World War III

St Peters altar baldachino

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where rust and moth consume, and thieves break in and steal.  But lay up treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consumes, and where thieves do not break in, nor steal.

That’s part of our Lord’s Sermon on the…  Mount.  Which helps us understand the parable we hear in our gospel reading at Sunday Mass, traditionally known as the Parable of the Rich Fool.

st basil
St. Basil

When St. Basil preached on this parable, he pointed out that earthly prosperity can serve as a trial of faith, just like difficulties and tribulations can.  We usually think of a ‘trial’ as a deprivation or an occasion of suffering, like:  “Her husband just got a cancer diagnosis.  What a trial for her!”  But easygoing prosperity poses a spiritual challenge of its own.  Godless worldliness can overtake the comfortable.   The prosperous can succumb to: total secularization.

Growing rich is no sin, in and of itself.  The man in the parable did no outright injustices to his fellow man.  Good weather and fruitful soil gave him a superabundant harvest.  But the rich man in the parable showed himself a fool by thinking neither of God nor of others.  He thought only of his personal comfort.  St. Basil put it like this:

Think, o man, think of the Giver!  From Whom have you received your wealth?  You are the servant of the good God, a steward for your fellow servants.

A servant of God and a steward for your fellow servants.

Now, I think many of us were shaken this past week by the cold-blooded murder of a priest, near Rouen, France.  Father Hamel’s murder shakes us especially because it occurred at the holy altar, as he ministered in the person of Christ, at Mass.  French president Hollande called the murder a “profanation.”  The profanation of something sacred.

Pope Francis Easter candleWe need to focus hard on what the sacred thing is, that this murder profaned.  The sacred thing is:  Religion, our relationship with God, the meaning of life, the eternal mystery of undying love, the foundation of peace among men.

In the rich fool’s life, comfort—or wealth, or something—something secular—crowded God out.  God gave the man good things in abundance, but the rich fool did not humbly thank Him.  And the fool did not understand his duty to share his wealth.

Why?  Because he thought too much of himself?  No.  The rich man’s foolishness involved selling himself short.  He thought of himself merely as a consumer of material goods, capable of nothing more beautiful or noble than catching a buzz and then filling his belly.

“You fool!” said the Lord.  Did I make you to rut around the earth like a worm?  No.  I made you to be My friend.  I made you to share in the great work of love that I bring about, by My almighty power.

The holy, sacred beauty of God, the triune God Who revealed His infinite love on the cross:  the altars of our churches stand firmly consecrated to our on-going relationship with Him, with this transcendent Love.

Pope Francis has said that a “piecemeal” World War III has long since begun.  This war costs us a lot—not just dollars, but pain and anxiety.  It assaults us with blow after blow of horrifying violence.  And a dark specter rises behind the barrage of killings:  the idea that life itself is brutal and meaningless.  The rich man in the parable went to his death a fool, because he had not prepared himself to meet God.  He had no altar.  He had no relationship with the Almighty.

Let me quote a few sentences of Pope Francis’ letter to us about the New Evangelization:

In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances. In many countries, globalization has meant a hastened deterioration of their own cultural roots and the invasion of ways of thinking and acting proper to other cultures which are economically advanced but ethically debilitated.

The process of secularization, by completely rejecting the transcendent, has produced a growing deterioration of ethics…a general sense of disorientation… a remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. (paragraphs 62 and 64)

We talked about this back on Fourth of July weekend:  the beautiful idea that can stabilize and unite us human beings in an enduring peace is the very treasure of our holy altars:  The idea of true human dignity.  The great God invites us to be His friends.  We are not expendable.  We are not worms.  We are children of the Most High.

Our adversaries make war against: the sacred truth of human dignity.  They make war against human culture’s greatest accomplishment:  the doctrine of human dignity, taught by Christ.  The great mystery of our beautiful, eternal destiny.  With which we commune at the altar.  May God have mercy on them, for making war on the heart and soul of human peace.

How do we fight back?  By kneeling down and praying.  Praying with Christian faith and Christian love, at Christ’s holy altar, for deliverance from this unholy war.

St. Kateri, Mother Earth, and Unity

His dew is a dew of light.  The land of shades gives birth. (see Isaiah 26:19)

Anyone remember when the pope canonized the Lily of the Mohawks, proclaiming her Saint Kateri?  I’ll give you a hint:  Pope Benedict XVI did it…  Not that long ago…  During the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization…  October 21, 2012.

The task of summarizing that synod wound up falling to Pope Francis.  Let’s listen to paragraph 276 of his exhortation to us, The Joy of the Gospel:

Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land, life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history…human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.

This fallen world is a land of shades.  Sometimes a kind-of hot land of shades.  But a land where the shadow of death falls.  “Land of shades” means:  the place where the shadow of death falls.  And that is:  planet earth.

pope-francis_2541160kBut earth gives birth!  One of the themes of our Holy Father’s encyclical on the environment is:

The environmental crisis we face forces us to re-examine the meaning of life.  It forces us to recognize that we have received the earth as a gift from God, precisely as Jesus taught us and showed us. And the crisis makes us remember that we have one basic task:  to hand this gift on to the next generation safe and intact.

Of course this makes us think of the first nations of our continent.  They knew better than we do how to love Mother Earth.  At St. Kateri’s canonization, Pope Benedict prayed to her, asking her to re-invigorate the spread of the gospel among the native peoples of America, and among all the inhabitants of this land.

The witness of the saints’ lives shows us a profound, beautiful, and hopeful truth:  Different peoples can and do come together through true religion.  The religion of Jesus can bridge every racial, cultural, and generational divide.

This week every political leader and their brother have said pious things about the different groups and factions of our nation “coming together.”  May Jesus bring us together!  He is the One Who truly can do so.

Morality How To’s

I prayed and pleaded, and wisdom came to me. (Wisdom 7:7)

Pope St. John Paul II wrote that Christ invites all of us to follow Him, just as He invited the Rich Young Man: Keep the Commandments. Give what you have to the poor, so that you will have treasure in heaven. And follow me.

Christ invites all of us to follow Him in this way. And by accepting this invitation, we can find what we call morality. We can live moral lives, upright lives.

john_paul_ii_pencil_drawingLet’s focus on this crucial point. We cannot imagine that we are morally good first–and because we are so good, we get to be Jesus’ friends. No.

The Son of God—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—invites us to follow Him, and by following Him, we find out what “being good” actually means. By following Him, by making a purifying pilgrimage in His footsteps, by spending a lifetime studying Christ, so as to know Him, love Him, and imitate Him—in other words, by co-operating with Him, we can find the peace of a clear conscience.

Who doesn’t want to have a peaceful conscience? The kind of conscience that rests, and allows you to delight in simple pleasures, to listen to other people when they talk to you, to sleep well, to enjoy a baseball playoff game. If we really want to come to full-flower as people, we need untroubled consciences.

More than a hamburger, or a Ferrari, or a good-looking boyfriend or girlfriend–what we really want, above all, is the inner peace that comes from honesty and harmony with what is right. The Holy Catholic Church says: We can have this, provided we start by focusing our eyes on Jesus Christ Himself.

Not focusing on the Bible, per se—though of course we can’t focus our eyes on Christ without reading the Scriptures.

Not focusing on ‘moral positions’ in themselves. Though of course the Church takes moral positions, based on the life and teachings of Christ our Lord.

Not even focusing on the Pope or the Church Herself as an institution. After all, what is the first sentence of Pope Francis’ letter about the Joy of the Gospel? It is not, “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter me.” No: Pope Francis’ fundamental idea is: The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter…

Pope Francis hears confession during penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica at VaticanJesus.

So, three steps to morality:

1. Faith and prayer. We encounter Christ by faith, since He no longer dwells visibly on earth. We want peaceful consciences? Then let’s regularly do calisthenics of faith.

–Prayer to Christ first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

–“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner,” all day long. Let’s make a resolution to say, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner,” more often than we look at our phones.

2. Receiving the sacraments as acts of Divine Mercy. Don’t get me wrong: A lot goes into having a beautiful, prayerful Mass. I certainly appreciate all the hard work that goes into it. I try myself to work hard to prepare. The Lord smiles on selfless Christians who volunteer to help at church.

But we have to remember always: Fundamentally, the Holy Mass is not us. If the Mass were just us, as Flannery O’Connor put it, “then to hell with it.” The Mass is: Jesus giving us Himself.
Which brings me to: Truly to experience the Holy Mass as an act of Divine Mercy means regularly experiencing the sacrament of Confession as an act of Divine Mercy.

“But, Father. I’m a good person. I don’t need to go to Confession!”


Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been too long since my last Confession. I am one stubborn, proud, ungrateful wretch—who tends to forget how Jesus shed a lot of blood, and endured excruciating agony, and it wasn’t just for all the other people.

3. Which brings us to the final point I would like to try to make. Love. Morality really does fundamentally mean loving—loving God and loving other people. Love really is the law. That particular liberal shibboleth is actually true.

But the love in question, of course, is the love that proceeds from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the love that sees with Christ’s eyes. And we know that Christ hardly looks at sins being committed and says, “That’s fine.”

No. The Lord Jesus knew that the Rich Young Man in the gospel needed to change his life.

Christ saw the sinner, and loved him, and invited him: Come, sinner, follow me. I will teach you how to do good.

Falafel, Faith, and Mystical Fraternity

No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)

The bush burned, but the flame did not consume it. Moses grasped immediately: I am looking at something divine. I think we can understand the burning bush as a symbol of: the other human being. Any other human being. Any human being with whom I come into contact.

Amsterdam FalafelshopAll of us have mysterious, practically unfathomable depths. I know that, within me, mysteries dwell. Ugly ones, and beautiful. The same goes for every other burning bush of a human soul.

I was reading a little essay by an interesting college-educated young man. He wanted to see “how the other half lived,” so to speak. So he got a job at a falafel joint not far from where I grew up.

Problem is, the young man could never quite relate to his Honduran co-workers as fellow human beings. To him, they simply represented a “class.” The young man was stuck in his own vision of the world, in which two fundamentally different species dwell, namely 1) Privileged white boys like himself, and 2) Other. So he gave up his experiment and concluded that the class divide cannot be bridged.

I give the young man credit for his honesty. What did he lack? What could have given him real success in his endeavor to get to know a fellow human being, a fellow human being who speaks Spanish and makes his living frying falafel? The young man never went down the one avenue that really does lead into another person’s soul: God. Revealed by Christ.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis practices a particular kind of spiritual life: the mysticism of the other person. He wrote in Evangelii Gaudium:

The only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, learning to find Jesus in the faces of others…a mystical fraternity, a contemplative fraternity. It is a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbor, of finding God in every human being. (91-92)

God will unfold the mystery of Himself before me, if I let Him move me to love my fellow human being, as a true brother or sister, to be loved as I love myself. Faith in the infinite mystery of God is the key. Faith in the eternal, mutual gaze of love that the Father and the Son exchange, the Holy Spirit.

Truly knowing another person, and truly knowing God, then, go together. If I want to know God, I must let Him meet me in my neighbor. And if I want to know my neighbor, I must abandon myself to the full, mysterious reality of the person who God made that neighbor to be. Which means simultaneously abandoning myself to the full, mysterious reality of who God made me to be.

True Self


During the Easter season we read from the Acts of the Apostles. It takes us back to that original time, when the Lord Jesus first demonstrated how Christian life works. That is, how He gives us a share in His transcendent power, how He unites Himself with us from within, how He grafts us onto the living vine and makes us His branches.

The young Saul of Tarsus thought he was ‘being himself’ by prosecuting strict fidelity to the Law of Moses, the law of his people. Saul thought that he was really coming into his own as a man, marching east and west, north and south, to stamp out all the foolish nonsense about a so-called Galilean Messiah who had risen from the dead. Then Christ showed Saul how “coming into your own” really works.

One of the most important ideas we have to help others grasp is this: There can be no ‘competition’ between me and God, when it comes to determining who I really am. If I try to assert myself over against God, with God as a rival for power in my life, then up in heaven all the angels look down and laugh sadly at the spectacle.

Trying to compete with Almighty God is patently ridiculous. And it’s sad. He made me, after all, and He alone can open up the path for me, by which I really can ‘find’ myself. He does not see our relationship as a contest. God no more thinks of competing for power with me than a mighty killer whale thinks of racing a tadpole across the Arctic Sea. If I try to beat God at the game that only He truly understands, I lose before I even begin. Why would I fight?

Prince WilliamOn the road to Damascus, Saul beheld the truth of Christ: God united with man. Saul heard the voice of the Creator, and it was the voice of the Galilean, the one whom all these rubes were calling the Messiah.

Saul realized: I am fighting a pointless battle. I am actually a million miles away from my true self, with all this self-righteous militancy of mine. If I really want to come into my own, I have to try and forget about what I think, and learn what God thinks.

And God thinks this: I will take a beautiful Bride to myself! The Church. I will unite the scattered individuals of this lonely world, whose pride isolates them from the people they need the most—I will unite them by loving them Myself, through each other.

Let’s try to imagine for a moment just how little Saul of Tarsus had in common with the other Christians he met when he was first converted. Saul grew up a well-to-do diaspora Jew, in a commercial city in what is now Turkey. Saul was a Roman citizen. He had received a meticulous education. If Saul had ever gone fishing, it was when he was a kid, just for fun.

When Saul first went to Straight Street in Damascus, to meet up with Ananias for baptism, it was kind of like a member of the British royal family going to a backstreet in Tijuana, looking for a guy named Pepe to give him a tattoo.

Christ wills to love us Himself—through each other. We become ourselves together. If we don’t come together, each of us individually trails off, into some strange, distorted side-street of my particular personality.

But by coming together regularly—by learning that who we are is: branches on the living vine of Christ… All of us, totally dependent on Him, rejoicing to share in that utter dependence together… When we become, and live for years as, people who attend Mass every Sunday—by doing that, we open ourselves up to the possibility of becoming the loving brothers and sisters in God’s family that He made us to be.

pope-francis_2541160kHere’s a little quiz. I can’t claim to have the answer to this one. I just have my impression… What is Pope Francis’ favorite image of the Church?

Certainly not “institution.” Of course, the Church is an institution, but that’s not all She is. And Pope Francis clearly does not think of the Church as primarily “an institution.”

I don’t think “Bark of Peter” is Pope Francis’ favorite image for the Church, either–though we certainly do sail in a windswept sea these days, as a world-wide family of faith. At one point, the pope said the Church must see herself as a ‘field hospital.’

I think Pope Francis’ favorite image for the Church is: A loving mother.

The pope invoked that image in his Apostolic Exhortation on the New Evangelization. And he also invoked it as he concluded his declaration of the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy. If I might, let me quote a sentence from his Apostolic Exhortation. The paragraph is entitled “Mother with an open heart,” and the pope writes:

If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life.

Mother Church can give birth to our truest selves. Mother Church has the sap of the ancient vine living in her. She gives birth to us, to the people God made us to be, by the power of divine love that comes from Christ. To be a branch on that vine is the greatest thing any of us could ever aspire to be, and the vine grows in church. The sap flows from the altar.

We can go ‘looking for ourselves’ hither and yon, from Milwaukee to Timbuktu, from yoga classes to Springsteen concerts to off-road derbies with Jason Aldean blasting from somebody’s boom box. But the only place any of us can really find ourselves is under the roof of Mother Church, together. Because who we are is: branches on the vine, the divine vine of Christ.

Three Years In

WARNING Homily of primarily local interest WARNING


Thus says the Lord, “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion.”

Exactly three years ago, dear parishioners, Bishop DiLorenzo appointed a certain tall noodlebrain as the pastor of a great and glorious new parish cluster, spanning two noble counties.

So, daughter Zion, you can rejoice: three years of your sentence have been served. Now, I’m sorry to have to tell you, this torture could last another nine years.

…Some of us know that Pope Francis wrote an Apostolic Exhortation, which became very famous. President Obama said he read it. Chris Matthews said he read it. It’s possible that Clint Dempsey has read it.

There is a passage in Pope Francis’ book that, surprisingly, has not gotten any press. I promise you that I am not making this up. I quote our Holy Father:

The faithful and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them.

So the Pope feels your pain.

In 2011, I had fewer gray hairs. I was happy-go-lucky that Fourth of July, just looking for a burger, medium rare, with lettuce tomato mayonnaise. And a Dairy-Queen Blizzard for dessert.

dq blizzardSince then, as a family of faith, we have faced challenges. We have had occasion to dig deep and find out what we are really made of. We have tried to learn from the good Lord how to pray better and how to love better.

But… This is a nice, long weekend. Summertime now holds us fully in its relaxing, warm embrace. Let me share this one particular reflection with you.

One thing has accompanied me, has helped me, through thick and thin these past three, sometimes-tiring years.

Namely: Jesus Christ. His unique revelation of the face of the Almighty Father, uniquely wonderful and uniquely beautiful. This revelation, entrusted to us, offers us, and offers the world, the kind of joy, peace, and happiness that people can only dream about.

Now, in certain circles people talk incessantly about Jesus, as if He were some kind of pet, some personal accessory for my life. In other circles, people never mention Him at all, never seem to give the most beautiful man who ever lived a second thought.

Is He not real? Is He not a Person, Who beckons us closer all the time, Who makes strenuous demands, and Who bears us up with His ineffably gentle strength? He exposes our weaknesses and hypocrisy; He makes us weep for our sins. But then He comforts us and gives us a fresh start and brings good out of evil.

He wishes to reveal the heavenly Father to us. We have His own words in evidence for this.

Leonardo DiCaprio TitanicGod cannot be a pet. God cannot be a possession. God cannot be a personal accessory for my wardrobe. Either we serve Christ as our Master, or we have nothing to do with Him. He makes friends with the humble.

But, by the same token: God cannot pass unnoticed. We cannot leave God in the back of the garage, to be dealt with at a later date, because we know we can’t quite deal with Him now. God makes Himself familiar. He makes Himself a daily presence.

You know, the truth is: I have had much harder years than these past three. After all, I am old. I can remember how painful it was for my dear grandmother to have to transition from Tab to Diet Coke. I can remember my friends complaining to me about receiving harshly worded Lotus Notes from their bosses. I can remember when Leonardo DiCaprio was significantly skinnier than me.

But Jesus Christ is the sun that never sets. He is very much alive. And He has endowed His Church with the living Truth–Himself, present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. He draws us together around Him, under this roof, to love Him and each other.

We have three great years in together, dear brothers and sisters, with another nine to go, may it please the Lord. It’s not our job to re-invent the wheel; it’s not our job to re-design a “church for the future.” Our duty, clear and simple: Obey the commandments of Christ. Believe, trust, love, and follow Him. He holds tomorrow in His Almighty hands. He simply asks us to give Him our best today.

For all the times these past three years when I have failed you as a pastor, I am sorry. I beg you to forgive me.

And thanks for being so kind to me on my birthday. The birthday that really matters, of course, is when we die to selfishness and find new life in Christ. We will celebrate the birthday party we really want when we get to heaven.

In the meantime, let’s march on, united in faith, and united in prayer. Let’s march on toward the great and glorious day. The great and glorious day when the U.S. brings home the World Cup. Or the end of time. Whichever comes first.

Egypt and Other Rough Places

Keniset Mari Girgis

“Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:15)

In Egypt they venerate the places where the Holy Family lived during their quiet sojourn there. Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus left their homeland and went to the country where their ancestors had been slaves.

Of old, in Egypt, God had shown His mighty power, working great prodigies to bring about the liberation of His beloved people. Now God came in the flesh to Egypt, an infant fugitive. And He spent time there in a state of perfect quiet, nursing at the breast, listening to His foster father and mother sing to Him the very songs that He Himself had taught King David to sing a thousand years earlier.

Continue reading “Egypt and Other Rough Places”

Few More Papa F Quotes + Sports

Cam Newton PanthersJayhawks whupped the Hoyas. ‘Skins found a way to lose to Dallas. Rain falls. I have a mountain of work to do. Haven’t bought anybody any Christmas presents. Headcold never dies.

But: It looks like I picked the right bandwagon to get on, since the Panthers got the big W over New Orleans. And Evangelii Gaudium fills my heart…

“Since this Exhortation is addressed to members of the Catholic Church, I want to say that the worst discrimination which the poor suffer is the lack of spiritual care…Our preferential option for the poor must mainly translate into a privileged and preferential religious care…

pope-francis_2541160k“The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration…It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a center of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented…

“Diversity must always be reconciled by the help of the Holy Spirit; he alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity. When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity…

“I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society…

“Sometimes it seems that our work is fruitless, but mission is not like a business transaction or investment, or even a humanitarian activity. It is not a show where we count how many people come as a result of our publicity; it is something much deeper, which escapes all measurement.”

F the Mall

Gaudete! Rejoice! Evangelii gaudium. The joy of the Gospel. It “fills the hearts of all who encounter Jesus,” according to Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, Pope Francis. Even in dark times, even in the face of the gravest difficulties. Because we have “the personal certainty of being infinitely loved”—again, as Pope Francis puts it.

The joy of John the Baptist, the joy of all the people who recognized the moment, the moment of Christmas, the moment of Christ: God has acted out of infinite love for us.

Continue reading “F the Mall”

Delights in the Law of the Lord

A couple of the Advent passages from Isaiah* emphasize the theme of the first Psalm. Namely that the Lord guides those who cleave to Him. He guides us with a firm hand, with an interior light, with a Father’s wisdom. Only the guiding hand of God can get us to our true goal.

moses_ten_commandmentsOne of the main themes which Time’s Man of the Year sounds in his famous Apostolic Exhortation is this:

The Church accompanies people through life, helping everyone to find God and follow His plan. Almighty God has a plan for every human being. The plan for each of us is more beautiful and intricate than any human mind can grasp. It is not the Church’s job to have the plan. It’s the Church’s job to help everyone find the plan.

Hence the idea: The Catholic Church does not claim to have all the answers. Because we really don’t. Have all the answers. Only the Lord of infinite mystery has them all. All of us, Pope and bishops and priests and people—all of us have a pilgrim road to follow. All of us must open up our little minds to the light of God, which can put things into perspective in a way we never saw before.

But this is the opposite of moral relativism. To be guided by the loving hand of the Father means obedience. It means obedience to the most ancient truths. Moses received commandments on Mount Sinai from the same God of infinite love Who was born on Christmas morning and Who grew up to speak at length about how He keeps the fires of hell hot for the hypocrites and scoffers and abusers of the innocent.

Holy Father points out that there are paths down which the Church should not accompany people:

Spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere. To accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father.

Fellow evangelists, let’s see God’s commandments, strict as they may be, for what they really are: A great gift our Father has given us to help us reach the goal of true, undying happiness. Let’s propose them to the world by our example and our words. They exist for this reason: With them, we can follow God’s plan for our lives. Without them…well, we do not want to go there.**

* today’s Mass and this past Saturday’s, for example

** “Wailing, gnashing of teeth, and the worm never dies.”