Category Archives: Homilies

Pope Francis Gives Roman Curia 15 Lumps of Coal for Christmas

On December 22, 2014, Pope Francis did not pull back any punches in chastising the highest-ranking officials within the Vatican leadership: the Roman Curia.  I was surprised to read the sharp criticism.  It’s like Santa gave each of the Cardinals 15 pieces of coal as Christmas gifts.  I imagine many Cardinals felt embarrassed.  It must not have been easy for Pope Francis, either.  Color commentary said the Pope read straight from his script and did not look up with impromptu elaboration like he usually does.  The full English translation can be found on America Magazine.  Here is a summary of the 15 “diseases”:

Pope Francis Chastises Roman Curia
Pope Francis Chastises Roman Curia
  1. The sickness of considering oneself “immortal,” “indispensable” and lacking the necessary and habitual controls.  It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live forever and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves to be superior to others, rather than at their service.
  2. The sickness of excessive industriousness, or “Martha-ism,” is present in those who immerse themselves into work and neglect spending the better part sitting at Jesus’ feet (contemplative prayer).
  3. The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening occur in those who conceal themselves behind paper, who become working machines rather than of men of God.  These people cannot weep with those who weep, or rejoice with those who rejoice… sentiments that were present with Jesus Christ.
  4. The sickness of excessive planning and functionalism is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that things effectively progress with perfect planning.  They try to regulate or domesticate the Holy Spirit instead of being faithful to the Spirit’s freshness, imagination or innovation.
  5. The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.
  6. Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive decline of one’s spiritual faculties.  These are people who are incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views.  We see this in those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord, in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”. [Ouch.]
  7. The sickness of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the color of one’s robes, insignia and honors become the most important aim in life.
  8. Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honors. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.
  9. The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
  10. The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honoring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.
  11. The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.
  12. The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.
  13. The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure.
  14. The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself.
  15. Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.

Homily on the Holy Family by Pope Paul VI

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing, some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value—demanding yet redeeming—and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being.

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Text of Pope Francis’ homily at Christmas Mass

This is a beautiful Christmas homily.

There were two parts that particularly spoke to me:

(1) God is in love with our smallness… He made himself small so that we can encounter him.

(2) Do I welcome with warmth the difficulties and problems of those near me, or do I prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective, but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel?

CNS Blog

VATICAN CITY — Here is the English translation of Pope Francis’ homily at Christmas Mass Dec. 24 in St. Peter’s Basilica:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Savior: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.

We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame…

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