Meeting God in the Upper Room (Msgr. Peter Vaghi)

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It’s an image that is familiar to any Christian. It’s been the subject for myriad artists for centuries, from paint-by-number coloring books to DaVinci, Raphael, and the greats. The Upper Room is a source of great mystery while at the same time being the center of several of the most significant events of Revelation. It was there that Christ shared the Last Supper with His apostles, but it was also there that Christ appeared to the apostles after His resurrection to institute the sacrament of penance. And it was there that the Holy Spirit rushed upon the apostles to empower them and lead them to all truth as Christ had promised.

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Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait (Francesco Napolitano)

padre-pioMuch of what I knew about Padre Pio before reading this book came through stories that seemed apocryphal. They seemed too good to be true. They seemed to be part of the saccharine hagiography that characterizes so much of what is out there. This book changed all that.

Fr. Francesco Napolitano knew Padre Pio, worked with him, cared for him. The story of Padre Pio told through this lens provides a whole different view of his life and work. It’s just as amazing as those original stories I heard, but this time it was real. It was a human portrait of a super-human figure. Continue reading “Padre Pio: A Personal Portrait (Francesco Napolitano)”

A lesson in mercy

I’d never read The Merchant of Venice until tonight. And I do not have significant exposure to Shakespeare generally. In this Year of Mercy, I found the discussion of mercy and justice very profound. In Act IV, Scene 1, Portia, acting as the judge, is discussing with Shylock his insistence that Antonio pay a pound of flesh to repay his debt. She says (emphasis mine),

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

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