Please keep Msgr Timothy Doherty in your prayers as he leaves his parish in Rockford, IL to go to Lafayette.  It can’t be a pleasant change to leave your parish and begin shepherding an entire diocese!

I know most of my readers don’t care, and those who care already know, but…

My home diocese gets their new bishop tomorrow!

It’s not that I don’t like our current bishop — I do, but I feel sorry for him because I know he probably wants to retire and have his life back.  He’s been waiting to retire for quite some time!

And because I’m a church nerd, I’m very excited.  I love breaking news in the Church.  I thrive on it.  So for the past few years, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the announcement.  I’ve watched as diocese after diocese gets their bishop.  I’ve followed vacant dioceses and bishops who were approaching retirement age.  I’ve watched as Lafayette slowly made its way to the top of the list.  And then I waited some more.   I’ve listened to the rumors in the rumor mill.  I’ve sorted out false alarms.  I’ve researched.  I set alarms on my phone for a certain blog’s updates.  I’ve followed a certain Twitter.  I’ve waited.  And while waiting, I learned the ropes — how the announcement is made, how the hints are leaked, who knows what when.  The other dioceses have been good practice for me, I suppose.

Did I mention that I’ve been waiting?

So I’ll be setting my alarm at 5 am Central Time tomorrow.

And until then — I’ll be praying for the new shepherd.

In this day of minute-to-minute news, a story from April 2008 is ancient.

But I think we’d all benefit from reading it again. 

Victims of Abuse Recall Meeting with Pope

Pope Benedict also met with victims this past weekend in Malta, and the reports are similar– emotional & full of healing.

The meetings with victims is private, so the Holy Father’s messages aren’t publicly released by the Vatican.  But all you need to read is the victim’s impressions of the Holy Father to realize that he cares.  He loves these victims, and he, perhaps more than any other person in the Church, is ready to facilitate healing and stop the abuse.

“The pope looked very sad, he looked me eye to eye, looked down at the floor, looked at me and held my hand, didn’t let it go,” McDaid said. “I saw his body language, his eyes, heard the sadness in his German (accented) English. I didn’t have to say, did you get it?”

Five years ago today…

The wait seemed interminable…

But then-

Deo gratias!

Pray for the Holy Father — today and everyday!

On this Sunday morning, I’d like to share the words of Pope Benedict as he traveled to Malta yesterday.  I think many of the misconceptions about Pope Benedict would be cleared up if people knew what he said and taught, so perhaps I’ll be sharing quotes from him more often.

On his way to Malta:

Dear friends, good evening! Let us hope we have a good journey, without this dark cloud that is hanging over part of Europe.

So why this trip to Malta? The reasons are manifold.

The first is St. Paul. The Pauline Year of the universal Church is over, but Malta is celebrating 1950 years sincethe shipwreck and this is my opportunity to once again bring to light the great figure of the Apostle to the Gentiles, with his important message even [for] today. I think we can summarize the essence of his journey with the words with which he himself summarised it at the end of the letter to the Galatians: Faith working through love.

These are the important things today: faith, the relationship with God, which then turns into love. But I also think that the reason for the shipwreck speaks for us. Malta’s fortune to have faith was born from the wreck; so we can think the same, that life’s shipwrecks can be part of God’s plan for us and they may also be useful for new beginnings in our lives.

The second reason: I am glad to live in the midst of lively church, which the Church in Malta is. Even today it is fruitful in vocations, full of faith in the midst of our time, responding to the challenges of our time. I know that Malta loves Christ and loves his Church which is his body and knows that, even if this body is wounded by our sins, God loves this church and its gospel is the true force that purifies and heals.

Third point: Malta is the point where the currents of refugees from Africa arrive and knock at Europe’s door. This is a great problem of our time, and, of course, can not be resolved by the island of Malta. We must all respond to this challenge, work so that everyone can, live a dignified life in their homeland and on the other hand do everything possible so that these refugees find here, where they arrive, that they find a decent living space. A response to a great challenge of our time: Malta reminds us of these problems and also reminds us that their faith is the force that gives charity, and thus also the imagination to respond well to these challenges. Thank you.

Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Frances of Rome.  We developed a great friendship a few years ago in Rome, when I heard she was the patroness of Roman taxi drivers.  Figuring that someone who helped Roman taxi drivers might also help with buses, I began praying to her when we’d wait for buses.  She came through every time — even five years ago, today, when we desperately needed a bus on the day of a bus strike.  (She helped us out because we were headed to her house and church for her feast day!)

You can read her story here:  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=49

It’s a fascinating story.  What a woman!  My favorite story about her is not included there, though.

She was praying the Psalms one day, when her husband and her children repeatedly interrupted her with their needs.  She repeatedly put the book aside and tended to their cares.  Each time she’d return to her prayers, she’d read the same line before getting interrupted again.  The last time she returned, the line had turned to gold.  God was reassuring her that she was doing His Will by faithfully answering their needs, as her primary vocation was wife and mother.  She was praying by her selflessness in leaving her prayers to help them.

She is now “buried” in her church (her body is visible behind glass, in a chapel underneath the high altar.  So I guess she’s not really buried!) in the Roman Forum, her hands still clutching that prayer book.

St. Francesca Romana, pray for us!

Inevitably, Lent makes me Rome-sick.  There’s something about spending the holiest time of the year in the Eternal City that changes your future Lents forever.

The interesting thing about my memories of 2005 and 2008 is that many of them are tied up in liturgical events, be it John Paul II’s death on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday or celebrating Palm Sunday with Pope Benedict at St. Peter’s.   Because of this, there are often two days that bring the memories flooding back to me — the date and the feast.

This past Friday, for example, I was eating a Lean Cuisine microwave meal for lunch (Parmesan-crusted fish) and was somehow reminded of the first week in Lent two years ago, when I was sitting in a chipper in Swaffham, England eating real fish and chips.  Was last week the two-year anniversary of that adventure through Norfolk?  Well, yes… and no.  Lent fell earlier that year, during the first week of February.

I’ll go through a similar experience when the 5th Sunday of Lent rolls around, and I’ll want to celebrate the two year anniversary of Mass with Pope Benedict — but it really happened on March 9th, not March 21st (when the 5th Sunday falls this year).

In case you haven’t noticed, though, I like celebrating time liturgically.  I like forming my life around the feasts of the Church.  I think this balance between dates and liturgical feasts is actually a good reflection on the ideas of kairos and cronos.  Lots of much smarter people have written on these two measures of time, and I won’t be able to do it justice.  Basically, cronos refers to the measure of time that comes sequentially– chronologically, if you will. 😉  It is the attempt to measure time using something like the sun, a clock, etc.

Kairos has a different sense.  Whereas cronos measures time, in a quantitative sense, kairos refers more to the quality of time.  Kairos is occasion, a time of great importance, of opportunity, of grand events.

There is more than one way to experience time.

Father Thomas Rosica, in a recent Scripture meditation reminds us, “So often in our individual and community lives, in our various ministries, parishes and daily lives, we simply plod along from day to day, living with a sense of hopelessness, monotony or heaviness. We are locked into a cronos time, and cannot see how God wishes to break through the ordinary moments of life and transform our existence and our history into something extraordinary. … How can our cronos time be transformed into kairos– a real moment of breakthrough and hope, of promise and new possibility?”

At this point in my life, it’s easy to become bogged down with measuring time — I have one more day to finish this lesson I need to teach in thirteen days; I am twenty-six years old and have been out of school for almost two years now; if I want to go back to school I have nine months to take the GRE; my friend is coming to visit me and is landing at the airport 4:45pm; I’d like to make the 5.5 hour trip home soon…

But it’s important to remember that God doesn’t work limited by our cronos. He works within it, and He has sanctified it by coming into the world at a definite moment in cronos, but He is not limited by it.  He sees that lesson I’m going to teach in 13 days right now.  And He sees where I’m going to be in five years.  And He’s there, sanctifying it.

So as I celebrate my “anniversaries” on days almost outside of time, I unite myself to Him, seeing His hand in every event, at every time.