Thursday, February 13, 2014

BXVI, One Year Ago: The Church is Christ's Church

Benedict XVI made his first public appearance after saying he'd leave the papacy and celebrated his last public Mass one year ago. That day, in 2013, was Ash Wednesday. I took the picture above during that special moment. Two days had gone by since the announcement of the resignation. By the day of this Eucharist, most of the faithful in Rome were no longer shocked with Benedict's decision. I know I wasn't. Precisely during this last public Mass, just two days after the shocking announcement, I realized that most of the Catholics gathered in St. Peter's Basilica were mainly feeling as grateful to Benedict XVI as we feel today for his faithfulness to God's will. We were grateful then as we are grateful today for his example of humility and his love for the Church. For all of us who were gathered with Benedict that day in order to start Lent, prayer and the Eucharist were the true sources of peace and hope in a moment of apparent confusion. The Holy Spirit reassured us all, as we rejoiced during the celebration for the gift we had received in Benedict's pontificate, what we know with certainty today. That is, the Spirit showed us then that God is in control of everything and so there is nothing to fear. The Spirit spoke through Benedict when in those days he said that the Church is not his, the Church is not ours, but Church is Christ's Church. Christ is in control of the Church. We knew then, as we know today, that everything that happens is thus for the best of all. God loves us that much and infinitely more.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Year Since Benedict XVI's Resignation

Today I am immensely grateful to the Lord our God once more for having given me the opportunity to be in Rome one year ago, when Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the pontificate. Hard to believe a year has gone by. This historical moment remains as an authentic highlight in my spiritual life as a Catholic and in my consecrated life as a Somascan religious. I can honestly share, on this unique anniversary, that I have grown so much in my own vocation thanks to what Benedict XVI did on the feast of our Lady of Lourdes last year.

A year ago I used to live in a Roman Basilica two miles away from the Vatican. I was having an early lunch with one of our elder priests when two persons brought the incredible news. Being two people who said this, I believed, and I ran to the nearest computer to see what was going on. From the moment I read the breaking news I knew that the Church would have a change from that day on. Like all people in Rome, I was totally shocked. The city slowed down significantly as most Roman residents would often stop their duties to make sure that the resignation was real and to discuss the matter. I remember that that was the topic of every taxi driver. Like most people who were close to Benedict, I was sad to realize that such a great man was leaving St. Peter's seat for an unknown reason. After I decided to be alone in prayer, that day, I felt scared for the future of our Church. Around that time a storm came over Rome, the day became darker and it began to rain. A lighting even hit the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Prayer was just perfect in that moment, as it always is, because through it the Lord gave me his unexplainable and overwhelming peace. I went back to join my religious community with hope in my heart that the Lord was allowing this for the best of his faithful. My community and I began began to watch the video showing the actual announcement of resignation. We heard his actual words in Latin and read the official translation. That was the moment when I truly saw what Benedict XVI had done and immediately I was inspired and filled with admiration. That was the moment when I realized that Benedict XVI was giving to the Church and to the world a real example of trust in God and of humility.

Today the fruits of Benedict XVI's choice to leave are clearer. Benedict XVI's was doing God's will and that is why he said in the announcement that he had peace in his conscience for what he was doing. Thanks to the courage of this man to follow the divine will of God our Church has received grace upon grace. The world would have never met Pope Francis if Pope Benedict had not followed his heart. The faithful would not have a living example of humility and abandonment to divine providence if Josef Ratzinger, as pope then, had not followed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. I believe Benedict XVI did God's will one year ago even though he did something no pope had done in centuries. The blessings that our Roman Catholic Church has received since pope Benedict XVI's announcement are countless. The pontificate of Benedict XVI is one blessing all Catholics and all people of good will can always thank God for.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I would like to thank everyone who has kept up with this blog and even read my last post about the Resurrection. Y'all do have to know that I have begun the final period of my last semester of theology and so there are tons of material to study. In fact, I did not find the time to write on the days I previously indicated. I also thank all of you especially for your prayers for me and I am glad to let y'all know that I am doing well with my studies. The studying has been a blessing these days because I am mainly reading documents that are meditations on the relationship between God and the human person. Reading about this wonderful topic, particularly in the Bible, I can see a growth in my relationship with the Lord and a deeper appreciation of God's Grace.

The Word of God continues to guide, in the meantime, the Church in Rome. The faithful have been very attentive to the liturgical readings that present the apparitions to the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ after his Resurrection. We are amazed by the generosity of the Son of God who came in different occasions to meet his disciples in order to transform them into the first witnesses in the Church, an apostolic witness that arrive here to Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Surprisingly, none of the Lord's followers recognized the Risen Lord at first and even tried to do tasks apart from him. He came nonetheless to bring them back into the way of salvation. This time of Easter is an invitation for us to recognize the Risen Christ in all the moments of our daily life. He is still with us desiring to help us in our duties and to redeem the world with us. To him, as it should be with us, what's most important is our relationship to him as members of his Church. May God bless everyone always!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Christ rose from death to give every person the opportunity to rise from death. Through his resurrection he has filled our spirits with everlasting life so that after our bodily death we may continue to live. We find ourselves in the middle of the week of Christ's Easter as a Church. In today's papal audience, Francis the bishop of Rome said, "The resurrection was not born in the Church but the Church was born in the resurrection". We all have life because Christ has risen from the death. In our present moment, many realities continue to witness to Christ's Resurrection.

This most special week, God in his mercy has allowed me to see many moments that witness to the Lord's victory over death. Christ is risen in the tens of thousands of teenagers who came with joy to meet the pope and to be reaffirmed in the faith. Christ is risen in my thirteen Jesuit classmates who have accepted with joy the ordination to the diaconate yesterday. Christ is risen in the forty fathers from my congregation's Italian province who are meeting to discuss ways to renew their communities and choose a new superior. Christ is risen in the thousands of families that are coming to Rome these days to visit this city and enjoy its great weather, in the children playing in the parks, in the older people taking walks, in that desire that burns in my heart to shine the light of Hope and to share what I've received.

The Risen Christ is suddenly recognizable. As he presents himself to me in calling my name, in proclaiming God's message, in the breaking of the bread, he invites me to join him in this Easter announcement. God is calling me right now to witness to everyone around me in every word I say, in every action I take, in every decision I make that Jesus Christ rose from death and lives. My life is called to proclaim that "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!".

And so let us pray Christ the Pilgrim who walks next to us every day at work, at school, at home, in our neighborhood: "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is nearly over". Stay with us always.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Alleluia! Sin did not destroy God’s plan for humanity but only changed the way to carry out this divine plan: through the death and resurrection of the Most Glorious Redeemer:

Happy Easter to everyone! Let us give thanks to our Father the Almighty God in Heaven for the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ through which all of us are still alive. This Easter, in the liturgical celebrations, I truly felt that I have my life because Jesus Christ died for me. Through his death and resurrection He freed me from my sins and got me eternal life.

Many people in Rome celebrated Easter with so much joy and with zeal for the Lord. The thousands of churches in the city had the Easter rites. I live on one of the seven Roman hills, a small one, which has four Basilicas in a space of less than a mile. I can pass walk in front of each one in ten minutes, that’s how close they are to one another. Well, all four of these Basilicas had liturgical celebrations on Holy Week and most importantly today on Easter Sunday.

Romans today are still finding that the Risen Jesus Christ is the center of the Church, as Pope Francis has repeatedly said from the beginning of his wonderful pontificate. With the gift of faith many are seeing and feeling that the Risen Lord is truly present in the beautiful religious rites in the churches of the Catholic Church, especially the Mass. After many centuries, the Church continues to preach to the city of Rome and to the world that Christ died for love of everyone but three days later, on a Sunday like today, He rose from death.

Today’s message of the Church is that Christ descended into the lowest parts of the underworld after his death and before his resurrection. The Church is proclaiming today that in the same way Christ is willing to go into the darkest parts of our lives to destroy our sins and to heal our sufferings, to fill us all with his everlasting life and his infinite joy. The Church and her members are called to witness until the end of times that the only answer that will give meaning to our lives is that the Risen Christ is the center of the life of each person. So let us live every moment of our lives in a way that allows the Risen Son of God to be the center of all we are.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Last TV interview at the end of Francis' Inauguration

Images of Pope Francis' Inauguration

I share with all of you the pictures that I took during my participation in the Mass in which Pope Francis's papacy was officially inaugurated with the intercession of St. Joseph. This was another historic moment in which God manifested to the world, to those with open eyes and ears, his infinite Love and Mercy. Click the picture above or click here as well to see the images

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Today's Mass of inauguration of Pope Francis as bishop of Rome was another awesome spiritual event that I know I will never forget. I still get amazed seeing tens of thousands of people, from different parts of the world, from various religious beliefs, getting excited about the Pope. I saw this in all the last papal events, in the last five weeks, which have been historic. I saw it in the last Public Mass of Benedict XVI; I saw it in the last Public Audience of Benedict XVI; I saw it in the official presentation of Pope Francis after the white smoke; I saw in Pope Francis' first Public Audience, which was only for the media;  I saw it today, in Pope Francis' first Public Mass.

The Church of Rome, the Catholic Church, is alive with the life of the Spirit. This Living Organism, that makes up the Body of Christ, is continually renewed by the action of the Holy Spirit so that it fulfills its ecclesial mission of bringing hope to the world by witnessing to the presence among us of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Person of Jesus Christ.

In the last five weeks, I have witnessed the process of switching one Pope for another. The way it happened this time was just historic. Rome saw events that hadn't taken place before. For the faithful here, we just saw Christ's mercy manifested through these human actions. Christ, after all, has set the Church as the city on the mountain. Through her, through our beloved Church, Christ's Light keeps shinning in this world and darkness shall never prevail over it!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


©Ivan Navarro

"The Pope is not the center of the Church. Christ is the center of the Church. Without Christ neither the Church nor the Pope would exist and they would have no meaning". These were the words of the Pope to thousands of journalists and reporters yesterday in the papal audience for the media. Today in the papal angelus prayer, in front of more than 150.000 souls, he proclaimed to the world that the action of Christ when he forgave the adulterous woman revealed that the face of God is the face of a merciful Father.

Christ is our only hope. No one else but Christ will save us. As a Church we are living a moment of grace by being in the Lent, in the fifth Sunday of Lent. This Lenten season invites everyone in the Church to allow Christ to bring us closer and closer to Him who renews our hearts and fills our spirits with his Love. Lent is the time to enter into a more profound relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by reliving, through his Word, his most Holy Passion with which he saved us forever. Prayer, fasting, and works of mercy are his invitation to walk with him towards the Sunday in which we will celebrate with our whole being his Resurrection.

As we continue to give thanks to God for the wonderful man that He has given us as Pope, let us give more of ourselves to Christ in prayer and faithfulness. We do not know what is going to happen in the papacy of Pope Francis but we can be sure that Christ will continue to steer his Church and will continue to be in control of this community. He is the Head of the body which is the Church and so He will not let anything prevail over the Church. We trust Christ alone who will continue to transform each one of us and will continue to reform his Church for He is God and He is Faithful, Merciful, and Patient.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Pope Francis just keeps making history.  He is making world history by proclaiming Christ's Gospel to persons in every single part of the world. Today our Pope did what no other pope had done. Today our Pope met with thousands of journalists and reporters to send a Spirit-filled message to them and through them to all the nations.

He is so transparent and authentic when he speaks. I was able to attend this miraculous event thanks to the news team of Houston's Channel 13 who took me to the papal audience hall and got me in. Pope Francis was simply speaking from his heart and with so much charity. In his generosity, the Pope answered the question of how he chose the name Francis and he did so recounting the most interesting details of that decision. In one sentence, he chose that name because he wants his papacy to be for the poor, for peace, and for creation just as St. Francis of Assisi was a saint of the poor, of peace, and a friend of nature.

Two sentences that Pope Francis said arrived to my heart as an arrow: first he said that we all are called to give all of our attention to Christ because Christ is the center of the Church, not the pope! Secondly, he expressed that he wishes the Church to be poor and to be for the poor! These two messages, among the others, have made such a strong impression in my interior mainly because they express the essence of Christ's Gospel. These two messages fill us all with God's Hope in this year of Faith! 

Two retired Italian reporters told me this Pope reminds them a lot of John Paul II. To see this event's pictures click here!