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Increase Dialogue, Decrease violence – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, an overview of the pope’s weekend activities and a priest known for his civil disobedience is remembered.

Not in my backyard – Perspectives

On Today’s edition of Perspectives: Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana finally gets to retire, an Austrian bishop says “not in my backyard” to the government’s anti-migrant fence, and we hear from a lay missionary about his experiences”

There’s no app for happiness – Perspectives

There’s no app for happiness. That’s what Pope Francis told young people this weekend during his homily for the Jubilee of young people. He had a few other surprises up his sleeve as well. We have details on Perspectives. Plus, we look at the church’s role in rebuilding Ecuador after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the nation last week.

Mary Magdalene: the mislabeled woman

Some of the Salt + Light team went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. We had the opportunity to film reflections in various places of great importance. This is the text of a reflection was filmed at the Magdala Centre in Galilee. 

We are the Galilee region of Israel. Specifically, in Magdala, the same town that was home to Mary Magdalene, the woman we know as the apostle to the apostles. We know very little about the woman who is described as the apostle of the apostles, so this village helps fill in some background.

So far a first century synagogue has been unearthed, as well as paved streets, the ruins of mansions, and three ritual baths that used groundwater rather than rainwater. These few elements are quite important. These ritual baths are the first to be found that that used ground water instead of rainwater. This means Magdala has sophisticated plumbing. The paved streets and mosaics in the mansions, suggest wealth. Magdala seems to have been a thriving port city, at the forefront of commerce and culture. In its midst lived a woman named Mary.

This village tells us she was probably exposed to the world. From the Gospels we know she was a follower of Christ, she was at the crucifixion, she witnessed the resurrection, and she was the first person given the task of spreading the message of the resurrection. But how did she get there?

All four gospels refer to her as Mary Magdalene. Now, married women were described differently. For example: Mary the wife of Clopas, or Joanna the wife of Chuza. So we know Mary Magdalene was unattached. Three of the Gospels first introduce us to Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion. But Luke mentions here earlier. In Chapter 8 of his Gospel, Luke says:

“1 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.”

She is part of a group of women who provided for Jesus and the apostles “out of their own means”. So, she had her own money and because she was unattached, it was her own. Also, she is described as the one “from whom seven demons had gone out.” She’s not a sinner here, but someone who was possessed. In Jesus’ day that might have been what we call mental illness, depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Maybe it was addiction, or emotional problems caused by her past. Maybe she survived an abusive relationship and never healed. Whatever it was,it took over her, changed her personality, affected her daily life, kept her from having healthy relationships, maybe led her to make bad choices. At the very least was probably known in town as “that” Mary.

But then something happened. Probably right here in Magdala. We don’t have details but we can imagine it based on what we already know: Jesus the Nazarene came to the area to teach, probably even in this synagogue. A buzz would have built up in the region and in town people would have been talking about him. Maybe it took a little while before curiosity got the better of her, but finally one day, she quietly slipped into the crowd as he was teaching. Maybe she stuck to the back of the group, maybe she stayed in the shadows. She listened to him teaching and understood his message. His parables they wash over her like a healing balm, and sin into her soul. She looks around and sees people of all ages, backgrounds, professions, social standing gathered around this Man. He touched them, healed those who needed healing, accepted them and showed them love. As she takes this in, he looks straight at her. That gaze. Without words, without anyone else in the crowd knowing what is happening, he says “I know. This is not you. I know.” After he finished teaching perhaps she approached him. He didn’t treat her like “that” Mary, he wasn’t afraid to be seen talking to her. He gazed at her without fear, without derision, He spoke to her like a normal person, an equal, and maybe even invited her to come along with him to his next stop. It was done. He was the real deal. He wanted nothing from her but to tell her of the Father’s love for her. Maybe she tried to explain “no, no, you don’t want me to follow you, I’m a bad deal” but he didn’t care. She was his father’s creation and deeply loved.

Whatever her demons were, anxiety, depression, addiction, it stopped there. Life had meaning again. She had a purpose. She was loved. Whatever she had in Magdala she packed up, maybe sold, maybe gave away, and embarked on a new life, following Jesus. Her meeting Jesus changed her life forever and set her on a new path. She would do anything, anything, to make sure other people met him face to face.Because of that meeting in Magdala, some years later Mary finds herself at the foot of the cross. Even though meeting Jesus changed her forever, it did not mean life would always be all roses. The worst thing she can imagine comes to pass. This man who changed her life is killed, hung on a cross to die. She stands at the foot of the cross, weeps, takes comfort from the other women also at the foot of his cross. When he breathes his last, she is there,watching. When his body is taken down and carried off to the tomb, she is there. She stays away on the sabbath because she must. She locks herself away with the apostles, with Our Lady, bides her time. But then, she can’t stand it any longer. On the third day after his death, she must go to him. She rises early and goes to the tomb. Some of the Gospels say she went with the other women to anoint the body. The point is, in all four Gospels Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She finds the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Again, each Gospel tells it slightly differently, but the common point is she meets someone who tells her “he is not here” and then, it clicks. This is what Jesus had been talking about, the temple that would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days! He is risen. She rushes back to the place where the apostles are locked up together, wallowing in their fear. She bursts through the door and breathlessly exclaims “I have seen the Lord!” They freeze, look up, see the joy on her face. Maybe she repeats it again, “I have seen the Lord” and then continues to tell them what she saw and what he said to her. They are at peace.

Mary Magdalene, the once off-kilter woman with problems, is their apostle. She brings them the message they have been waiting for, the one thing they have been waiting to hear since that horrible, horrible day at Golgotha. The woman with the seven demons is the very person who instinctively seeks and recognizes the face of God and through that search and encounter, becomes the very person He created her to be.

Alicia Ambrosio is an English producer for Salt + Light. Follow her on Twitter!

Coast to Coast: April 17 to April 23


Here’s a look at what we’ve been reading across the country this week:

One of Canada’s two member of the Pontifical Academy for Life has suggestions on how Canadians should handle the newly proposed bill on euthanasia.

In Winnipeg, Catholic health care providers weighed in on the new proposed bill and offered their own suggestions.

In Edmonton, the archdiocese hosted an in-depth exploration and discussion of the issues that surround euthanasia.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the church is trying to unpack the messages in the pope’s post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”


Behind Vatican Walls: Syrian Refugees


While Pope Francis has been personally helping Syrian refugees relocate to Europe, a joint Catholic – Russian Orthodox delegation visited Lebanon and Syria. The delegation identified ways the two churches can work together to help Syrians.

Officials from the Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need and officials from the Moscow patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church visited Beirut, Damascus and Lebanon’s Bekka Valley. The group found two ways they can help Syrian Christians: compiling information about churches and shrines that have been destroyed, and providing aid to children.

Peter Humenik, the Russian expert for Aid to the Church in Need, was quoted in a press release from the organization as saying that Christians identified rebuilding of churches as one of the most pressing needs for their communities. According to Humenik they identified rebuilding churches as more urgent than rebuilding homes, because the life of the local Christian communities happened in those churches, shrines and parish buildings.

Christians in the communities visited told the joint delegation that recording testimonies about the martyrdom of Syrian Christians is also highly important to them.

The Moscow-based news agency Interfax quoted Humenik as saying that the joint delegation decided to hold “an action” at the end of the year ‘in favour of children of Syria in the city of Homs.”


This week – Friday April 22 –  the Jewish faithful celebrate Passover.

Pope Francis sent this telegram to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni :

“In remembering with renewed gratitude our meeting on 17 January, when I was cordially welcomed by you and by the Jewish Community of the city in the Great Synagogue, I wish to express my most heartfelt wishes for the feast of Passover. It points out that the Almighty has released His beloved people from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land. May God also accompany you today with the abundance of His Blessings, protect your community and, in His mercy, bestow peace upon everyone. I ask you to pray for me, as I assure you of my prayers for you: may the Almighty allow us to be able to grow more and more in friendship”

We here at Salt + Light would like to wish a Happy Passover to all of our Jewish friends and supporters!

Watch this week’s episode of Vatican Connections below:


Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

Pope Visits Refugees in Greece


Most papal trips are planned months, sometimes years in advance and involve several visits by vatican delegations to sort out the logistical intricacies. This weekend’s papal visit to the Greek Island of Lesbos was put together in record time and announced just one week before the scheduled departure date.

Pope Francis will land on the Greek island of Lesbos Saturday morning. There will be no public speeches at the airport. Instead the pope will travel by minibus, along with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, to the Moria refugee camp. The humanitarian group Human Rights Watch says at least 3,000 people are currently living in the Moria camp. Among the asylum seekers are Syrians, Iraqis, Afghanis, and Pakistanis, all looking for a safe place to start their lives over until their home countries are once again safe.

Upon their arrival at the camp the pope, the patriarch and the archbishop will greet 250 asylum seekers individually. All together they will spend more than two hours at Moria and have lunch with 8 refugees who are representative of Moria’s current residents.

From the refugee camp the pope’s ecumenical delegation will travel to the port city of Mytilene to meet with local residents and remember the migrants who died trying to reach Lesbos. Among the residents who will participate in the ceremony is the Catholic community of Mytilene.

You can watch the pope’s visit to the Moria refugee camp and the memorial at the port Mytilene on Salt + Light starting at 12:00 pm ET / 9:00am PT

Pope to visit Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – Perspectives

Today on Perspectives: the papal travel calendar fills up, Pope Francis calls for the release of people kidnapped in war zones, and we have reaction to Amoris Laetitia, the pope’s document on the family.

Behind Vatican Walls – Amoris Laetitia…What is it?


Pope Francis’ long awaited post-synodal exhortation on the family was made public today. As he has made clear over the past two years, there was no doctrinal change announced in this document. The document covers a wide range of topics, from the thorny to the common sense. As is his way, Pope Francis includes some frank comments on various issues and directs very clear words to different groups of faithful.

Here are some links to intelligent articles explaining what this exhortation is and is not:

Of course there are many other articles out there offering a balanced look at The Joy of Love. These are just a few to start with. Expect more commentary early next week after the bishops of the world have had time to read the nearly 300 page text.

Watch this week’s Vatican Connections below:


Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.

Two ways to act out mercy – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives: Pope Francis unveils two ways to act out mercy. Also, it seems talks continue in attempt to reach full communion between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X, and China bids farewell to a 96 year old bishop who spent 23 years in jail.