• This past week in the United States, Pope Francis touched the hearts of millions of Americans, Catholics, other Christians, people of other faiths, and even unbelievers, with his message and witness of love, joy, humility, and hope. It was an incredible week as we welcomed with deep affection the successor of Saint Peter to our nation.

    From the moment I entered the Fort Wayne airport to travel to Philadelphia and Washington, people approached me with excitement to talk about the visit of Pope Francis. Everywhere I went throughout the week, on the streets, in churches, restaurants, and hotels, people were smiling as they talked about the Pope’s visit. It was extraordinary to see the interest of so many people, even strangers, who have been touched by the goodness and simplicity of our Holy Father.

    I was happy to participate in several of the papal events as well as activities at the World Meeting of Families. Pope Francis spoke to the U.S. bishops during Midday Prayer on Wednesday, September 23rd, in Saint Matthew Cathedral in Washington. He encouraged us in our ministry, reminding us that is really God’s ministry, not ours. The Holy Father reminded us that a bishop’s ministry must be marked by compassion, joy, inclusivity, simplicity, dialogue, self-giving, mercy, and humility. I was especially moved by his words about the Church attracting people by being “the family fire” that offers warmth, comfort, and community. Pope Francis encouraged us to care for the poor and immigrants and to stay close to our people, keeping our eyes focused on Jesus and our hearts open to others. I thought about how the Pope models these things in his own life and ministry.

    Later on Wednesday, we concelebrated with the Holy Father the canonization Mass of Saint Junipero Serra outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In his homily, the Pope reflected on Saint Paul’s words in his letter to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice! Pope Francis asked: “How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives?” He said that Jesus gives us the answer: He told us to go forth and proclaim the Gospel. This is what Father Serra did. Pope Francis said: “the joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.” As he does so often, the Holy Father called all Catholics to be missionary disciples, saying that this is what keeps the faith alive and joyful.

    On Thursday, I returned to Philadelphia. That evening, I celebrated Mass at Saint Peter Church and the Shrine of Saint John Neumann. It was a Mass for the deaf and persons with disabilities who were participating in the World Meeting of Families. My family and several faithful of our diocese attended the Mass. The church was full with hundreds of persons with various kinds of disabilities, the blind, the deaf, and their families and caregivers. Despite the crosses they carry, the people prayed and sang with much joy. They know the Lord’s tender love and teach us so much about perseverance in faith in the midst of trials and suffering. I was very moved by this liturgy and an encounter I had there with a man who was blind and deaf. I could only communicate with him by touch. These are truly God’s especially beloved children and must be welcomed as our beloved brothers and sisters in the Church.

    Friday was mostly free so I met with old friends and enjoyed walking through center city Philadelphia. We visited the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the outdoor shrine there of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. Thousands of people wrote prayer intentions on cloth and tied and attached them at the shrine where others untied the cloth and prayed for one anothers’ intentions. We also visited and prayed at the relics of Saint Maria Goretti brought from Italy to Saint John the Evangelist Church for the World Meeting of Families.

    On Saturday morning, I was happy to celebrate Mass with the pilgrims from our diocese at Saint John the Evangelist Church. Three of our priests concelebrated the Mass: Father Daryl Rybicki, Father Glenn Kohrman, and Father Andrew Curry. Saint John’s is a beautiful church, the former cathedral of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, including when Saint John Neumann was the bishop. It was also the home parish of Saint Katharine Drexel and her family. It was good to see many people from our diocese enjoying the World Meeting of Families and looking forward with excitement to see Pope Francis.

    On Saturday, Pope Francis arrived in Philadelphia from New York. Despite the very tight security and closed streets, the people’s enthusiasm was not dampened. As in Washington and New York, the streets were filled with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. I and my brother bishops again went through screening by the Secret Service and were bussed to the event at Independence Hall. It was a long wait, but well worth it to see Pope Francis standing before the seat of our nation’s independence. While waiting, I was happy to chat a while with former Pennsylvania governor, Tom Corbett and his wife, whom I hadn’t seen since leaving Harrisburg.

    Speaking from the podium used by President Abraham Lincoln for the Gettysburg Address, Pope Francis praised our nation’s immigrant history. He encouraged the many immigrants in attendance, saying: “I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation.” Hearing these words, I thought about the gifts that many immigrants bring to the Church in our diocese.

    Pope Francis also spoke about religious freedom in his speech in front of Independence Hall, reminding us about the ideals on which our nation was founded. He spoke of religious freedom as “an essential part of the American spirit.” Clearly the Holy Father is aware of the challenges we face today in defending our religious freedom here in the United States.

    The climax of the papal visit began Saturday evening with the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It was a festive evening with beautiful music and faith-filled testimonies given by families representing the five continents. Pope Francis set aside his prepared speech and gave what I thought was his most animated and passionate talk of his U.S. visit. He spoke about the family. He shared some witty stories. He noted with humor how kids often ask difficult questions. He shared a question a child once asked him: “Father, what did God do before creating the world?” The Pope shared his answer: “Before creating the world, God loved, because God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” God’s love was then poured out in creation and most importantly in creating the family. And later His love came into the world with His Son who entered the world through the family, through Mary and Joseph who accepted, welcomed, and loved Him. The Holy Family shows us the mission of the family: love. This love involves the cross. The love of the family overcomes division and is the foundation of peace and goodness in society. The Pope’s message really resonated with the huge crowd which seemed to hang onto his every word.

    On Sunday, nearly a million people gathered throughout the day along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and nearby for the final Mass of the papal visit and the World Meeting of Families. We bishops again went through security clearance and arrived two hours before Mass began. In the homily at this beautiful liturgy, the Holy Father again spoke about the family. He stressed the importance of small acts of love in family life. “Love is shown by little things,” he said. They show that the Spirit is alive and at work. The Pope called them “little miracles” that are signs of Christ’s own living and active presence in our world.

    Before the Holy Father boarded the plane to return to Rome, he said his time in the United States had been “days of great grace” for him. He prayed they were also days of great grace for us. They were for me. I hope and pray that Pope Francis’ visit, his words and his example, will motivate and inspire us and all Americans and will bear much good fruit for the Church’s mission in our country. Thank you, Holy Father! And as he asked many times, let us pray for him!

    Posted on September 29, 2015, to:

  • The Calling of St. Matthew is a masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, depicting the moment at which Jesus Christ inspires Matthew to follow Him.

    On September 21st, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. Saint Matthew is the secondary patron of our diocese since our co-cathedral in South Bend was dedicated with the title of Saint Matthew. Matthew, the tax collector turned apostle, is the patron saint of accountants, money managers, bankers, bookkeepers, financial officers, and tax collectors.

    In art, Saint Matthew is sometimes represented as an angel or as a man holding a bag of coins or money bag. Matthew abandoned earthly wealth and dishonest practices to follow Jesus who summoned him away from earthly gain to receive a greater treasure. Matthew became one of the twelve apostles and wrote the first Gospel. He died a martyr’s death and inherited the treasure of heaven.

    In 1953, on the feast of Saint Matthew, the young Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis), at the age of 17, experienced, in a very special and intimate way, the loving presence of God in his life. He went to confession and felt his heart touched by the mercy of God. It changed his life. At that moment, he also felt God’s call to the priesthood and religious life as a Jesuit.

    In memory of that holy event in his life, Pope Francis chose as his episcopal (and later papal) motto the words “miserando atque eligendo” (“having mercy and choosing”). These words are found in a sentence in a homily by Saint Bede on the calling of Saint Matthew. They are read in the Office of Readings on the Feast of Saint Matthew. Saint Bede wrote: “Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since He sees by having mercy and by choosing, He says to him, ‘Follow me.’”

    To understand Pope Francis, it is helpful to know about this important event in his life on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953. The young Jorge Bergoglio felt the tender gaze of God’s love, His mercy, and his vocation. In an interview, Pope Francis spoke of that event in these words: “In that confession, something very rare happened to me. I don’t know what it was, but it changed my life. I would say that I was caught with my guard down… It was a surprise, the astonishment of an encounter. I realized that God was waiting for me. From that moment, for me, God has been the one who precedes (to guide me)… We want to meet Him, but He meets us first.”

    Just as Jesus had summoned Matthew to become His apostle, Jesus called the teenage Jorge Bergoglio to be His emissary. Pope Francis once said: “I believe in my history — which was pierced by God’s look of love, on September 21, the feast of Saint Matthew — He came to meet me and invited me to follow Him.”

    That vocational encounter and piercing look of God’s merciful love has influenced Pope Francis’ life and ministry. That’s why he chose the words of Saint Bede as his motto. Clearly, major themes of his papacy have been his teaching on divine mercy, the joyful encounter with Jesus, and the infinite tenderness of God. He has proclaimed a Holy Year, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, that will begin on December 8th. The Holy Father is calling us to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus and to proclaim, celebrate, and live the Gospel of Mercy.

    The gaze of Jesus completely overtook the tax collector and sinner Matthew. It changed his life. It changed Jorge Bergoglio’s life. It changes our life.

    Pope Francis says: “Jesus’ gaze always lifts us up. It is a look that always lifts us up… never lets us down… It invites us to get up… to move forward. The gaze makes you feel that He loves you. This gives the courage to follow Him. And “Matthew got up and followed Him’.”

    When he visited Rome prior to becoming Pope, Jorge Bergoglio always stayed in the neighborhood of the Church of Saint Louis of France. He would often go there to contemplate the famous painting of “The Calling of Saint Matthew” by Caravaggio. In the painting, Jesus is pointing at Matthew. Matthew is holding on to his money as if to say “No, not me! No, this money is mine.” Pope Francis says he sees himself in Matthew – a sinner on whom the Lord turned His gaze. He trusted in Christ’s infinite mercy and accepted His calling: to become a Jesuit, a priest, a bishop, and pope.

    As our nation prepares to welcome Pope Francis, let us pray for our Holy Father. May his message of mercy and hope touch the hearts of all Americans! May we heed his call to be a Church which goes out, offering to all, especially the poor and suffering, the love and mercy of Jesus Christ! May Saint Matthew pray for us.

    Posted on September 15, 2015, to:

  • St. Teresa of Avila, mystic, founder of the Discalced Carmelites, and the first female declared a doctor of the Church, is depicted in a church in Troyes, France. St. Teresa was born in Spain in 1515 and is the patron saint of the country. March 28 was the 500th anniversary of her birth.

    Last week, I attended the annual spiritual retreat of the Bishops of our region (Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin) that was held at the Cardinal Stritch Retreat House on the campus of Our Lady of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. It was a grace-filled time of prayer, rest, and fraternity with brother Bishops.

    Retreats are wonderful opportunities to draw apart from our normal routine to be with the Lord, to take stock of our life, and to be renewed in spirit. We can think of Jesus who drew apart from the crowds, and even from the apostles, to be with His Father, to pray in solitude. Such withdrawal from the world is not an escape from the world: it is a way to enter more deeply into life, to encounter Christ anew, to drink of the living water He gives us to satisfy the thirst of our soul. Even if it is not possible to go on a retreat, we all need the spiritual refreshment that comes from prayer.

    Last week’s retreat was truly spiritual refreshment for me. The retreat director was a Discalced Carmelite priest who shared with us beautiful and practical meditations and insights from three great Carmelite saints and doctors of the Church: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Therese of Lisieux. His talks brought back wonderful memories for me since the spiritual writings of these three saints were favorites of mine as a seminarian. Also, when I was a deacon, I lived and served two months in Salamanca, Spain, where I was able to visit Avila and other towns and cities where Teresa and John of the Cross lived and carried out the great reform of the Carmelite order.

    Saint Teresa of Avila has always been one of my favorite spiritual masters. She was a great mystic, yet she was so very human. She is forthright, candid, transparent, and practical in her writings. Her Autobiography is a classic, along with her other writings: The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, and other smaller works. Our retreat director last week often cited The Interior Castle. In this work, Saint Teresa uses the analogy of a castle with seven dwellings or “mansions”, each one closer to the heart of God who dwells as the King in the center of the castle. Through each mansion, one moves closer to God and further away from attachment to the things of this world. In each mansion, there are blessings and struggles.

    Saint Teresa’s Interior Castle is filled with spiritual wisdom. Writing about the first mansion, Teresa says: “It seems to me that we will never know ourselves unless we seek to know God. Glimpsing His greatness, we recognize our own powerlessness; gazing upon His purity, we notice where we are impure; pondering His humility, we see how far from humble we are.”

    The first mansion is the one where the soul recognizes that there indeed is a castle to be explored. One enters its doors by prayer. The first mansion is still a very exterior place where one can be easily distracted by the world’s temptations. But as one enters the second mansion, one begins to hear the voice of God calling. In the third mansion, one moves and progresses to humility and submission to God’s will. In the fourth mansion, the soul begins to experience the supernatural: consolations in prayer and what Teresa calls the “Prayer of Quiet.” The fifth mansion is where the soul experiences the “Prayer of Union,” the sixth the desire to be with God and leave the world behind; the seventh is where the soul finds rest in the presence of the King.

    In the Interior Castle, as in her other writings, Saint Teresa of Avila teaches us to feel the thirst for God in our hearts and the deep desire to be with God, to converse with Him, to be His friends.

    She, like so many other great saints, teaches us that it is in friendship with Christ that we find true peace and joy. How important it is that we make time for prayer, to grow in this friendship! It is not time wasted. Teresa had a true human friendship with God. This friendship, if authentic, produces fruits in our lives. From union with Jesus flows love of neighbor. As I said, prayer is not an escape. Good works are the fruit of prayer, the criteria of authentic prayer. The authenticity of prayer is not judged by visions and ecstasies, the mystic Teresa teaches us, but by the conformity of our lives to the life and teaching of Jesus, conformity to God’s will. True perfection is love of God and love of neighbor.

    While reflecting last week on the rich insights of Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross, I was reminded also of the following words of Pope Francis about prayer: “How good it is to stand before a crucifix, or on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, and simply to be in His presence! How much good it does us when He once more touches our lives and impels us to share His new life!”

    I leave you with a quote of Saint Teresa of Avila, her definition of contemplative prayer: “Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

    And finally, Saint Teresa’s poem of trust in God, even in adversity:

    “Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you.

    Everything passes / God never changes

    Patience / Obtains all

    Whoever has God / Wants for nothing

    God alone is enough.”

    Posted on September 1, 2015, to:

  • The following is the homily of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades from the solemnity of the Assumption, Aug. 15, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

    Today on this beautiful feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, with joy and thanksgiving, the Church consecrates Jessica Hayes to a life of virginity. God has called Jessica to be more closely united to Himself and to be dedicated to the service of the Church. It is God who gives the grace of virginity. He gave this grace to the young woman of Nazareth, to Mary, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to choose the life of virginity. Mary made a personal decision in faith to remain a virgin, to offer her heart to the Lord. She wanted to be His faithful bride. Thus, Mary became the model for all those who have chosen to serve the Lord with an undivided heart in virginity. It seems most appropriate that Jessica gives herself totally to Jesus, is consecrated to a life of virginity, on a feast of Our Lady, who gave herself totally to God as the virgin handmaid of the Lord.

    Jessica, like Mary and the many consecrated virgins in the early history of the Church, several of whom are canonized saints, has heard the call of the Lord to live as His spouse. The Church confirms this call as authentic. Jessica is making the courageous choice that our Blessed Mother made — the choice of virginity in order to consecrate herself totally to the love of God. This choice is motivated by love, love for Jesus and for His Church. The life of a consecrated virgin is all about love. Saint John Paul II understood this well and wrote that “one cannot correctly understand a woman’s consecration in virginity without referring to spousal love.” Jessica knows this theology of Saint John Paul well. As many of you know, (I see many of Miss Hayes’ students and former students here today) she teaches a wonderful course at Bishop Dwenger High School on the dignity and vocation of women and uses the deep and profound teaching of John Paul on women.

    In his apostolic letter on the dignity of women, Pope John Paul wrote about the value of consecrated virginity in which women become “a sincere gift for God who has revealed himself in Christ, a gift for Christ, the Redeemer of humanity and the Spouse of souls.” He wrote that “women, called from the very beginning to be loved and to love, in a vocation to virginity find Christ first of all as the Redeemer who ‘loved until the end’ through His total gift of self; and they respond to this gift with a sincere gift of their whole lives.” That’s what Jessica does today. She gives her life to the divine Spouse, to Jesus. “Through the Holy Spirit’s action” Jessica becomes “one spirit with Christ” her Spouse.

    The dignity and vocation of women is realized in a special way in consecrated virginity. Jessica is not just remaining unmarried or single. Virginity is not a mere “no” to human marriage. It is a profound “yes” (John Paul II), a yes to give oneself for love in a total and undivided manner. Today Jessica says yes like Mary did at the Annunciation, to be the virgin handmaid of the Lord, to love Him and serve Him in His Church with an undivided heart.

    There is also a true motherhood that is integral to a life of consecrated virginity. Virginity according to the Gospel includes giving up physical motherhood, which is a great sacrifice, but it “makes possible a different kind of motherhood: motherhood according to the Spirit.” In Jessica’s life, this spiritual motherhood will be lived and experienced in various ways. I think, for example, of her spiritual motherhood of her students. The love of a consecrated virgin is a maternal love; it is meant to be fruitful. The Fathers of the Church spoke about how consecrated virgins are instruments of the Church’s fruitfulness. We can think of the motherhood of the Virgin Mary, the motherhood of the Virgin Church, and the motherhood of consecrated virgins. It is something beautiful and fruitful: this virginal and spiritual motherhood. It extends far beyond that of a natural family. Like the love of the Church our mother, the horizons of the virgin’s love are the horizons of Christ: love of all her brothers and sisters, especially the poor and the afflicted, the weak and the suffering. Like Mary, Jessica is called to both virginity and motherhood, to be a mother in the Spirit, imitating the maternal love of Mary our mother whose charity we heard about in today’s Gospel of the Visitation.

    Jessica, I remind you of Saint John Paul’s exhortation to consecrated virgins: “Love Christ, the reason for your life. Return Christ’s infinite love with your own total and exclusive love. Love the Church.” “It is the task of virgins,” he said, “to be the hard-working hands of the local Church’s generosity, the voice of her prayer, the expression of her mercy, the relief of her poor, the comfort of her suffering sons and daughters, and the support of her orphans and widows.” He emphasized that consecrated virgins are to have a merciful heart, sharing the sufferings of others, and committing themselves to the defense of life, the advancement of women, and respect for their freedom and dignity.”

    Saint John Paul also said to consecrated virgins: “Love Mary of Nazareth, the first fruits of Christian virginity. … She was fully, in body and spirit, what you, (Jessica), with all your strength, want to be: a virgin in heart and body, a bride for the total and exclusive adherence to the love of Christ, a mother through the gift of the Spirit.”

    Jessica, on this feast of Mary’s Assumption, you are consecrated to a life of virginity. May you learn from Mary at the Annunciation to live as the handmaid of the Lord and to do the will of God, to keep his word! May you learn from Mary at the Visitation to bring Christ to others and to sing God’s praises, joining with Mary in her Magnificat! May you be with Mary at Cana, interceding for the needs of others! May you be with her at the foot of the cross, sharing in the mystery of Christ’s suffering! May you one day be with her in heaven where she was assumed body and soul to be with her Son forever!

    Jessica, in a spiritual sense, you are with Mary today in the upper room at Pentecost as you receive from the Holy Spirit the gift of consecrated virginity. May you persevere faithfully in your vocation! I pray that your life will be holy and enrich the life of the Church. May Blessed Mary, ever-virgin, assumed body and soul into heaven, intercede for you always!

    Posted on August 18, 2015, to:

  • This oil artwork of Lambert Lombard’s “The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes,” dates to the 16th century. It is displayed at Rockox House, Antwerp, Belgium.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the unity of the divine plan in the Old and New Testaments and how the Church has illuminated this unity through “typology.” “Typology discerns in God’s works of the Old Testament prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son” (CCC 128). As Saint Augustine said: “The New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New.” This is seen clearly in the Church’s selection of this Sunday’s first reading from the second book of Kings to be read along with the first part of chapter six of Saint John’s Gospel. We see the clear parallels. Both readings describe a crowd of hungry people. In both readings, someone brings forth barley loaves and in both accounts, someone objects that the bread is too little for the large crowd. In both accounts, all the people were able to eat their fill; there was a multiplication of the loaves and there was bread left over.

    The Old Testament reading features Elisha as the prophet who performs the miracle. Of course, it is Jesus in the New Testament who multiplies the loaves and the fish. There are several other miracles performed by Elisha that are also akin to the later miracles of Jesus. Elisha the prophet is truly a type, a figure of Christ.

    “The New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New.” The crowd of 100 in the Old Testament and the crowd of 5000 in the New Testament are hungry. Their physical hunger is satisfied. But the New Testament account of the miracle is followed by a great discourse of Jesus in which he presents Himself as the Bread of Life. He is greater than Elisha the prophet and miracle worker. In fact, as we continue reading chapter six of John’s Gospel these next several Sundays, we will hear Jesus revealing Himself as greater even than Moses, the one through whom God fed the people with manna in the desert during the Exodus. It is no wonder that after the miracle, when the people saw the sign Jesus had done, said: “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”

    In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus identifies himself as the bread of life and says those words that Elisha and Moses would never dare to say: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus can do more than multiply bread and fish to feed the hungry. He manifests himself as the One who is capable of satisfying forever the hungers of our hearts.

    Scripture scholars have identified in the Gospel miracle another level of meaning in the multiplication of the loaves and fish: a Eucharistic meaning. The early Christians definitely recognized the connection between the multiplication of the loaves and the Eucharist. In the catacombs, there are artistic representations from the second century of the miracle of the multiplication to symbolize the Eucharist. But already in the four Gospel accounts of this miracle, we see a strong Eucharistic motif. For example, in the passage this Sunday from John’s Gospel, we see the same verbs used describing Jesus’ action at the miracle that are used in the account of the Last Supper: He took the loaves, gave thanks (the very word the Christians then used for the Eucharist — eucharistein); and he gave or distributed the loaves.

    When the people had their fill, Jesus told the disciples to gather the fragments that were left over so that nothing would be wasted. Scholars see a Eucharistic echo here since these words about gathering the fragments are very similar to the words of the eucharistic prayer in the second-century work, the Didache. And there was also in the early Church great care taken with the Eucharistic fragments left over. Interestingly also, the disciples filled twelve wicker baskets with the fragments, perhaps symbolizing the gathering of the Church with the twelve apostles, that it may not perish.

    It is good for all of us to seek to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God and its riches. Five years ago, Pope Benedict XVI, in his beautiful apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord), expressed his “heartfelt hope for the flowering of a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus.” I recommend reading and praying with the Scriptures every day. The Bible helps us to encounter Jesus, the Bread of Life, in his word. As Pope Benedict has said, “the Church receives and gives to the faithful the bread of life from the two tables of the word of God and the Body of Christ.”

    Reflecting on this Sunday’s readings, we can place ourselves, along with all our brothers and sisters, into the scene. Many people in the world today are indeed hungry for material food. All of us hunger for truth, justice, love, peace, and beauty. In a word, we are hungry for God. Saint Augustine once exclaimed: “We must hunger for God!” Jesus’ miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, prefigured in the Old Testament, teaches us that the bread we need is first and foremost Jesus Himself, the bread of life. The bread we need is His Word, the word of truth that illumines the path of life for us on our earthly pilgrimage, the teaching that helps us to lead good and holy lives. The bread we need is also his grace, the life-giving power and nourishment we receive in the sacraments, most especially in the Holy Eucharist. We need to be nourished with “the Bread of life: the Word of God accepted in faith and the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist” (CCC 2835). That is what we pray for each time we pray the Our Father when we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. May the Lord Jesus multiply his bread for us and all who are hungry in the world today!

    Posted on July 21, 2015, to: