fTHERThe Flame: November/December 2015
Dear Readers of The Flame,

Pope Francis has declared an extraordinary Jubilee Year beginning December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It will conclude on November 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. It is The Year of Mercy.

This is a time to celebrate God’s mercy. Dr. Marcelino D’Ambrosio describes God’s mercy in this way:

Justice renders to each their due and calls each to assume responsibility for themselves. Mercy goes beyond the issue of who is responsible. Mercy is simply love’s response to suffering. So the Father of Mercy, to relieve our suffering, sent his Eternal Son to be made flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit. God the Son, by nature incapable of suffering, became vulnerable for us. He bound the strong man who had tyrannized the human race and paid the debt that the human race hadn’t been able to cover. His rescue mission succeeded at the cost of his life.
- The Meaning of Mercy from www.crossroadsinitiative.com

Amazing mercy! How sweet the heart of our heavenly Father!!!

I feel like the Jubilee of Mercy started a bit early for me. On Saturday, September 26 I attended the last session of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. This session was added to the end of the WMOF for those involved in charismatic renewal. The five hour session included five different languages (English, Spanish, Haitian, Creole and Italian) and three different music groups. CBS News covered this event and used the occasion to put together a three minute video describing Pope Francis’ relationship with the Catholic charismatic renewal. You may watch this video at: https://www.facebook.com/cbnnews/videos/10156218151845393

On Sunday I had the privilege of concelebrating the Papal Mass and distributing Holy Communion. In some ways, it was a slice of heaven. Amid the 800,00 people who participated in the Mass were many of the participants in the WMOF, representing over 100 different countries. As St. John described:
I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race people and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the lamb…” (Revelation 7:9b)

Both the conference and the Mass highlighted for me just how large and diverse the Church is. And yet, within this vast number of people, who came from various places with differing languages and cultures, there was a great unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. And such is the work of the Spirit! Beginning with Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out on “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), the Holy Spirit has been trying to undo the effects of man’s pride at Babel (Genesis 9). The events in Philadelphia told me that the person of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed throughout the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. Certainly there is much work to be done locally and globally. Certainly the message of Jesus Christ is opposed in many parts of the world. And certainly, there are threats to the work of Christ from within and outside the Church. Yet, it was such an encouragement to see the fruits of the Spirit amid the Church gathered for the Pope’s visit to the United States.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the Nativity of our Lord, let us pray that the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ would deeply penetrate the hearts and minds of all people, in particular our loved ones. Many, many people, influenced more by the Babel of our times and less by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, are indifferent or hostile to Christianity.

And let us pray that those who have particular roles of influence in the Church (the ordained, vowed religious, parents, teachers and all who administrate or work at Catholic institutions) will make known God’s mercy in deed and word. Mercy is not God saying, “I don’t mind your sin and rebellion.” Mercy is God offering us forgiveness and a cure through Jesus Christ.

I wish each of you a wonderful celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am very grateful for your support of CRM throughout this year. I pray that God’s mercies, new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), abundantly bless you!

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries