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Administering in a Climate of Transition and Church Crisis

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator I was standing at the corner of Peacock Lane and Southgates in Leicester, UK, having just visited the recently excavated burial site of King More »

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O Antiphons

by Kim Long After 18 years of working for the Church, I have deemed Advent the season of quiet desperation. Our Church tells us to be reflective and prepare, while secular society More »

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Find Harmony This Holiday Season

by Kelly Phelan Powell Since I was a young girl, I’ve dreamt of the perfect family Christmas morning. My handsome husband and I would spring, totally refreshed, from bed when our beautiful More »

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Fitzgerald Named Outstanding Philanthropist

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana On November 7, 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals North Louisiana Chapter hosted their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon at the Hilton More »

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Father Lombard Celebrates 65 Years of Priestly Ministry

by John Mark Willcox There are few Catholics who live in Shreveport or Bossier City that have not had their lives affected in a positive way by Fr. Richard Lombard, who celebrates More »

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The Immaculate Conception

by Fr. Matthew Long There are countless images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No Catholic Church, hospital, school or home is complete without at least one. Her role in our redemption and More »

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Keep Christ at the Center of Your Celebrations

by Katie Sciba I sauntered through the Christmas section of a department store last year, beaming because my heart equates decorations and ornaments with bliss and glee. Ribbons, tiny pine trees and More »

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Shreveport Martyrs and the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic

by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White In the late summer of 1873, Shreveport was besieged by the third worst epidemic of Yellow Fever that is recorded in United More »

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St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

by Kate Rhea In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s More »

Cathedral Launches New Podcast Mini-Series Highlighting Shreveport 1873

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will have a special podcast mini-series during the month of November entitled, No Greater Love: Shreveport 1873. The series will commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Shreveport, which ended in mid-November 1873. That epidemic witnessed the deaths of five Catholic priests and three religious sisters from the Daughters of the Cross. Each episode will highlight a different Shreveport “martyr to his charity,” in the order of their deaths: Fr. Isidore Quemerais, Fr. Jean Pierre, Fr. Narcisse LeBiler, Fr. Louis Gergaud, and Fr. Francois LeVezouet. The podcast series is being produced by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White, who are authoring a book on the priests and the other religious of 1873 who sacrificed their own lives in the service of others. It will be available in the iTunes store and on the Cathedral website.

St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

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by Kate Rhea

In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s growing Catholic population was in need of space to bury its dearly departed; a private place for peaceful rest during a turbulent time in history.

His faith and devotion to his fledgling parish led him to use his own savings to establish Shreveport’s first Catholic Cemetery. He named it in honor of his patron saint, and 136 years later, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery is still operating as a resting place for departed Catholics in the area. Since taking over operations at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in 1996, the Diocese of Shreveport has facilitated the burial of hundreds of Catholics who have the privilege of being interred in a cemetery full of rich and enduring history.

St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery has developed over the decades. Its present state offers nearly 100 sections arranged into plots and crypts. In addition, a Garden Mausoleum and Chapel Mausoleum feature over 200 interred tombs. For older cemeteries, the common question is whether or not expansion is necessary or optional. In the case of St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, there are already nearly 300 plots currently available with a projected additional 200 plots which will become available when needed.

Those interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery are in good and honorable company. Many notable persons are buried throughout the cemetery, including local religious leaders, such as two of the beloved priests who died during the Yellow Fever epidemic, 14 Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, and Fr. Gentille himself.

Shreveport’s early champions of entrepreneurship and philanthropy are also buried at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. One such champion is Justin Vincent Gras who came to Shreveport from France in the late 19th century, ran a successful family grocery, and later became the largest landowner in Caddo Parish by the 1920s. A benefactor of St. Vincent’s Academy and St. Mary School, Gras was a community contributor. He is credited with the phrase, “What’s good for Shreveport is good for me!”

Contributors to academia and the art world are also present at the cemetery, including Lebanese novelist Afifa Karam. Karam was an advocate for Arab Feminism who made her literary debut in 1906 by the age of 23. She was put in charge of an Arabic-language newspaper called Al-Hoda in New York City, and created al-’Ālam al-Jadīd al-Nisā’ī, a monthly periodical for women. She settled with John Karam in Shreveport and is described by biographers as an ardent and involved Catholic.
Veterans of several wars are interred at St. Joseph including Pvt. A.J. Stacey, a Confederate soldier and member of Stewart’s Louisiana State Guard C.S.A. and Henry Lane Mitchell, a veteran of World War II who served as Shreveport’s public works commissioner from 1934 to 1968.

Local football legend David Woodley, who played quarterback for Byrd High School, LSU and professionally for the Miami Dolphins, is buried there also. In 1983, Woodley played in Super Bowl XVII as the youngest starting quarterback in history at that time, solidifying his place in sports history.

Presently over a dozen beloved Catholics and their family members are buried annually at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery and the cost of such a privilege is less prohibitive than one might imagine. With national averages for burial plots in private cemeteries hovering around $1,500, buying a plot at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery costs $750, with cremation burial rights costing considerably less at $375. The range of prices for opening and closing fees associated with burial at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery are between $850 to $1,100, depending on whether the service is held on a weekday, weekend or holiday.

Other items needed for grave side services, such as tents and chairs, are available upon request and for a reasonable fee. The staff at the Diocese of Shreveport are courteous and professional with many years of experience and can answer any questions you have about the process, whether you’re planning for the future or dealing with an unexpected burial need.

In early 2018, the Diocese of Shreveport honored St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery’s past by revitalizing its digital archival database for those interred over the last 100+ years. The complicated yet necessary tasks of mapping and confirming burial sections, researching records and preserving individual documents are currently underway. Cemetery prayer services, cleaning days and genealogical study groups for family members are all a part of the plan for keeping St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in the hearts and minds of Catholics in the diocese.

For more information about burial costs and available spaces, please contact Ed Hydro at ehydro@dioshpt.org, or 318-219-7277. If you would like information pertaining to a loved one interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, please contact Slattery Library and Resource Center at 318-219-7264, or e-mail Kate Rhea at krhea@dioshpt.org. •

Q&A with Illustrator Deacon Andrew Thomas

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Beginning with the cover of this issue of The Catholic Connection, we will start printing one to two pages of a graphic novel on the five priests who gave their lives in service to others in the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873. Deacon Andrew Thomas is the artist behind this amazing new series. We chatted with him about his art and faith to give you an idea of the person behind the pen.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – when you became a deacon, where you serve.
I am married to my lovely wife, Patty, and I have four beautiful children: Sara (15), Lisa (11), Monica (10), and Benedict (4). I became a deacon on February 11, 2017, ordained on the Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes for the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina. I am very blessed to be serving at St. Michael Catholic Church in Murrells Inlet, SC, just south of Myrtle Beach.

How did you begin drawing graphic novels?
I began drawing comics at a very young age. I really loved reading comic books when I was a child. There was a group of us in sixth grade that used to collect and draw comics, and I remember distinctly getting in trouble one day for drawing one of my comics during class time. My teacher told me to write on the back of the comic book I was making, “I was drawing this during English class,” and have it signed by my parents!

Did you go to art school?
Yes, I was very fortunate to go to one of the best art colleges in the world, Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Our instructors there pushed us really hard on fundamental drawing skills. We had to study muscular and skeletal anatomy as well, drawing very frequently from live models. Our illustration instructors stressed the importance of sketching out and then choosing the best idea before starting the final composition. Competition was fierce, but the majority of us left the college as highly-skilled illustrators.

How did you grow your talent?
I have been drawing throughout my entire life. I don’t ever remember a period of my life when I was not drawing. The two desires I contemplated with respect to utilizing my art talent were either to draw animated cartoons, or to draw comic books. Animated cartoons are such an involved process and take so many artists to put together even a very short film, so I lost interest in doing so very early on. What I liked about comic books is that one person could do them, so I decided I would illustrate comic books, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity not only to draw captivating scenes, but also to use them to tell a story.

What are some other graphic novels / series you’ve done?
My first graphic novel is a book titled, Borderline. I did most of the drawing of this book when I lived in Puebla, Mexico, early on in my marriage. I think it’s a really unique story. The main character, Bart Selmer, a south Texan, crosses the border to Mexico for the first time, and he is shocked by the level of poverty he sees, but gains a healthier perspective of his neighbors south of the border.

My second graphic novel is a book titled, The Life of St. John Berchmans. I had found a reprint online of an old biography of the saint and had a strong desire to read about him. Once I found out that the miracle that led to his canonization took place only an hour west of Baton Rouge where I had grown up, I felt compelled to tell his story in a graphic novel format.

I’m continuing to work on A History of the Diocese of Charleston for our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Miscellany, which will culminate in the celebration of the bicentennial year for the diocese on July 11, 2020.

How does your faith play a role in your art?
I decided early on, having left my graphic art career in 2002, upon entering Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, that I would only use my artwork for God’s greater glory. In the seminary, I started an illustrated book of saints, but never finished the book or my seminary formation. However, my marriage benefited tremendously from the seminary formation, and my diaconal ministry benefited from it as well, and I would again illustrate saints, but now in a more compelling graphic novel format. God had a plan! I am very thankful that all of the graphic novel work that I have been blessed to produce has been God-centered.

What is your process for creating a comic book?
I start by researching as much as possible. Not only do I have to understand the time period and environment that I am illustrating, but I also have to be aware of the architecture and fashion of the time. Then, I try to make a number of sketches of the main characters that I will be illustrating. Once I feel comfortable, I jump in page by page and try to bring life to each panel, starting with pencils, then brush and ink, finally adding color and dialogue with the computer.

Many comic illustrators today produce all of their artwork digitally, and they certainly achieve dynamic results. I still prefer to use traditional materials, using pencil and paper, and brush and ink. I try to give my work a classic look throughout which lends itself well to the historical work I’ve produced lately.

Join Us for iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday

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by John Mark Willcox

shreveport.igivecatholic.org

We are excited to announce that the Diocese of Shreveport will be participating in #iGiveCatholic, the first-ever online giving day created to celebrate our unique Catholic heritage! The #iGiveCatholic Giving Day inspires faithful stewards to “Give Catholic” on Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving.

The goal of the #iGiveCatholic Giving Day is to rally the Catholic community of our diocese in support of the organizations that shape our souls: Our Annual Appeal programs and ministries, our Catholic schools and nonprofit ministries dedicated to helping those in need. We know that, for Catholics, generosity and giving have a profound meaning. As children of God, giving is the ultimate expression of mercy as we provide quality education to our young people and help those in need while preserving our Catholic heritage in North Louisiana for future generations. Compelled to action by our shared faith, our prayer is that area Catholics will be energized to give back with critical needed financial support.

This is the first year that the Diocese of Shreveport will take part in this unique and very successful program which has provided monetary assistance to many worthy ministries over the past several years. #iGiveCatholic will take place this year on November 27th (Giving Tuesday) from midnight until 11:59 pm Central Time. Plan to visit #iGiveCatholic on the web on November 27th and remember that this is a wonderful opportunity to offer your generous support to our core efforts to serve our region through gifts to our Annual Appeal, Catholic schools, the Society of  St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities of North Louisiana.

If you have any questions or need more information on this year’s #iGiveCatholic day of giving, contact the Diocesan Development Office, bvice@dioshpt.org. •

Kids’ Connection: Shreveport Yellow Fever Martyrs

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on the priests who died in the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873.

Catholic Charities: Making a Difference

Volunteer Lauren Gore surveys clients three months after they’ve attended Money School.

by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of CCNLA

Most of the people who reach out to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana need some financial assistance with utilities and/or rent. Often I’m asked, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” referring to the help we give the poor and vulnerable we serve. The answer to that question is multi-faceted.

Before discovering the need, everyone requesting financial assistance is required to attend the Money School, a roughly three-hour class which helps people recognize “leaks” in their finances. The classes are held at each of our offices in Shreveport, Monroe and Lake Providence. I have personally attended this class multiple times and learned something new at every single one. During the session, each attendee takes a pre-test and post-test to determine how much information is being absorbed. The average increase in financial knowledge is 40 percent.

In addition to the test, we provide a survey at the end, asking our clients specifically what they thought of the Money School. Here are some of their responses:

“It made me realize I need to get a job and SAVE.”

“I’m going to write down everything I spend money on.”

“Thank you for taking time out to help me learn to make the right decisions.”

“I need to eliminate the LEAKS!”

After the Money School, each client is offered a one-on-one counseling session with a case manager, free of charge. During this visit our case managers really dissect each person’s finances and delve into the problems people are experiencing. Overall, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana helps less than half of the people seeking monetary assistance, due to a lack of funding. There are many more people who truly need our help—and qualify—but our budget simply cannot accommodate everyone who enters our doors.

Finally, a sampling of all who attended the Money School (those helped and not helped by CCNLA) are given a phone survey after three months to determine changes in the clients’ situation. Here is the combined result from our surveys:
Gained Habits 73% (such as tracking spending, purchasing needs vs. wants, etc.)

Opened a Bank Account    12%
Gained Employment        19%
Increased Income        27%
(average increase: $1,032.58)
Current on Rent        72%
Current on all Utilities        55%

**Disclaimer: Individuals may not seek help again from CCNLA until 24 months have passed, and they must be able to prove that the tools we gave them were being used, e.g. tracking spending.

So, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” can be answered by our clients, their statistics, and the respect we’ve earned from other non-profits in the community who use Catholic Charities as a benchmark.

Catholic Charities is supported by the Community Foundation of NW Louisiana, Beaird Family Foundation, Grayson Foundation, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, Louisiana State Bar Association, Jonesboro State Bank, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport, Walmart and the Diocese of Shreveport.

Saying Yes to Embrace Grace!

by L’Anne Sciba

On October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the fifth Embrace Grace Baby Shower was sponsored by the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and Mary’s House. Thirteen young mothers were honored because they are carrying babies in tough circumstances, but they said “YES” to the invitation to attend 12 classes at Mary’s House – classes that introduced them to Jesus, new people, practical information and the Church.

What is just as wonderful is that women and men from eight parishes in the diocese and other groups in Shreveport said “YES!” to pray, bring gifts and/or to attend this Embrace Grace Baby Shower.

The Embrace Grace vision is to give single, pregnant women a church to go to for spiritual, emotional and physical support.  The Embrace Grace mission is to inspire and equip the Church to love single and pregnant young women and their families. Both the girls and the people of the Church step out of their comfort zones to make an Embrace Grace class and baby shower happen. Thank you for your prayers, gifts, work and attendance at the Embrace Grace Baby Shower.

Gratefulness is the Secret to Graceful Aging

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

Old age is a proving ground for faith and just another season of life. The wonder of it all is that gratitude can stretch your mind if you allow it to capture you. It breathes in this wonder and breathes it out during this season when we live in gratitude and thanksgiving. How enriched our lives can be by this wonder shared with others! To grow old spiritually is only possible when we live that new season as a thankful person. Gratefulness is the secret of graceful aging. Aging is all God’s doing, so don’t fight it.

Pope Francis says that older people still have a lot to offer younger people. God calls them to become spiritual grandparents to the youth, in spite of many people, he says, who might not want older people around.

They might call them the “gerontocracy of the Church,” but older people say they don’t know what they are talking about. We’re not geriatrics, we’re grandparents! God says, according to Pope Francis, “Get up, Look! Hope!” Grandparents share a sense of life and experience with their grandchildren. This is a beautiful reflection from Pope Francis.

Nature brings out the true spirit of a person because they are in touch with the most noble parts of their life in ways they couldn’t have been in younger years. Living a spirited life is what aging is all about. Join the profession of aging!

Being grateful for all this during the season of Thanksgiving can break all boundaries between people. It shows that we are still the “psycho-spiritual us” wherever we are. Let it show as you honor the season, your families, friends, as it’s a season of our souls.

Dazzle everyone! We’ve learned how to fight our culture’s allergy to aging and remember, no one stays young forever.
Victor Hugo said, “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
With or without turkey, this month will be a great celebration! How stunningly blessed we are to have in the Catholic faith, the central point, the EUCHARIST as THANKSGIVING. We can trust in Jesus, in the Eucharist. Electrify the whole world by breaking all barriers that separate us and treat everyone with dignity and respect as Jesus did. Have a marvelous season of Thanksgiving and gratitude.

Vocations View: Overcoming Obstacles to Seminary

by Chris Dixon

Have you ever planned for a big event, and in the end felt something was still missing? I’m all too familiar with this process – it’s been the story of my life! I’m happy now to have found what I’ve been missing for almost 30 years. After growing up Baptist and finding my way to the Catholic Church, I now feel that God is calling me to be a priest!

That definitely wasn’t my initial plan. I had the dreams many young people do after college: a career, family, friends, success. I was brought up well and had the foundation I needed to make it in life. I achieved much of what I set out to do, but something was still missing.

I will never forget finding the missing piece to my life on Christmas Eve at a midnight Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Mansfield. As a Southern Baptist, when I was invited to the midnight service, I didn’t know what I was walking in to. I heard the rumors and was certainly skeptical of the Catholic faith. Something nudged me on. I’ll be forever grateful to my friend for inviting me, because that night my life changed forever when I experienced the “True Presence of God.”

After that experience I did lots of research and began learning about the Catholic Church and her teachings. Over the course of a few years, I reached out to RCIA directors at a few churches. I found just the place to begin my journey of faith at St. Matthew Parish in Monroe. Deacon Scott Brandle and the entire parish were so very welcoming. Towards the end of my RCIA journey, a seminarian spoke to our class about vocations. It was during this conversation that I first experienced God’s call in my life. At first I told God, “Not me! I have plans I’m living out!” But God continued to call, and I reluctantly began to listen.

After I was welcomed into the Church, I began to seriously consider what my vocation was and what God was asking of me. During prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, God again tugged my heart and I felt He was calling me to the priesthood. I spoke with several of my new friends about this experience and they encouraged me to speak with the Vocations Director.
Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long told me I needed to practice my faith for a few years to be considered for the priesthood. I was eager to do just that. I moved to Shreveport and joined Holy Trinity Parish. A new job, a new faith, I was ready! I couldn’t have asked for a better guide to this faith than my pastor, Msgr. Earl Provenza. We quickly became very good friends and he showed me the gift and sacrifice of the priesthood. I became more and more in love with the Church and service to others. I was active in the church inside and out, especially with service to those in need through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

I found a routine and was becoming comfortable with my new Catholic way of life when I was invited to attend an ACTS retreat. I had never been on retreat before and didn’t know what to expect. I went in with an open mind and heart and with an intention to understand what God’s plans were for me and for my life. It was there the Holy Spirit moved and spoke to me in such a real way. I was kneeling at the foot of the bed, praying while looking at the crucifix, I heard Jesus ask me three times, “Chris, do you love me?” I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to His priesthood. I couldn’t wait to get back and speak with Fr. Long again.
I completed my application and turned it into the diocese. I met with Fr. Jerry Daigle, current Vocations Director, to discuss my application and fill him in on my journey up to this point. Upon review of my application, there appeared to be one thing that hindered me taking my next steps: my educational debt. I wasn’t sure what the next steps were or how I would overcome this hurdle.

Many hours of prayer and adoration were answered with an introduction to the Labouré Society. The Labouré Society has answered the call of assisting men and women in their journey of discerning a vocation by helping them overcome educational debt. I’m now part of a class of 16 other men and women who are raising money for church vocations. Any donation made in my honor gets me and my classmates closer to our vocation. Approved by the Catholic Church, this organization has helped over 300 people enter formation.

I’ve learned to consult with God through prayer and active listening now before making changes and decisions in my life. I know that Christ and the Blessed Mother are watching over each of us and I truly feel the Holy Spirit is guiding and encouraging me in this journey. We all must follow our vocations, and even when they seem impossible, God is ready to show us nothing is impossible when He is directing the way.

It is good for us all to pray for each other. I appreciate your prayers for me as I continue to discern God’s call in my life, and rest assured of my prayers for you as you similarly try to discern God’s call in yours.

If you have questions about my vocation story, my work with the Labouré Society, or would simply like to visit, please feel free to contact me. May God continue to bless each of us!

chrisd@laboureaspirant.org
https://labouresociety.org/christopher-dixon

Pope Francis General Audience 10/17/18 “Do Not Kill”

from the Vatican Press Office

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to continue the catechesis on the Fifth Word of the Decalogue, “Do not kill.” We have already underlined how this commandment reveals that in the eyes of God, human life is precious, sacred and inviolable. No one can disregard the life of others or his own; indeed man carries within him the image of God and is the object of His infinite love, whatever the condition may be in which he is called to existence.

In the Gospel reading we have just listened to, Jesus reveals to us an even deeper meaning to this commandment. He affirms that, before God’s tribunal, even anger against a brother is a form of homicide. For this reason the apostle John writes: “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer” (I Jn 3: 15). But Jesus does not stop at this, and by the same logic he adds that even insults and disdain can kill. And we are accustomed to insulting, it is true. And an insult comes as easily to us as if it were a breath. And Jesus says to us, “Stop, because the insult hurts, it kills.” Disdain. “But I … this people, I disdain them.” And this is a way of killing the dignity of a person. It would be good if this teaching of Jesus entered into the mind and heart, and each one of us said: “Do not insult anyone ever again”. It would be a good intention, because Jesus tells us: “Look, if you disdain, if you insult, if you hate, this is murder.”

No human code of law equates such different acts by assigning them the same degree of judgment. And coherently Jesus even invites us to interrupt the offering of the sacrifice in the temple if we remember that a brother is offended by us, to go and look for him and reconcile with him. We too, when we go to Mass, should have this attitude of reconciliation with the people we have had problems with. Even if we thought bad about them, we insulted them. But many times, while we wait for the priest to say Mass, we chat and talk badly about the others. But this must not be done. Think of the gravity of the insult, of contempt, of hatred: Jesus puts them on the line of killing.

What does Jesus mean by extending the field of the Fifth Word to this point? Man has a noble life, very sensitive, and possesses a hidden self no less important than his physical being. Indeed, an inappropriate sentence is enough to offend the innocence of a child. A gesture of coldness is enough to hurt a woman. To break the heart of a young person is enough to deny his trust. To annihilate a man, just ignore him. Indifference kills. It is like saying to the other person: “You are a dead man for me,” because you killed him in your heart. Not to love is the first step to killing; and not killing is the first step to love.

In the Bible, at the beginning, we read that terrible phrase that came out of the mouth of the first murderer, Cain, after the Lord asked him where his brother is. Cain replies: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4: 9). [1] This is how it kills: “It does not concern me,” “It is your business, not mine” and similar things. Let us try to answer this question: are we our brothers’ keepers? Yes, we are! We are each other’s keepers! And this is the path of life, it is the path of non-killing.

Human life needs love. And what is authentic love? It is what Christ showed us, that is, mercy. The love we cannot do without, is the one that forgives, which welcomes those who have harmed us. None of us can survive without mercy, we all need forgiveness. So, if killing means destroying, suppressing, eliminating someone, then not killing will mean curing, valuing, including. And also forgiving.

No one can deceive himself by thinking, “I’m fine because I do not do anything wrong.” A mineral or a plant has this kind of existence, but a man does not. A person – a man or a woman – no. More is demanded of a man or woman. There is good to be done, prepared for each of us, each to his own, which makes us truly ourselves. “Do not kill” is an appeal to love and mercy. It is a call to living according to the Lord Jesus who gave his life for us and rose for us. Once we all repeated, here in the Square, a phrase of a saint on this. Perhaps it will help us: “Doing no harm is a good thing. But not doing good is not good.” We must always do good. We must go further.

He, the Lord, who incarnating himself sanctified our existence; He, who with his blood made it priceless; He, “the author of life” (Acts 3: 15), thanks to whom each person is a gift from the Father. In him, in his love stronger than death, and through the power of the Spirit that the Father gives us, we can accept the Word, “Do not kill” as the most important and essential appeal: that is, not killing means a call to love.

Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2259: “In the account of Abel’s murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. God declares the wickedness of this fratricide: ‘What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground, and now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand’ (Gen 4: 10-11).”