Mother Mary said at Fatima: "My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the sure way which will lead you to God." St. Thomas Aquinas said: "The things we love tell us who we are!" With that in mind, I will try to post each day something about Our Blessed Lady, items about the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and public domain Catholic books too! I pray you enjoy my ministry!
Below are two albums of pictures that I created:
1. Our grand daughter Adrianna.
2. Tears of Mary!
MARY, OUR MOTHER
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
The Moynihan Report: Letter #71: The Choice of a Word
May 8, 2013, Wednesday -- The Choice of a Word
"The consecrated woman is a mother: she must be a mother and not an 'old maid'! Forgive me if I talk like this..." ("La consacrata è madre, deve essere madre e non zitella, scusatemi, parlo un po' così...")--Pope Francis, May 8, 2013, speaking to 800 superiors of women's orders from around the world
Sometimes a single word can be the source of confusion. And it can cause one to miss the entire meaning of a talk.
morning, speaking in the Vatican to 800 women religious, all of them
leaders of Catholic orders of nuns, representing hundreds of thousands
of sisters from 75 countries around the world, Pope Francis (photo) may have chosen such a word.
some in Rome are saying this may be a reason for this still very new,
and very genuine, Pope from Argentina to be more careful with regard to
the words he chooses when he speaks in public.
other words, that Francis ought to prepare his talks in advance, and
allow his advisors to edit them, rather than speak so often "off the
others are saying that his authenticity is so precious to the Church
that he should continue to speak in his refreshing, natural, unscripted
way, no matter what the cost.
The word the Pope used this morning was "zitella."
is an Italian word with several meanings, ranging from "single woman"
to "spinster," but the best way to translate it into English would seem
to be "old maid." And soon the official translations were putting the
word in quotations, to distance the Pope just a bit from such a
religious sisters listening to the Pope did not seem disturbed by his
use of the word. After his talk, they applauded him. (Here is a video report on the address.)
But within an hour or two, a minor controversy was brewing, stoked in part by the American media.
"The Associated Press
reports that in an audience Wednesday, 'Pope Francis has told nuns from
around the world that they must be spiritual mothers and not ‘old
maids,'" Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post wrote.
continued: "I am at a loss to see how this could be other than
insulting to women who’ve already given up having families of their own
to serve God... Yes, Francis is a communications natural, but in this
case, he broke the, um, cardinal rule: Know your audience."
So Henneberger found Francis's choice of word "insulting to women."
Henneberger's chief concern is that the role of women not be seen by the Church as exclusively "maternal."
The Pope's words were "in keeping with earlier remarks by Francis on the role of women," she continued.
a talk soon after he was installed as Pope," she said, "he noted that
women have an important role in passing on the Catholic faith to their
children. Of course, that isn’t our only role, right? Right?"
concluded: "As someone who is trying her darnedest to pass on the
faith, can I just say that we could use a hand from the Church in
convincing said offspring that the Church is not as constricted as
advertised in its view of women? Remarks like these are not particularly
But her analysis overlooks some profound, strikingly beautiful words spoken by Francis.
because it's beautiful to follow Jesus," Francis told the nuns. "It's
beautiful to reflect the image of the Mother of God and of our Holy
Mother, the Hierarchical Church.”
So, in this case, the choice of a colloquial, popular Italian word to describe a condition of non-marriage and non-maternity ("zitella")
-- a word the Pope himself seemed to recognize may have been
inappropriate ("forgive me," he said immediately) -- became a source of
is unfortunate, because the central idea expressed by the Pope is a
beautiful, lofty one: that chastity, far from being a condition of
sterility, or of bitterness at lack of offspring, has a profoundly
"fruitful," even "maternal" aspect.
In the the key paragraph spoken by the Pope this morning to express this concept, Francis said:
for the Kingdom of Heaven shows how affection has its place in mature
freedom and becomes a sign of the future world, to make God’s primacy
shine forever. But, please, [make it] a ‘fertile’ chastity, which
generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated are mothers:
they must be mothers and not ‘old maids’!
"Forgive me if I talk like this, but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness, is important!
this joy of spiritual fruitfulness animate your existence. Be mothers,
like the images of the Mother Mary and the Mother Church. You cannot
understand Mary without her motherhood; you cannot understand the Church
without her motherhood, and you are icons of Mary and of the Church.”
danger Pope Francis faces is that a single word, taken out of context,
can be exploited to harm the larger message he is proclaiming with great
fervor and eloquence.
it would perhaps be a still greater danger if this Pope were to succumb
to considerable and growing pressure to "pre-digest" every homily or
essential point of the Pope is quite valid: that all Christians should
be spiritually fruitful, should generate "offspring" through their joy
and faith, should be, therefore, "maternal" (and also "paternal").
is a shame that such a teaching could be misinterpreted as "insulting"
-- and perhaps Henneberger herself might use a different word, like
"challenging," rather than "insulting," if she were to rewrite her piece
upon further reflection.
Choosing the right word is not always easy, but the listener or reader should always pause to consider the entire context.
Francis thus far has chosen all the right words. This incident shows
that he will have to choose his words with special care in the weeks and
"I pray for you, but I ask you to pray for me, because I am in need of your prayers. Three 'Hail Marys' for me..."—Pope Francis, Saturday, May 4
New Book on Pope Francis
Entitled Pray for Me: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, First Pope from the Americas, my new book on Pope Francis was released on April 30 by Random House.
Pray for Me is geared toward those who would like to accompany Pope Francis on his journey of faith in the months and years ahead.