5/19/2013 - Father Shanley's 2013 Commencement Mass Homily
"We recently welcomed back to campus an ’07 grad, Matthew Weber, to give a talk on his book Fearing the Stigmata. The arresting title arises out of a childhood experience. Matt was a fourth-grader in a Catholic grammar school looking at a picture book about the saints and noticed what he thought must be some typographical blotches on the picture of St. Francis of Assisi; he seemed to have a red blotch on his hands, his feet, and his side. So he went to the teacher and asked why. She explained that these were the stigmata that St. Francis shared in the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. Matt asked why St. Francis got them, and the teacher replied “because he was good … a good Catholic.” Fearing the consequences of goodness and holiness, Matthew went home and immediately did a few small bad things so he would not wake up in the morning with blood gushing from this hands, feet, and side. Looking back on this childish response from adulthood, Matthew realizes that he has been struggling his whole life with the fear of being holy, and plagued by the question of how good did he really want to be and at what cost? I think it is a fear that we all struggle with. We are afraid of holiness because we know it will cost us something and we fear the changes that we would have to make in who we are. So we settle for mediocrity and relegate holiness to the religious professionals and heroic people in the Church."
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3/14/2013 - Father Shanley's Message Regarding Pope Francis
I join the entire Providence College community in joy and celebration over the election of Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio as our new Pope and Bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Bergoglio, who has chosen to be called Pope Francis, has broken new ground even before his installation which is expected to occur on Tuesday, March 19th. He is the first Latin American Pope and the first Pope to come from outside of Europe, hailing from the South American nation of Argentina. He is the first Jesuit Pope. He is also the first Pope to take the name of Francis.
By all accounts, Pope Francis is a modest and humble man. Upon his election, the news media were quick to point out that he forgoed living in the archbishop's palace in Buenos Aires and instead took up residence in a simple apartment where he prepared his own meals. It was also reported that he sold the limousine afforded his office and instead took public transit to work each day so he could be close to the people he was entrusted to shepherd.
The days and weeks ahead will give us further clues as to exactly what the priorities of the new Pope will be and where he will place emphasis. Nonetheless, the fact that he asked the throng of people in St. Peter's Square to pray for him in his very first public appearance on the loggia of the Basilica would seem to indicate that he intends to remain, above all, a humble servant of God. As such, he is a fitting example for all of us at Providence College and for the world at large.
May Almighty God bless our new Holy Father in wisdom, grace and strength as he begins his papacy. And may the papacy of Pope Francis be a shining light of guidance and stewardship for all of Christendom as well as for the Providence College community.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.