Let’s Talk! A Catholic Ministry to Prisoners
A Service of Paulist Evangelization Ministries
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• Washington, DC 20017
Vol. 20, No. 2 – April/May/June 2013
We have a Pope! P
ope Francis is our new pope, elected by the College of Cardinals on March 13. He is the first pope from the Americas, the first to take the name Francis, and the first Jesuit. Upon the announcement, bells rang and a sense of joy rose in the crowd packed into St. Peter’s Square in Rome. As Pope Francis gave his first blessing, millions across the world watched by television and all sorts of electronic media.
Three firsts. Before his election as pope, Francis was known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina. He is the first pope from the Americas, the first nonEuropean pope in 1,282 years. He is the first to take the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, the saint known for his love of the poor and for his simplicity of life. And he is the first Jesuit elected pope, representing an order of priests
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, May the blessings of Easter bring you renewed hope and joy! This season of new life continues for 50 days until Pentecost. Be open to the blessings God has ready for you. Expect them. In this Year of Faith, may they strengthen us on our daily journey of faith. Let us all rejoice too in the election of Pope Francis. This is another new beginning that God will use in the ways he chooses. Let us all keep Pope Francis in our prayer.
Father Frank DeSiano, CSP President
Paulist Evangelization Ministries
that has served the Church across the world as missionaries, teachers, and servant-leaders for almost 475 years.
Pope Francis becomes the 266th pope, following Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation on February 11 and stepped down on February 28. The beloved Benedict cited age as the reason for resigning. At 85, he felt he no longer had the stamina needed to lead the 1.2 billion Catholics across the world. He was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign.
A journey of love. In his homily at the first Mass he celebrated as pope, Francis spoke of our being on a journey of
Praying the Mass, Part I
love, that we walk always in the presence and light of the Lord continuing to build up the Church, and professing always Jesus Christ Crucified.
This call for Jesus’ followers to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ while on their personal journey reflects his own walk in life. Pope Francis’ personal simplicity of life and concern for the poor and vulnerable are seen as an indication that he will call all in the Church to open their hearts to the needs of the poor and suffering, following Jesus and the example of St. Francis of Assisi. And so we rejoice with the Church: Habemus Papam. We have a pope.
Mass is our great prayer
by Susan Timoney
hy do you go to Mass? I think we would find that everyone we ask would have a different answer. “To worship God.” “Because that is what Catholics do.” “To gain some strength to get through the next week.” “To hear the Word of God.” “To receive Jesus.” These are some of the more typical answers.
All of them are correct and all of them point to why we call the Mass, “the source and summit of our faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1324). Mass is a form of prayer. We come together to pray and to learn how to pray. It is the kind of prayer that we hope changes us. We hope it helps us to be more and more like Jesus and to help us look at the world through God’s eyes. As Catholics, we have five different forms of prayer. In every celebration of the Mass, we pray all five of these forms of prayer. One way we can pray the Mass is to come to Mass ready to practice all five of these ways of praying and then leave Mass planning to continue to use these forms of prayer throughout the week. The five forms of prayer we want to look for are: the prayer of blessing and adoration, the prayer of petition, the prayer of intercession, the prayer of thanksgiving and the prayer of praise. A prayer of thanksgiving. “Thanksgiving” is another name for Eucharist because the Mass is an action of thanksgiving to God. We give thanks for all of God’s good works, especially the saving power of his love through sending his Son, Jesus to save us through his passion, death and resurrection. continued on page 2
Church Calendar April 2013 7 Second Sunday of Easter (Mercy Sunday) 8 Annunciation of the Lord 11 St. Stanislaus, bishop and martyr 14 Third Sunday of Easter 21 Fourth Sunday of Easter 25 St. Mark, evangelist 28 Fifth Sunday of Easter 29 St. Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor
1 2 3 5 9
12 14 19 26 31
St. Joseph the Worker St. Athanasius, bishop and doctor Sts. Philip and James, apostles Sixth Sunday of Easter Ascension (in many places celebrated May 12) Seventh Sunday of Easter (or Ascension if not celebrated May 9) St. Matthias, apostle Pentecost Most Holy Trinity Visitation of Mary
June 2013 1 St. Justin, martyr 2 Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) 3 Charles Lwanga and companions, martyrs 5 St. Boniface, bishop and martyr 7 Sacred Heart of Jesus 8 Immaculate Heart of Mary 9 Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 11 St. Barnabas, apostle 13 St. Anthony, priest and doctor 16 Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 21 St. Aloysius Gonzaga, religious 23 Tweflth Sunday in Ordinary Time 24 Birth of John the Baptist 28 St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr 29 Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles 30 Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Rev. Frank DeSiano, CSP Mr. Anthony Bosnick Mrs. Joann Sullivan Mr. Ron Reaves
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All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Bible. Used with permission.
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Praying the Mass Mass is our great prayer Each time we come to Mass we should be prepared to give thanks to God for the blessings that have filled the past week, blessings big and small. We come desiring never to forget to give thanks that we have been saved. God’s mercy is available to us, if we open ourselves up to receive it.
A prayer of blessing and adoration. We begin to give thanks to God by remembering that God is God! We owe God adoration because every good thing comes from him, when we live according to God’s way. In the very first commandment, God asks us to honor and adore him. We can practice this prayer before Mass as we silently prepare ourselves to enter into prayer. The first act of Mass is the prayer of blessing. The priest calls us into the presence of God and we bless ourselves as our acceptance of God’s blessings. At the end of Mass we are blest once more so that we can go and be a blessing to others. Before you leave Mass, ask yourself how you can be a blessing in the coming days. With whom can you share a blessing?
A prayer of praise. This sounds a lot like blessing and adoration, so what makes it different? In a conversation that St. Catherine of Siena had with God, God said to her “remember that I am he who is and you are she who is not” (The Dialogue). Praise is the prayer that recognizes that God is God and he deserves the praise! There are times in the Mass when we practice this form of prayer. The Psalm after the first reading is a form of praise. It recognizes one small part of the good things God
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has done for us. Another prayer of praise is at the beginning of the consecration of the Eucharist. After the priest has received the bread and wine, his prayer both praises and thanks God. “You are holy indeed and all creation rightly gives you thanks and praise…” This teaches us that all of our prayer should begin with praising God. It is so easy to jump to asking things of God or complaining to God which is also part of prayer, but not always a prayer of praise. The best prayers begin with our remembering to praise God. A prayer of petition. We are all experts at this prayer! We know how to ask things of God for ourselves—to be healed, to be forgiven, to be saved from ourselves, to see some sort of justice. These are the prayers of petitions. Within the Mass, The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray the prayer of petition and teaches us the way to order our prayer. We ask first that “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” We want to see the world and our part of the world through the lens of the kingdom. That helps us better think about what we should ask for and how to ask. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to think about what we want to ask of God and how well our petitions match God’s idea for what is best for his people and for me.
A prayer of intercession. This is another prayer that comes easily. We ask God for good things for others. This is the prayer that teaches us to pray as Jesus did. At Mass, we have the General Intercessions that follow the Creed and raise up to God all of our prayers for others. Like the Lord’s Prayer, they have a certain order that teaches us how to offer prayers of intercession. We pray first for our church continued on page 4
Popes and Prisoners
n recent years, popes have visited prisoners to pray with and for them. Perhaps the most famous visit was that made by Pope John Paul II in 1983 to visit Ali Agca who had seriously wounded the pope in an attack on his life in St. Peter’s Square in 1981. John Paul directly forgave him for this attack. As the pope left the prison cell, he said,” I spoke to him as if he were my brother, a brother I have forgiven and who has all my trust. What we said to each other is our secret.”
Earlier, in 1964, Pope Paul VI left the prisoners in the Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison with the message to remain hopeful and not to despair. When Paul VI died in 1978, an ex-prisoner whom he had visited in prison passed by the pope’s body and said, “The Pope came to visit us in prison and I’m here to return the visit.”
Pope Francis’ Prayer Requests
for April/May/June April General. Liturgy, source of life: That the public, prayerful celebration of faith may give life to the faithful. Missionary. Mission Churches: That mission churches may be signs and instruments of hope and resurrection.
General. Administrators of Justice: That administrators of justice may act always with integrity and right conscience.
Missionary. Seminaries: That seminaries, especially those of mission Churches, may form pastors after the Heart of Christ, fully dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel.
General. Mutual Respect: That a culture of dialogue, listening, and mutual respect may prevail among peoples.
Missionary. New Evangelization: That where secularization is strongest, Christian communities may effectively promote a new evangelization.
Pope Francis invites all people to join him in praying for these intentions.
Talking about Religion, Part 4
Pope-Pourrie Peaches: Guess what my Bunkie is interested
Me: “Spring Training”?
Peaches: Close. The pope. Not in the Bible according to her, by the way! Well, I told her! First of all, the songs that they sing at her church aren’t “in the Bible” either! So, what? Lots of good things aren’t mentioned in the Bible! Bible doesn’t say she can wear a cross around her neck either! Me: Now, now. Be nice, Peaches. Patience!
Peaches: OK. But she’s killing me, Deacon! Me: Actually, the pope is in the Bible.
Peaches: Deke, even I know the word “pope” doesn’t appear in the Bible! Me: That’s correct. The word “pope” – papa – is not in there, but the office of the pope is in the New Testament.
Peaches: So this is like the “Trinity,” huh? The word is not there, but the Father, Son and Spirit are?
Me: Exactly. Jesus nicknames Simon as “Peter” or “Rock” upon which he will build his church (Matthew 16:18). And gives him the keys— authority to open and shut—to the Kingdom of God (Matthew 16:19). He charges him to strengthen his brothers in the faith (Luke 22:32) and to feed his sheep (John 21:17). Peter presides over and opens the first church council, in Jerusalem in 49 A.D. (Acts 15:7-11). And he gives an authoritative interpretation of Scripture, makes a doctrinal decision and sets out a disciplinary decree (Acts 2:14-41)!
Peaches: Now, that’s what I call “pope-ing”! Starting to sound like a job description, too, but how do we know that wasn’t meant for all the leaders but just for Peter?
Me: Well, first, it was said to Peter alone. And
second, we know that the Gospel writers and Paul recognized Peter as the leader because in the Gospels Peter’s name is always first whenever there is a list of the Twelve, and he is almost always the spokesman for the group.
Peaches: I know Paul mentions Cephas (Galatians 2:14) in his writings.
Me: Very good! You know that’s “Peter” in the Aramaic language?! Nice! Yeah, and you don’t
by Deacon Dennis Dolan
see Paul talking about or arguing with other members of the Twelve, do you?
Peaches: Right! He gets in Peter’s face because Peter is “driving the bus,” so to speak (Galatians 2:11)! Me: Clever girl! Anyway, Peter was in charge and everyone knew it.
Peaches: But what about the next guy? Who made him pope?
Me: You mean St. Linus (67-76 A.D.). Well, you still need a leader, right? When the chief of police or mayor retires or dies, don’t we appoint a new one because we need someone in that job?
Peaches: Yeah, but Jesus didn’t say to appoint someone else, so how do you know the Church has a right to do it?
Me: You mean the Church that threw out the entire Law of Moses at its first council (Acts 15)? If we have the authority to do something that big, I would think that we have the authority to do a little thing like continue a leadership position started by Jesus. As “the body of Christ” on earth, the Church possesses full power to do the mission Jesus left us. Besides, what’s the point of having that position if it’s not important enough to continue to have it?
Peaches: OK. So Peter is the first pope. He’s “large and in charge” and everyone in the New Testament knew it.
Me: Of course they knew it. Christians were electing a pope before the New Testament was even put together!
Peaches: And so today, “the beat goes on” and we were again electing Peter’s successor just as the early Christians elected St. Linus! Me: Yep. And this is the 265th time we’ve done
this. Any other pope questions?
Peaches: I’m sure there will be, but right now I’m too pooped to pope anymore today! Me: There’s something wrong with that. I just can’t put my finger on it. Deacon Dennis Dolan is chaplain at York Correctional Institution, Niantic, Conn. and is a member of the Diaconal Mission Service Team of the Diocese of Norwich.
Living the Good Life, Part 4
Praying the Mass
Justice is being honest and true
Mass is our great prayer
and its leaders. We call church our family, and so it makes sense to begin with the leaders of our family. We pray for the needs of our world, our country, our parish, for those who are sick and for those who have died.
ust about everyone wants to live a good life, one where we are happy. It is part of who we are by nature. The challenge is to find those things that make us happy. We all know that many of the things that we think will make us happy in the end leave us empty and wanting for more. As we have said in earlier parts of this series, there is a time-honored way to what will make us happy. It has been proven true across history and expressed in the Bible, by the Greek philosophers hundreds of years before Christ, and throughout time to our day. Happiness and the good life are achieved through embracing the moral virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.
Justice—being honest and true to God and neighbor. Justice helps us to live well with God and neighbor. This follows the great command to love God and neighbor. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luck 10:27). Love has very practical implications. If we say we love God and neighbor we have to be just and true to them! We have to conduct ourselves in love and truth (see 1 John 2:5-6). A basic place to start here is with the Ten Commandments. (See Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21). Jesus came to fulfill this law, and thus we read his teaching on it in many places in the New Testament (too numerous to give individual citations here).
The Moral Virtues
• Prudence helps us decide in every situation which action is the best for us and to decide to do that. Sometimes it may mean “tough love” is necessary! • Justice is the virtue which leads us to be honest and true to God and neighbor and to give what is due to them. • Fortitude (also called courage) helps us to overcome fear or indifference and do what is called for in any situation. • Temperance helps us to be moderate with bodily pleasures so that we don’t drink or eat too much, or too little for that matter.
Being just toward God. Justice toward God is called religion! There is nothing too complicated about this. If we want to be just toward God, the best way to do it is to practice religion honestly and truthfully. No games in this. The teachings of religion direct us in how to do it. So a good way to grow in being just toward God is to practice our faith, learn more about it, to read Scripture and reflect on it. When we do, we grow in knowing God’s love and presence in our lives. This turns practicing the law from drudgery into joy. It is part of our life-long pilgrimage with the Lord. We can start any time in our lives, and the best time is now! This doesn’t mean that it won’t be challenging, but as we persevere we will discover the gift of joy in it.
Being just toward neighbor. This means giving our neighbor—in the home, the family, the community, in prison—what is due to them. So we don’t cheat them. We don’t steal from them, or lie to them. We don’t lash out against them in anger. We don’t twist the truth. It’s not too complicated, but it is challenging. It is also something we can continue to grow in through life. Lot’s of times our personalities need some reshaping. All people face that, and it is a part of our life journey. Look at each day as a time to do this reshaping. We all fail and find ourselves striking out against our neighbor—sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways. Repent for your failures; rejoice in your successes. But persevere and keep moving forward.
Keep in mind. As you do choose to move forward, keep this in mind. First, examine your life each day to see those times when you don’t act justly toward God and neighbor. The Ten Commandments can guide you. Second, seek the guidance of a priest or trusted Christian to help you, especially when you have nagging questions about some situations. Reflect carefully, knowing what you have in your heart. Third, act on what you see. Fourth, review your actions to see if the outcome seems wise. In all of this, don’t immobilize yourself into inaction. We all feel the temptation to keep Jesus at a distance in our lives. It’s a way we play it safe. But Jesus said, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9). As you do, you will be well on your way to happiness and the good life. ~ Anthony Bosnick
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Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try to remember to pray for so large a group—really the whole world! One way not to get discouraged is to think about the readings of the day and how they lead us to pray. Are they about justice? We can pray for justice. Are the readings about healing? Perhaps that can be our theme. One way to continue to pray with the church is to pattern your prayer of intercessions after the ones at Mass. You too can pray for the church and its leaders, for our country, for your home community and always for the people closest to you who are most in need of prayer. As Catholics we also believe that we can pray for the dead and that those who have died and live with the Lord pray for us! What a gift that is. After we die we will never be forgotten by our church family.
Prayer invites us to communion. Just as receiving Jesus in the Eucharist unites us to him in as close a way as possible, every time we pray we are in communion—we are close and intimate with God the Father, Jesus, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are making stronger the bond of love that they share with us and we share with them. This prayer is our real source of strength. This community of Father, Son and Spirit is our original family and the family from which we can never be separated—unless we stop praying. Mass is the family meal. Dr. Susan Timoney is assistant secretary for parish ministry and social concerns in the Archdiocese of Washington. She writes frequently on spiritual topics and leads retreats for lay people.
Pray for our benefactors
Let’s Talk! and its Spanish translation ¡Hablemos! are supported by donations. They are given free of charge to prison chaplains for distribution to inmates by Paulist Prison Ministries. Please pray for our benefactors. To help support this ministry, please send your donation to the address on page 2 of this newsletter.