Pope Francis’s Gifts

Encounter and dialogue are key  to advancing the Common Good

Pope Francis in NYC - photo taken by my nephew Eric.

Pope Francis in NYC – photo taken by my nephew Eric.

Please find below some words spoken by Pope Francis during his recent visit to the US. His plea for tolerance, inclusiveness and humility moved me far more than I had anticipated. I was jubilant at his repeated and forceful emphasis on the sacredness of our “common home” (earth) and of the importance of working for the “common good.” I must add that I remain more hopeful than ever that some day women and homosexuals will be able to be full participants in the work and in the sacraments of his church. Sources: CNN, Washington Post, NY Times, USA Today and The Guardian.

Speech at the White House:

Common Home

“Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.”

Speech to the Joint Session of Congress:

Common Good, Death Penalty, Immigration

“We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.”

We are “called to defend and preserve the dignity of our fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”

“This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

“We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”

“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”

“Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected … but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.”

“We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educated new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us.”

“In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”

“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”

Speech at the United Nations:

Economic Justice, The Weapons Trade, Fundamentalism

“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and the disadvantaged.”

“Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offence against human rights and the environment. The poorest are those who suffer most from such offences, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing “culture of waste”.”

“It must never be forgotten that political and economic activity is only effective when it is understood as a prudential activity, guided by a perennial concept of justice and constantly conscious of the fact that, above and beyond our plans and programmes, we are dealing with real men and women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty, deprived of all rights.”

“At the same time, government leaders must do everything possible to ensure that all can have the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity and to create and support a family, which is the primary cell of any social development. In practical terms, this absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labour, and land; and one spiritual name: spiritual freedom, which includes religious freedom, the right to education and other civil rights.”

“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

“All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.”

Speech at Ground Zero in New York City:


“Here, amid pain and grief, we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of.”

“It is a source of great hope that in this place of sorrow and remembrance I can join with leaders representing the many religious traditions which enrich the life of this great city,” he said. “I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world.”

Homily to the US Clergy at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington D.C.:

Role of the clergy

“A bishop needs to be lucidly aware of the battle between light and darkness of the world.”

“Flee the temptation of narcissism.”

“Whenever a hand reaches out to do good or to show the love of Christ, to dry a tear or bring comfort to the lonely, to show the way to one who is lost or to console a broken heart, to help the fallen or to teach those thirsting for truth, to forgive or to offer a new start in God… know that the Pope is at your side and supports you. He puts his hand on your own, a hand wrinkled with age, but by God’s grace still able to support and encourage.”

At Vesper Services at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City:


“Joy springs from a grateful heart.”

“What indeed — what would the church be without you? Women’s strength, fighters, with that spirit of courage which puts you on the front lines in the proclamation of the gospel. To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say thank you.”

Words shared at a school in Harlem, NYC when speaking of Rev. Martin Luther King:


“His dream was that many children, many people could have equal opportunities. His dream was that many children like you could get an education. It is beautiful to have dreams and to be able to fight for them. Today we want to keep dreaming. We celebrate all the opportunities which enable you, and us adults, not to lose the hope of a better world with greater possibilities.”

Homily at the Mass in Madison Square Garden in New York City:

The Less Fortunate

“In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath ‘the rapid pace of change,’ so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no ‘right’ to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly. These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity.”

Remarks at Independence Hall in Philadelphia PA.


“We live in a world subject to the ‘globalization of the technocratic paradigm’ which constantly aims at a one-dimensional uniformity and seeks to eliminate all differences and traditions in a superficial quest for unity.”


“I ask you not to forget that, like those who came before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions.”

Religious Freedom

“Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate.” But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.”

A Garden of Thoughts

Happy Mother's Day

A Garden of Thoughts

by Larry Leverone


My mind meanders down

paths full of pondering,

where thoughts upon thoughts

turn into prayers

and murmurs of the heart

yield to musings

and whispers from the soul

speak of long-held wishes.


The scent of lavender lilacs

soothe inner struggles;

tiny bell-like lilies of the valley

speak of the smallness of concerns;

resplendent red roses

elevate melancholic moods;

clusters of orange marigolds

suggest the sanity of stillness.


The simplicity of a single daisy

reminds of the divine within;

waving weeping willows

whisper quiet to worries;

statuettes of stately sunflowers

shed light on a sinking spirit;

the elegance of an ivory iris

advises: embrace gentleness.


Beds of minuscule violets

caution about vanity;

dozens of Dutch daffodils

trumpet: tenderness to the self;

clusters of white gardenia petals

preach about the goodness of others;

patches of purple pansies

gently guide: be grateful.


The brilliance of scarlet azaleas

awaken long forgotten aspirations;

blue, pink and white hydrangeas

herald the importance of humor;

solitary long-stemmed zinnias

preach: hold precious – passions;

the ivory lace of a dogwood

delivers lessons on impermanence.


Within the twists and turns of thinking,

insights appear as buds and blossoms.

Within the wanderlust of wondering,

answers arrive as an array of aromatics.

Within the distant drama of dreaming,

hopes are harbored in a multitude of hues.

Within the gardens of the mind, heart and soul,

beauty begs: the moment, the moment!

©2015 Larry Leverone

Boys, Seagulls and Mamma


Two young boys in red and white shorts

with golden locks

were sitting on the sea’s slippery rocks,

while seagulls soared overhead.

The surf crashed over the cragged crevices;

while both water and boys danced together

skipping along and over

the rough and ragged edges.

Mamma’s a comin; mamma’s a comin… run, run

With hands outstretched, crawling on all fours

the two tiny tots scamper

between and below the rocks,

disappearing out of sight.

But mamma’s a gettin closer, mamma’s a gettin closer

Sunshine sprinkling, surf splashing,

the two sweet souls

spot a small sailboat,

stand erect and wave hello

But mamma’s a watchin; mamma’s a watchin

Suddenly, from behind,

Mamma, arms outstretched,

grabs and hoists both lads

high into the salty air,

as if a pair of chalices

shown to the gulls above

shouting to the heavens,

these I love, these I love!

©2015 Larry Leverone

Visit to an Oregon Vineyard: Cathedral Ridge Winery

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to a vineyard near Hood River Oregon called Cathedral Ridge Winery. It was beautifully situated within a view of Mt. Adams (the second highest mountain in the state of Washington – 12,281 ft.) I joined 14 wonderful folks who, along with myself, are on the wait list to eventually move into an exceptional CCRC (Continuous Care Retirement Community) in downtown Portland Oregon called Holladay Park Plaza.

See: http://www.cathedralridgewinery.com/

See: http://www.retirement.org/hpp/

Photos follow:

IMAG0147 IMAG0149 IMAG0155 IMAG0159 IMAG0161 IMAG0165 IMAG0168 IMAG0173

The arrival of the next season of a life

I wrote the following poem shortly after my 70th birthday as I struggled with my indecision over how to deal with the arrival of the next season of my life.


The Sea Beckons

Enough of the ebb and flow of indecision.

Come, keep company with me.


Reject the foul odors of confusion;

Inhale my strong and familiar scents.


Come, smell the fresh seaweed,

sunning on the ragged rocks.

Breathe in the autumn air,

full of salt from my frigid waters.


Silence your inner voice;

join me in my simple rhythms.


Come, listen to the repeated roar

of my crashing surf.

Wonder in the quiet  

diminishing of my waves.


Escape your dark ponderings;

focus on the messages in my colors.


Come, smile at my frothy white caps

as they curl above my massive depth.

Marvel at my blue-green water,

ultimate source and sustainer of life.


Pause your internal pacing;

wander wistfully along my shore.


Come, leave footprints on my wet sand;

my thinning flow will caress your feet.

Immerse yourself headfirst into my fluidity;

be reassured by my complete embrace.


Set aside your bitter inner battles;

find sweetness in our moments of connection.


Come, dine on my red clawed crustaceans;

feed comfort to your heart’s angst.

Taste my little Ipswich creatures;

be satiated by moments of simple joy.


Move away from the nature of your moods;

let the moon control your tides.


Come, lay upon my grassy dunes;

give up control and trust in the cosmos.

Let the spherical light above keep you safe;

my water’s whispers will bring you to your dreams.


Then, with your spirits brightened by the morning star,

answers may just arise from within your rested heart.

©2015 Larry Leverone


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