tendency, perhaps because he has let himself go a bit, lived away by himself, in a rest home. He no longer celebrated Mass or said his breviary. There were occasional incidents where he may have drunk one or two glasses of wine too many.

After the cardinal had arrived in Venice, he said one day, "I must go and visit this Don Giovanni", as he was called. "No, don't go," the vicar general said. "He is very bitter. Who knows what he may say. He will criticise the curia. He may speak out even against you."

But the cardinal said, "No, I have to visit him". And the cardinal went to this rest home. First of all, he went to the chapel.

There were some residents of the home there, and some nuns, and he went to the altar and began to speak to them. As he was speaking, this man came into the chapel, with his tunic all torn and askew.

Perceiving that this was the man, the cardinal turned to the others and said, "Excuse me, but now I must leave you, because here is my friend Padre Giovanni, who is waiting for me". He gave his benediction and then went into a nearby room to talk with Don Giovanni.

The old priest began to rage against the hierarchy, against the former Patriarch, against the vicar general, against the priests, and he spoke of the injustice he had suffered at their hands. The cardinal let him go on, one minute, two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. Then he put his hand on the old priest's back and he said, "Don Giovanni, we are both old men. And we must both appear soon before the tribunal of God. What use is it to dwell on these things? What use? Listen to what I am going to tell you: start to say your breviary again, start to celebrate Holy Mass." And he replied: "They don't want me to say Mass, they've stopped me . . ." The cardinal said: "I am your superior now, and I give you permission to say Mass. And bit by bit we'll clear things up." Then the cardinal called me. I was outside. (He told me all this later.) He said: "This Giovanni — he's lost his breviary. I want you to find one for him, new, nice-looking, and send it to him. And then, tomorrow, I want you to send a tailor here to measure him for a new cassock."

Then he took a small bag out of his pocket and gave it the priest. "Padre Giovanni", he said, "this is for you. It will help cover some of your expenses." It was about 50,000 lire, the equivalent of about 400,000 lire ($350) today.

Then the cardinal left, quite content.

That evening, the old priest was playing cards with his friends in the rest home. "This new cardinal is quite a good fellow," he told them. He turned to one of the men. "Take this money", he said, "and go and buy a couple of bottles of wine with it so we can drink to his honour." And they did.

The next day, the entire curia was laughing behind the cardinal's back. They said: "Did you hear? The cardinal thought that it would be enough to go visit Padre Giovanni, slap him on the back, pay him a compliment, for him to change his life. And what happened? Last night they were all drunk and singing like bums in the street!"

The vicar general said to me: "See, I was right. I knew he shouldn't have gone. Look at the result."

I was upset about the whole thing, so I went in to the cardinal. "Your Eminence", I said, "you were certainly right to visit Padre Giovanni, but you know what happened after you left? The first thing he did with the money you gave him was to buy two bottles of wine and get drunk and sing.

The cardinal looked at me. "Do you really think", he asked, "that I believed one visit would be enough to change that man's life? It wasn't to change his life that I went to see him, but to begin to take away the bitterness. If you can take away the bitterness, then, maybe, later, the life will change. But if you don't take away the bitterness, nothing else you do is of any worth."

"But the others won't understand", I argued. "They'll say you are weak, that you should discipline that priest."

He took up a glass in his hand. "Whose glass is this?"
"It belongs to the house."
"And who is the master of this house?" "You are."
"All right. So whose glass is this?" "Yours."
"And if I let it drop on the floor, the broken fragments, whose are those?" "Yours."
"And I must bend over and gather them up." He paused. "That priest is mine." There was a moment of silence. "This term 'mine', what does it mean? I must love. I may condemn a person, but I must love him. If I do not love him, my condemnation is a sign that I am not a Christian."