Potpourri of Popery, Mary Month of May Edition

Had to post a photo from the papal trip to Aquileia & Venice before he goes to Croatia the first week of June.

Many cool pics if you scroll around (love the look on the gondolier's face here), but I like this because it looks as if the Pope's in something Batman would ride until you realize the Popedola is sandwiched between two ordinary gondolas.

His homily at San Guiliano Park in Mestre (this was the culminating event of the trip) is an exposition of the encounter at Emmaus.
This episode shows the effects that the Risen Jesus works in two disciples: conversion from despair to hope; conversion from sorrow to joy; and also conversion to community life. Sometimes, when we speak of conversion we think solely of its demanding aspect of detachment and renunciation. Christian conversion, on the contrary, is also and above all about joy, hope and love. It is always the work of the Risen Christ, the Lord of life who has obtained this grace for us through his Passion and communicates it to us by virtue of his Resurrection. 
I've just picked up Light of the World again after a hiatus (for Jesus of Nazareth part II) and am struck once again by how often this man speaks of joy.

Christian Europe is like the disappointed disciples. On the one hand, everything it is is Christian:
You are living in a context in which Christianity is presented as the faith which has accompanied the journey of many peoples down the ages even through persecutions and harsh trials. The many testimonies that have spread everywhere are an eloquent expression of this faith: churches, works of art, hospitals, libraries and schools; the actual environment of your cities, of the countryside and the mountains, is everywhere spangled with references to Christ.
On the other hand, this culture is gradually becoming emptied of content, embracing life only superficially. The discouragement of travelers to Emmaus is present in Mestre, too:
This happens when today’s disciples drift away from the Jerusalem of the Crucified and Risen One, no longer believing in the power and in the living presence of the Lord. The problem of evil, sorrow and suffering, the problem of injustice and abuse, fear of others, of strangers and foreigners who come to our lands and seem to attack what we are [emphasis mine], prompt Christians today to say sadly: we hoped that the Lord would deliver us from evil, from sorrow, from suffering, from fear, from injustice.
His program is a little different than the "welcome the immigrant" headlines let on.
It is thus necessary for each and every one of us to let ourselves be taught by Jesus, as the two disciples of Emmaus were: first of all by listening to and loving the word of God read in the light of the Paschal Mystery, so that it may warm our hearts and illumine our minds helping us to interpret the events of life and give them meaning. Then it is necessary to sit at table with the Lord, to share the banquet with him, so that his humble presence in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood may restore to us the gaze of faith, in order to see everything and everyone with God’s eyes, in the light of his love. Staying with Jesus who has stayed with us, assimilating his lifestyle, choosing with him the logic of communion with each other, of solidarity and of sharing. The Eucharist is the maximum expression of the gift which Jesus makes of himself and is a constant invitation to live our lives in the Eucharistic logic, as a gift to God and to others.
The Gospel also mentions that after recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, the two disciples “rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem” (Lk 24:33). They felt the need to return to Jerusalem and to tell of their extraordinary experience: the encounter with the Risen Lord. A great effort must be made so that every Christian, here in the North East [of Italy] as in every other part of the world, may be transformed into a witness, ready to proclaim vigorously and joyfully the event of Christ’s death and Resurrection.
There's more: he tells them to be holy and to resist the perpetual onslaught of consumerism and hedonism. But basically he's telling them to "deal" with the political and cultural changes brought on by mass immigration in the region by evangelizing all those souls.

On May 7th he met with the people of Aquileia, and his address there contains a nice little history of the Church of Aquileia and its importance for the spread of Christianity not only in Northern Italy, but into Bavaria, Croatia, Austria, etc.. He sets the tone here for the series of addresses that will follow, in which he encourages these people to rediscover their ancient faith, to receive the Eucharist worthily, and to defend and spread Christianity.

An address to bishops and priests strikes a similar note. After noting the cultural heritage of the region and recommending some things for them to take up at their upcoming conference, he says:
The geographical location of the North East, no longer only the crossroads between East and West Europe, but also between the North and the South (the Adriatic carries the Mediterranean to the heart of Europe), the huge phenomenon of tourism and immigration, territorial mobility, the process of homogenization resulting from the action of a pervasive mass media, have accentuated cultural and religious pluralism. In this context, which in any case is that which Providence gives us, it is necessary that Christians, sustained by a “trustworthy hope”, present the beauty of the event of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, to every man and every woman, in a frank and sincere relationship with the non-practicing, with non-believers and with believers of other religions.
You are called to live with that attitude full of faith that is described in the Letter to Diognetus: do not deny anything of the Gospel in which you believe, but live in the midst of others with sympathy, communicating by your very way of life that humanism which is rooted in Christianity, in order to build together with all people of good will a “city” which is more human, more just and more supportive.
Interestingly, he goes on to entrust to them the work of inspiring lay people who are capable of entering politics.
His address to the people of Venice from St. Mark's (boy, he likes the Venetians!) is nice. This one, to priests and ecumenical guests primarily, made me tear up a bit. He was preaching about Zaccheus' conversion and then he bursts out:
Beloved Church in Venice! Imitate the example of Zacchaeus and surpass it! Overtake the men and women of today and help them to surmount the barriers of individualism, of relativism; never let yourselves be brought low by the failures that can scar Christian communities. Strive to look closely at the person of Christ, who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
As Successor of the Apostle Peter, visiting your land in these days, I repeat to each one of you: do not be afraid to swim against the tide in order to meet Jesus, to direct your attention upwards to meet his gaze. The “logo” of my Pastoral Visit portrays the scene of Mark delivering the Gospel to Peter, taken from a mosaic in this basilica. Today, symbolically, I come to redeliver the Gospel to you, the spiritual children of St Mark, in order to strengthen you in the faith and encourage you in the face of the challenges of the present time. Move ahead with confidence on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service to the poor and with courageous testimony in the various social realities. Be aware that you bear a message meant for every man and and for the whole man; a message of faith, of hope and of love.
It made me tear up because I think of how much the vast majority of decent priests have suffered in recent years for the betrayals of a few of their colleagues...genuine Judases...and here is the Holy Father bucking them up...truly "strengthening the brethren." 

He found time as well for a brief "meeting with the world of culture,"  to which he addressed an elegant little challenge.

All that in just two days! 

Other addresses of note:
With the Italian Bishops at a rosary celebrating Italy's unification.
An important address to Caritas, during which he encouraged them but also insisted they be faithful to the Magisterium and rather pointedly said this, which perhaps those "Catholic academicians" who wrote to Speaker Boehner might like to ponder:
In the political sphere - and in all those areas directly affecting the lives of the poor - the faithful, especially the laity, enjoy broad freedom of activity. No one can claim to speak “officially” in the name of the entire lay faithful, or of all Catholics, in matters freely open to discussion (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 43; 88). On the other hand, all Catholics, and indeed all men and women, are called to act with purified consciences and generous hearts in resolutely promoting those values which I have often referred to as “non-negotiable”. 
(For that matter, certain Catholic neo-manualists might like to ponder it too, but I digress.)

He's also embarked on a new catechesis series: on prayer. Well worth reading each week at Zenit, here are the current installments, in reverse chronological order: On wrestling with God; Abraham's prayer (forgiveness); On the universal religious sense part 2; On the universal religious sense.

A pair of addresses to university communities: Catholic University of the Sacred Heart; and to the Theology faculty & students of the Teresianum in Rome --this is where he dropped the remark that everyone serious about prayer needs a spiritual director.

And this is so cute: a papal Q&A with astronauts aboard the space station -- only B16 asked the questions. I heard about this on the radio, and they said the astronauts demonstrated micro-gravity for him and there were lots of jokes as well. 

China: Observes Day of Prayer for the Church in China by arresting priests; "the pope's battle"
Egypt: pays for reconstruction of Coptic Church burnt by Salafists.
Great Britain: 
Malta: Sigh: votes to allow divorce (Because that's worked out so admirably for the rest of the world?)
NorKo: Releases American prisoner.
Oz: Cardinal Pell on the sacking of Bishop Morris.
Pakistan: Christian & Hindu girls kidnapped, forceably converted and married off to Muslim men, police do nothing.
UK: The Druid says Shakespeare was a Catholic; doctor in a Christian practice reprimanded for mentioning the G-word.
US: John Jay report on abuse crisis released, round-up here. Archbishop Dolan liberates Catholic social teaching for free debate (Huzzah!); ex-schismatic Christ the King monastery restored to communion (Benedict is the Pope of Christian unity!Beautiful story there.); trouble for Bishop Finn in KS City, his statement here (knowing nothing more, he seems to me to have acted appropriately and with due diligence); another US city drives Catholic Charities out in the name of tolerance; Bishops' June meetings upcoming, a round-up of new bishops here.
Catholic Charities' relief efforts for Joplin (that Diocese --Springfield/Cape Girardeau-- also has many residents who've lost their homes to Mississippi flooding); disaster fund for Diocese of Birmingham here.
And finally....nevermind.

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni