Thursday, September 5, 2013


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) The Holy Father Francis sent a message to Fr. Fernando Millan Romeral, Prior General of the Order of Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, on the occasion of the celebration of the General Chapter.
Francis offered some words of encouragement and hope to all the members of the Order and suggested three elements that may guide them “in the full realisation” of their vocation: “allegiance to Christ, prayer and mission”.
The Pope said that in a world that often misinterprets Christ and indeed rejects Him, they are invited to draw nearer to and unite more closely with Him. “It is a continuous call to follow Christ and to abide by him. This is of vital importance in our disorientated world, 'for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim'”.
Speaking of prayer, the Pope emphasised that a Carmelite without a contemplative life was like a dead body. “Now more than ever is the moment to rediscover the inner pathway of love through prayer, and to offer to the people of today in the witness of contemplation, as through preaching and mission, not easy solutions, but the wisdom that emerges from meditating “day and night the Law of the Lord”, the Word that always leads to the glorious Cross of Christ. And, united with contemplation, austerity in life, which is not a secondary aspect of your life and your witness”. Likewise the Pontiff mentioned that there is a strong temptation to fall into the trap of spiritual worldliness, and he encouraged them to aspire to a more austere and penitent life, according to the authentic ancient Carmelite tradition.
“Yours is the same mission as that of Jesus”, he continued. “Today, the mission poses sometimes arduous challenges, as the evangelical mission is not always welcomed and indeed is at times rejected with violence. We must not forget that, even if we are thrown into murky and uncharted waters, He Who calls us to His mission also gives us the courage and the strength to carry it out”.

Finally, Francis remarked, “The witness of your love and your hope, rooted in profound friendship with living God, is like a 'gentle breeze' that renews and reinvigorates your ecclesial mission in today's world”.

Pope Francis

Saturday, April 27, 2013


"Desert Spirituality" involves accepting the poverty of one's own heart, allowing oneself to be lead by Jesus through his Word and gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. It is a call to continuing conversion, a way of discovering the forgiving and healing love of the Father, and of entering more deeply into union with him. The teaching of St. Peter Damian is important for understanding the solitary communion of the hermit with the entire Church. Damian called a hermit a minor ecclesia, a Church in miniature, in communion with all its members. The life is a radical choice of God and a life of radical solidarity with all of humanity.

Mark Gerard Miles

Sunday, April 21, 2013


  1.   Christ, “through Whom we live” inseparably as individuals and community, continues in being and doing.
  2. He is the one "towards whom our whole life strains" both as individuals and groups.
  3. Christ is the one from "whom we go forth."
I think the foundation of the new Evangelisation is best served by a Christological approach.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Floating downstream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You end up in sedentary pools on the sides of the stream, clogged with other fish as effectively dead as yourself.

Mind you, it’s not that masses of people float downstream because there are no benefits. Political correctness brings its own perks. First off, don’t think that one doesn’t get used to floating downstream, or even to getting caught stuck in fetid eddies with fellow fish. For selfish motives, such as job advancement and popularity, the feeling of power one has with being “successful”, a “consensus builder”, one can get used to anything, and then, in fact, fool oneself into thinking that one is actually enjoying oneself. The power of it all!
I mean, just think, one only has to look at the few dead fish within one’s self-imposed, extremely limited horizon, those who are with you, floating, unmoving, pretending not to be the flotsam these have made of themselves, insisting that, if anything, in a victim mentality, they are simply jetsam, getting along like everyone else, cleverly doing what one has to do to get along as a victim in this fallen society of ours, pretending all the while not to be depressed and falling into despair, because, in all actuality, one might no longer be reclaimable lagan by way of confession, by way of bearing the fruits of repentance, but lost forever as derelict, beyond the mercy of God and God-inspired compassion of real men (which is never the case as long as we have breath: Dum spiro spero!).

I mean, just think, it’s not so bad, after a while, even if it’s a good while. Not only can we can get used to anything, we can even start to rejoice in the good points of one’s fellow rotting fish:
  • Their scales glint in the sun, a rainbow of colors. Such distraction!
  • Their stench is actually kind of sweet, complacency of lifestyle!
  • The antics of the little parasites crawling in and around them are fascinating to watch, a great pastime. I want some too!
  • There’s no stress, no change, no challenge to grow. I’ve arrived!
And besides, “Everyone floats downstream!” — which is the useless defense before the judgment of God concerning whether we go to heaven or hell, a defense made by someone who is falling into despair and calling out for help.

Swimming upstream is altogether different. One is swimming, sleek and agile, exercised, full of energy, in the middle of the stream, in clear, sky blue, sparkling waters. With deft, lightning movements, one navigates not just around the few dead fish one had been with, but around countless others, always more. Not a pretty sight, but one is instead enjoying enthusiastic freedom, darting in and out, here, then there, always in the clear waters of God’s grace, always in humble thanksgiving. In exhilaration, one leaps out of the water and into the sunshine, high into the air, taking in the view: Wow! Look at those mountains! How tall the trees are! Yikes! A Kodiak Bear! A monster! A demon! An agent of Satan! The bear, of course, eats whatever fish forget humble thanksgiving and trust in their own talents, congratulating themselves for being good, putting others down as worthless, and so rejecting their own redemption by the Son of Man, the Son of God.

There are even more benefits, mind you, to swimming upstream with humble thanksgiving for God’s grace, not only avoiding the bears and avoiding dead fish (though giving them a good example and wishing that they turn around), but also — and this is not selfish — but also rejoicing in the height and depth and breadth, the entire expanse of God’s intimate, joyful love for us. We come to know Him as THE FISH, in Greek, Ichtus, ιχθυς, the letters of which stand for Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior, with the last word being a translation of the first word.

In early centuries under Roman persecution of Catholics, the faithful would get to know each other safely by way of code… by way of tracing out a fish on the ground with a stick, ever so casually, and if the other did the same, ever so casually, one would know that one was safely in the company of a fellow Catholic.

Jesus, like Jonas, was in the belly of the whale, the earth, for three days and three nights, but then was spit out, that is resurrected from the dead. He suffered like a dead fish, but death had no grip on Him. Jesus is just that good, just that kind, to us, who have all been dead fish, floating downstream, but whom He has saved, to have us swim upstream, with Him, with agility of soul, rejoicing.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


31 MARCH 2013

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter!

What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons…

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs!

We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love God can do this!

This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell - to the abyss of separation from God - this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God, and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory: the living man (cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4,20,5-7).

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this Passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too, and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.

Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome, and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grows.

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century; human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.

Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let Israel say: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’" (Ps 117:1-2).

* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters, to you who have come from all over the world to this Square at the heart of Christianity, and to you linked by modern technology, I repeat my greeting: Happy Easter!

Bear in your families and in your countries the message of joy, hope and peace which every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed.

May the risen Lord, the conqueror of sin and death, be a support to you all, especially to the weakest and neediest. Thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith. A thought and a special thank-you for the beautiful flowers, which come from the Netherlands. To all of you I affectionately say again: may the risen Christ guide all of you and the whole of humanity on the paths of justice, love and peace.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Church of the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno
Sunday, 9 October 2011 

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Carthusian Brothers,
Brothers and Sisters,

I thank the Lord who has brought me to this place of faith and prayer, the Charterhouse of Serra San Bruno. In renewing my grateful greeting to Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone of Catanzaro-Squillace, I address this Carthusian Community, each one of its members, with deep affection, starting with the Prior, Fr Jacques Dupont, whom I warmly thank for his words, while I ask him to communicate my grateful thoughts and my blessing to the Minister General and to the Nuns of the Order.

I am first of all eager to stress that this Visit of mine comes in continuity with certain signs of strong communion between the Apostolic See and the Carthusian Order, which became apparent in the past century. In 1924, Pope Pius XI issued an Apostolic Constitution with which he approved the Statutes of the Order, revised in the light of the Code of Canon Law. In May 1984, Blessed John Paul II addressed a special Letter to the Minister General, on the occasion of the ninth centenary of the foundation by St Bruno of the first community at the Chartreuse [Charterhouse] near Grenoble. On 5 October that same year my beloved Predecessor came here and the memory of him walking by these walls is still vivid.

Today I come to you in the wake of these events, past, but ever timely, and I would like our meeting to highlight the deep bond that exists between Peter and Bruno, between pastoral service to the Church’s unity and the contemplative vocation in the Church. Ecclesial communion, in fact, demands an inner force, that force which Father Prior has just recalled, citing the expression “captus ab Uno”, ascribed to St Bruno: “grasped by the One”, by God, “Unus potens per omnia”, as we sang in the Vespers hymn. From the contemplative community the ministry of pastors draws a spiritual sap that comes from God.

Fugitiva relinquere et aeterna captare”: to abandon transient realities and seek to grasp that which is eternal. These words from the letter your Founder addressed to Rudolph, Provost of Rheims, contain the core of your spirituality (cf. Letter to Rudolph, n. 13): the strong desire to enter in union of life with God, abandoning everything else, everything that stands in the way of this communion, and letting oneself be grasped by the immense love of God to live this love alone.
Dear brothers you have found the hidden treasure, the pearl of great value (cf. Mt 13:44-46); you have responded radically to Jesus’ invitation: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Every monastery — male or female — is an oasis in which the deep well, from which to draw “living water” to quench our deepest thirst, is constantly being dug with prayer and meditation. However, the charterhouse is a special oasis in which silence and solitude are preserved with special care, in accordance with the form of life founded by St Bruno and which has remained unchanged down the centuries. “I live in a rather faraway hermitage... with some religious brothers”, is the concise sentence that your Founder wrote (Letter to Rudolph “the Green”, n. 4). The Successor of Peter’s Visit to this historic Charterhouse is not only intended to strengthen those of you who live here but the entire Order in its mission which is more than ever timely and meaningful in today’s world.

Technical progress, especially in the area of transport and communications, has made human life more comfortable but also more keyed up, at times even frenetic. Cities are almost always noisy, silence is rarely to be found in them because there is always background noise, in some areas even at night. In recent decades, moreover, the development of the media has spread and extended a phenomenon that had already been outlined in the 1960s: virtuality risks predominating over reality. Unbeknownst to them, people are increasingly becoming immersed in a virtual dimension because of the audiovisual messages that accompany their life from morning to night.

The youngest, born into this condition, seem to want to fill every empty moment with music and images, out of fear of feeling this very emptiness. This is a trend that has always existed, especially among the young and in the more developed urban contexts but today it has reached a level such as to give rise to talk about anthropological mutation. Some people are no longer able to remain for long periods in silence and solitude.

I chose to mention this socio-cultural condition because it highlights the specific charism of the Charterhouse as a precious gift for the Church and for the world, a gift that contains a deep message for our life and for the whole of humanity. I shall sum it up like this: by withdrawing into silence and solitude, human beings, so to speak, “expose” themselves to reality in their nakedness, to that apparent “void”, which I mentioned at the outset, in order to experience instead Fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that exists and that lies beyond the tangible dimension. He is a perceptible presence in every creature: in the air that we breathe, in the light that we see and that warms us, in the grass, in stones.... God, Creator omnium, [the Creator of all], passes through all things but is beyond them and for this very reason is the foundation of them all.

The monk, in leaving everything, “takes a risk”, as it were: he exposes himself to solitude and silence in order to live on nothing but the essential, and precisely in living on the essential he also finds a deep communion with his brethren, with every human being.

Some might think that it would suffice to come here to take this “leap”. But it is not like this. This vocation, like every vocation, finds an answer in an ongoing process, in a life-long search. Indeed it is not enough to withdraw to a place such as this in order to learn to be in God’s presence. Just as in marriage it is not enough to celebrate the Sacrament to become effectively one but it is necessary to let God’s grace act and to walk together through the daily routine of conjugal life, so becoming monks requires time, practice and patience, “in a divine and persevering vigilance”, as St Bruno said, they “await the return of their Lord so that they might be able to open the door to him as soon as he knocks” (Letter to Rudolph “the Green”, n. 4); and the beauty of every vocation in the Church consists precisely in this: giving God time to act with his Spirit and to one’s own humanity to form itself, to grow in that particular state of life according to the measure of the maturity of Christ.
In Christ there is everything, fullness; we need time to make one of the dimensions of his mystery our own. We could say that this is a journey of transformation in which the mystery of Christi’s resurrection is brought about and made manifest in us, a mystery of which the word of God in the biblical Reading from the Letter to the Romans has reminded us this evening: the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and will give life to our mortal bodies also (cf. Rom 8:11) is the One who also brings about our configuration to Christ in accordance with each one’s vocation, a journey that unwinds from the baptismal font to death, a passing on to the Father’s house. In the world’s eyes it sometimes seems impossible to spend one’s whole life in a monastery but in fact a whole life barely suffices to enter into this union with God, into this essential and profound Reality which is Jesus Christ.

This is why I have come here, dear Brothers who make up the Carthusian Community of Serra San Bruno, to tell you that the Church needs you and that you need the Church! Your place is not on the fringes: no vocation in the People of God is on the fringes. We are one body, in which every member is important and has the same dignity, and is inseparable from the whole. You too, who live in voluntary isolation, are in the heart of the Church and make the pure blood of contemplation and of the love of God course through your veins.

Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis [the cross is steady while the world is turning], your motto says. The Cross of Christ is the firm point in the midst of the world’s changes and upheavals. Life in a Charterhouse shares in the stability of the Cross which is that of God, of God’s faithful love. By remaining firmly united to Christ, like the branches to the Vine, may you too, dear Carthusian Brothers, be associated with his mystery of salvation, like the Virgin Mary who stabat (stood) beneath the Cross, united with her Son in the same sacrifice of love.

Thus, like Mary and with her, you too are deeply inserted in the mystery of the Church, a sacrament of union of men with God and with each other. In this you are singularly close to my ministry. May the Most Holy Mother of the Church therefore watch over us and the holy Father Bruno always bless your community from Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cardinal George on Marriage.

“Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race. It was true before the existence of either Church or State, and it will continue to be true when there is no state of Illinois and no United States of America. A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is less a threat to religion than it is an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible. The Legislature might just as well repeal the law of gravity.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mystical Theology and the Truth about Humanity

Last year, the International Theological Commission released a document entitled Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria.  The commission distinguishes scientific theology from mystical theology, and recognizes a kind of secondary role for mystical theology in theological research.  In doing this, the commission is bringing back into the theological discussion a kind of contemplative knowing that modern thinkers have often held in disdain.  There is after all a prejudice against prayer living in the abstract idealism which drives mainstream culture to nihilism.  The Commission is inviting us to consider that the mystical knowledge given in contemplation is no anachronistic or sentimental exercise.  On the contrary, the life of the Church suggests that it is the only way forward toward what is genuinely human and fully alive in this world.

What is mystical theology?   Although it is reflected in the teachings of the Church and shines out whenever the Holy Bible is prayerfully read, this wisdom is not something accomplished or obtained primarily by intellectual effort or psychological feat.  Mystical wisdom is primarily a gift, something produced by the “object” of Christian prayer, an “object” who cannot really be reduced to an object at all – for God is ineffable mystery, a mystery of relationship, of love so full of meaning that any reverent effort to seek meaning in Him always falls into the silence of humble adoration.   Mystical wisdom is a living awareness of God’s presence in which one is made more and more vulnerable to the inexhaustible riches of his love.

Mystical theology is, in this sense, a kind of knowing that only love knows.  This loving awareness is a participation in the kind of knowing with which the Son knows the Father from all eternity. This interpersonal, relational, “I-Thou” knowing is intrinsic to Christian faith.  It is its directional element – the reason for which we believe.  To give us this wisdom is why the Father sent the Son into the world – it is this wisdom that saves humanity.

The Mystery of God revealed by Word of the Father is paradoxically more transcendent and more immanent than any deity conceived in the human heart or produced by the driving forces of human history.   This Divine “Subject” is the most unique “Thou” in the world because He is Trinity: One Uncreated Nature and Three Divine Persons whose life is constituted in the unseen glory of their eternal mutual love and knowledge which by their ineffable nature They share.  Everything that “is” comes from being known in this eternal love the Three Persons exchange with one another and beyond what is known in this love nothing exists. 

This mystery of love holds my human “I” and every human “I” in existence not only in this present life which is subject to death but in the possibility of new life which the full love and knowledge of which this present life cannot hold.  This is not simply a question of my own individualized “self,” alienated by sin from every other “self” as it is, but most especially of the ecclesial “I.”  

It is in the Body of Christ that new life establishes humanity in true communion with one another in Him.  Here, in this new life, each individual “self” has the opportunity to go beyond itself, to give itself in love and only in this self-gift can the human person discover the truth.  This truth is not reducible to facts or results - but it is the only thing that ultimately makes sense out of the facts and results of our lives together.   This truth which the Church proposes not only by its teaching but by its very life in the world is the same as that to which all branches of human knowledge are ultimately ordered if they are ultimately to be any kind of knowledge at all. 

What is this truth?  We are each and everyone love by an exceeding love.  It is by this love alone that our dignity and destiny is implicated in God in whose image and likeness we have been fashioned and restored.   It is in the Church that the alienation we suffer from one another and from God is over come.   God Himself is the animating principle of life for the immaculate Bride He summoned into existence and purified by His blood. Through her life in the world, a new life that comes from Him, He communicates the glory of His love to all creation.

Christian mystical prayer beholds with the eyes of the Bride He who has revealed Himself as “Bridegroom.”   Mystical theology is a kind of knowing or beholding or attending to this Ineffable Mystery in faith that only the bond of grace in the Church, Christ’s mystical body, makes possible.  It is only out of this ecclesial reality that any scientific theology finds the basis from which to proceed.   In no other religion does the object of belief, study, and contemplation coincide in such saving truth.  


Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Read: Mark 1.21-28

Contemplative prayer must be based on the solid foundation of Jesus reigning in our hearts and teaching as "one with authority."  In our approach to the Kingdom there can be no ambiguity about the absoluteness of the Lord's authority.  I may not be always able to understand and live out the absolute of that authority, given my weaknesses.  But at least my prayer must not be focused on me as if I were the main point of existence.  On the contrary, prayer is adoration and submission to Jesus the Lord who reigns over me.  I must be open to the grace of experiencing the Lordship of Christ in his power to enlighten me with absolute truth.  The demons of our thoughts will cry out:  "What have you to do with us?"  But we surrender our thoughts; we dash them against the Rock that is Christ Jesus.  We accept the Magisterium of the Church as a means of living in the ambience of the One Who teaches with absolute authority.  If the Lord teaches with authority, his Church will teach with authority.  My sincere, simple intention is to be among those who listen to and obey Christ in His Body, the Church.