October 2008 Archives

In early September I drew our attention to the work of an English bishop trying to renew the exercise of faith and reason in his diocese. Dominic Baster's October 29th interview with Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster was published on Zenit.org and it would be good to read it.

In this interview with ZENIT, Bishop O'Donoghue explains what led him to write the document, why he thinks Vatican II has been misinterpreted, and how authentic Catholic renewal can be achieved.


Q: Why did you feel it was necessary to produce such a comprehensive critique on the Church in England and Wales now?


Bishop O'Donoghue: Similar to the rest of the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Lancaster has had successes in its implementation of the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, but also a variety of problems. These I frankly lay out in my document so we can at last talk about them openly and honestly.


For too long, bishops and people have been inhibited about openly admitting the sickness in the Church, and wider society, caused by misinterpretations of the Council, and the corresponding widespread dissent. If we fail in our duty of presenting the truths of the faith, it is not only the Church that suffers, but also wider society.


However, I can see signs that this reticence to speak out about the misinterpretation of the Council is changing under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, with more bishops -- particularly in the United States -- going public about the need to heal the wounds in the Church.


Q: Why do you think Vatican II has been misinterpreted by so many?


Bishop O'Donoghue: What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history -- resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives.


However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical skepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism. Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.


One of the great truths recognized by the Second Vatican Council is that the Church is part of human history and culture. Therefore, it shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior.


The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education -- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age. These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church.


This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor. For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church.


I strongly support Catholics receiving a university education, but we have to ensure that they also have a firm grounding in the fullness of the faith from an early age in our homes, schools and parishes, and that they are equipped to challenge the erroneous thinking of their contemporaries.


Q: One of the questions you address is whether we have forgotten what it is to be Catholic. What do you say to those whose response to this crisis in Catholic identity is to reject change altogether?


Bishop O'Donoghue: The Jewish Christians in the early Church didn't want to embrace the dietary and ritual changes that were implicit in Jesus' Gospel. If they had succeeded in their opposition to Sts. Peter and Paul, the Church would not have spread like wildfire throughout the Roman world, and beyond.


The strength and vitality of Catholicism -- which is a sign of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit -- is that it can change and adapt to its surrounding culture, while at the same time maintaining what is essential and definitive about its identity, that originates from the will of God. As Cardinal Henri de Lubac passionately believed, the Catholic genius is to balance necessary change with eternal continuity.


Q: You describe the liturgy as "the wellspring of the life of the Church" and "the authentic starting point of all renewal." How should we balance continuity and change in the liturgy in ordinary Catholic parishes?


Bishop O'Donoghue: "Sacrosanctum Concilium" [The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy] remains a sound, measured guide to how we cultivate an authentic liturgical life in our parishes. Paragraph 23 deals with the challenge of balancing the retention of "sound tradition" with openness to "legitimate progress."


Applying this principle to the Mass, the Council fathers directed that the use of Latin must be preserved in the Latin-rite Church, balanced with the use of the vernacular.


In the light of this, I have recommended to my parishes that Latin should play a regular part in the celebration of the Mass, such as the Gloria, the Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster, and Agnus Dei. If only this sense of balance had been observed over the past 40 years, we would have avoided the banality, trivialization and secularization of the liturgy that has been all too common in the modern Church.


I think it true to say that in our almost frantic search to create meaningful liturgy that speaks to modern men and women, we fell into the trap on occasions of superficiality and novelty. What we need to do now is to understand more deeply man's search for meaning, which will include the need for the sacred, and the apprehension of the transcendent.


Q: While urging Catholics to remain committed to the work of ecumenism, you acknowledge that it sometimes leads to an "urge to gloss over significant differences" between Christians. What should be the practical goal of authentic ecumenism?


Bishop O'Donoghue: It's time we admitted that a wrong type of ecumenism has put a brake on the Catholic Church's freedom to engage in evangelization and mission in society. It's as if our fear of offending other Christians has inhibited us from confidently proclaiming the distinctive and defining truths of Catholicism.


However, the Council father's insight that Christian communities outside the Catholic Church contain elements of sanctification and truth -- see "Lumen Gentium," No. 15, and "Unitatis Redintegratio," No. 3 -- provides us with the agenda for authentic ecumenism.


Those elements of the Catholic Church that we have in common with non-Catholic churches and ecclesial communities should be the focus of our dialogue, to the mutual enrichment and deeper understanding of both parties. In this way we will be able to explain the full Catholic understanding of doctrine, highlight any distortions that have occurred, and come to a deeper appreciation of the truth ourselves.


Our goal should always be to strengthen the imperfect communion that already exists in the hope that non-Catholics will come to see and come to seek the fullness of truth.



Fr. Frank C. Quinn, O.P.

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Early this morning Father Frank Quinn, O.P. died after struggling with health issues these quinn.jpglast few years. Father Quinn was a Dominican priest of the Province of Saint Albert the Great, a professor of Liturgical Theology and a former teacher of mine. In your charity remember Father Quinn in prayer.

O God, Thou didst raise Thy servant, Frank C. Quinn, to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, to bring the Body and Blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ down upon the altar, and to absolve the sins of men in Thine own Holy Name. We beseech Thee to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, admitting him speedily into Thy Holy Presence, there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labors. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

May his memory be eternal.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict addressed members attending the Plenary meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Clementine Room at the Apostolic Palace. The tells us that faith and reason are not in opposition to each other, that we don't make and sustain ourselves and that our work is valuable in trying to understand human nature and our relationship with God.


Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am happy to greet you, the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly, and I thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo for the words he has kindly addressed to me on your behalf.


In choosing the topic Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life, you seek to focus on an area of enquiry which elicits much interest. In fact, many of our contemporaries today wish to reflect upon the ultimate origin of beings, their cause and their end, and the meaning of human history and the universe.


In this context, questions concerning the relationship between science's reading of the cosmos.jpg world and the reading offered by Christian Revelation naturally arise. My predecessors Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II noted that there is no opposition between faith's understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences. Philosophy in its early stages had proposed images to explain the origin of the cosmos on the basis of one or more elements of the material world. This genesis was not seen as a creation, but rather a mutation or transformation; it involved a somewhat horizontal interpretation of the origin of the world. A decisive advance in understanding the origin of the cosmos was the consideration of being qua being and the concern of metaphysics with the most basic question of the first or transcendent origin of participated being. In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence.


To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously. Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3).


reading01.jpgTo "evolve" literally means "to unroll a scroll", that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose "writing" and meaning, we "read" according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos.


Notwithstanding elements of the irrational, chaotic and the destructive in the long processes of change in the cosmos, matter as such is "legible". It has an inbuilt "mathematics". The human mind therefore can engage not only in a "cosmography" studying measurable phenomena but also in a "cosmology" discerning the visible inner logic of the cosmos. We may not at first be able to see the harmony both of the whole and of the relations of the individual parts, or their relationship to the whole. Yet, there always remains a broad range of intelligible events, and the process is rational in that it reveals an order of evident correspondences and undeniable finalities: in the inorganic world, between microstructure and macrostructure; in the organic and animal world, between structure and function; and in the spiritual world, between knowledge of the truth and the aspiration to freedom. Experimental and philosophical inquiry gradually discovers these orders; it perceives them working to maintain themselves in being, defending themselves against imbalances, and overcoming obstacles. And thanks to the natural sciences we have greatly increased our understanding of the uniqueness of humanity's place in the cosmos.


The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that "every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not 'produced' by the parents - and also that it is immortal" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.


Distinguished Academicians, I wish to conclude by recalling the words addressed to you by my predecessor Pope John Paul II in November 2003: "scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God's Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful".


Upon you and your families, and all those associated with the work of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom and peace.

Vatican City State

October 29, 2008

Dear brothers and sisters:

In the personal experience of St. Paul, there is an indisputable fact: While at the beginning he had been a persecutor of the Christians and had used violence against them, from the moment of his conversion on the road to Damascus, he changed to the side of Christ crucified, making him the reason for his life and the motive for his preaching.

His was an existence entirely consumed by souls (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:15), not in the least cimabue-crucifix.jpgserene and protected from snares and difficulties. In the encounter with Jesus, he had understood the central significance of the cross: He had understood that Jesus had died and risen for all and also for [Paul], himself. Both elements were important -- the universality: Jesus had truly died for everyone; and the subjectivity: He had died also for me.

On the cross, therefore, the gratuitous and merciful love of God had been manifested. Paul experienced this love above all in himself (cf. Galatians 2:20) and from being a sinner, he converted to being a believer, from persecutor to apostle. Day after day, in his new life, he experiences that salvation is "grace," that everything descended from the love of Christ and not from his merits, which in any case, didn't exist. The "gospel of grace" thus became the only way to understand the cross, the criteria not only for his new existence, but also the answer for those who questioned him. Among these were, above all, the Jews who placed their hope in works and hoped to gain salvation from these; the Greeks as well, who opposed their human wisdom to the cross; finally, there were certain heretical groups, who had formed their own idea of Christianity according to their own model of life.

For St. Paul, the cross has a fundamental priority in the history of humanity; it represents the principal point of his theology, because to say cross means to say salvation as grace given to every creature. The theme of the cross of Christ becomes an essential and primary element in the preaching of the Apostle: The clearest example of this is regarding the community of Corinth.

Before a Church where disorders and scandals were present in a worrying way, where communion was threatened by groups and internal divisions that compromised the unity of the Body of Christ, Paul presents himself not with sublime words or wisdom, but with the announcement of Christ, of Christ crucified. His strength is not persuasive language, but rather, paradoxically, the weakness and the tremor of one who trusts only in the "power of God" (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1-4). The cross, for everything that it represents and also for the theological message it contains, is scandal and foolishness. The Apostle affirms this with impressive strength, which is better to hear with his own words: "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ... It was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles."

The first Christian communities, whom Paul addressed, knew very well that Jesus is now risen and alive; the Apostle wants to remind not just the Corinthians and the Galatians, but all of us, that the Risen One is always the One who has been crucified. The "scandal" and the "foolishness" of the cross are precisely in the fact that there, where there seems to be only failure, sorrow and defeat, precisely there, is all the power of the limitless love of God, because the cross is the expression of love and love is the true power that is revealed precisely in this apparent weakness.

For the Jews, the cross is "skandalon," that is, a trap or stumbling block: It seems to be an obstacle to the faith of the pious Israelite, who doesn't manage to find anything similar in sacred Scripture. Paul, with no small amount of courage, seems to say here that the stakes are very high: For the Jews, the cross contradicts the very essence of God, who has manifested himself with prodigious signs. Therefore, to accept the cross of Christ means to undergo a profound conversion in the way of relating with God.

If for the Jews the reason to reject the cross is found in revelation, that is, in fidelity to the God of their fathers, for the Greeks, that is, the pagans, the criteria for judgment in opposing the cross is reason. For this latter group, in fact, the cross is blight, foolishness, literally insipience, that is, food lacking salt; therefore, more than an error, it is an insult to good sense.

paul.jpgPaul himself on more than one occasion had the bitter experience of the rejection of the Christian pronouncement judged "insipid," irrelevant, not even worthy of being taken into consideration on the level of rational logic. For those who, like the Greeks, sought perfection in the spirit, in pure thought, it was already unacceptable that God became man, submerging himself in all the limits of space and time. Therefore it was decidedly inconceivable to believe that a God could end up on the cross! And we see how this Greek logic is also the common logic of our time.

The concept of "apátheia," indifference, as absence of passions in God: How could it have understood a God made man and defeated, who later on even had taken up again his body so as to live resurrected? "We should like to hear you on this some other time" (Acts 17:32), the Athenians scornfully told Paul, when they heard him speak of the resurrection of the dead. They believed that perfection was in liberating oneself from the body, conceived as a prison: How could it not be considered an aberration to take up again the body? In the ancient culture, there did not seem to be space for the message of God incarnate. The whole of the "Jesus of Nazareth" event seemed to be marked by the most total insipience, and certainly the cross was the most emblematic point of this.

But, why has St. Paul made precisely of this, of the word of the cross, the fundamental point of his preaching? The answer is not difficult: The cross reveals "the power of God" (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24), which is different than human power. It reveals in fact his love: "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength" (ibid., 1:25).

Centuries after Paul, we see that the cross, and not the wisdom that opposes the cross, has triumphed. The Crucified is wisdom, because he manifests in truth who God is, that is, the power of love that goes to the point of the cross to save man. God avails of ways and instruments that to us appear at first glance as only weakness. The Crucified reveals, on one hand, the weakness of man, and on the other, the true power of God, that is, the gratuitousness of love: Precisely this gratuitousness of love is true wisdom.

St. Paul has experienced this even in his flesh, and he gives us testimony of this in various passages of his spiritual journey, which have become essential reference points for every disciple of Jesus: "He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:9); and even "God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something" (1 Corinthians 1:28). The Apostle identifies himself to such a degree with Christ that he also, even in the midst of so many trials, lives in the faith of the Son of God who loved him and gave himself up for his sins and those of everyone (cf. Galatians 1:4; 2:20). This autobiographical detail of the Apostle is paradigmatic for all of us.

St. Paul offered an admirable synthesis of the theology of the cross in the Second Letter to the Corinthians (5:4-21), where everything is contained in two fundamental affirmations: On one hand, Christ, whom God has treated as sin on our behalf (verse 21), has died for us (verse 14); on the other hand, God has reconciled us with himself, not attributing to us our sins (verses 18-20). By this "ministry of reconciliation" all slavery has been purchased (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).

Here it is seen how all of this is relevant for our lives. We also should enter into this penance.jpg"ministry of reconciliation," which always implies renouncing one's own superiority and choosing the foolishness of love. St. Paul has renounced his own life, giving himself totally for the ministry of reconciliation, of the cross that is salvation for all of us. And this is what we should also know how to do: We can find our strength precisely in the humility of love and our wisdom in the weakness of renunciation to thus enter into the strength of God. We should build our lives on this true wisdom: To not live for ourselves, but to live in the faith in this God, about whom all of us can say: "He loved me and gave himself up for me."

From the News Services...

Moscow - Two Jesuit priests died of knife wounds in Moscow, Russian news agencies said IHS.jpgWednesday. Father Igor Kovalevsky, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, said the priests bodies were found in their central Moscow apartment late Tuesday.

Kovalevsky called the incident a "brutal murder."

Police at the scene said the two men had died of blows to the head and knife wounds. Authorities said the motive for the killing was unknown.

News agency Ria-Novosti named the victims as Russian national Otto Messmer, 46, and South American priest Victor Betancourt, 42.


From the General Curia of the Society of Jesus...

On Saturday 25 October, Father Victor Betancourt, an Ecuadorian Jesuit working in the St. Thomas Philosophical, Theological and Historical Institute in Moscow, was killed in his home. Two days later, after returning from a trip abroad, Father Otto Messmer, Superior of the Russian Region, was also killed in the same place. On Tuesday 28 October, alarmed by the fact that he hadn't heard from the two men, a fellow Jesuit who lives in another community went to visit them at home. On finding the dead bodies, he immediately contacted the police.


The police investigations have yet to come to any firm conclusions about cause of these violent deaths.


Father Otto Messmer, son of a profoundly Catholic family of German origin and a Russian citizen, was born on 14 July 1961 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He entered into the Society of Jesus on 1 September 1982 in Vilnius and was ordained a priest on 29 May 1988 in Riga. He took his final vows in Novosibirsk on 7 October 2001 and was appointed Superior of the Independent Region of Russia of the Society of Jesus on 13 October 2002. Two of his brothers are Jesuits: Monsignor Nikolaus, Bishop of the Kyrgyzstani city of Bishkek, and Hieronymus, from the German Province.


Father Victor Betancourt was born on 7 July 1966 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He entered into the Society of Jesus on 14 September 1984 in Quito and was ordained a priest in the same city on 31 July 1997. He undertook his Jesuit training in Argentina, Ecuador, Germany and Italy. In 2004, he defended his doctoral thesis in Theology in the city of Rome. Since 2001, he had been responsible for those considering a vocation as Jesuits and at the time of his death he was a theology professor in the St. Thomas Philosophical, Theological and Historical Institute in Moscow

May their memory be eternal!

...will be meeting this coming Saturday, All Saints Day, November 1st


Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Vespers followed by music by

Keith Moore


The evening will start at 6pm with a conversation on faith & politics antipicating the Presidential Election; prayer at 7:30...


Our Lady of Good Council Church
230 East 90th Street
New York, NY 10128

The Catholic Underground happens every 1st Saturday of the month, from 7:30pm - 10:30pm. Parking: Parking garage available, $10 a night with Catholic Underground stamp dispensed by Friar Charles, CFR.

[Part I]


Man wants happiness by nature. I want happiness. So I go out and buy a car.  The car Luigi Giussani3.jpggives me a taste of happiness but does not fully satisfy the desire. So my desire becomes a question: "What will make me truly and fully happy?" Or perhaps, after I have bought the car and am still enjoying the taste of partial happiness that it gives me, I get into an accident and wreck my beautiful new possession. My simple desire finds itself full of questions: "Why was I not able to hold onto that thing and the satisfaction it gave me?  Why do I lose things?  Why is life so fragile, and is there something that won't let me down?"


The more we take our own selves and our actions seriously, the more we perceive the mysteriousness and also the urgency of these questions, the fact that we cannot really avoid them', they are necessarily at the root of everything we do.  This is because it is the nature of the human being to expect something, to look for fulfillment in everything he does.  And where is the limit to this desire to be fulfilled?  There is no limit. It is unlimited.  Every achievement, every possession opens up on a further possibility, a depth that remains to be explored, a sense of incompleteness, a yearning for more.  We are like hikers in the mountains (an analogy Giussani is fond of): we see a peak and we climb to the top.  When we arrive there, we have a new view, and in the distance we see a higher peak promising a still greater vista. 


In the novel The Second Coming by Walker Percy, the character of Allie--a mentally ill woman living alone in a greenhouse--expresses the mysterious depths of human desire through her difficulties in figuring out what to do at four o'clock in the afternoon: "If time is to be filled or spent by working, sleeping, eating, what do you do when you finish and there is time left over?"


Giacomo Leopardi.jpgGiussani quotes the great 19th century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi--who is speaking here in the persona of a shepherd watching his flock by night, conversing with the moon:


And when I gaze upon you,

Who mutely stand above the desert plains

Which heaven with its far circle but confines,

Or often, when I see you

Following step by step my flock and me,

Or watch the stars that shine there in the sky,

Musing, I say within me:

"Wherefore those many lights,

That boundless atmosphere,

And infinite calm sky?  And what the meaning

Of this vast solitude?  And what am I? 


There are a couple of points about this striking poetic excerpt that are worth mentioning as illustrative of central themes in Giussani. The first point is this: note that the shepherd's questions are so poignantly expressed "from the heart" (Musing, I say within me).  They are "personal" questions we might say; that is, they are questions that seem deeply important to the shepherd's own life, that emerge from the shepherd's solitude as he watches the flocks by night and gazes at the moon.  And yet, the questions themselves are really "philosophical" questions: "metaphysical" questions which ask about the relationship of the universe to its mysterious Source, and "anthropological" questions about the nature of the world, of man, of the self.  Let us note these things only to emphasize that Giussani's evaluation of the dynamic of the human heart is not exclusively concerned with the pursuit of external objects and the way in which these objects lead "beyond" themselves the acting person who engages them. Giussani stresses that the need for truth is inscribed on the human heart; the need to see the meaning of things is fundamental to man.  Hence the "objectivity" required for addressing philosophical and scientific questions does not imply that these questions are detached from the "heart" of the person who deals with them.  When the scientist scans that infinite, calm sky and that vast solitude with his telescope, he must record what he sees, not what he wishes he would have seen.  In this sense, he must be "objective," and his questions and methodology must be detached from his own particular interests.  But what puts him behind that telescope in the first place is his own personal need for truth and this need grows and articulates itself more and more as questions emerge in the light of his discoveries.  All of this could be applied by analogy to the researches carried out by a true philosopher. 


The second point is this: Leopardi's poem conveys with imaginative force the inexhaustibility of human desire and the questions through which it is expressed, or at least tends to be expressed insofar as man is willing to live in a way that is true to himself (several chapters of Giussani's book are devoted to the various ways in which man is capable of distracting himself or ignoring the dynamic of the religious sense, or anesthetizing himself against its felt urgency).  Even more importantly, he indicates that the unlimited character of man's most fundamental questions points toward an Infinite Mystery, a mystery that man continually stands in front of with fascination and existential hunger but also with questions, because he is ultimately unable by his own power to unveil its secrets. 


The experience of life teaches man, if he is willing to pay attention to it, that what he is truly seeking, in every circumstance is the unfathomable mystery which alone corresponds to the depths of his soul.  Offer to man anything less than the Infinite and you will frustrate him, whether he admits it or not.  Yet at the same time man is not able to grasp the Infinite by his own power.  Man's power is limited, and anything it attains it finitizes, reducing it to the measure of itself.  The desire of man as a person, however, is unlimited, which means that man does not have the power to completely satisfy himself; anything that he makes is going to be less than the Infinite. 


Here we begin to see clearly why Giussani holds that the ultimate questions regarding the meaning, the value, and the purpose of life have a religious character; and how it is that these questions are asked by everyone within the ordinary, non-theoretical reasoning process which he terms "the religious sense." The human heart is, in fact, a great, burning question, a plea, an insatiable hunger, a fascination and a desire for the unfathomable mystery that underlies reality and that gives life its meaning and value. This mystery is something Other than any of the limited things that we can perceive or produce; indeed it is their fundamental Source.  Therefore, the all-encompassing and limitless search that constitutes the human heart and shapes our approach to everything is a religious search. It is indeed, as we shall see in a moment, a search for "God."


We seek an infinite fulfillment, an infinite coherence, an infinite interpenetration of unity between persons, an infinite wisdom and comprehension, an infinite love, an infinite perfection.  But we do not have the capacity to achieve any of these things by our own infinity.jpgpower.  Yet, in spite of this incapacity, in spite of the fact that the mystery of life--the mystery of happiness--seems always one step beyond us, our natural inclination is not one of despair, but rather one of dogged persistence and constant hope. Giussani insists that this hope and expectation is what most profoundly shapes the self; when I say the word "I," I express this center of hope and expectation of infinite perfection and happiness that is coextensive with myself, that "is" myself, my heart.  And when I say the word "you," truly and with love, then I am acknowledging that same undying hope that shapes your self. 


The human person walks on the roads of life with his hands outstretched toward the mystery of existence, constantly pleading for the fulfillment he seeks--not in despair but outstretched_hands.jpgwith hope-- because the circumstances and events of life contain a promise, they whisper continually that happiness is possible.  This is what gives the human spirit the strength to carry on even in the midst of the greatest difficulties. 


Let us note two further points.  First of all: I cannot answer the ultimate questions about the meaning of my life, and yet every fiber of my being seeks that answer and expects it.  There must be Another who does correspond to my heart, who can fill the need that I am.  To deny the possibility of an answer is to uproot the very foundation of the human being and to render everything meaningless.  As Macbeth says, it would be as if life is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." There must be an answer; and a human being cannot live without seeking that answer.  Giussani says that a human being cannot live five minutes without affirming something, consciously or unconsciously, that makes those five minutes worthwhile.  This is the basic structure of human reason at its root.  "Just as an eye, upon opening, discovers shapes and colors, so human reason--by engaging the problems and interests of life--seeks and affirms some ultimate" value and significance which gives meaning to everything. But if we are honest, if we realize that we cannot fulfill ourselves, if we face the fact that the answer to the question of the meaning of life is not something we can discover among our possessions, or measure or dominate or make with our own hands, then we begin to recognize that our need for happiness points to Someone Else, to an Infinite Someone who alone can give us what we seek.


Second: this longing of my heart, this seeking of the Infinite is not something I made up or chose for myself.  It is not my idea or my project or my particular quirk.  It corresponds to the way I am, to the way I "find myself independent of any of my personal preferences or decisions.  It is at the root of me.  It is at the root of every person.  It is in fact given to me, and to every person--this desire for the Mystery that is at the origin of everything that I am and do.  In the depths of my own self there is this hidden, insatiable hunger and thirst, this "heart that says of You, 'seek His face!'" (Psalm 27:8), this need for an Other that suggests His presence at the origin of my being.  He gives me my being; He is "nearer to me than I am to myself as St. Augustine says.  And He has made me for Himself, He has placed within each of us a desire that goes through all the world in search of signs of His presence.  In the depths of our being, we are not alone.  We are made by Another and for Another. "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You," says St. Augustine.


Dome.JPGThus, Giussani teaches that the Mystery of God is the only reality that corresponds to the "heart" of man: to the fundamental questions of human reason and the fundamental desire of the human freedom.  It is this Infinite Mystery that the human person seeks in every circumstance of life.  In our work, our loves, our friendships, our leisure time, our eating and drinking, our living and dying--in all of these activities we seek the face of the unfathomable Mystery that we refer to with poor words like "happiness" or "fulfillment" or "perfection."


St. Thomas Aquinas says that God is happiness by His Essence, and we are called to participate in His happiness by being united to Him who is Infinite Goodness.  We are made for happiness.  By our very nature we seek happiness.  To be religious, then, is to recognize that God alone can make us happy.  It is to recognize the mysterious existential reflection of God's infinite truth, goodness, and beauty that radiates from every creature, that lights up the circumstances of our lives, and calls out to us through all the opportunities that life presents to us. 


In this sketch of Giussani's understanding of what he calls "the religious sense," we can see the profound reflections that underlie his great apostolate: his effort to teach his students that religion cannot be relegated to the fringes of life. Giussani insisted to his students that religion was not to be simply delineated as one aspect of life: a comfort for our sentiments, a list of ethical rules, a foundation for the stability of human social life (even though it entails such things as various consequences that follow from what it is in itself).  Rather, the realm of the religious is coextensive with our happiness. The proper position of the human being is to live each moment asking for God to give him the happiness he seeks but cannot attain by his own power.  Asking for true happiness--this is the true position of man in front of everything. Giussani often points out that "structurally" (that is, by nature), man is a "beggar" in front of the mystery of Being. 


This brings us to the final chapters of The Religious Sense, in which Giussani analyses the dramatic character of this truth about man, both in terms of the very nature of this position of "being a beggar" and in terms of how this truth has played itself out in the great drama of human history.  We could all too easily allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by all of this lovely language about desiring the Infinite Mystery, and end up missing the point.  The image of the beggar ought not to be romanticized in our imaginations. Generally people don't like to be beggars, and they don't have much respect for beggars. We should be able to attain what we need by our own efforts; is this not a basic aspect of man's sense of his own dignity?  And yet the very thing we need most is something that we do not have the power to attain, something we must beg for.  This is the true human position, and yet it is not as easy to swallow as it may at first appear. 


We are beggars in front of our own destiny because the Infinite One for whom our hearts have been made is always beyond the things of this world that point toward Him but do not allow us to extract His fullness from them by our own power.  This fact causes a great tension in the experience of the human person--a "vertigo," a dizziness, Giussani calls it --and there results the inevitable temptation to shrink the scope of our destiny, to attempt to be satisfied with something within our power, something we are capable of controlling and manipulating.  This, says Giussani, is the essence of idolatry.  Instead of allowing ourselves to be "aimed" by the beauty of things toward a position of poverty and begging in front of the Beauty who is "ever beyond" them, the Mystery of Infinite Splendor who sustains them all--who holds them in the palm of his hand--we try instead to grasp these finite things and make them the answer to our need for the Infinite. 


This great tension at the heart of man's religious sense-- and the historical tragedy of man's failure to live truly according the historical tragedy of man's failure to live truly according to the religious sense--generates within the heart of man the longing for salvation.  Corresponding to this longing, Giussani says, is the recognition of the possibility of revelation.  Might not the Infinite Mystery make Himself manifest in history, create a way within history for me to reach Him?  Might not the Infinite Mystery who constitutes my happiness approach me, condescend to my weakness, guide my steps toward Him?  This possibility--the possibility of Divine Revelation--is profoundly "congenial" to the human person, because man feels profoundly his need for "help" in achieving his mysterious destiny. 


The Religious Sense concludes on this note: the possibility of revelation.  Here the ground is laid for the second book in what might be called Giussani's catechesis of Christian anthropology: The Origin of the Christian Claim.  In this book, Giussani will propose that Christ is the revelation of God in history, the Mystery drawn close to man's life--walking alongside the human person.  Christ is the great Divine help to the human person on the path to true happiness. 


This an excerpt of the essay, Man in the Presence of Mystery. The author, John  Janaro, professor of theology at Christendom College, delivered this paper in 1998.

Saints Simon and Jude

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St Simon.jpg Thumbnail image for St Jude.jpgThe Western Church holds that Simon serve the Lord in Egypt by preaching the new faith and he eventually joined Jude in taking the Gospel to Persia, modern-day Iran, and were martyred. One figures that great apostles, as all apostles were close to Jesus, would have their own liturgical memorial. We, however, are left wondering why Simon and Jude ended up being honored together in the Liturgy. One writer makes the claim that Ss. Simon and Jude needed each other. He writes:


"Without one another, Simon and Jude would likely have been martyred far earlier in their lives. Together they were a formidable pair, each bearing the gifts necessary to the life of the other. Jude was always there to mediate and reconcile the abrasions created by Simon's zeal; Simon was always there to speak on behalf of Jude and protect him from those who would take advantage of his gentleness." (Sam Portaro. Brightest and Best:  A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Boston: Cowley Publications, 1998. 191.)


O God, Who through Thy blessed Apostles Simon and Jude has brought us unto knowledge of Thy Name, grant us both to celebrate their eternal glory by making progress in virtues and by celebrating their glory to advance in virtue.


Visit the Shrine of Saint Jude


The concluding homily of Pope Benedict for the Synod of Bishops on the Word of Benedict XVI arms3.jpgGod on Sunday, 26 October 2008, Rome.



Brothers in the Episcopacy and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Word of the Lord, which echoed in the Gospel earlier, reminded us that all of Divine Law is summarized in love. Matthew the Evangelist tells that the Pharisees, after God answered the Sadduceans closing their mouths, met to put Him to test (cf. 22:34-35). One of them, a doctor of law, asked Him: "Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?" (22:36). The question allows one to see the worry, present in ancient Hebrew tradition, of finding a unifying principle for the various formulations of the Will of God. This was not an easy question, considering that in the Law of Moses, 613 precepts and prohibitions are contemplated. How to find which is the most important one among these? But Jesus has no hesitation, and answers promptly: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment" (22:37-38). Jesus quotes the Shemà in His answer, the prayer the pious Israelite recites several times a day, especially in the morning and in the evening (cf. Dt 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Nb 15:37-41): the proclamation of whole and total love due to God, as the only Lord. Emphasis is put on the totality of this dedication to God, listing the three faculties that define man in his deep psychological structures: heart, soul and mind. The word mind, diánoia, contains the rational element. God is not only the object of love, commitment, will and feelings, but also the intellect, which should not be excluded from this. Our thinking must conform to God's thinking. Then, however, Jesus adds something which, in truth, had not been asked by the doctor of law: "The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself" (22:39). The surprising aspect of Jesus' answer consists in the fact that He establishes a similarity between the first and the second commandments, defined this time with a Biblical formula drawn from the Levitic code of holiness (cf. Lv 19:18) as well. And therefore, the two commandments are associated in the role of main axis upon which all of Biblical Revelation rests: "On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too" (22:40).

The Evangelical page we are focusing on sheds light on the meaning of being disciples of Christ which is practicing His teachings, that can be summarized in the first and greatest commandment of Divine Law, the commandment of love. Even the First Reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, insists on the duty of love; a love witnessed concretely in relationships between persons: they must be relationships of respect, collaboration, generous help. The next to be loved is the stranger, the orphan, the widow and the indigent, that is to say those citizens that are without a "defender". The holy author goes into details, as in the case of the object pawned by one of these poor persons (cf. Ex 22:25-26). In this case, God Himself is the guarantor for the person's situation.

St Paul apostle.jpgIn the Second Reading, we can find a concrete application of the supreme commandment of love in one of the first Christian communities. Saint Paul writes to the Thessalonians, leading them to understand that, while having known them for such a short time, he appreciated them and bore affection in his heart for them. Because of this, he points to them as "an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Th 1:6-7). There is no lack of weaknesses or problems in this recently founded community, but love overcomes all, renews all, wins over all: the love of who, knowing their own limits, docilely follows the words of Christ, the Divine Teacher, transmitted through one of His faithful disciples. "You took us and the Lord as your model, welcoming the word with the joy of the Holy Spirit in spite of great hardship", the Apostle wrote. He continued: "since it was from you that the word of the Lord rang out -- and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for your faith in God has spread everywhere" (1 Th 1:6.8). The lesson that we can draw from the experience of the Thessalonians, and experience that is a common factor in every authentic Christian community, is that love for the neighbor is born from the docile listening to the Divine Word and accepts also hardships for the truth of the divine word and thus true love grows and truth shines. It is so important to listen to the Word and incarnate it in personal and community existence!

In this Eucharistic Celebration, which closes the work of the Synod, we feel, in a particular way, the bond that exists between the loving hearing of the word of God and disinterested service towards the brothers. How many times, in the past few days, have we heard about experiences and reflections that underline the need emerging today for a more intimate hearing of God, of a truer knowledge of His Word of Salvation; of a more sincere sharing of faith which is constantly nourished at the table of the Divine Word! Dear and Venerable Brothers, thank you for the contribution each of you offered in discussing the theme of the Synod: "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church". I greet you all with great affection. A special greeting goes to the Cardinals, the Delegate Presidents of the Synod and the General Secretary, whom I thank for their constant dedication. I greet you, dear brothers and sisters, who came from every continent bringing your enriching experience. In returning home, give everyone an affectionate greeting from the Bishop of Rome. I greet the Fraternal Delegates, the Experts, the Auditors and the Invited Guests: the members of the General Secretariat of the Synod, all those who worked with the press. A special thought goes for the Bishops of Continental China, who could not be represented during this Synodal assembly. I would like to speak on behalf of them and thank God for their love for Christ, their communion with the universal Church and their faithfulness to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. They are present in our prayers, along with all the faithful who are entrusted to their pastoral care. We ask the "Chief Shepherd" (1 Pt 5:4) to give them apostolic joy, strength, and zeal to guide, with wisdom and far-sightedness, the Catholic community of China so dear to all of us.

All of us who have taken part in the work of the Synod will carry with us the renewed knowledge that the Church's principal task, at the start of this new millennium, is above all to nourish ourselves on the Word of God, in order to make more effective new evangelization, the announcement of our times. What is needed now is that this ecclesial experience reach every community; we have to understand the necessity of translating the Word we have heard into gestures of love, because this is the only way to make the Gospel announcement credible, despite the human weaknesses that mark individuals. What this requires first of all is a more intimate knowledge of Christ and an ever-more docile acceptance of his Word.

In this Pauline year, making the words of the Apostle our own: "I should be in trouble if I failed to [preach the Gospel]" (1 Cor 9:16), I hope with all my heart that in every community this yearning of Paul's will be felt with ever more conviction as a vocation in the service of the Gospel for the world. At the start of the Synod, I recalled the appeal of Jesus: "The harvest is rich" (Mt 9:37), an appeal we must never tire of responding to whatever difficulties we might encounter. So many people are searching for, sometimes unwittingly, the meeting with Christ and His Gospel; so many have to find in Him a meaning for their lives. Giving clear and shared testimony to a life according to the Word of God, witnessed by Jesus, therefore becomes an indispensable criterion to verify the mission of Christ.

Emmaus Duccio.jpgThe Readings the liturgy offers us today to meditate on remind us that the fullness of the law, as of all the Divine Scriptures, is love. Therefore anyone who believes they have understood the Scriptures, or at least a part of them, without undertaking to build, by means of their intelligence, the twofold love of God and neighbor, demonstrates that in reality they are still a long way from having grasped its deeper meaning. But how should we put into practice this commandment, how can we live the love of God and our brothers without a living and intense contact with the Holy Scriptures? Vatican Council II asserts it is necessary that "easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful" (Cost. Dei Verbum, 22), so that persons, on meeting the truth, may grow in authentic love. This is a requisite that today is indispensable for evangelization. And since often the encounter with Scriptures is in danger of not being "a fact" of the Church, but informed by subjectivity and arbitrariness, a robust and credible pastoral promotion of the knowledge of Holy Scripture, to announce, celebrate and live the Word in the Christian community, becomes indispensable, dialoguing with the cultures of our time, placing ourselves at the service of truth and not of current ideologies, and increasing the dialogue God wishes to have with all men (cf ibid 21). With this in mind, special care should be paid to the preparation of pastors, ready then to take whatever action is necessary to spread Biblical activity with appropriate means. Ongoing efforts to give life to the Biblical movement among lay people should be encouraged, along with the formation of group animators, with particular attention being paid to the young. We must also support the effort to allow faith to be known through the Word of God to those who are "far away" as well and especially those who are sincerely looking to give a meaning to their lives.

Many other reflections should be added, but I will limit myself to underlining that the privileged place where the Word of God rings out, that builds the Church, as has been said many times during the Synod, is undoubtedly the liturgy. In this is where it appears that the Bible is a book of a people and for a people; an inheritance, a testament handed over to readers so that they can put into practice in their own lives the history of salvation witnessed in the text. There is therefore a reciprocal relationship of vital belonging between the people and the Book: the Bible remains a living Book with the people which is its subject which reads it; the people cannot exist without the Book, because it is in it that they find their reason for living, their vocation and their identity. This mutual belonging between people and Holy Scripture is celebrated in every liturgical ceremony, which, thanks to the Holy Spirit, listens to Christ since it is He who speaks when the Scripture is read in the Church and welcomes the Covenant that God renews with his people. Scripture and liturgy converge, therefore, with the single aim of bringing the people to dialogue with the Lord and to the obedience of the Lord's Will. The Word that leaves the mouth of God, witnessed in the Scriptures, returns to Him in the shape of prayerful response, of a living answer, of an answer of love (cf Is 55:10-11).

Virgin of the Annunciation Angelico.jpgDear brothers and sisters, let us pray that from this renewed listening to the Word of God, guided by the action of the Holy Spirit, an authentic renewal of the universal Church may spring forth, as well as of every Christian community. We entrust the fruits of this Synodal Assembly to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary. I also entrust to Her the II Special Assembly of the Synod for Africa, that will take place in Rome in October of next year. Next March I intend to go to Cameroon to deliver the Instrumentum laboris of that Synodal Assembly to the representatives of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa. From there, God willing, I will go on to Angola to celebrate solemnly the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of that country. Most Holy Mary, who offered your life up as the "servant of the Lord", so that everything would happen in accordance with the divine will (cf Lk 1:38) and who told us to do whatever Jesus tells us to do (cf Jn 2:5), teach us to recognize in our lives the primacy of the Word that alone can grant us salvation. Amen!

The preceding account [see who is Luigi Giussani] might lead one to believe that the Luigi Giussani5.jpgsignificance of Luigi Giussani is primarily that of a teacher and spiritual leader.  It would be an unfortunate mistake, however, to view him in this way if it led one to dismiss Giussani's vast literary output, and its contribution to the intellectual life of the Church and our times.  In this essay, we want to give a brief outline of the central thesis of the book by Giussani that has recently been published in a scholarly edition in English, entitled The Religious Sense.  Here, we hope, it will become clear that Giussani's thought presents a profound theological analysis of human "psychology" (in the classical sense of this term); indeed, it represents a tremendous resource toward the development of a fully adequate Catholic theological anthropology. 


Giussani proposes what he calls "the religious sense" as the foundation of the human person's awareness of himself and his concrete engagement of life.  The term "religious sense" does not imply that Giussani thinks that man's need for religion is part of the organic structure of his bodily senses, nor does he mean that religion is to be defined as a mere emotional sensibility or a vague kind of feeling.  Rather, Giussani uses the term "sense" here in the same way that we refer to "common sense" or the way that John Henry Newman sought to identify what he called the "illative sense."  "Sense" refers to a dynamic spiritual process within man; an approach to reality in which man's intelligence is fully engaged, but not according to those categories of formal analysis that we call "scientific." Giussani's understanding of the "religious sense" in man has a certain kinship to Jacques Maritain's view that man can come to a "pre-philosophical" or "pre-scientific" awareness of the existence of God, in that both positions insist that reason is profoundly involved in the approach to God for every human being--not just for philosophers. What is distinctive about Giussani's approach, however, is his effort to present a descriptive analysis of the very core of reason, the wellspring from which the human person, through action, enters into relationship with reality.  Needless to say, "action" in the Giussanian sense is not simply to be identified with an external "activism," but involves also and primarily what Maritain would call the supremely vital act by which man seeks to behold and embrace truth, goodness, and beauty--those interrelated transcendental perfections inherent in all things which Giussani refers to by a disarmingly simple term: meaning.


Luigi Giussani4.jpgGiussani proposes that we observe ourselves "in action," and investigate seriously the fundamental dispositions and expectations that shape the way we approach every circumstance in life.  In so doing, we will discover that the "motor" that generates our activity and places us in front of things with a real interest in them is something within ourselves that is both reasonable and mysterious.  It is something so clear and obvious that a child can name it, and yet it is something so mysterious that no one can really define what it is: it is the search for happiness.  The human heart--in the biblical sense, as the center of the person, the foundation of intelligence and freedom, and not merely the seat of infrarational emotions and sentiments--seeks happiness in all of its actions.  Here, of course, Giussani is saying the same thing as St. Thomas Aquinas.  Giussani opens up new vistas on this classical position, however, by engaging in an existentially attentive analysis of the characteristics of this "search."  Giussani emphasizes the dramatic, arduous, and mysterious character of the need for happiness as man actually experiences it.  He says that if we really analyze our desires and expectations, even in the most ordinary and mundane circumstances, what we will find is not some kind of desire for happiness that we can easily obtain, package, and possess through our activity.  Rather we will see that genuine human action aims at "happiness" by being the enacted expression of certain fundamental, mysterious, and seemingly open-ended questions.  The heart, the self, when acting--when the person is working, playing, eating, drinking, rising in the morning, or dying--is full of the desire for something and the search for something that it does not possess, that it cannot give to itself, and that it does not even fully understand, although the heart is aware that this Object is there, and its attainment is a real possibility. 


existence.jpgGiussani claims that religiosity coincides with these fundamental questions:

The religious factor represents the nature of our "I" in as much as it expresses itself in certain questions: "What is the ultimate meaning of existence?" or "Why is there pain and death, and why, in the end, is life worth living?"  Or, from another point of view: "What does reality consist of and what is it made for?"  Thus, the religious sense lies within the reality of our self at the level of these questions.


This means that, according to Giussani, man becomes authentically religious to the extent that he develops and articulates in the face of the circumstances of life the basic natural complex of questions or "needs" that are identified in the first chapter of the book as constitutive of the human heart: the need for truth, justice, goodness, happiness, beauty. 


This complex of "needs" which constitutes the human heart by nature, will become more and more explicit and urgent as the person lives life and pursues the things that attract him, if he is truly honest with himself.


This an excerpt of the essay, Man in the Presence of Mystery. The author, John Janaro, professor of theology at Christendom College, delivered this paper in 1998. 

Thanks to the American papist, this article comes to the fore because it highlights the Thumbnail image for Chase Hilgenbrinck.jpg sacrifice of one young man, Chase Hilgenbrinck, who left money, fame and power to accept the sacrifice of the priesthood for his own salvation and that of others. The witness of the priesthood is more important than fame of the soccer fan. Pray for all those who are preparing for the priesthood. Here is ESPN's Kieran Darcy's article on Chase.

Just look

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New York's Cardinal Edward Egan and The Catholic New York are asking us to take another look at life. See for yourself and read the article!

You might also read the Letter to the Editor by Bishop Francis Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington about the exceptions regarding abortions. There is none.

Who Is Luigi Giussani?

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Most English language readers know little about the person and work of Luigi Giussani. Luigi Giussani2.jpg  His vast publications have been virtually unknown in the philosophical or theological academy here in North America.  The general public who are well read on religious topics have perhaps heard his name and associate it with a large Catholic lay movement known as "CL."  It would be useful, therefore, to begin with a general introduction to Luigi Giussani: the man, the priest, the professor, and the vibrant leader of a great apostolic movement in the Catholic Church today. 


Luigi Giussani has devoted his life and priestly ministry to the evangelization and catechesis of young people for nearly 50 years.  In the early days of his priesthood, while serving as seminary professor in the diocese of Milan in 1952, Giussani encountered some Italian High School students while on a train trip.  At this time, many in the Church took it for granted that the Catholic faith was still firmly rooted in the mentality of the Italian people, and that its transmission to the next generation was no great cause for concern.  Based on his brief conversation with a group of teenagers, however, Giussani intuited a profound problem which would soon manifest itself to the world in the intellectual and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.  What he saw was this: not only did these young people have a poor grasp of the basic truths of the Catholic faith; they were unable to conceive the relationship between this Faith--which they still openly professed at that time--and their way of looking at the world, their way of making judgments about circumstances and events, their way of evaluating (i.e., assessing the real value) of the situations they had to deal with in life.  The student might profess to be Catholic, recite the creed, and perhaps even know parts of his Catechism (or even more, if he was bright).  But when it came to making judgments and decisions about things that he viewed as truly important to his life, his ideals and hopes for happiness were shaped by a secularized mentality; a mentality in which Christ and His Church were largely absent, or at best relegated to a dusty corner.  Giussani saw that many of the young people in Italy in the early 1950s who would have described themselves as "Catholic" did not in fact seek to judge the realities of the world and the significance of their own lives according to a Christian mentality; that is, the "transformed and renewed mind" that St. Paul says is the basis for viewing the world in union with Christ and according to the wisdom of God's plan (see Rom. 12:2).2  Rather, the mentality of these "young Catholics" was being shaped by all the contradictory emphases of the so-called "modern" era: the absolute sufficiency of "scientific" human reason on the one hand, and the exaltation of subjectivism on the other; the emphasis on a deontological ethics of duty divorced from the good of the person on the one hand, and the enthrallment with the spontaneity of mere instinct and emotional individualism on the other.


Giussani perceived the need for young people to receive an integral catechesis that would Luigi Giussani4.jpghelp them to realize--both existentially and intellectually--that Christ is the center of all of life, and that because of this their experience of life in union with Christ in His Church should shape their entire outlook and invest all of their daily activity with an evangelical energy.  Giussani therefore requested and received from his bishop permission to leave seminary teaching and inaugurate an educational apostolate for youth: first at the Berchet High School in Milan, and then for many years as Professor of religion at the Catholic University of Milan. 


Giussani's teaching method was to challenge the oppressive secularism that dominated the mentality of his students by inspiring them to conduct a rigorous examination of themselves, the fundamental experiences that characterize man's life and aspirations, and the radical incapacity of modern secular culture to do justice to the deep mystery of the human heart.  This examination--carried out within an existentially vital ecclesial context in which Christ is encountered through a friendship with those who follow Him--leads to a rediscovery of man's "religious sense," that is, the fundamentally religious character of the questions and desires that are inscribed on his heart.  Man has been made for God, and the only way that he can realize the truth of himself (and thus be happy) is by recognizing God and adhering to Him wholeheartedly.  Giussani then sought to lead his students to understand and appreciate in a deeper way the fact that God has made this adherence to Himself concretely possible, attractive, and beautiful by becoming man and perpetuating His incarnate presence in the world through His Church. 


Soon after he began teaching young people, Giussani founded an Italian Catholic student organization, Gioventu Studentesca.  During the turmoil of the late 1960s, when almost all the Italian universities were taken over by Marxism or other radical left ideologies, Giussani's students published a manifesto entitled Comunione e Liberazione, in which they declared that man can truly be free only if he lives in communion with Christ and the Church.  Thus the group came to be known as "CL."  And when these students graduated from the university, they began to bring the educational methods of Giussani into the CL B16.jpgvarious places where they worked and lived their adult lives, continuing to learn from and to retain contact with one another and with their great teacher.  By means of this friendship guided by Giussani's particular pedagogical approach, a "movement"-- a style of living the Catholic faith--took form.  This "movement" gained the attention of other Italian bishops, priests, and people throughout the Church and even outside the Church.  In this way, CL--while retaining its fundamentally theological and pedagogical character--moved far beyond the walls of the University of Milan.  In 1982, Pope John Paul II called upon the members of CL to "Go into all the world and bring the truth, the beauty, and the peace which are found in Christ the Redeemer...


This is the charge I leave with you today."  The Pope made it clear that it was his desire that CL become an instrument of the new evangelization not only in Italy, but throughout the world.  Following this desire of the Pope, numerous missionary initiatives were taken, and a more profound and stable presence of CL has since been established in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of Europe. 


Today, CL is one of the largest "Ecclesial Movements" in the Church, counting among its 100,000 members around the world not only university students, but also bishops, priests, and lay people engaged in a variety of professions and cultural activities.



This an excerpt of the essay, Man in the Presence of Mystery. The author, John Janaro, professor of theology at Christendom College, delivered this paper in 1998. 

religion voting patterns.jpgposted originally on Beliefnet.com

Did Cardinal John Henry Newman pick up where St. Bernard left off? Father Ian Ker thinks so; he claims that reading Cardinal Newman is like reading the great Church Fathers.

The expert on Cardinal Newman and professor of theology at Oxford University shared with ZENIT how the venerable Oratorian was a pioneer in the renewal of theology, anticipated the Second Vatican Council and was a writer of great faith.

Question: Why has the momentum suddenly increased for Cardinal Newman's cause for canonization during Benedict XVI's pontificate? What is the Holy Father's interest in Cardinal Newman?

Birmingham Oratory.jpgFather Ker: Although Newman worked as an ordinary parish priest among the very poor in inner city Birmingham when he began the Oratory there, and later in the more salubrious suburb of Edgbaston where the Oratory was finally established and where he continued to carry out ordinary parish duties, his main work lay in his intellectual apostolate and writings.

So, although known locally to be a holy man, there was never the kind of popular cult that a less intellectual figure -- working, for example, among the poor or the sick or on the foreign missions -- would have inspired.

The momentum for his canonization in fact began some years before the present pontificate. Previously, the people interested in Newman were mainly scholars and theologians, the kind of people who are not necessarily particularly committed to intercessory prayer.

But once the cause was fully launched -- and there had been long delays -- it was possible to undertake a formal examination of his life and writings and conclude that he was indeed a man of heroic sanctity and worthy of being raised to the altars of the Church.

With this verdict the Holy See concurred and in 1991 Pope John Paul II declared Newman to be "Venerable,"' the first step toward canonization. That development has led more and more people to ask Newman for his intercession and -- assuming Newman is a saint -- was bound sooner or later to lead to a miracle.

Benedict XVI became interested in Newman while at the seminary through the interest of one of his teachers. And, of course, he would have been aware as a theologian that Newman was a great pioneer in the renewal of theology.

Q: Cardinal Newman was certainly a great theologian and Church historian, but what is it about his writings that make him worthy of being elevated to the status of doctor of the Church?

Father Ker: Newman is more than simply a very learned and clever thinker. Indeed, it has been said that he took over where St Bernard left off.

Anyone reading his writings cannot but be aware that reading Newman is like reading the great Church Fathers. In his writings we encounter a writer of profound faith.

JHN detail.jpgQ: Why is Cardinal Newman known as the "father of the Second Vatican Council?"

Father Ker: In the 1830s in Oxford, Newman and his fellow Tractarians launched a forerunner of the movement of "ressourcement," [which arose] in France a hundred years later.


It was this return to the scriptural and patristic sources that made possible the theology of Vatican II.

Newman most clearly anticipated the Council in his theory of doctrinal development and his personalist understanding of revelation (Constitution on Divine Revelation), his stress on the role of the laity and more fundamentally his understanding of the Church as communion (Constitution on the Church), his sense of the need for the Church to engage with the modern world and to abandon the siege mentality (Constitution on the Modern World), and his cautious support for ecumenism in its early days (Decree on Ecumenism).

Q: Many traditionalists are skeptical of Cardinal Newman and believe he is a stalking horse for modernism because of his ideas regarding the "development of doctrine" and his statements regarding the role of conscience. In his day he was deemed a liberal, but Russell Kirk featured him in a book titled "The Conservative Mind." Why is Cardinal Newman so controversial and misunderstood?

Father Ker: Cardinal Newman is most obviously misunderstood because of the common misinterpretation of his account of the relation of conscience to Church authority. Newman never envisaged so-called conscientious dissent from Church teachings.

What he did envisage was the possibility of a person conscientiously resisting an order from higher authority. His theory of development is no longer controversial but is part of mainstream theology and indeed is actually echoed in Vatican II's Constitution on Divine Revelation.

In his own day, Newman was indeed a radical in his thinking because he was ahead of his times as I mentioned earlier in this interview. But he was never a liberal in the sense in which we use the word today, but was always deeply loyal to the tradition and the teachings of the Church.

JHN5.jpgQ: Cardinal Newman famously said that to be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant, yet he was not known to be triumphalistic. What counsel might he give to Anglicans today, as well as to Catholics participating in ecumenical conversations with Anglicans?

Father Ker: By the end of his life Newman came to believe that Anglicans were "giving up everything." That process is now considerably advanced, and my view is that Newman would not regard as Christian in any meaningful sense large swathes of Western Anglicanism.

But long before that he was clear that any kind of corporate reunion with a body as disparate and divided as Anglicanism was totally impossible.

I believe that today he would warmly support any efforts to help disaffected high Anglicans enter the Catholic Church -- the idea that they should stay and try and leaven the lump he would regard as completely fanciful and unrealistic.

I think he would encourage dialogue with Evangelicals generally, not only in Anglicanism, and would not be surprised by the many conversions that have taken place since the reforms of Vatican II.

Q: What does Cardinal Newman's decision to join the Oratory of St. Philip Neri tell us about his spiritual and devotional life? Why not the Jesuits or Dominicans, both of whom had strong reputations for fostering theological scholarship?

Father Ker: Newman joined the Oratory of St Philip Neri partly in order to remain with his former Anglican community at Littlemore; partly because he did not find himself particularly attracted to any of the orders; partly because being already middle-aged he did not wish to begin again as it were, but rather to pursue continuity of his life as a secular priest living in community; and partly because his life at Oxford had always combined pastoral with academic work, a combination that he saw as typical of the Oratory. (Burford, England, Zenit.org)

Pope Benedict XVI address delivered during the general audience (10/22) in St. Peter's Square.

Dear brothers and sisters:

St Paul Conv.jpgIn the catecheses from previous weeks, we have meditated on the "conversion" of St. Paul, fruit of a personal encounter with the crucified and risen Christ, and we have asked ourselves about the reaction of the Apostle to the Gentiles to the earthly Jesus. Today I would like to speak of the teaching St. Paul left us about the centrality of the risen Christ in the mystery of salvation, about his Christology.

In reality, the risen Jesus Christ, "exalted above every name," is at the center of all his reflections. Christ is for the Apostle the standard to evaluate events and things, the purpose of every effort that he makes to announce the Gospel, the great passion that sustains his steps along the paths of the world. And he is a living Christ, concrete: The Christ, Paul says, "who loved me and gave himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). This person who loves me, with whom I can speak, who listens and responds to me, this is really the principle for understanding the world and for finding the way in history.

Anyone who has read the writings of St. Paul knows well that he does not concern himself with narrating the events that made up the life of Christ, even though we can imagine that in his catecheses, he recounted much more about the pre-Easter Jesus than what he wrote in his letters, which are admonitions for concrete situations. His pastoral and theological work was so directed toward the edification of the nascent communities, that it was natural for him to concentrate everything on the announcement of Jesus Christ as "Lord," alive today and present among his own.

Here we see the essentiality that is characteristic of Pauline Christology, which develops the depths of the mystery with a constant and precise concern: To announce, with certainty, Jesus and his teaching, but to announce above all the central reality of his death and resurrection as the culmination of his earthly existence and the root of the successive development of the whole Christian faith, of the whole reality of the Church.

For the Apostle, the Resurrection is not an event in itself that is separated from the Death. risen Christ.jpgThe risen One is the same One who was crucified. The risen One also had his wounds: The Passion is present in him and it can be said with Pascal that he is suffering until the end of the world, though being the risen One and living with us and for us. Paul had understood on the road to Damascus this identification of the risen One with Christ crucified: In that moment, it was revealed with clarity that the Crucified is the risen One and the risen One is the Crucified, who says to Paul, "Why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4). Paul was persecuting Christ in the Church and then understood that the cross is "a curse of God" (Deuteronomy 21:23), but a sacrifice for our redemption.

The Apostle contemplates with fascination the hidden secret of the crucified-risen One, and through the sufferings endured by Christ in his humanity (earthly dimension) arrives to this eternal existence in which he is one with the Father (pre-temporal dimension): "But when the fullness of time had come," he writes, "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption" (Galatians 4:4-5).

These two dimensions -- the eternal pre-existence with the Father and the descent of the Lord in the incarnation -- are already announced in the Old Testament, in the figure of Wisdom. We find in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament certain texts that exalt the role of Wisdom pre-existent to the creation of the world. In this sense, you can see passages such as Psalm 90: "Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth, from eternity to eternity you are God" (verse 2). Or passages such as those that speak of creating Wisdom: "The Lord begot me, the firstborn of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth" (Proverbs 8:22-23). Indicative as well is the praise of Wisdom, contained in the book by that name: "Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well" (Wisdom 8:1).

The same wisdom texts that speak of the eternal pre-existence of Wisdom also speak of wisdom.jpgits descent, of the abasement of this Wisdom, which has made for itself a tent among men. Thus we can already feel resonate the words from the Gospel of John that speak of the tent of the flesh of the Lord. A tent was created in the Old Testament: Here is indicated the temple, worship according to the "Torah"; but from the point of view of the New Testament, we can understand that this was only a pre-figuration of the much more real and significant tent: the tent of the flesh of Christ.

And we already see in the books of the Old Testament that this abasement of Wisdom, its descent into flesh, also implies the possibility of being rejected. St. Paul, developing his Christology, refers precisely to this wisdom perspective: He recognizes in Jesus the eternal Wisdom existing from all time, the Wisdom that descends and creates a tent among us, and thus he can describe Christ as "the power of God and the wisdom of God." He can say that Christ has become for us "wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). In the same way, Paul clarifies that Christ, like Wisdom, can be rejected above all by the rulers of this age (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-9), such that in the plans of God a paradoxical situation is created: the cross, which will become the path of salvation for the whole human race.

A later development to this wisdom cycle, which sees Wisdom abase itself so as to be later exalted despite rejection, is found in the famous hymn in the Letter to the Philippians (cf. 2:6-11). This involves one of the most elevated texts of the New Testament. Exegetes mainly concur in considering that this pericope was composed prior to the text of the Letter to the Philippians. This is an important piece of information, because it means that Judeo-Christianity, before St. Paul, believed in the divinity of Jesus. In other words, faith in the divinity of Christ is not a Hellenistic invention, arising after the earthly life of Christ, an invention that, forgetting his humanity, had divinized him. We see in reality that the early Judeo-Christianity believed in the divinity of Jesus. Moreover, we can say that the apostles themselves, in the great moments of the life of the Master, had understood that he was the Son of God, as St. Peter says at Caesarea Philippi: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16).

But let us return to the hymn from the Letter to the Philippians. The structure of this text can be articulated in three stanzas, which illustrate the principle moments of the journey undertaken by Christ. His pre-existence is expressed with the words: "though he was in the form of God, [he] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped" (verse 6). Afterward follows the voluntary abasement of the Son in the second stanza: "he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave" (verse 7) "he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross" (verse 8). The third stanza of the hymn announces the response of the Father to the humiliation of the Son: "Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name" (verse 9).

What is impressive is the contrast between the radical abasement and the resulting glorification in the glory of God. It is evident that this second stanza contrasts with the pretension of Adam, who wanted to make himself God, and it contrasts as well with the actions of the builders of the Tower of Babel, who wanted to construct for themselves a bridge to heaven and make themselves divine. But this initiative of pride ended with self-destruction: In this way, one doesn't arrive to heaven, to true happiness, to God. The gesture of the Son of God is exactly the contrary: not pride, but humility, which is the fulfillment of love, and love is divine. The initiative of abasement, of the radical humility of Christ, which contrasts with human pride, is really the expression of divine love; from it follows this elevation to heaven to which God attracts us with his love.

Besides the Letter to the Philippians, there are other places in Pauline literature where the themes of the pre-existence and the descent of the Son of God to earth are united. A reaffirmation of the assimilation between Wisdom and Christ, with all its cosmic and anthropological consequences, is found in the First Letter to Timothy: "[He] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory" (3:16). It is above all based on these premises that the function of Christ as mediator could be better defined, within the framework of the only God of the Old Testament (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5 in relation to Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6). Christ is the true bridge who leads us to heaven, to communion with God.

St Paul rublev.jpgAnd finally, just a point regarding the last developments of the Christology of St. Paul in the Letters to the Colossians and the Ephesians. In the first, Christ is designated as the "firstborn of all creation" (1:15-20). This word "firstborn" implies that the first among many children, the first among many brothers and sisters, has lowered to draw us and make us brothers and sisters. In the Letter to the Ephesians, we find the beautiful exposition of the divine plan of salvation, when Paul says that in Christ, God wanted to recapitulate all things (cf. Ephesians 1:23). Christ is the recapitulation of everything, he takes up everything and guides us to God. And thus is implied a movement of descent and ascent, inviting us to participate in his humility, that is, in his love for neighbor, so as to thus be participants in his glorification, making ourselves with him into sons in the Son. Let us pray that the Lord helps us to conform ourselves to is humility, to his love, to thus be participants in his divinization. (Zenit.org)

The Communion & Liberation Opening Day for the New York area community will be on CL.jpg Saturday, October 25 from 2 -5 PM at Holy Family Church, East 47th Street in Manhattan (between 1st & 2nd Avenues)


The theme is "Faith: The Ultimate Expression of an Affection for Oneself."


Everybody is invited; this is a public event open to anybody who has an interest in finding out more about the movement.


Other Opening Days in various parts of the USA


Atlanta, GA (actually it's in Duluth, GA)

Chicago, IL

Portland, OR

Yesterday (10/21) I received an email from Ashley informing me that was I wrong in my assessment of Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Fordham University's giving the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize. Her email states:


Last I checked Pro-Abortion wasn't an option in the fight between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice.  Justice Breyer is not PRO-ABORTION...no one is PRO-ABORTION.  He simply wrote the opinion honoring a woman's right to choose. That means in cases of rape and incest included.

This award is not given by Father McShane.  It is awarded by the LAW SCHOOL as an award of LEGAL ETHICS.  That means that during his legal career spanning decades he has governed in a fair and ethical way not taking bribes for instance or being caught up in scandal.  Whether or not you agree with his morals is irrelevant.

Making it as a Supreme Court Justice is pretty outstanding if you ask me.  He must have done something right.  I admire all 9 of them and have respect for all of their achievements.

Also, to better inform you, there is a selection committee of people all over the country that vote on the awardee. This process has resulted in several Supreme Court Justices honored, former Deans of Fordham Law, Fordham Law alumni and others in the legal community with outstanding legal careers.  This committee is made of people from all walks of life nominating those strictly based on the ethics (NOT MORALS) of their legal careers. After nominations are made it is narrowed down and there is a vote and whether it goes your way or not we respect the democratic system that we live in.


Ashley is unaware of many basic points of theology. She is also playing games with the English language and politicizing it to her advantage akin to what George Orwell writes in his1946 essay "Politics and the English Language."  Moreover, Ashley is clearly unaware of the expectations of the Church and the Jesuits, never mind the rights of the Catholic faithful who have a right to expect priests and Catholic universities to closely adhere to the objectivity of the Faith. If you call yourself Catholic then act as a faithful Catholic who knows Jesus Christ and the Church.


In regard to the process of making an award and Father McShane's role in this matter: as president of the university McShane makes the final decision on who is given a university honor. He is, however, ultimately responsible for what every school in the university does and says. This is just a suggestion but I hope Ashley would  read the New Testament, the oath of fidelity (which Father McShane took), Evangelium Vitae (1995) and Ex Corde Ecclesia (1990) says before she tries to parse out who does what when and why. The faith is not voted on in a court of public opinion; faith is truth. And here objective truth exists.


 I counter, therefore, the giving of an ethics award to Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer by Fordham University Law School. Justice Breyer's service to unborn children in the legal system is regrettable in every way because of his constant and influential work in favor of legalized abortion. I fail to see how Breyer "promotes the advancement of justice" when he advocates for abortion. Breyer's smugness with moral evil is irreconcilable with the dignity of the human person, in this case with the unborn, and with the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. Since Fordham University does not stand apart from neither Catholic theology nor the Church and therefore it ought not to honor those who advocate policies and laws that are contrary to human flourishing and Church teaching. Abortion is contrary to the eternal, divine, natural laws. The United States Catholic Bishops have said that people who hold positions that oppose Church teaching "should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions" by Catholic universities.


Nowhere in my previous post on this blog or in any other media have I launched an ad hominem attack on the Justice. Further, I think one can only reasonably question and challenge one's thinking and not trash the person's character. Certainly Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer is a man of great intellect, an accomplished lawyer and acknowledged as a valuable Justice in this nation's highest court. It would be unreasonable to argue to the contrary. In the context of Fordham the responsibility and duty to uphold Catholic teaching in all matters of life belongs to Society of Jesus to which Father McShane belongs as he is a solemnly professed Jesuit and an ordained Catholic priest, to Fordham University where the exercise of faith and reason is promoted and the Archdiocese of New York as the local magisterium.

In the 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart case the Justice said: "[B]efore 'viability the woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy." Breyer wrote the Supreme Court's majority opinion for the (a 5-4 decision), which overturned a Nebraska state law banning partial-birth abortion. Therefore, I assert that Breyer's thinking is pro-abortion and not merely pro-choice.

Are partial-birth abortions medically necessary? No, never; no science would support this act. And the majority on the court recognized this fact. But Breyer voted against a Congressional ban on partial-birth abortion in Gonzalez v. Carhart, and the Supreme Court upheld that law, again by a 5-4 decision.

It seems to me that Fordham forfeits its mission as a place where faith and reason collaborate as a Catholic university by bestowing the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize on Justice Breyer, or anyone else, who demonstrates contempt for Catholic teaching. I reiterate my earlier question: Is it time for Fordham University to disavow its Catholicity if it is going to honor public figures who advocate and/or support the right to choose abortion? The death of the vulnerable, the unborn child, even in the case of rape and the mother's health, is tragic and should be avoided.

What We Hold Most Dear

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Communion and Liberation USA, an ecclesial lay movement in the Church, recently circulated a flyer on politics titled "What We Hold Most Dear". It was posted on this blog in September.  


In order to help Catholics "witness to what they hold most dear" in this upcoming election, members of CL are organizing a discussion on the judgments expressed in their flyer at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, East 90th Street, Manhattan. 


The hour long discussion titled "WHAT do we hold most dear?  A discussion on Christ and Politics" will take place on Saturday, November 1 at 6pm (right before Catholic Underground) in the Pope John Paul II room in the parish hall of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 230 East 90th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues).


I invite you to attend this important discussion and I encourage you to invite others.


The attached flyer lists details of the talk, please share it with others


P.S. To view and download a copy of the "What We hold Most Dear" flyer, please visit the CL website.    

The US Bishops issued a statement today explaining the need for us to form our conscience according the teaching of the Church. Our morality is not merely a set of rules but an adherence to a person, Jesus Christ. We are called to follow the witness of the bishops and in doing so we follow Jesus. Read the teaching here.

When Rev. Mother Dolores Hart walked away from her life as an actress in Hollywood to become a nun in Connecticut, she thought she had put acting behind her. 

Mother Dolores.jpg
For the actress formerly known as Dolores Hart, who starred opposite Elvis Presley, Montgomery Clift and Anthony Quinn, acting would eventually come back into her life. She now sees it as part of her vocation as a Benedictine nun, although her role is solely backstage. At the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, she has helped cultivate a passionate theater community as an artistic director. In a 200-seat outdoor theater, The Gary-The Olivia Theater, built on the grounds, a play is presented each summer by the community, which has made Mother Dolores see that the arts can bring one closer to God.

The Ecumenical Patriarch spoke not just of words imprinted on the hearts and minds of the holy ones, but also of the gift of the fire of God's Word that must be alive and burning within the hearts of the saints. (Father Thomas Rosica, CSB)


Your Holiness,
Synodal Fathers,

It is at once humbling and inspiring to be graciously invited by Your Holiness to address the XII Ordinary General Assembly of this auspicious Synod of Bishops, an historical meeting of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church from throughout the world, gathered in one place to meditate on "the Word of God" and deliberate on the experience and expression of this Word "in the Life and Mission of the Church."

Bartholomeos.jpgThis gracious invitation of Your Holiness to our Modesty is a gesture full of meaning and significance -- we dare say an historic event in itself. For it is the first time in history that an Ecumenical Patriarch is offered the opportunity to address a Synod of the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and thus be part of the life of this sister Church at such a high level. We regard this as a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit leading our Churches to a closer and deeper relationship with each other, an important step towards the restoration of our full communion.

It is well known that the Orthodox Church attaches to the Synodical system fundamental ecclesiogical importance. Together with primacy synodality constitutes the backbone of the Church's government and organisation. As our Joint International Commission on the Theological Dialogue between our Churches expressed it in the Ravenna document, this interdependence between synodality and primacy runs through all the levels of the Church's life: local, regional and universal. Therefore, in having today the privilege to address Your Synod our hopes are raised that the day will come when our two Churches will fully converge on the role of primacy and synodality in the Church's life, to which our common Theological Commission is devoting its study at the present time.

The theme to which this episcopal synod devotes its work is of crucial significance not benedict and Patriarch.jpgonly for the Roman Catholic Church but also for all those who are called to witness to Christ in our time. Mission and evangelization remain a permanent duty of the Church at all times and places; indeed they form part of the Church's nature, since she is called "Apostolic" both in the sense of her faithfulness to the original teaching of the Apostles and in that of proclaiming the Word of God in every cultural context every time. The Church needs, therefore, to rediscover the Word of God in every generation and make it head with a renewed vigour and persuation also in our contemporary world, which deep in its heart thirsts for God's message of peace, hope and charity.

This duty of evangelization would have been, of course, greatly enhanced and strengthened, if all Christians were in a position to perform it with one voice and as a fully united Church. In his prayer to the Father little before His passion our Lord has made it clear that the unity of the Church is unbreakably related with her mission "so that the world may believe" (John 17, 21). It is, therefore, most appropriate that this Synod has opened its doors to ecumenical fraternal delegates so that we may all become aware of our common duty of evangelization as well as of the difficulties and problems of its realization in today's world.

This Synod has undoubtedly been studying the subject of the Word of God in depth and in all its aspects, theological as well as practical and pastoral. In our modest address to you we shall limit ourselves to sharing with you some thoughts on the theme of your meeting, drawing from the way the Orthodox tradition has approached it throughout the centuries and in the Greek patristic teaching, in particular. More concretely we should like to concentrate on three aspects of the subject, namely: on hearing and speaking the Word of God through the Holy Scriptures; on seeing God's Word in nature and above all in the beauty of the icons; and finally on touching and sharing God's Word in the communion of saints and the sacramental life of the Church. For all these are, we think, crucial in the life and mission of the Church.

In so doing, we seek to draw on a rich Patristic tradition, dating to the early third century and expounding a doctrine of five spiritual senses. For listening to God's Word, beholding God's Word, and touching God's Word are all spiritual ways of perceiving the unique divine mystery. Based on Proverbs 2.5 about "the divine faculty of perception (α
σθησις)," Origen of Alexandria claims:

This sense unfolds as sight for contemplation of immaterial forms, hearing for discernment of voices, taste for savoring the living bread, smell for sweet spiritual fragrance, and touch for handling the Word of God, which is grasped by every faculty of the soul.

St Basil the Great.jpgThe spiritual senses are variously described as "five senses of the soul," as "divine" or "inner faculties," and even as "faculties of the heart" or "mind." This doctrine inspired the theology of the Cappadocians (especially Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa) as much as it did the theology of the Desert Fathers (especially Evagrius of Pontus and Macarius the Great).

1. Hearing and Speaking the Word through Scripture

At each celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the presiding celebrant at the Eucharist entreats "that we may be made worthy to hear the Holy Gospel." For "hearing, beholding and handling the Word of life" (1 Jn 1.1) are not first and foremost our entitlement or birthright as human beings; they are our privilege and gift as children of the living God. The Christian Church is, above all, a scriptural Church. Although methods of interpretation may have varied from Church Father to Church Father, from "school" to "school," and from East to West, nevertheless, Scripture was always received as a living reality and not a dead book.

In the context of a living faith, then, Scripture is the living testimony of a lived history about the relationship of a living God with a living people. The Word, "who spoke through the prophets" (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed), spoke in order to be heard and take effect. It is primarily an oral and direct communication intended for human beneficiaries. The scriptural text is, therefore, derivative and secondary; the scriptural text always serves the spoken word. It is not conveyed mechanically, but communicated from generation to generation as a living word. Through the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord vows:

As rain and snow descend from heaven, watering the earth ... so shall my word go from mouth to mouth, accomplishing that which I purpose. (55.10-11)

Moreover, as St. John Chrysostom explains, the divine Word demonstrates profound St John Chrysostom2.jpgconsiderateness (συγκατάβασις) for the personal diversity and cultural contexts of those hearing and receiving. Adaptation of the divine Word to the specific personal readiness and the particular cultural context defines the missionary dimension of the Church, which is called to transform the world through the Word. In silence as in declaration, in prayer as in action, the divine Word addresses the whole world, "preaching to all nations" (Mt 28.19) without either privilege or prejudice to race, culture, gender and class. When we carry out that divine commission, we are assured: "Behold, I am with you always." (Mt 28.20) We are called to speak the divine Word in all languages, "becoming all things to all people, that [we] might by all means save some." (1 Cor. 9.22)

As disciples of God's Word, then, it is today more imperative than ever that we provide a unique perspective -- beyond the social, political, or economic -- on the need to eradicate poverty, to provide balance in a global world, to combat fundamentalism or racism, and to develop religious tolerance in a world of conflict. In responding to the needs of the world's poor, vulnerable and marginalized, the Church can prove a defining marker of the space and character of the global community. While the theological language of religion and spirituality differs from the technical vocabulary of economics and politics, the barriers that at first glance appear to separate religious concerns (such as sin, salvation, and spirituality) from pragmatic interests (such as commerce, trade, and politics) are not impenetrable, crumbling before the manifold challenges of social justice and globalization.

Whether dealing with environment or peace, poverty or hunger, education or healthcare, there is today a heightened sense of common concern and common responsibility, which is felt with particular acuteness by people of faith as well as by those whose outlook is expressly secular. Our engagement with such issues does not of course in any way undermine or abolish differences between various disciplines or disagreements with those who look at the world in different ways. Yet the growing signs of a common commitment for the well-being of humanity and the life of the world are encouraging. It is an encounter of individuals and institutions that bodes well for our world. And it is an involvement that highlights the supreme vocation and mission of the disciples and adherents of God's Word to transcend political or religious differences in order to transform the entire visible world for the glory of the invisible God.

2. Seeing the Word of God -- The Beauty of Icons and Nature

Nowhere is the invisible rendered more visible than in the beauty of iconography and the wonder of creation. In the words of the champion of sacred images, St. John of St John of Damascus.jpgDamascus: "As maker of heaven and earth, God the Word was Himself the first to paint and portray icons." Every stroke of an iconographer's paintbrush - like every word of a theological definition, every musical note chanted in psalmody, and every carved stone of a tiny chapel or magnificent cathedral - articulates the divine Word in creation, which praises God in every living being and every living thing. (cf. Ps. 150.6)

In affirming sacred images, the Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea was not concerned with religious art; it was the continuation and confirmation of earlier definitions about the fullness of the humanity of God's Word. Icons are a visible reminder of our heavenly vocation; they are invitations to rise beyond our trivial concerns and menial reductions of the world. They encourage us to seek the extraordinary in the very ordinary, to be filled with the same wonder that characterized the divine marvel in Genesis: "God saw everything that He made; and, indeed, it was very good." (Gn. 1.30-31) The Greek (Septuagint) word for "goodness" is κάλλος, which implies -- etymologically and symbolically -- a sense of "calling." Icons underline the Church's fundamental mission to recognize that all people and all things are created and called to be "good" and "beautiful."

Indeed, icons remind us of another way of seeing things, another way of experiencing realities, another way of resolving conflicts. We are asked to assume what the hymnology of Easter Sunday calls "another way of living." For we have behaved arrogantly and dismissively toward the natural creation. We have refused to behold God's Word in the oceans of our planet, in the trees of our continents, and in the animals of our earth. We have denied our very own nature, which calls us to stoop low enough to hear God's Word in creation if we wish to "become participants of divine nature." (2 Pet 1.4) How could we ignore the wider implications of the divine Word assuming flesh? Why do we fail to perceive created nature as the extended Body of Christ?

St Maximus.jpgEastern Christian theologians always emphasized the cosmic proportions of divine incarnation. The incarnate Word is intrinsic to creation, which came to be through divine utterance. St. Maximus the Confessor insists on the presence of God's Word in all things (cf. Col. 3.11); the divine Logos stands at the center of the world, mysteriously revealing its original principle and ultimate purpose (cf. 1 Pet 1.20). This mystery is described by St. Athanasius of Alexandria:

As the Logos [he writes], he is not contained by anything and yet contains everything; He is in everything and yet outside of everything ... the first-born of the whole world in its every aspect.

The entire world is a prologue to the Gospel of John. And when the Church fails to recognize the broader, cosmic dimensions of God's Word, narrowing its concerns to purely spiritual matters, then it neglects its mission to implore God for the transformation -- always and everywhere, "in all places of His dominion" -- of the whole polluted cosmos. It is no wonder that on Easter Sunday, as the Paschal celebration reaches its climax, Orthodox Christians sing:

Now everything is filled with divine light: heaven and earth, and all things beneath the earth. So let all creation rejoice.

All genuine "deep ecology" is, therefore, inextricably linked with deep theology:

"Even a stone," writes Basil the Great, "bears the mark of God's Word. This is true of an ant, a bee and a mosquito, the smallest of creatures. For He spread the wide heavens and laid the immense seas; and He created the tiny hollow shaft of the bee's sting."

Recalling our minuteness in God's wide and wonderful creation only underlines our central role in God's plan for the salvation of the whole world.

3. Touching and Sharing the Word of God -- The Communion of Saints and the Sacraments of Life

The Word of God persistently "moves outside of Himself in ecstasy" (Dionysius the Areopagite), passionately seeking to "dwell in us" (Jn 1.14), that the world may have life in abundance. (Jn 10.10) God's compassionate mercy is poured and shared "so as to multiply the objects of His beneficence." (Gregory the Theologian) God assumes all that is ours, "in every respect being tested as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4.15), in order to offer us all that is God's and render us gods by grace. "Though rich, He becomes poor that we might become rich," writes the great Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 8.9), to whom this year is so aptly dedicated. This is the Word of God; gratitude and glory are due to Him.

The word of God receives His full embodiment in creation, above all in the Sacrament of icon2.jpgthe Holy Eucharist. It is there that the Word becomes flesh and allows us not simply to hear or see Him but to touch Him with our own hands, as St. John declares (I John 1,1) and make Him part of our own body and blood (σύσσωμοι καί σύναιμοι) in the words of St. John Chrysostom.

In the Holy Eucharist the Word heard is at the same time seen and shared (κοινωνία). It is not accidental that in the early eucharistic documents, such as the book of Revelation and the Didache, the Eucharist was associated with prophesy, and the presiding bishops were regarded as successors of the prophets (e.g. Martyrion Polycarpi). The Eucharist was already by St. Paul (I Cor. 11) described us "proclamation" of Christ's death and Second Coming. As the purpose of Scripture is essentially the proclamation of the Kingdom and the announcement of eschatological realities, the Eucharist is a foretaste of the Kindom, and in this sense the proclamation of the Word par excellence. In the Eucharist Word and Sacrament become one reality. The word ceases to be "words" and becomes a Person, embodying in Himself all human beings and all creation.

Within the life of the Church, the unfathomable self-emptying (κένωσις) and generous sharing (κοινωνία) of the divine Logos is reflected in the lives of the saints as the tangible experience and human expression of God's Word in our community. In this way, the Word of God becomes the Body of Christ, crucified and glorified at the same time. As a result, the saint has an organic relationship with heaven and earth, with God and all of creation. In ascetic struggle, the saint reconciles the Word and the world. Through repentance and purification, the saint is filled -- as Abba Isaac the Syrian insists -- with compassion for all creatures, which is the ultimate humility and perfection.

This is why the saint loves with warmth and spaciousness that are both unconditional and irresistible. In the saints, we know God's very Word, since -- as St. Gregory Palamas claims -- God and His saints share the same glory and splendor." In the gentle presence of a saint, we learn how theology and action coincide. In the compassionate love of the saint, we experience God as "our father" and God's mercy as "steadfastly enduring." (Ps. 135, LXX) The saint is consumed with the fire of God's love. This is why the saint imparts grace and cannot tolerate the slightest manipulation or exploitation in society or in nature. The saint simply does what is "proper and right" (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), always dignifying humanity and honoring creation. "His words have the force of actions and his silence the power of speech" (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

And within the communion of saints, each of us is called to "become like fire" (Sayings of the Desert Fathers), to touch the world with the mystical force of God's Word, so that -- as the extended Body of Christ -- the world, too, might say: "Someone touched me!" (cf. Mt 9.20) Evil is only eradicated by holiness, not by harshness. And holiness introduces into society a seed that heals and transforms. Imbued with the life of the sacraments and the purity of prayer, we are able to enter the innermost mystery of God's Word. It is like the tectonic plates of the earth's crust: the deepest layers need only shift a few millimeters to shatter the world's surface. Yet for this spiritual revolution to occur, we must experience radical metanoia -- a conversion of attitudes, habits and practices -- for ways that we have misused or abused God's Word, God's gifts and God's creation.

Such a conversion is, of course, impossible without divine grace; it is not achieved simply through greater effort or human willpower. "For mortals, it is impossible; but for God all things are possible." (Mt 19.26) Spiritual change occurs when our bodies and souls are grafted onto the living Word of God, when our cells contain the life-giving blood-flow of the sacraments, when we are open to sharing all things with all people. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us, the sacrament of "our neighbor" cannot be isolated from the sacrament of "the altar." Sadly, we have ignored the vocation and obligation to share. Social injustice and inequality, global poverty and war, ecological pollution and degradation result from our inability or unwillingness to share. If we claim to retain the sacrament of the altar, we cannot forgo or forget the sacrament of the neighbor -- a fundamental condition for realizing God's Word in the world within the life and mission of the Church.

Beloved Brothers in Christ,

We have explored the patristic teaching of the spiritual senses, discerning the power of icon.jpghearing and speaking God's Word in Scripture, of seeing God's Word in icons and nature, as well as of touching and sharing God's Word in the saints and sacraments. Yet, in order to remain true to the life and mission of the Church, we must personally be changed by this Word. The Church must resemble the mother, who is both sustained by and nourishes through the food she eats. Anything that does not feed and nourish everyone cannot sustain us either. When the world does not share the joy of Christ's Resurrection, this is an indictment of our own integrity and commitment to the living Word of God. Prior to the celebration of each Divine Liturgy, Orthodox Christians pray that this Word will be "broken and consumed, distributed and shared" in communion. And "we know that we have passed from death to life when we love our brothers" and sisters (1 Jn 3.14).

The challenge before us is the discernment of God's Word in the face of evil, the transfiguration of every last detail and speck of this world in the light of Resurrection. The victory is already present in the depths of the Church, whenever we experience the grace of reconciliation and communion. As we struggle -- in ourselves and in our world -- to recognize the power of the Cross, we begin to appreciate how every act of justice, every spark of beauty, every word of truth can gradually wear away the crust of evil. However, beyond our own frail efforts, we have the assurance of the Spirit, who "helps us in our weakness" (Rom. 8.26) and stands beside us as advocate and "comforter" (Jn 14-6), penetrating all things and "transforming us -- as St. Symeon the New Theologian says -- into everything that the Word of God says about the heavenly kingdom: pearl, grain of mustard seed, leaven, water, fire, bread, life and mystical wedding chamber." Such is the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, whom we invoke as we conclude our address, extending to Your Holiness our gratitude and to each of you our blessings:

Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth
Present everywhere and filling all things;
Treasury of goodness and giver of life:
Come, and abide in us.

And cleanse us from every impurity;
And save our souls.

For you are good and love humankind. Amen!

Gospel Commentary for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Rome, 19 October 2008
Published on Zenit.org

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

This Sunday's Gospel ends with one of those lapidary phrases of Jesus that have left a deep mark on history and on human language: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

Jesus & Caesar.JPGIt is no longer either Caesar or God, but Caesar and God, each on his appropriate level. It is the beginning of the separation of religion and politics, which until then had been inseparable among all peoples and regimes.

The Jews were used to understanding the future reign of God founded by the Messiah as a theocracy, that is, as a government directed by God ruling over the whole earth through his people. But now the words of Christ reveal a kingdom of God that is in this world but that is not of this world, that travels on a different wavelength and that, for this reason, can coexist with every other political regime, whether it be sacral or secular.


Here we see two qualitatively different sovereignties of God over the world: the spiritual sovereignty that constitutes the Kingdom of God and that is exercised directly in Christ, and the temporal and political sovereignty that God exercises indirectly, entrusting it to man's free choice and the play of secondary causes.


Caesar and God, however, are not put on the same level, because Caesar too depends on God and must answer to him. Thus "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" means: "Give to Caesar what God himself wants to be given to Caesar." God is sovereign over all, including Caesar. We are not divided between two loyalties; we are not forced to serve "two masters."

The Christian is free to obey the state, but he is also free to resist the state when it goes against God and his law. In such a case it is not legitimate to invoke the principle about the obedience that is owed to superiors, as war criminals often do when they are on trial. Before obeying men, in fact, you must first obey God and your own conscience. You cannot give your soul, which belongs to God, to Caesar.


St Paul Rigali Center.jpgSt. Paul was the first to draw practical conclusions from this teaching of Christ. He writes: "Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God. ... Whoever resists authority opposes the order that God has appointed. ... This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities who are in charge of this are ministers of God" (Romans 13:1 ff.).

Paying appropriately levied taxes is for the Christian (but also for every honest person) a duty of justice and therefore an obligation of conscience. Guaranteeing order, commerce and a whole series of other services, the state gives the citizen something to which it has a right for compensation in return, precisely to be able to continue these same services.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that tax evasion, when it reaches certain proportions, is a mortal sin equal to every other grave act of theft. It is stealing, not from the "state," that is from no one, but from the community, that is, from everyone. Naturally, this supposes that the state is just and equitable in imposing taxes.


Christian cooperation in building a just and peaceful society does not stop at paying taxes; it must also extend itself to the promotion of common values such as the family, the defense of life, solidarity with the poor, peace. There is also another sphere in which Christians must make a contribution to politics. It does not have to do with the content of politics so much as its methods, its style.

Christians must help to remove the poison from the climate of contentiousness in politics, bring back greater respect, composure and dignity to relationships between parties. Respect for one's neighbor, clemency, capacity for self-criticism: These are the traits that a disciple of Christ must have in all things, even in politics.

It is undignified for a Christian to give himself over to insults, sarcasm, brawling with his adversaries. If, as Jesus says, those who call their brother "stupid" are in danger of Gehenna, what then must we say about a lot of politicians?

Raniero Cantalamessa.jpgCapuchin Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for the 29th Sunday are Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21.

Julian Carron2.jpgRev. Father Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation

The Spanish group began by expressing the expectation of the participants relative to this Synod dedicated to the Word of God in the life of the Church. Everyone hopes that this represents an impulse on the evangelizing mission of the Church so that the Word of God reaches everybody, in the various situations that the Church must face, so that men may encounter the living Christ. We propose the following:

It is noted that among Catholics who are unfamiliar with the Old Testament and because of some embarrassment and resistance faced by passages understood with difficulty, these being the controversial questions of divine and human violence, the amorality of certain Biblical figures and a theology which is insufficient concerning the afterworld. Therefore, an adequate Biblical formation should be offered to the faithful, which would help understanding the Old Testament texts in their historical and literary context, but also and especially can facilitate Christian reading as the main hermeneutic key, since these texts acquire and show their full meaning in the New Testament.(cf. DV 16)We propose to move from a "Biblical pastoral" to a Biblical animation of all pastoral actions, that is to say, to place the Word of God as the "rock" that is the foundation, as the living source and as the inspiring breath of all of the life and of all the mission of the Church.(cf. DV 21.24) Between the diverse forms of announcing and transmitting the Word of God particular importance must be given to kerygma.

The task to announce Christ is the responsibility of each baptized person. In addition to the homily, to the actual preaching of the liturgical celebrations, it is necessary to recall the value of the preaching by all Christians in light of Baptism and of Confirmation.

Regarding the celebrations of the Word, many ecclesial communities, particularly those in the urban outskirts and in the rural areas, without Sunday Eucharistic celebrations, find the nourishment for their faith and to give a Christian witness, in the celebration of the Word of God.


In the formation of candidates to priesthood, the Word of God is essential to form the heart of a good pastor, future minister of the Word.

As pertains to the consecrated life, the academic Institutions of Sacred Scriptures, especially those in Rome and in Jerusalem, should be thanked for the great contribution they have made to the formation of exegetes and Biblicists, also the institutions of consecrated life should continue contributing to the study of the Holy Scripture, through these and other institutions, committed to spreading the knowledge of the Bible. Giving worth and careful attention in a particular way to the contemplative life is also indispensable. (cf. Benedict XVI, Angelus Address 18 November 2007). In contemplative life, the Word is welcomed, prayed and celebrated.

We feel a deep concern because of the influence of sects and new religious groups on the Catholic faithful, which sometimes bring them to even abandon the Church. This phenomenon harms our way of living the faith inside the Church and must be perceived as a call to witness it, so that the new life that Christ has brought us may shine on the face of our communities. Greater studies on the sects and the new examples of this phenomenon would be of great help, to face them suitably. In relationships with Islam and in dialogue with its representatives, its concept of the socio-political and judicial order -not always duly differentiated from religious order- should be kept in mind and its concept of marriage and the family where the role and the rights of the women are not dealt with as is foreseen in the doctrine of fundamental human rights and of the family institution and as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Most. Rev. Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University

Fisichella.jpgWe have reflected, in a special way on the first four questions raised by the Relatio post disceptationem and arrived at formulating indications for a number of Propositiones which I will sum up as follows.

It is necessary to clarify the sense of the dialogic dimension of Revelation, since the term refers to different dimensions such as "inter-religious dialogue", "ecumenical dialogue", "dialogue with cultures" ... When it is referring to Revelation, it takes on a meaning all of its own: this involves the primacy of the action of God who in freedom comes towards man; this implies that there can never be a parity between the two subjects.

It is vital for the expression Word of God be made unambiguous. This is not easy, but it is necessary. One of the most important considerations of the Synod shows that the Word of God cannot only be identified with the Bible. The Word of God is Christ, the Word of the Father. His preaching, like his acts, have been given to the Church which remains the primary subject that under the action of the Holy Spirit transmits Christ uninterruptedly as the announcement of salvation (DV).

The announcement of the Word of God is the first duty of the Church. An explicit announcement, always and everywhere, that is accompanied by a coherent testimony of living that renders evident the content and reinforces it. What Dei Verbum affirms for the revelation that takes place gestis verbisque intrinsice inter se connexis (DV 2), by analogy is applied to the Church that carries out its evangelizing mission with the announcement of Christ and the testimony of a coherent lifestyle.

It was felt necessary to observe that in a generalized context of secularization - that goes way beyond the Western countries --particular attention be paid, above all, to creating forms of listening so that whoever places themselves in front of the Sacred Scripture knows they are in front of God who is speaking. This demands, furthermore, a formation that allows the discovery of how the reading of the Word converts the heart, opens up to penance and sets out on a path of new life. In this context, the importance of a permanent education is underlined, above all of catechists, that allows the overcoming of the major obstacle of a lack of knowledge of the basic contents of faith, which should cause great alarm to our pastoral action.

The liturgy remains as the privileged place in which the Word of God expresses itself fully. It is necessary to overcome the gap between Bible and Liturgy, Word and Sacrament. This happens to the extent to which it reinforces the idea that the Word of God is Christ Himself in His differentiated presence in the life of His Church; above all in the real presence of the Eucharistic sacrifice; also when the sacraments are celebrated; therefore, when "the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks present in his own word" (SC 7). What has to grow, therefore, is the knowledge of a profound unity that reaches its high point in the Holy Eucharist.

The different ways in which Lectio Divina is celebrated pose the question of whether we shouldn't clarify, above all, what is really meant by this action, so as not to leave the wealth of the tradition of the Church Fathers and Medieval teachers in the dark. The growing value that is placed on the Lectio forces us to remember that this is not the only way to meet the Word of God.


Most. Rev. Gerald Frederick Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson, Vice President of Episcopal Conference

G Kicanas.jpgThe group suggested that the tone of the exhortation should be hope filled, needs to energize the Church around the Word of God and should be pastoral and missionary.

The group identified critical areas about which propositions should be developed. A wide range of areas surfaced. First the need to give greater recognition to lay catechists, Catholic School teachers, youth ministers, and lay biblical animators. They need to be better formed and prepared. Second, the need to understand what is attracting people to the Sects and learn from them. Third, [to work on] how preaching might be improved and made more vibrant. Fourth, the need to emphasize and highlight the contemplative dimension. Fifth, [there needs to be a way of] finding structures to bring together exegetes, liturgists, theologians, and bishops. Sixth, the need to give greater emphasis to consecrated life, pneumatology, healing and the Sacrament of Penance, and the use of media.

The dialogic nature of the Word of God needs greater emphasis. There are few opportunities in parishes to teach the necessary theology. Even more important than teaching is modeling a dialogic manner. The group discussed the need to enhance the way we read the Word. There is a need to better form people in the Word through Lectio Divina, dramatization, working with parents who are the primary educators of their children,

There was a mixed reaction to a compendium on preaching. We need to do something but group did not agree that this would be helpful. Suggestion was made for a compendium on helping people read the Word of God.

There was not a strong feeling that there needs to be a revision of the Lectionary. While some Old Testament texts are difficult, they should not be dropped. Perhaps alternatives could be available. There was concern that the question about the relation between exegetes and theologians implies a rift between them. Rather we should encourage cooperation. Scholars should have an opportunity to work in pastoral settings.

Finally the group explored relations with other Christians and with Jews. Concern was raised that Jews sometimes feel that Catholics downplay their positions for dialogue. They do not want that. Bringing the experience of the Synod to other Christian churches might foster communion


During the Fourteenth General Congregation, Tuesday morning 14 October 2008, after B16.jpgthe pause, the Holy Father Benedict XVI intervened with a reflection on the Synodal theme.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the work for my book on Jesus offers ample occasion to see all the good that can come from modern exegesis, but also to recognize the problems and risks in it. Dei Verbum 12 offers two methodological indications for suitable exegetic work. In the first place, it confirms the need to use the historical-critical method, briefly describing the essential elements. This need is the consequence of the Christian principle formulated in Jn 1:14 Verbum caro factum est. The historical fact is a constitutive dimension of Christian faith. The history of salvation is not a myth, but a true story and therefore to be studied with the same methods as serious historical research.

However, this history has another dimension, that of divine action. Because of this Dei Verbum mentions a second methodological level necessary for the correct interpretation of the words, which are at the same time human words and divine Word. The Council says, following a fundamental rule for any interpretation of a literary text, that Scripture must be interpreted in the same spirit in which it was written and thereby indicates three Holy Spirit2.jpgfundamental methodological elements to bear in mind the divine dimension, the pneumatology of the Bible: one must, that is 1) interpret the text bearing in mind the unity of the entire Scripture; today this is called canonical exegesis; at the time of the Council this term had not been created, but the Council says the same thing: one must bear in mind the unity of all of Scripture; 2) one must then bear in mind the living tradition of the whole Church, and finally 3) observe the analogy of faith. Only where the two methodological levels, the historical-critical and the theological one, are observed, can one speak about theological exegesis - of an exegesis suitable for this Book. While the first level today's academic exegesis works on a very high level and truly gives us help, the same cannot be said about the other level. Often this second level, the level constituted of the three theological elements indicated by Dei Verbum seems to be almost absent. And this has rather serious consequences.

The first consequence of the absence of this second methodological level is that the Bible becomes a book only about the past. Moral consequences can be drawn from it, one can learn about history, but the Book only speaks about the past and its exegesis is no longer truly theological, becoming historiography, the history of literature. This is the first consequence: the Bible remains in the past, speaks only of the past. There is also a second even more serious consequence: where the hermeneutics of faith, indicated by Dei Verbum, disappear, another type of hermeneutics appears of necessity, a secularized, positivistic hermeneutics, whose fundamental key is the certitude that the Divine does not appear in human history. According to this hermeneutic, when there seems to be a divine element, one must explain where it came from and bring it to the human element Resurrection.jpgcompletely. Because of this, interpretations that deny the historicity of divine elements emerge. Today, the so-called mainstream of exegesis in Germany denies, for example, that the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist and says that Jesus' corpse stayed in the tomb. The Resurrection would not be an historical event, but a theological vision. This occurs because the hermeneutic of faith is missing: therefore a profane philosophical hermeneutic is stated, which denies the possibility of entering and of the real presence of the Divine in history. The consequence of the absence of the second methodological level is that a deep chasm was created between scientific exegesis and lectio divina. This, at times, gives rise to a form of perplexity even in the preparation of homilies. Where exegesis is not theology, Scripture cannot be the soul of theology and, vice versa, when theology is not essentially the interpretation of the Scripture in the Church, this theology has no foundation anymore.

Therefore for the life and the mission of the Church, for the future of faith, this dualism between exegesis and theology must be overcome. Biblical theology and systematic theology are two dimensions of the one reality, what we call Theology. Due to this, I would hope that in one of the propositions the need to bear in mind the two methodological levels indicated in Dei Verbum 12 be mentioned, where the need to develop an exegesis not only on the historical level, but also on the theological level is needed. Therefore, widening the formation of future exegetes in this sense is necessary, to truly open the treasures of the Scripture to today's world and to all of us.

North American Martyrs

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In the North American context these martyrs demonstrate for me the work of grace in the

North American martyrs.jpgface of tremendous hardship which some would say evil. As a child when visiting my grandparents on their farm in Fonda, New York, my family would make the trip for Mass to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, located in the beautiful Mohawk Valley. I learned early in my life that these martyrs, followed Jesus very closely, even to the point of identifying with Christ crucified and offering their total being to the point of death. The deaths of these men were particularly gruesome. The Gospel pericope for the feast and which focuses the mission is what Saint Matthew records: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."


Brief biographies of the martyrs


Jesuit Father John Hardon's reflection on the North American martyrs


Jesuit Father James Martin's reflection on the martyrs



Jesuit Priests
St. Jean de Brebeuf

St. Nöel Chabanel
St. Anthony Daniel

St. Charles Garnier
St. Issac Joques
St. Gabriel Lalemant


St. Rene Goupil

St. Jean de la Lande


Father, you consecrated the first beginnings of the faith in North America by preaching and martyrdom of Saints John & Isaac and their companions. By the help of their prayers may the Christian faith continue to grow throughout the world.


It is said that Father Jogues succeeded in burying Brother Rene Goupil calling him a martyr, because slain in hatred of God and the Church, and of their sign which is the Cross, and while exercising ardent charity towards his neighbor.

Receive guests as Christ

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Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because He will say: "I guesthouse.jpgwas a stranger and you took Me in" (Mt 25:35). And let due honor be shown to all, especially to those "of the household of the faith" (Gal 6:10) and to wayfarers. (Rule of Saint Benedict, 53)

The New York Times Travel section today has a good article promoting monastic guesthouses. The author Jane Margolies has an appreciation for the simplicity and serenity of the monastic cloister which in turn welcomes travelers. Read the article and consider a monastery guest on your next trip.

Saint Luke

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Adrienne von Speyer speaks of Saint Luke in Book of All Saints as man whose 'internal St Luke3.jpgattitude is essentially shaped by the fact that he gave up his profession in order to allow himself to be taken up into the new life, without any assurances. Of course, he brings his previous understanding and his previous capacities with him. But he submits them altogether to testing in the faith."


Von Speyer also notes Luke's "confessional attitude toward the Lord." In another place she calls to mind that Saint Luke serves the Lord and the early Church -indeed all of humanity--with his whole being, completely spending himself. But he performs his service in a posture of dependence: he shows us what it means to be dependent on the Lord, the One who redeems us.


Subordinate to Saint Paul's goodness, Luke learns from Paul that the Christ is only source on which to depend. It, therefore, it can be said that as a student of Paul, Saint Luke does everything to reflect what he's been taught. As Luke did everything "ad majorem gloriam Pauli," so we must be humble enough to do whatever the Lord asks in obedience.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

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It is therefore befitting that you should in every way glorify Jesus Christ, who has glorified St Ignatius of Antioch.jpgyou, that by a unanimous obedience you may be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, and may all speak the same thing concerning the same thing, 1 Corinthians 1:10 and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, you may in all respects be sanctified.


I do not issue orders to you, as if I were some great person. For though I am bound for the name [of Christ], I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For now I begin to be a disciple, and I speak to you as fellow-disciples with me. For it was needful for me to have been stirred up by you in faith, exhortation, patience, and long-suffering. But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that you would all run together in accordance with the will of God. For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the [manifested] will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds [of the earth], are so by the will of Jesus Christ.


harp.jpgWherefore it is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also you do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung. And man by man, become a choir, that being harmonious in love, and taking up the song of God in unison, you may with one voice sing to the Father through Jesus Christ, so that He may both hear you, and perceive by your works that you are indeed the members of His Son. It is profitable, therefore, that you should live in an unblameable unity, that thus you may always enjoy communion with God.


Saint Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-110)


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What brings more scandal to the faithful than the witness of the clergy and monks? I am not Church of the Holy Sepulchre.jpg sure, but this story in the UK Times illustrates that conversion is long way off. The actions of these monks makes me think that Christ matters not to these men. I am saddened but these petty men.

In another place....

Franciscan calls monastery roof dispute in Holy Land nothing new

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- A report saying that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's Deir al-Sultan monastery on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is in danger of collapse is just another manifestation of a long-standing dispute, said a Franciscan friar. "This is an old, long-standing issue; a long-standing property dispute" between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church, said Father Athanasius Macora, who monitors the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. "I don't think the danger is imminent but there is a problem which needs to be dealt with," said Father Macora. He noted that the latest engineering report was initiated by the Ethiopian church, which is eager to have repairs made. Parts of the report were published in the Israeli daily Haaretz Oct. 7. The article called the complex "a danger to human life." The monastery, made up of two chapels, an open courtyard, four service and storage rooms, and a series of tiny mud-hut rooms inhabited by Ethiopian monks, is reminiscent of a small African village. All agree it is in poor shape.

Card. Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice

Angelo Scola.jpgDei Verbum, 25 exhorts all the faithful "to move voluntarily towards the sacred text through pious reading ("per piam lectionem")", linked to prayer: "so that dialogue between God and man may take place". Pious reading is not merely study, but a personal relationship with the Lord, because "one can read the Bible without faith, but without faith one cannot scrutinize the Word of God" (IL 26a). Sacred Scripture is the inspired and normative testimony of revelation. The source of the testimony of Scripture is Jesus Christ himself, the faithful witness of the Covenant of God with men. The testimony of the work of salvation of Jesus is at the origin of Scripture. Therefore this can only be adequately understood by the witness. So to be pious, the reading of Scripture has to pass from Witness to witness. The category of witness places the Church in the front line as the subject of pious reading. This is the road of realism that avoids every fundamentalist and intellectual drift, obstacles in reading that exclude the witness of the Church, where the Word is heard in faith. This understanding of Scripture guarantees the primacy of the personal meeting with Christ, against every reduction of the Word of God to a book.


Rev. Father Adolfo Nicolás, S.I., Superior General of the Society of Jesus

In these days of the Synod we have heard a good number of those aspects that make the Adolfo Nicolás.jpgHoly Scriptures such a precious gift from God.

And yet we continue to feel that there will always be new or unanswered. The questions that reach us most often are of a pastoral character. The people of God continue to ask the pastoral question: How can we read the Scriptures so that they produce in us, in our hearts, in our families and in our communities all the good effects that Christian Tradition has proclaimed through the Centuries?

Allow me to address just one concrete aspect within the wider pastoral breadth of the question. This aspect is the so-called "Medicinal" or "Transforming" power of the Word of God. It is my conviction that the Word of God can claim in a high degree a ''therapeutic'' role in the life of the Christian community.

Every time we "enter" the World of the Bible, we are exposed to a New World: God's World; God's action; God's teaching of his people. The encounter, if real, can be shocking, surprising, enlightening, soothing or consoling. It can also be misunderstood and lost.

Thus the conditions of the encounter are all important. Pastors and Ministers of the Word have to become good helpers for good and fruitful encounters. We need to know where people really are (diagnosis); we need the skills for presenting the Word (teaching, preaching, biblical catechesis); we are expected to be good company in the search for depth (contemplation); and we are ordained or commissioned for good Christian leadership (service of love for community and Christian living).

Which means that Pastors and Ministers of the Word need training for good diagnosis, for wise application of forms of reading, for deeper prayer and interiorization of the Word of God, and for a meaningful accompaniment that helps the faithful discern the action of the Spirit in and through the reading of the Bible.

Since this is a fine skill that requires deep spiritual sense, adequate training and discerned commissioning, it seems highly needed that this training be included in the preparation for pastoral minis1ry and in programs of ongoing formation for all Priests. Moreover all Parishes and/or Dioceses should have access to Centers or Trained persons that can offer this service to individuals or communities and who can train catechists and other lay ministers in this important service.


Card. Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches

1. I thank the Lord and the Church for the powerful return to the Word of God, thanks to Crdl Leonardo Sandri.jpgthe impulse of Vatican Council II. That was a Biblical renewal according to the Life-Giving Tradition of the Church. That renewal is still ongoing, and it may receive helpful stimuli from the Synod. I thank the Holy Father for this convocation that involves us in a collegial discipleship dealing with the Divine Word. Making ourselves listeners to and disciples of Christ, who speaks in the Church (Ipse loquitur duro sacrae Scripturae in Ecclesia leguntur ... SC 7), we offer the highest example of our being "Christian shepherds": the Word of God is the evangelical gate by which we enter the fold. Whoever does not enter by this gate is a hired man not a shepherd (cf Jn 10:2).



2. Constant personal and community commitment in favor of all Biblical initiatives in the academic field, such as in ordinary Catholic education and making the daily pastoral an act of obedience to the Word, are to be encouraged in attachment to the Word. The Word of God will always lead us to the Sacrament, especially the Holy Eucharist, from which springs forth ecclesial communion. From the perspective of daily obedience, I would like to highlight the importance of the further study and personal appropriation of the Word of God after the liturgical proclamation.

3. The priority of Biblical formation in all the categories of the people of God should be reaffirmed. The criterio princeps, though, in the approach to the Biblical sciences should be that they do not negate, through their sometimes exaggerated criticism, the sense of an existential meeting with Christ. What is indispensable, therefore, is the zeal of the shepherds, above all in the homily, and in order not to extinguish the prophetic charge of the Word of God, we have to insist that it never transforms itself into an opportunity for secular or even personal argumentation, and that it be the moment of highest obedience to the Word in a true sense for the preachers of the Word. Formation in the seminaries and ordinary updating of the clergy and of us bishops remain a priority and should be accompanied by the "prayerful" Biblical spirituality, in which we decide ever more each day to look for and find Christ and with Him the brothers we should lead with us on a daily basis in obedience to the faith.



5. The Eastern Churches were able to evangelize cultures that were very far from the thinking of Christ and generate admirable liturgical, theological and spiritual traditions, lived by disciples who were faithful to the point of martyrdom. I render homage to those who remain faithful to the Word of Christ, especially in the East, in the darkest adversities of the present, and I unhesitatingly invite the Synodal Fathers to pray as brothers and as shepherds for the present and future of the Christian East. Thank you.


Rev. Father Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, O.P., Master of the Order of Preachers

The "primacy" of the Holy Scripture has its basis precisely in Trinitarian life.

Carlos Costa.jpgThe great Medieval Doctors (Saint Albert the Great, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Thomas Aquinas) fully understood this; for them, the procession of people, within the unity of the divine essence is "the cause and the explicit reason of the procession of the same creatures." The Word, genitus creator, has from the Father the will to make itself flesh and to suffer for us ab aeterno.

God wished to reveal Himself to mankind in human form, through human culture, people and languages and through the very life of Jesus. While this form is for us a guarantee of the value of our nature , of history and of human cultures - with their different languages - it also poses complex problems of interpretation.

As the reality of the creation is not rationally understandable without an adequate grounding in metaphysics - l'analogia entis - so knowledge of the Holy Scripture requires profound knowledge of the cultures and literary genres in which it was expressed; thus making possible a less inadequate perception of its literal sense and also the recognition of the analogical quality of the terms used.


Christian faith, for all the fact that it is "religion", must first of all be considered as "religion of the Spirit", because the New Testament is principally the same Holy Spirit which in us produces charity and only secondarily, being "letter" may be considered "religion of the Book".

This process of revelation and of salvation is also the unveiling of the veritas iustitiae of our life, of the justice of God which is the foundation of the truth of our being and which is, for us, above all "justifying justice" that is to say based on its mercy which is the permanent precondition of divine justice, because it is the first root and also its crowning.


Card. Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon

In the Bible, all must be read! At the heart of the Word of God, Scripture is a source that Philippe Barbarin.jpgirrigates the path of the Church. The liturgy of the Word must be surrounded by a beautiful solemnity, this is a requirement, because this is the usual meeting place between God and His people. The liturgical readings should be chosen with one essential criteria in mind: unity of the message offered by the Word. Even if the cutouts pose various questions, certain absences pose greater and more questions. This is due to the rooted fears that one must give up.


An eyewitness of the Transfiguration, he recalls that Scriptures allow us to learn about the Presence of Our Lord. Its objective is to not lose the memory, or contact with Scriptures, the accomplishment of Jesus' life. This word contains, so as to say in the Bible, the value of a spiritual testament given to the entire Church: Beware of pride that will lead you to thinking that the ancient words are no longer of any interest. On the contrary we must hold "more firmly to the prophetic word". This exhortation is not displaced only for the Jews, Does this not welcome the prophetic word especially as a renewed invitation in obeying the Torah? In truth, the prophets remind us that God can freely burst in on the life of His people. Let us therefore hold on to their word more firmly, after Jesus showed us its meaning and depth.

It is always up to the son of the centuries, we have seen this sad tendency to "forget" the Holy Scriptures in the Christians, to look at them like "sophisticated fables". On the contrary, we need "through the Holy Spirit, that men continue to speak to us on behalf of God". The Scriptures remain "a shining lamp" in our present shadows. She keeps us in humility, "waiting for the day to shine and the morning star to rise in our hearts".

This is why, until the coming of the Lord, we must continue reading all Scriptures.


Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

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Today is the liturgical memorial of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a

Alacoque.jpgVisitation nun who promoted the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the request of the Lord Himself. Saint Margaret Mary's life was filled with suffering, both physical and from interpersonal issues because of her sisters in the monastery. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, was often overcome by anguish and uncertainty but with the assistance of Saint Claude la Colombière. She was known to have died saying the Holy Name of Jesus.


Many of us heard of the promises the Lord made through Saint Margaret Mary and we may have known or have done many the things the Lord has asked without really knowing where they come from, so for our edification I have included the promises herewith:


The Twelve Promises of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary for those devoted to His Sacred Heart:


1.      I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2.      I will establish peace in their families.

3.      I will console them in all their troubles.

4.      They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.

5.      I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6.      Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.

7.      Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8.      Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9.      I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10.  I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.

11.  Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.

12.  The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Most Rev. Paolo Pezzi, F.S.C.B., Archbishop of Mother of God in Moscow

Paolo Pezzi.jpgIn this historical moment, the Word of God cannot be separated from the event of Jesus Christ. He is the Logos (Word), the Father's communication, His face (cf. Col 1,15). At the same time, we cannot forget that the words and deeds of Jesus were handed down through the work and suggestion (inspiration) of the Holy Spirit Himself. His life was transmitted and such transmission continues until our days. In this sense the words of Benedict XVI, at the beginning of his encyclical letter on charity are decisive: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction".

In present relativism, which leans to level off any differences, so that all words are valid and none is more valid than the other, where all is reduced to a game of opinions, the Biblical word must incarnate itself in the beauty of its witnesses, if it wants to draw the world towards the truth. In Instrumentum Laboris (48), it is cleverly pointed out that "Making the Word of God and the Sacred Scriptures the soul of his pastoral activity, the bishop is capable of bringing the faithful to encounter Christ" [...] "so that, through their own experience, the faithful will see that the words of Jesus are spirit and life (cf. Jn 6:63) [...]".

The announcement of the Word of God, should therefore have as its scope making persons, so to speak, that they are in the presence of the living Person: be witnesses of the Person of Jesus Christ, the Logos became flesh. Or according to Saint Paul's splendid words: it should be "a clear picture of Jesus Christ crucified, right in front of your eyes". The Word of God is a source of an evermore deep and authentic knowledge of Christ, of "the knowledge of God's glory, the glory on the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). Such glory of Christ kindles a fire in us, becomes a desire to witness Him. It is said in Instrumentum Laboris (54) that "listening to the Word of God is a priority for our ecumenical commitment". It is necessary to renew among Christians the tension towards the person of Christ Himself, the desire to understand and know more deeply His mystery. Through the encounter with the Word made flesh, made possible by the Spirit, we rediscover communion with Him: it is the force of the Spirit of the Risen Christ that attracts the scattered people towards His only body.


Most Rev. Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University

S Fischella.jpgThe Dei Verbum had still not been discovered and developed in its great intuition that constituted an authentic dogmatic progress; the Council fathers in fact had recovered the Biblical concept of the uniqueness of the source. This allowed Sacred Scripture to be understood within the life of the Church which does not just live by it but is responsible for its being alive, complete and fruitful. Many believers when asked what they mean by "Word of God" reply: the Bible. This is not a wrong answer, but it is incomplete or at least it shows an incomplete perception of the richness present in the expression and leads, as a consequence, to identifying Christianity as the "religion of the book". It is necessary that in our language we do not fall into the uncertain expression "the three religions of the book". Christianity is the religion of the "word". It is important to strive for the construction of a culture that sees sacred Scripture as a living word, dynamically open to the truth of the revelation it contains. If we do not present this teaching in its totality in the various instruments we possess for the training of our people, we risk humiliating the Word of God because we reduce it exclusively to a written text without the provocative force to bring meaning to life any longer. As the Apostle reminds us: "God's message cannot be chained up" (2 Tm 2:9).

What we are always faced with is the inexhaustibility of the Word of God; it is like the bush that burns without going out. We are called to exercise a ministry that permits this Word of Life to spread so that everyone in every part of the world can grasp its profound meaning in such a way as to obtain salvation. In a time like ours filled with attempts to marginalize the sacred texts as bearers of meaning only insofar as they are myths, with no historical character and destined only for the naïve, it is important that they find the necessary forms to restore historical value and provocativeness about the sense of existence. We really are faced with a teaching emergency that brings back to the center of our life of faith the theme of salvation. Again Dei Verbum reminds us how much has been transmitted and written on the "salvation announcement" (DV 7). The various cultural tendencies present in the modern world have not only perverted the meaning of salvation but they have marginalized it as useless and illusionary. Representing the Word of God in its totality means pointing the scope of its teaching towards the theme of our salvation.


Rev. Father Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation


The Instrumentum Laboris and the General Report have pointed out that the interpretation of the Bible is one of the most pressing concerns in the Church today (Instrumentum laboris 19-31). The essence of the challenge raised by the question of modern interpretation of Holy Scripture was identified some years ago by the then Cardinal Ratzinger: "How can I reach an understanding that is not based on the judgment of my own presuppositions, a comprehension that permits me truly to understand the message of the text, giving me something that comes not from myself?" («L'interpretazione biblica in conflitto. Problemi del fondamento ed orientamento dell'esegesi contemporanea», in AA.VV., L'Esegesi cristiana oggi, Casale Monteferrato 1991, pp. 93-125).

The Church's recent Magisterium offers us some elements for avoiding any possible reduction regarding this difficulty.

It was the Second Vatican Council's merit to have recuperated a concept of revelation as the event of God in history. In fact, Dei Verbum allows us to understand revelation as the event of the self-communication of the Trinity in the Son, both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation," in whom "the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out," (DV2) through the Holy Spirit in human history. It is Christ who "perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth." (DV 4).

The encyclical Deus Caritas Est quite rightly recalls that "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. (DCE 1¸cf. FR 7)

This event does not belong only to the past, to one moment of time and space, but remains present in history, communicating itself through the whole life of the Church that welcomes it. For "Christ's relevance for people of all times is shown forth in his body, which is the Church. (VS 25 cf. FR 11). As the Apostles transmitted "what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did" (DV 7), so the Church "in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes" (DV 8). Precisely because of this character of event proper to revelation and to its transmission, the Conciliar Constitution stresses that though "expressed in a special way in the inspired books" (cf. DV 8), the event of revelation does not coincide with Holy Scripture. The word of the Bible witnesses Revelation, but does not contain it in such a way as to be able to exhaust it in itself. For this reason, "it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed" (DV 9).

If revelation has the character of an historical event, when it comes into contact with man it cannot fail to strike him, provoking his reason and his freedom. The Gospel narratives in their simplicity show this, witnessing to the wonder that Jesus' person aroused in those who met Him (Cf. Mk 1:27; 2:12; Lk 5:9) Jesus' presence widens our vision so we can see and recognize what is before us (Cf. Lk 24, Emmaus). The encyclical Fides et Ratio insists on this when it affirms that men "can make no claim upon this truth [of revelation], which comes to them as gift and which, set within the context of interpersonal communication, urges reason to be open to it and to embrace its profound meaning" (FR 13).

So the encyclical characterizes the impact that revealed truth provokes in man who encounters it with a twofold impulse: a) it widens reason so as to make it adequate to the object; b) it facilitates the acceptance of its deep meaning. Instead of mortifying man's reason and freedom, revelation enables both to grow to the fullness of their original condition.

Relationship with the tradition living in the Church's body enables each and every man to share in the experience of those who encountered Jesus. Astounded by His unique exceptionality, these began a journey that enabled them to reach certainty about his absolute claim, that of being God. Those who make this journey do not accept naively the tradition they meet, but on the contrary put it to the proof, thus enabling their reason to grasp its truth.

The experience of encounter with Christ present in the Church's living tradition is an event and becomes, therefore, the determining factor in the interpretation of the biblical text. It is the only way to enter into harmony with the experience witnessed by the text of Scripture, for "correct knowledge of the biblical text is accessible only to those who have a lived affinity with what the text speaks of" (PCB 70). I was able to document this hermeneutical principle in a simple but meaningful episode that occurred some years ago in Madrid. There was a young man who had had no contact with Christianity; when he met a living Christian community he began to participate and to attend Holy Mass. After the first occasions of hearing the Gospel, he commented: "What happened to us happened to them!" It was the ecclesial present that disclosed the meaning of the Gospel account.

In synthesis, "[The apostles'] capacity to believe was completely sustained and activated by the revealing person of Jesus," according to the fine expression of [Cardinal] Hans Urs von Balthasar, enabled them to grasp the mystery of His person and adhere to Him. Analogically, today our reason needs the Event present in the tradition of living witnesses so as to open up to the Mystery of Christ, who comes towards us in them. But we will be able to recognize the unmistakable features of Jesus Christ only if we are familiar with the unique, canonical witness of His absolutely original features offered by the Sacred Scriptures. St. Augustine summarized it well: "In manibus nostris sunt codices, in oculis nostris facta."


Card. Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

Crdl DiNardo.jpgThe Eternal Word emptied himself for our salvation. In an analogous way the Holy Spirit has also given and "humbled" himself in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. With great courtesy he has adapted the divine "language" with thought towards our human nature (Dei Verbum, 9 and 11). The record of even small, seemingly trivial events in Sacred Scripture, are·taken up into the very economy of our salvation and deification.

I speak in behalf of Catholics who live in the famous Bible Belt of the Southern United States. It is a genuine location, but it is also a frame of mind, diffused through many places in the world. There are surely issues and problems with this mind set, but it has kept alive a Biblical imagination and vocabulary and a sense of divine agency in the world that is important for us. In the Instrumentum Laboris, #18 a-g and 22 c-d, the Word of God is spoken about in a deeply rich christological way. The pneumatology, however, is more discrete. Catholics in the Bible Belt need a pneumatology that can help them in reading Scripture.

I would recommend the publication of a Compendium, similar to other such documents, that would be directed to the faithful. It would be a clear and direct guide that would highlight the rich and useful methods of the Church for reading and sharing the Sacred Scriptures. Such a Compendium would be an immeasurable help for personal bible reading, for Bible Study groups etc. Totally ecclesial and Catholic, it would also be of great help in ecumenical bible studies in which many of our people are enrolled. It would help retrieve a vivid and excellent sense of the Catholic understanding of the Holy Spirit's inspiration in the Sacred Scriptures.


Right Rev. Nicholas Thomas Wright, Bishop of Durham, Anglican Church

NT Wright.jpg1. We face the same challenges as you: not only secularism and relativism, but also postmodernity. Uncertainty here breeds anxiety: (a) the Bible might tell us unwelcome things; (b) its message might be stifled.

2. A fourfold reading of scripture as the love of God: heart (Lectio Divina, liturgical reading); mind (historical/critical study); soul (church life, tradition, teaching) and strength (mission, kingdom of God). These must be balanced.

3. In particular, we need fresh mission-oriented engagement with our own culture. Paragraph 57 of the Instrumentum Laboris implies that Paul's engagement merely purifies and elevates what is there in the culture. But Paul also confronts pagan idolatry, and so must we. In particular, we must engage critically with the tools and methods of historical/critical scholarship themselves.

4. The climax of the Canon is Jesus Christ, especially his cross and resurrection. These events are not only salvific. They provide a hermeneutical principle, related to the Jewish tradition of 'critique from within'.

5. Mary as model: Fiat (mind); Magnificat (strength); Conservabat (heart) - but also Stabat, waiting patiently in the soul, the tradition and expectation of the church, for the new, unexpected and perhaps unwelcome, but yet saving, revelation.

Lectio Divina

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Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales, Auxiliary Bishop of Valparaíso, (Chile) presented

this Explanatory Exposition of Lectio Divina at the Synod of Bishops today:

This explanation is not as much to understand, but to make Lectio Divina  more systematic, to live it personally and help the community to live it.


The first aspect to be considered in Lectio Divina is a spirituality understood as the dynamism of holiness:

- God moves towards humanity and invites it to live in communion with Him. The revelation, understood in categories of dialogue and encounter, requires a reading of the Word of God as the place for communion. The Holy Scripture and Lectio Divina require a theological and a personal approach.

- God offers Himself completely through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus the Son of Man, is the vocation of man, inasmuch as a human being. The encounter with Jesus "leads us to ourselves": personality, history, motivations, intentions, and "recreates" us, a new creature in Jesus, the new Adam.

The second aspect, the identity and the function of the Holy Scripture in the life of the Church.


The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum shows that the Holy Scripture is:

- the written Word of God, that must be interpreted;
- is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is an actual and efficacious Word, which must be realized;
- is entrusted to the Church for the salvation of all: it is the Word that calls and that one must proclaim

How can we nourish ourselves with the richness of the Holy Scripture to follow the Lord and grow on the path to holiness?

The practice of Lectio Divina is the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture, individual or in a group, to "learn the heart of God through the words of God" (Saint Gregory the Great). The Holy Scripture is the written Word of God. In reading (re-interpreting), we ask ourselves: What does the Biblical text say? We must understand the Word to discover what God teaches us through the inspired author.

The Holy Spirit is inspired by the Holy Spirit. In meditation (personalizing), we ask ourselves: "What does the Lord say in His Word?" We must practice the Word to call upon life, learn its meaning, better our mission and reinforce hope. In prayer we ask: What do we say to the Lord, motivated by His Word? We must pray the Word for dialogue with God and celebrate our faith in the family or in the community.

The Holy Scripture is entrusted to the Church for salvation. In contemplation-practice (proclaiming), we ask ourselves: "What conversion is asked for by the contemplation of the Lord?" We must contemplate the Word (Jesus) to live according to the criteria of the Father (conversion). Practical example: (John 1:35-42), encounter with the first disciples of Jesus.

lectio2.jpgPrepare the external setting (ambo, Bible...) and the spiritual one ("be seated", "clear heart"...).

    ·         Invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit

    ·         Look for the Biblical passage

    ·         Reading: proclaim the text, making the silences important as well. Read the passage personally and mark with a question mark what you do not understand, or underline it when it seems to be the main message of the reading.

In a group, discover the main message following the signs. Continue reading the passage, putting an exclamation point, for meditation, when the passage calls for intentions and actions; with an asterisk, for prayer when the passage helps us pray.


Ø  Reading

Ø  Meditation


Ø  Prayer

Ø  Contemplation

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli writes:

Arthur J Serratelli.jpg 

After committing a murder in Rome, the famous 17th century Italian painter Caravaggio went to Malta to avoid the death penalty. While there, the Great Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta commissioned him to do a painting for the chapel of the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta. Caravaggio chose as his theme the martyrdom of John the Baptist. He produced The Beheading of St. John, his largest work, the only one he ever signed. No doubt the scene touched him personally. 


Herod was married to Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Because John the Baptist preached against this sin, he incurred the hatred of Herod's wife. The day her daughter Salome delighted Herod with her seductive dance, Herodias had her make Herod promise to kill John the Baptist. Within the severe architecture of a 16th century prison, Caravaggio vividly depicts the grisly moment when Herod kept his promise.


Caravaggio's work, considered his greatest masterpiece, immortalizes the misguided fidelity of a ruler to his gruesome promise. With the stroke of the soldier's sword, John dies and so does freedom. Freedom is based on the truth of the human person as created by God and protected by his law.


When a ruler can decide against God's law, true freedom is sentenced to death.


Recently, a politician made a promise. Politicians usually do. If this politician fulfills his promise, not only will many of our freedoms as Americans be taken from us, but the innocent and vulnerable will spill their blood.


On April 18, 2007, in Gonzales v. Carhart, The Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. The very next day prominent Democratic members of Congress reintroduced the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The bill is misleadingly packaged as a freedom bill. It is not! It is a clear act of unreasoned bias to end abruptly and brutally the debate on the pressing and fundamental moral issue of the right to life.


For thirty-five years, Americans have been wrestling with The Supreme Court's decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade.  Most Americans now favor some kind of a ban on abortion. Most who allow abortion would do so only in very rare cases. In fact, in January, 2008, the Guttmacher Institute published its 14th census of abortion providers in the country. Its statistics showed that the abortion rate continues to decline. Abortions have reached their lowest level since 1974. There is truly a deep sensitivity to life in the soul of America. 


 The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would mortally wound this sensitivity. In effect, it would dismantle the freedom of choice to do all that is necessary to respect and protect human life at its most vulnerable stage. FOCA goes far beyond guaranteeing the right to an abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It arrogantly prohibits any law or policy interfering with that right. While advocates trumpet this law as the triumph of the freedom of choice, they hide the dark reality that the law would actually inhibit choice.


Laws protecting the rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals with moral objections to abortion would no longer stand. Health and safety regulations for abortion clinics would also vanish. Gone the freedom of health care professionals to be faithful to the Hippocratic Oath "to prescribe regimens for the good of...patients...and never do harm to anyone, to please no one [by prescribing] a deadly drug nor [by giving] advice which may cause his death." Gone the freedom of conscience so essential for a civil society!


If a minority of avid abortionists succeed to impose this law because of the ignorance or apathy of the majority, the law would force taxpayers to fund abortions. Gone the freedom of taxation with representation!


In its 1992 Casey decision, The Supreme Court ruled as constitutional state laws requiring that women and young girls who seek an abortion receive information on the development of the child in the womb as well as alternatives to abortion. The ruling also determined that a period of waiting, usually 24 or 48 hours before making a decision about an abortion is not an undue burden. The Freedom of Choice Act would nullify these laws immediately. Gone the freedom of women and young girls to have all the information they need to make their own choices!


In about half of the States, there are parental notification or consent laws in effect for minors seeking an abortion. The Supreme Court has ruled that these laws are permitted under Roe v. Wade. With the stroke of a pen, these laws would be abolished. Gone the freedom of parents to care for and protect their children and grandchildren!


 Advocates of FOCA redefine a woman's "health" so as to expressly permit post-viability abortions. Thus, a child who survives an abortion can be left to die for the health of the mother. No politically correct word can mask this reality for what it is. This is infanticide. Gone the freedom for a baby, once born, to live!


Science does not dispute that the child in the womb already has all the characteristics that he or she will develop after birth. Notwithstanding, abortionists obstinately refuse the right of the child within the womb to live as a fundamental human right. They are not happy that Americans have not swallowed their distorted propaganda that denies the dignity of the human person from the first moment of conception.


Pro-abortion advocates close their eyes to the fact that abortion even hurts women as it undermines the very fabric of our society. Their zeal for the Freedom of Choice Act sounds the alarm for decent Americans to wake up! The more the right to life is denied, the more we lose our freedoms. The "pro-choice" movement is not pro-choice. It stands against the freedom to choose what is right according to the truth of the human person.


In 2002, as an Illinois legislator, the present democratic candidate voted against the Induced Infant Liability Act. This law was meant to protect a baby that survived a late-term abortion. When the same legislation came up in the Judiciary Committee on which he served, he held to his opposition. First, he voted "present." Next, he voted "no."


Along with 108 members of Congress, the present democratic candidate for President continues his strong support for the Freedom of Choice Act. In a speech before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund last year, he made the promise that the first thing he would do as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. What a choice for a new President!


At the time when Herod murdered John the Baptist because of his promise, Rome practiced the principle "one man, one vote." Whoever the emperor in Rome placed in authority over a subject people, ruled. Today we live in a democracy. We choose our leaders who make our laws. Every vote counts. Today, either we choose to respect and protect life, especially the life of the child in the womb of the mother or we sanction the loss of our most basic freedoms. At this point, we are still free to choose!


AJ Serratelli.jpgThe Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli is the bishop of the Diocese of Patterson. He earned a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Biblical Institute and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University.


Oh Beauty exceeding

St Teresa of Avila St Peter's.jpgAll other beauties!
Paining, but You wound not
Free of pain You destroy
The love of creatures.

Oh, knot that binds
Two so different,
Why do You become unbound
For when held fast You strengthen
Making injuries seem good.

Bind the one without being
With being unending;
Finish, without finishing,
Love, without having to love,
Magnify our nothingness.








St Teresa of Avila.jpgThe Interior Castle is the principal source of mature Teresian thought on the spiritual life in its integrity. Chief emphasis is laid on the life of prayer, but other elements (the apostolate, for example) are also treated. The interior castle is the soul, in the center of which dwells the Trinity. Growth in prayer enables the individual to enter into deeper intimacy with God--signified by a progressive journey through the apartments (or mansions) of the castle from the outermost to the luminous center. When a man has attained union with God in the degree permitted to him in this world, he is "at the center" of himself; in other words, he has integrity as a child of God and as a human being. Each of the apartments of the castle is distinguished by a different stage in the evolution of prayer, with its consequent effects upon every other phase of the life of the individual. (from an essay by a Carmelite nun, Austria)


Graciously hear us, O God, our Savior, that as we rejoice in the festival of blessed Teresa, Thy Virgin, so may we be fed by her heavenly teaching and be strengthened in the love of true piety.

LOsservatore Romano.jpg

VATICAN CITY -- The newspaper industry might be on the ropes, but one staid broadsheet is getting a makeover at the behest of a lofty patron: Pope Benedict XVI.


In its 147 years as the Vatican's newspaper of record, L'Osservatore Romano has rarely chased advertisers, or even news. Hard to find beyond the world's smallest state, the Vatican's daily paper largely dedicated its pages to theological monologues with headlines like "The Leprosy of Sin."


Those days are over. Now, the Vatican mouthpiece has orders to carry hard-hitting news, international stories and more articles by women.


The Vatican's newspaper of record, L'Osservatore Romano, has been undergoing a makeover at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI.


"There was a really precise request from the paper's publisher," Giovanni Maria Vian, the paper's new editor in chief, said in a recent interview at his office within the medieval walls of Vatican City. "In this case, the publisher just happened to be the pope."


To read the rest of Davide Berretta's article in The Wall Street Journal visit this link.

When Paul VI Saved the Church from Disaster: An interview with Fr. Luigi Giussani

Q: Paul VI died in August of 1978, and then came pope Albino Luciani. Then there was the arrival of the "pope who came from far away." Do you remember the hours during which the death of Paul VI was announced?

A: I remember those moments. [...] The Church had been plunged into such a condition that the loss of that guide seemed extremely serious to me. It had been Paul VI who, in all good faith, had looked favorably upon a certain evolution of the Church. But his love for the Church was so genuine that, at a certain point, he had to realize the disaster posed by the dynamic of things - even though these things had been approved [by him]. It was then that he opened himself completely to the experience of Communion and Liberation. So the death of Pope Montini was like the disappearance of a possible guide. He had seen and made confirmation; he knew the inner workings of that process of destruction. Now, he intended to go against the tide: and he was the best choice and the one most able to do it.

Paulus VI PP.jpgQ: When did this new intention of Paul VI come about?

A: It dates from his famous 'Credo', June 30, 1968, which began the shift. Humanae Vitae and the outrageous attacks to which he was subjected confirmed him in his judgment. The culmination of his disillusionment came with the referendum on divorce in Italy, in 1974, when the very leaders of Catholic Action and FUCI [Italian Federation of Catholic University Students] whom he had loved and protected turned their backs on him. It is probably in this climate that Paul VI realized the capacity for Christian renewal and human responsiveness implicit in Communion and Liberation. Beginning in 1975, the signs of his new and strong sympathies increased. For Palm Sunday of that year he called to Rome all the young people of all the Catholic groups. [...] He called everyone. He found himself with only the 17,000 of CL.

Q: And then how did it go?

A: [...] After the mass, it was about noon, and I heard a prelate call me: 'Fr. Giussani, the pope wants to see you.' I was in the portico of Saint Peter's Basilica, I had the ciborium with the consecrated hosts in my hands, and I heard that voice. In the emotion of the moment I tried to hand over the ciborium to a halberdier, who drew back. Finally I was able to hurry toward the pope. I appeared before him right at the door of the church. I knelt down, I was so confused... I remember precisely only these words: 'Have courage, this is the right way: keep going forward.'

Q: Was this something unexpected?

A: Totally unexpected. But these were not improvised words of encouragement. [Years later] I received sure proof of this from Cardinal Benelli, the closest hierarchical collaborator of Paul VI. He told me in person that each time he visited Pope Montini during the last years of his pontificate, the pope asked him about Communion and Liberation. And he told him: 'Your Eminence, that is the way.' Benelli made this comment to me: 'If Paul VI had lived another year, I assure you that all your ecclesiastical problems would already have been resolved.' Paul VI would have had the courage to say so, and to do it. [...] One noteworthy confirmation of the change in Paul VI was evident in his dismissal from the supervision of Catholic Action of his close friend Bishop Franco Costa, who had determined the course of Catholic associations over the previous decades.

Q: Did Paul VI's old collaborator also mean by those words to express a specific judgment about the Church?

A:  [His words] signified affirmation of the soundness of CL's inspiration, of its validity for the Church. And this was in view of the profile of all Catholic associations during those years, which in their leadership bodies voted and directed voting [in the referendum on divorce] not in accordance with the pope's wishes. The approach of 'religious choice' had led Catholic associations to take refuge in all sorts of leftist politics: and there they pushed for divorce, among other things, without any qualms.

Q: On September 8, 1977, Paul VI spoke to his friend Jean Guitton about 'a non-Catholic type of thought' and the resistance of a 'small flock.' For years you have wanted to have these words repeated so that they could be known to everyone. Why?

A: Because that is what is happening. Please read me those words again.

Emmaus Duccio.jpgQ: Here they are: There is a great disturbance at this moment in the world and in the Church, and what is in question is the faith. It happens now that I find myself repeating the obscure saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Luke: 'When the Son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth?' It happens that books are published in which important points of the faith are undermined, that the bishops are silent, that these books are not found to be strange. [...] What strikes me, when I consider the Catholic world, is that a non-Catholic type of thought seems to predominate sometimes within Catholicism, and this non-Catholic thought might become the stronger one within Catholicism in the future. But it will never represent the thought of the Church. A small flock must remain, however small it may be.

A: These words are the synthesis of the pope's reflection on the situation and destiny of the Church. This is where his openness to CL comes in.

Q: Is there some strong doctrinal point that you feel to be central to the magisterium of Paul VI?

A: The affirmation, completely against the tide, of the Church as an 'ethnic identity sui generis.' On July 23, 1975, it was the heart of his preaching on the identity of the Church at the Wednesday general audiences. We were almost the only ones to take up this idea. Paul VI sensed the destruction of the Catholic presence in society. This presence was hiding itself. Or rather, instead of a Catholic presence, there was an increasingly tired and abstract closing in upon oneself in the offices of the associations, while the concrete lives of the young people themselves lined up to follow the current ideas. Or, instead of the Catholic presence, there was intellectual interpretation in the manner of the Democratic League, of the university students of the FUCI, of the Catholic Alumni. These theorized a conception of the faith that was absolutely elitist, and suicidal for mission. In the third place, the position of the Church came to be identified with political and diplomatic cunning. In any case, I believe that the news about the situation of the Catholic universities, institutes, and schools of theology was decisive in showing clearly to Paul VI the abyss toward which the Church's leadership was dragging everybody else.

Q: Some observers judge the pontificate of Paul VI as a failure.

A: The papacy of Paul VI was one of the greatest papacies! He had demonstrated during the first part of his life an extreme sensitivity for all the problems of the anguished condition of modern man and society. And he found a response! He gave this response during his last ten years. The papacy of Paul VI is a failure only to someone who has not thoroughly examined it.

Q: He is the pope who concluded Vatican Council II.

A: Of course. A history should be compiled of all the courageous, and unpopular, contributions he made to stop false democracy, the dogmatic equivocation that many Council Fathers tried to pass off under a democratic pretext.

Q: What was the method of Paul VI in the face of the dissolution of the Catholic people, the disappearance of the multitudes?

A: It was that of the 'Credo.' This is as much as to say the authentic proclamation of dogma, sine glossa, with clarity, and of the presence of the Church in the world, as in his speech on the Christian people on Wednesday, July 23, 1975.

Q: Paul VI was targeted for his rediscovery of the devil as an actor in human affairs. He was even left alone by the bishops.

A: Pope Montini began to realize the disaster into which the Church was sliding when he noticed the formalism with which the supernatural was considered and represented. For this reason, his speech on the presence of the devil in the world was a challenge - and such a courageous one that it could not have been foreseen in light of his temperament - to the world and to all theology, including Catholic theology, that was coming to agreement with the world.

A: During that month of August, 1978, with one pope dead and another dying, what were you hoping for the Church?

A: A man who would continue an intuitive understanding of the tragedy in which the Paul VI and Karol Wojtyla.jpgChurch was submerged. And of the only remedy, which is that of returning to faith in the supernatural as the determining factor in the Church's life, to the authenticity of tradition. In short, I was hoping for a pope who would continue on the way that Paul VI, during his last years, had vigorously pointed out. [...] In the end, John Paul II emerged: a pope who is the incarnation of what the last ten years of Paul VI had intuited and expressed.


Christopher Columbus

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IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Christopher Columbus.jpgHe had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

"Indians!  Indians!"  Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But "India" the land was not;
Christopher Columbus arms.jpgIt was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American?  No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

A rather good and brief overview of Eastern Christianity appeared in the October 2008 issue of One, the monthly magazine of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. I have given you only a portion of the article; the full piece can be found here.



by Chorbishop John D. Faris


I have been asked to speak about Christians in the Middle East. First, it may be helpful to define the term "Middle East." The Middle East is a subcontinent with no clear boundaries and it is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East. The term "Middle East" was popularized in the early 20th century in the context of the rivalry between the British and Russian empires over the region. Traditionally, it has been loosely defined as encompassing territories in southwestern Asia and parts of North Africa.*

It has been my experience that there are two notions regarding this topic that are difficult for North Americans to grasp: the variety of Christians in the region and the possibility of the extinction of Christianity in the region.


St Ephrem.jpgNorth Americans are accustomed to church as a product of Western culture divided into Catholics and Protestants. For most, the Catholic Church is the Latin Church and any variety within it is presumed to be the result of ethnic origins: Catholics are different because they are Irish or German or Italian or Polish or Latino. A Byzantine or Maronite group is viewed with suspicion as somehow "not under the pope." In reality, there are many Catholic churches, 22 to be precise; there is the Latin Church (by far the largest) and 21 Eastern Catholic churches, all "under the pope."


The plurality of the churches is no where more evident than in the Middle East, where Christians from almost all the churches have converged over the past two millennia. One finds many of these Eastern Catholic churches represented there as well as the Latin Church (which is really a 12th-century import) as well as many Orthodox and Protestant churches. The question that immediately comes to mind is, if Christ started the church, why are there so many churches, so many "flavors" of Christianity? The presumption is that the multiplicity of churches is a consequence of disputes and divisions. This is only partially true.


In the near future, the Catholic Information Service will be publishing a new booklet on Eastern Christianity by Jesuit Father Steven Hawkes-Teeples, professor of liturgical history at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome. Look for the booklet Eastern Christians and Their Churches.

Abortion has been an albatross around the Democratic Party's neck since at least 1980, Carl Anderson.jpghelping to keep it out of the White House for all but eight of the last 28 years.


Will 2008 be any different?


Once again, the Democrats have tied their fortunes to abortion rights, hoping to compensate with a historic outreach effort to Catholic voters. But this may simply lend empirical support to Einstein's adage that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.


Let's start at the end of the 1970s, when the abortion lobby's influence over the Democratic Party grew quickly in the decade following Roe v. Wade. That influence doomed the candidacy of a strongly pro-life Sargent Shriver in 1976, and produced a platform plank that year that opposed any effort to overturn Roe.


When it became clear that pro-life candidates would lose financial support and even become targets in Democratic primaries unless they switched sides, most of them did. But the party paid a heavy price.


Catholics, once among the most reliable members of the Democratic coalition, took a hike in 1980 and gave Jimmy Carter only 42 percent of their votes. Putting pro-choice Catholic Geraldine Ferraro on the 1984 ticket only accelerated the erosion, leaving Democrats with just 39 percent of Catholics.


By 1988, Joe Biden and Dick Gephardt became the last of the big-name Catholics in the party to flip to pro-choice. Over the intervening two decades, the party has held fast to an uncompromising stance in favor of abortion rights, and only once - in 1996 - has the Democratic presidential candidate's share of the Catholic vote exceeded 50 percent.


Bill Clinton, who understood Americans' discomfort with abortion better than most in his party, engineered the inclusion of a platform plank stating that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," a departure from the abortion-as-a-public-good posture of abortion rights advocates. Clinton connected just enough with Catholic Democrats to bring them briefly back to the fold.


But it didn't last.


Putting John Kerry, a pro-choice Catholic, at the top of the ticket in 2004 actually made matters worse, since it gave the abortion issue a higher profile during the campaign.


Now Barack Obama, the most uncompromising supporter of abortion rights since Michael Dukakis, has picked a pro-choice Catholic as his running mate. Upon arriving in Denver for the nominating convention, Joe Biden quickly discovered that the city's archbishop had declared him persona non grata in the Communion line at Sunday Mass.


When Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mangled Catholic teaching on abortion on "Meet the Press" they earned a swift and public rebuke from America's bishops. And so the Obama-Biden ticket will carry the same burden as every Democratic ticket of the past three decades.


Polling data seem to indicate on-again, off-again support for Obama among Catholics - pollster John Zogby tracked his support among Catholics at 47 percent in July, then down to 36 percent in August, and now back up to 45 percent as of Monday (Oct. 6), just 2 points behind John McCain.


The 2008 party platform is not exactly designed to win over pro-life Catholics: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."


Pro-life apologists for the party, led by "God's Politics" author Jim Wallis and joined lately by Catholic law professors Doug Kmeic and Nicholas Cafardi, have tried to portray the abortion plank as a "reaching out" to pro-lifers, based on a sentence saying the party "recognizes" that social policies can help "reduce the need for abortions." Many serious Catholics would argue there's never a "need" for any abortion.


Kmeic conceded that the Democratic plank "still falls short of the Catholic ideal," a remarkable understatement. The fiercely pro-abortion Catholic Frances Kissling more accurately called the plank "a slap in the face to Kmeic's Catholic ideal."


For Catholic Democrats, there's a line in Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" that sums it up nicely:


"Instead of the cross, the Albatross

About my neck was hung."


(Carl Anderson is the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization.)


Copyright (c.) 2008 Religion News Service

Tom Grenchik, the Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the Pro Life.JPGUnited States Catholic Conference, and his staff, have a resourceful website.  His office ably assists those who want to be informed and involved.


October is Respect Life Month (as well as Breast Cancer Awareness month) and there are 3 weeks until the Presidential election. I therefore, think it's important to review some fundamental teachings about the human person, the right to life, and our Catholic faith.


Justin Cardinal Rigali's October letter for Respect Life Month


The consistent, clear teaching of the Church on life


On the Fundamental Right to Life


The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul IIs 1995 encyclical offering us what the Church has consistently taught with regard to life issues.


The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion


Read the Life Insight newsletter


Get involved


The Knights of Columbus have a number pro life activities through the year so make a connection with them to see how you can be of service.


Also, The National Catholic Bioethics Center 


The Catholic Information Service has XX booklets that explore some of these pertinent life issues. The text of the booklets are given here in pdf format but you can also get a hardcopy of the booklet by emailing Michele at cis@kofc.org.


Catholic Sexual Ethics


Understanding Stem Cell Research


The Child: Begotten not Manmade



Sisters Of Life2.JPGThere is an order of Catholic sisters whose vocation is work on life issues. The Sisters of Life founded by Cardinal John O'Connor in 1991 in NYC is a vibrant community dedicated to "the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life. Like all religious communities, [they] take the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience ... [and] also are consecrated under a special, fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.



As you know, the Benedictine Abbots and Abbesses met in Rome in September. and there was a meeting of the Benedictines with the Holy Father. I posted the Holy Father's address already and now I am offering the Abbot Primate's address for your consideration. I am most grateful to Father Abbot Primate Notker for sharing the English translation of his remarks.



Notker Wolf arms.jpgAddress of the Abbot Primate on the Occasion of the Audience with the Holy Father on 20th September 2008, at Castelgandolfo


Holy Father,


Every four years we, the Benedictine Abbots, come to Rome to celebrate our International Congress. We reflect on the impact of Saint Benedict's spiritual patrimony on the world of today, we discuss our common project, that is, Sant'Anselmo as a monastic and academic entity. We have also invited representatives of the 'Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum', of the Orthodox Churches and of the Anglican Benedictines. Today, we have come to Castelgandolfo to greet you, to listen to your words and to receive your blessing. We come to you with the greatest sense of esteem and gratitude.


One of your great desires is the rebirth of a Christian Europe on the basis of Saint Benedict's principles. We hope that our monasteries may be spritiual and cultural centres which will strongly influence their surroundings. Many people, both young and grown-up, come to our monasteries and join us in prayer and in the liturgy. The welcoming of guests in our monasteries and retreat houses, or the welcoming of students in our schools is our contribution towards the Church's witness and a deepening of the Faith.


This is true not only in Europe but all over the world. 150.000 young people are being educated in our schools. To help this work, we have established a network among those responsible in order more effectively to develop our Benedictine profile.


Already for centuries Benedictine monasteries have been growing outside of Europe, as St Benedict vision.jpgyou will have noticed in Brazil. Today, in an era of globalisation, Saint Benedict's message is spreading throuhghout the world. Every year more than four new foundations are made, in Eastern Europe and as far away as Kazakhstan. Shortly, there will be a new foundation in Cuba. The official Church in China has sent a group of young priests to Sankt Ottilien to be formed as Benedictines with a view to starting a community in this country so dear to your heart.


We have no reason to be dissatisfied. In some parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa, there are many vocations, and even in Europe they are not lacking. But some communities have been waiting for years for new members and do not know what the future holds. For this reason some houses will be forced to close. Where there are no children and there is no faith the seed-ground for vocations does not exist.


Sant'Anselmo with its Pontifical Athenaeum and Pontifical College plays a particular role. In the last century, Sant'Anselmo was the unifying centre of formation, of contact and of common life for the many monastic observances and nations. At this time of globalisation Sant'Anselmo has become even more important in furthering the unity of the Confederation. For this reason we are grateful to you for having finally clarified the issue of the ownwership of Sant'Anselmo, by granting us officially the free use of the property. With the Pontifical Liturgical Institute we make a special contribution to the Universal Church.


In recent years there has been a growing interest among many laypeople anxious to conduct their lives in accordance with the spirit of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Always attached to a specific monastic community, they try to witness in the world that, only be being rooted in God can they develop the fulness of a truly human life. We have already celebrated one World Congress of Oblates where experiences were shared on an international level and new courage and zeal built up. At present we are preparing the second such Congress.


I should not like to conclude without mentioning our sisters, that is our Benedictine nuns and sisters. They bear witness in a special way in the heart of the Church to the contemplative element and to service of the poor. Their number is double that of the monks but they live a more hidden life than the monks. Together we try to carry on the precious patrimony of Our Holy Father Saint Benedict, the Patron of Europe, but who in the future, like Abraham, may come to be called 'the Father of many peoples'.


Holy Father, once again we thank you for this generous meeting and humbly ask your paternal blessing.


Notker Wolf3.jpg+Notker Wolf OSB

Abbot Primate

One of the things that distinguishes my day is an attempt to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Of course, my day is punctuated with praying the Divine Office and the Mass but there are times where I find myself praying the Angelus and the ejaculatory prayer--one liners given by the Church to focus my attention, for example Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam or Saint Joseph, pray for us. The acknowledgement of the Spirit in my life is known pivotally in the fact of the Incarnation: the point in history that that God's love can't be kept to Himself that He sends the eternal Word to become man, Jesus born of the virgin Mary.


This very brief prayer is well used by the members of the ecclesial movement Communion & Liberation. We maintain a tradition of concluding our prayer with this keen reminder and request that the Holy Spirit, Who is already present, to allow us to grasp the meaning of God becoming man.


Here are the notes from Father Luigi Giussani's remarks at the Spiritual Retreat of the Memores Domini, La Thuile, Italy, 2 August 2001


Forgive me if I too come explicitly into your meeting. Because, if the sacrifice of not coming to be with you is united with the joy of being Christ's, of being His, with a little of this confidence, of this hope-which was born in the heart and which fidelity to the life of the Church has magnified enormously and caused to become adult, mature-then it is not inconceivable that I might talk with you for a few minutes.

Annunciation Angelico.jpgI wanted all the Memores Domini [the group of consecrated lay men & women] to know that there is a formula, an ejaculatory prayer-as all the Church's tradition calls it-a formula that sums up everything we have tried to believe, express, and communicate, because it is the formula that summarizes all of Christian dogma as the Church has always lived it: Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam (Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary).

You will have been struck by lots of things; but guilt is never uprooted from our conscience, the affirmation of the truth is never renewed, if the whole soul does not try to make happen what the cry of the Christian tradition has us say over and over. Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam is the synthesis of everything the liturgical year tells us, it is the synthesis of everything the memory of Christian life tells us.

Because everything, everything comes from the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God who gives the possibility of being struck positively, and even fervidly, by vocation, by the grace of God in life-because vocation is the grace of God in life. It is through the Spirit that every man, like every being, enters into a vast design, as vast as the Father conceived it.

Who knows if the Spirit will grant me still to have a living relationship with you, or better, that the living relationship with you-which will not cease for all of eternity-may still have some direct operative implications in the life of this world.

Veni per Mariam indicates, synthesizes, the finger pointing to everything, everything that our human eye can let us see and that the consciousness can readily understand. Because Our Lady is the synthesis of all humanity... not only of humanity but also of everything that creation brings with it from all eternity, for all eternity. From all eternity everything is the Father's; in the Mystery every thing was born, every speck of dust, even the grain of sand on the earth, every thought and every feeling man has. Mary synthetically expresses this link between the Mystery and the things the Mystery Himself created (this is why the Holy Spirit is called Redeemer and Savior), because Our Lady is the only possibility of synthesis, in man's heart, of everything that happens, has happened and will happen, which is faith, which unfolds a hope, and hope makes us live the aurora of the eternal. It makes us live the aurora of the eternal!

Who knows, who knows if the Lord and Our Lady will give me more health and will renew again the energy to communicate things to you, according to an experience that, with time, grows greater and greater, ever greater and greater!

May Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam be a connection that may arouse more quickly in your heart adherence, a certitude of hope, and a beginning of a vision of what the Lord will do for us as the final reward of our life.

Ciao! Until we meet again!

Pius XII.jpgIn Your wise providence, O God, You wished Your servant Pius XII to be counted one of the Popes. Please number him also among the company of Your saintly Pontiffs, we beg You, since he ruled as Vicar on earth of Your only Son. This we ask through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Born: March 2, 1876

Ordained Bishop: May 13, 1917

Elected Pope: March 2, 1939

Dies: October 9, 1958



To note, Religious Teachers Filippini Sister Margherita Marchione recently published another Sr Magherita Marcione.jpgbook on Pope Pius; this one is entitled, Pius XII: The Truth Will Set You Free (Paulist Press) with a prologue written by Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone, the Secretary of State to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.


Today, Pope Benedict celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of Pope Pius and then visited the tomb in the Vatican grotto.


Pope Benedict's homily can be read here. But a few things stand out in what the Pope said:


The war highlighted the love he felt for his "beloved Rome", a love demonstrated by the intense charitable work he undertook in defense of the persecuted, without any distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political leanings. When, once the city was occupied, he was repeatedly advised to leave the Vatican to safeguard himself, his answer was always the same and decisive: "I will not leave Rome and my place, even at the cost of my life" (cf Summarium, p. 186). His relatives and other witnesses refer furthermore to privations regarding food, heating, clothes and comfort, to which he subjected himself voluntarily in order to share in the extremely trying conditions suffered by the people due to the bombardments and consequences of war (cf A. Tornielli, Pio XII, Un uomo sul trono di Pietro). And how can we forget his Christmas radio message of December 1942? In a voice breaking with emotion he deplored the situation of the "the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline" (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p. 23), a clear reference to the deportation and extermination of the Jews. He often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the concrete realities of that complex historical moment, he saw that this was the only way to avoid the worst and save the largest possible number of Jews. His interventions, at the end of the war and at the time of his death, received numerous and unanimous expressions of gratitude from the highest authorities of the Jewish world, such as, for example, the Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir, who wrote: "During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and commiserate with their victims", ending emotionally: "We mourn a great servant of peace."


Pius 12 arms.jpgAND


With the Encyclical Mystici Corporis, published on 29 June 1943, while war still raged, he described the spiritual and visible relationships that unite men to the Word Incarnate, and he proposed integrating into this point of view all the principle themes of ecclesiology, offering for the first time a dogmatic and theological synthesis that would provide the basis for the Conciliar Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium.

A few months later, on 20 September 1943, with the Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu he laid down the doctrinal norms for the study of Sacred Scripture, highlighting its importance and role in Christian life. This is a document that bears witness to a great opening to scientific research on the Biblical texts. How can we not remember this Encyclical, during the course of the work of this Synod that has as its own theme "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church"? It is to the prophetic intuition of Pius XII that we owe the launch of a serious study of the characteristics of ancient historiography, in order to better understand the nature of the sacred books, without weakening or negating their historical value. The deeper study of the "literary genres", whose intention is to better understand what the sacred author meant, was viewed with a certain suspicion prior to 1943, in part thanks to the abuse that had been made of it. The Encyclical recognized that it could be applied correctly, declaring its use legitimate not only for the study of the Old Testament, but also the New.




...Mediator Dei, dedicated to the liturgy, published 20 November 1947. With this document, the Servant of God provided an impulse to the liturgical movement, insisting that "the chief element of divine worship must be interior. For - he writes - we must always live in Christ and give ourselves to Him completely, so that in Him, with Him and through Him the heavenly Father may be duly glorified. The sacred liturgy requires, however, that both of these elements be intimately linked with each another... Otherwise religion clearly amounts to mere formalism, without meaning and without content".


PXII tomb.jpgMay his memory be eternal!

I am happy to let you know of some recently published booklets concerning Catholic faith and Catholic life. These booklets reflect some of the work I did when I worked at the Catholic Information Service (CIS) at the Knights of Columbus. The booklets are free but you are asked to cover postage. You can email Michele at cis@kofc.org or call the CIS at 203-752-4267. Mention that you saw this ad on the Communio blog and that Paul Z. sent you.


Saint Benedict for Busy Parents


cis 327.JPGSaint Benedict for Busy Parents communicates the beautiful depth of the Rule of Saint Benedict to busy parents to help them in their vocation as mothers and fathers. Part of every parent's responsibility is to teach the child about life and the faith. While the principles of the Rule of Saint Benedict is most often applied to those living in monasteries, the same principles provide a basic framework of practical spirituality for busy parents, indeed,, for all Christians in every age. Father Dwight Longenecker's experience as a parent, priest, Benedictine Oblate and teacher shows the reader that God is at work to bring us to the abundant and full life that He promises to each of his sons and daughters.


Facing Relativism and the Challenge of Truth


cis 331.JPGDr. Donald DeMarco wrote Facing Relativism and the Challenge of Truth,  to examine the philosophy of relativism and the nature of Truth, putting them in their proper order. He shows how "unworkable on a practical level and creates immense and unnecessary stumbling blocks in the path of education, democracy, and the implementation of the natural law. In fact, it contributes, significantly, to the Culture of Death." Among the various philosophers and theologians he discusses, DeMarco uses Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's insight to shed light on this subject.




Understanding Stem Cell Research: Controversy and Promise


cis326.JPGDominican Father Nicanor Austriaco, a Professor of Biology at Providence College, presents Understanding Stem Cell Research: Controversy and Promise in which he clearly deals with the controversial yet optimistic topic of stem cell research. The objective of this booklet is to outline the reasons for hope and promise in the stem cell research and the reasons of great concern, indeed, the immorality of human embryonic stem cell research. Father Austriaco expounds on why the Church is not opposed to all forms of stem cell research but is opposed to human embryonic stem research because it "attacks and undermines the dignity of the human person...." This booklet is intelligent, accessible and well-worth the time to read in order to clearly understand a significant moral question of our era.



What Catholics Should Know About Islam


cis317.JPGProvidence College Professor of Theology,  Dr. Sandra T. Keating, authored What Catholics Should Know About Islam. to help non-Muslims develop a basic overview of the origins of the religion of Islam and its early history. What this booklet offers the reader is a discussion on the central beliefs and practices of Muslims. Keating contextualizes her writing in recent statements made by the Roman Catholic Church concerning its relationship to Islam. The author puts forward what she understands to be fundamental in Islamic belief in contrast to Catholic doctrine.



The Child: Begotten, Not Manmade: Catholic Teaching on In Vitro Fertilization


cis 330.JPGKathleen Curran Sweeney examines the realities of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process in The Child: Begotten, Not Manmade: Catholic Teaching on In Vitro Fertilization. The author takes the reader through the moral, theological and human issues, and the controversy that surround IVF. One can neither debate the pain of infertile couples who desire a child of their own nor resist the feelings of empathy for those who can't bear children. The teaching of the Church is presented here in a clear fashion while reminding us of the need to respond with compassionate love.




For more than 60 years the Knights Columbus has developed an ongoing program to learn the Catholic faith. The Catholic Information Service (CIS) to provide free Catholic publications for parishes, schools, retreat houses, military installations, correctional facilities, legislatures, the medical community, and for individuals who request them. CIS asks that the reader cover the costs of postage. Topics cover many of the key matters of Christian doctrine and life.


Luigi Giussani.jpgCommunion and Liberation (CL), an ecclesial lay movement founded in Italy in 1954 by Msgr. Luigi Giussani, is currently present in 80 countries throughout the world and 100 cities in the United States. The name of the movement, Communion and Liberation, expresses the certainty that communion with Christ brings liberation of the human person. 


The essence of the CL charism is twofold: 1) the proclamation that God became Man and the affirmation that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who died and rose again, is a present reality whose visible sign is communion - that is to say, the unity of a people led by the vicar of Christ - and 2) the awareness that it is only in Jesus Christ that the deepest needs of the human heart are fulfilled.  CL's mission is thus the education of its members toward Christian maturity and collaboration in the mission of the Church in all spheres of contemporary life.


Besides the invitation to prayer and regular practice of the sacraments, Communion and Liberation invites everyone to a weekly catechetical gesture called "School of Community."  School of Community aims at being a true school which, through the reading and discussion of texts, shapes in

IsItPossible.jpgits participants a clearer understanding of the nature of the Christian fact.  The assigned texts come from the teachings of the Church or Msgr. Giussani's writings.  We are currently studying Is it Possible to Live this Way?: Faith by Msgr. Luigi Giussani in School of Community and we are studying Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Spe Salvi as part of our personal work.


There is more to the School of Community?


Presence that Moves: The constitutive factors of the School of Community


The beginning of an experience is the encounter with a human reality that is different. A School of Community that is detached from this would be an ideology or an abstraction.


In the School of Community, certainly we must talk about life, but in the light of the new experience that we have encountered. Otherwise we talk of life as we conceive it, how we feel about it, how it makes us react in natural terms, and in any case following a criterion that is not belonging. The School of Community is the main instrument of the new life, of the new way of pursuing the aim of the new "I"(i.e., a new understanding of who I am as God sees me).


The Leader


Everything depends on the one who leads the School of Community. If the one who leads is a presence, then intelligence and affectivity are moved in a different way. It's the novelty that leads. If he gives a lesson, then he is not a presence, he doesn't move. At best what he moves is a dialectic, a discussion, a series of thoughts. The following morning all of that line of thoughts is irrelevant to life.


The sign that the School of Community is led is that you come away from it changed.


The School of Community must be a development of the encounter. In it the whole life of the Movement is continually taken up again and surpassed.

Without existentiality (the link between the word and the reality of life) there is no School of Community. Only with this link is it the expression of an experience. If it doesn't bring you to notice something that must change and, therefore, to desire to bring about this change, it is not School of Community.


How is the School of Community Done?


As prayer. Since the School of Community must reassume the phenomenon of the Movement in its development, remember that there is no search for the truth about Destiny without prayer. So the meeting must begin with prayer.


We need to pray during the meeting, as an attitude of the mind in the one asks questions and in the one who answers-an attitude of humility, happy and sure of what it brings. Prayer becomes the discovery of the need for the sacraments, in which the initial event once again becomes a presence.


How is the School of Community Organized?


Ø  First of all it is a school-a place and a method in which you learn.

Ø  Learning means increasing your awareness of reality.

Ø  Learning implies understanding the text and what it means, that is to say in its relationship to reality and in the reasons that it gives for making us understand how it is linked with reality.


Inevitably in order to understand you need to repeat (ripetere = petere ad = tending toward) to increase your attention. Repeating with attention is the same thing as seeing. When is it that you understand? In so far as you feel that the words you read and hear correspond with what you live.


In this way, reality, in so far as you face up to it, becomes an epiphany, a revelation of your awareness of belonging.


a gaze.jpgFour Points To Work On


  1. An intelligent reading of the text, attentive to the way it relates to things, to the judgments it generates, to the reasons it gives.


  1. Communication of your experience (everything can be brought in), in comparison with the text.


  1. A culture that develops. Your motivations and criteria must spring up from within the nature of the experience and not from outside. The more you penetrate into the event that has made us grow, and the more you follow, the more intelligent you become.


  1. The synthesis made by the leader. He communicates how his experience has developed during the event that is the School of Community.


The Communicative Result


The School of Community conceived and lived in this way gives rise to an affective impulse to communicate that has three aspects:


  • Witness and mission;
  • Attention to people's needs, charity that expresses itself in an organic consistency of works;
  • Culture: the affective impulse to communicate inspires creativity, progress in judgment, logical discoveries, with all the necessary instruments that spring from these.


See more at www.clonline.us

No tiring of the Bible

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Biblical commentaries:

Opening locked gates we didn't know existed!

By Sister Genevieve Glen, OSB
bible reading.jpgTake out your Bible. Look at it. It's not really so big, is it? You could read a bestseller that size during a week at the beach. Yet Jews and Christians have spent centuries studying and pondering the books that make up this one "book," and still they discover new questions, new insights, new information.


God, being tricky, has given us a book full of open doors, mysterious holes and sudden surprises to keep us wondering, searching and asking.


There is no tiring of the Bible -- unless we just skim across the surface.


The most common excuse for empty skimming is, "I don't get it." The Bible is not like the morning paper or your favorite cookbook or the latest tech manual. All those come from today's world, speak today's language and provide information you can grasp quickly.


The Bible comes from faraway places; it was written in Greek and Hebrew, and not even modern Greek and Hebrew; the ink dried centuries ago. Yet, because it is God's word to us, it speaks to us even when we just sit down and read it attentively as part of the conversation with God we call prayer.


However, it says a great deal more to us if we make use of the maps left by other explorers, those who have spent a lifetime studying the intricacies of old manuscripts, the subtleties of the original languages, the literary, religious and cultural world that produced the various books of the Bibles. Their commentaries open up locked gates we didn't even know existed.


Commentaries come in all shapes and sizes. Among the most interesting are commentaries that shed light on the cultures of the Bible.


Did you know, for example, that salt was used as a fire starter in Jesus' day? When Jesus shows concern about salt that has lost its zing, he isn't talking only about flavor but about the failure of old, tired salt to light the fire that makes us the "light of the world" -- because, of course, fire from the sun, lamps or hearths was the only source of light in Jesus' day.


It's no surprise then that Jesus speaks of salt and light in the same Gospel passage (see John A. Pilch's "Cultural Dictionary of the Bible"; Liturgical Press, 1999). Pilch's fascinating books are only one example of the richness students of the history of culture can provide for us.


More demanding commentaries shed light on details of the historical or literal meaning of biblical texts so that we can get a firm grip on what the text actually says and sometimes on what the human author seems to have meant.


Raymond Brown.jpgThe late Sulpician Father Raymond Brown left us a magisterial commentary of this kind in "The Death of the Messiah" (Doubleday, 1994). After reading his account of the many possible meanings of the "cup" Jesus asks the Father to take away (Mark 14:36), you could spend all of Lent thinking about your answer to Jesus' question, "Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20:22).


Other commentaries explore what Christian tradition calls the "spiritual" meaning of biblical texts. These books, some as ancient as the first Christian centuries, some as recent as last week, are really extended homilies. They seek to connect the biblical texts with our spiritual growth and decisions in the midst of everyday life.


If you've ever been in love, read the fifth-century Sermon 147 "On the Incarnation" by St. Peter Chrysologus for an eye-opening reflection on Moses' plea (Exodus 33:18) to see God's "glory" (The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 17, 1953).


The word "disciple" means "learner." To be faithful disciples, we must become lifelong learners of the Bible -- and we are rich in teachers!


Benedictine Sister Genevieve Glen is a nun at the Abbey of Saint Walburga, Mother Maria Michael  and Sr Genevieve Glen.jpgVirginia Dale, Colorado. She is a frequent contributor and assisting editor of Magnificat. This article appeared 4 February 2008. Copyright (c) 2008 Catholic News Service/U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Do you have a minute? Do you know how to live rightly? Do you want to know how to live as God wants us to live? Do you have a monk to help you with finding your way through Thumbnail image for 1 Minute Monk.jpglife? I do. There's a monk who will help you in your search for God: One Minute Monk.


The search for meaning and substance in one's life is perennial. Seeking God, quaerere Deum, is the first mark of the Rule of Saint Benedict: does the person truly seek God? Hence you might say that a basic impulse for those wanting to be monks and nuns, or as oblates and average people, is the desire of God. Pope Benedict spoke of the life of the monks and nuns in a speech he gave at the Collège des Bernardins: Meeting with representatives from the world of culture, 12 September 2008:


Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential - to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. It is sometimes said that they were "eschatologically" oriented. But this is not to be understood in a temporal sense, as if they were looking ahead to the end of the world or to their own death, but in an existential sense: they were seeking the definitive behind the provisional. Quaerere Deum: because they were Christians, this was not an expedition into a trackless wilderness, a search leading them into total darkness. God himself had provided signposts, indeed he had marked out a path which was theirs to find and to follow. This path was his word, which had been disclosed to men in the books of the sacred Scriptures. Thus, by inner necessity, the search for God demands a culture of the word or - as [Benedictine Father] Jean Leclercq put it: eschatology and grammar are intimately connected with one another in Western monasticism (cf. The Love of Learning and the Desire for God). The longing for God, the desire for God, includes the love of learning, love of the word, exploration of all its dimensions. Because in the biblical word God comes towards us and we towards him, we must learn to penetrate the secret of language, to understand it in its construction and in the manner of its expression. Thus it is through the search for God that the secular sciences take on their importance, sciences which show us the path towards language. Because the search for God required the culture of the word, it was appropriate that the monastery should have a library, pointing out pathways to the word. It was also appropriate to have a school, in which these pathways could be opened up. Benedict calls the monastery a dominici servitii schola. The monastery serves eruditio, the formation and education of man - a formation whose ultimate aim is that man should learn how to serve God. But it also includes the formation of reason - education - through which man learns to perceive, in the midst of words, the Word itself.


Abbot Placid is hosting One Minute Monk as a way to help us seek God and to live rightly. Abbot Placid is the religious superior of the monks at Belmont Abbey and Chancellor of Belmont Abbey College is presenting concrete ways for us to seek God by using technology to make the Rule of Saint Benedict accessible. He's showing us the "signposts" for the path to God and for good living that Pope Benedict says God has already given to us. The Rule of Saint Benedict is timeless because its proposal corresponds to desires of our heart and One Minute Monk will help you understand these desires.


To order a copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict visit this link.


In the Catholic press...

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

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Virgin aletti.jpgThe feast of Our Lady of the Rosary has been observed by the universal Church since 1716 when Pope Clement XI extended its observance, but the feast was in many respects a local feast since 1213 by some accounts. Regardless, we should take care to pray this feast because of the theology and beauty of Christ and the great Mother of God.


The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy says of the rosary: "Given the close relationship between Christ and Our Lady, the rosary can always be of assistance in giving prayer a Christological orientation, since it contains meditation of the Incarnation and the Redemption." In another place it says: "The Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the most excellent prayers to the Mother of God. Thus, 'the Roman Pontiffs have repeatedly exhorted the faithful to the frequent recitation of this biblically inspired prayer which is centered on contemplation of the salvific events of Christ's life, and their close association with the his Virgin Mother. The value and efficacy of this prayer have often been attested by saintly Bishops and those advanced in holiness of life.'"


And so we pray the Litany of Loreto and the Rosary today for the intentions of the New Evangelization and a greater awareness of our Christ's work of salvation.


Litany of Loreto


V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ have mercy.


V. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.


God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, [etc.]

Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good Counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
OL of the Rosary2.jpgVirgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of peace,


V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord.


V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.


V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.


V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may we be freed from present sorrow, and rejoice in eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Saint Bruno

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St Bruno.jpg


Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church


"The Word of God", said the Pope, "will thus enter peoples homes to accompany the lives B16a.jpgof families and individuals; a seed that, if welcomed, will not fail to bring abundant fruit".


"Only the Word of God can change the depths of man's heart, and so it is important that with it both individual believers and the community enter into an ever-growing intimacy. The Synodal Assembly will direct its attention to this truth which is fundamental to the life and the mission of the Church. Nourishing herself with the Word of God is for her the first and fundamental responsibility". (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily opening the Synod Bishops on the Word of God, 5 October 2008)


A briefing on the Synod


Introducing the Word of God through dramatic gestures


To enlighten your path with the Word of God, a RAI initiative:


The Italian news agency RAI, will begin the "Bible day and night" initiative, which consists in the complete and uninterrupted reading of the Bible over seven days and nights in the Roman basilica of Sant Croce in Gerusalemme. Around 1,200 readers from 50 countries will participate in the event. Benedict XVI himself will inaugurate the event by reading the first chapter of Genesis.


About the Mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls


The National Catholic Register's coverage of the Synod.


John Allen's press coverage of the Synod.


Pope Benedict's Homily at the Mass for the opening of the Synod of Bishops


A Bible Comeback: An Interview With Cardinal Albert Vanhoye: part 1 and part 2



A Prayer for the 12th Synod of Bishops


Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Father has commanded us to listen as his beloved Son, shed your light upon your Church, so that she might have nothing more holy than to listen to your voice and follow you. You are the Supreme Shepherd and Ruler of Souls. Look then upon the Pastors of your Church gathered in these days with the Successor of St. Peter in synod assembly. We implore you to sanctify them in truth and confirm them in faith and love.

Lord Jesus Christ, send forth your Spirit of love and truth on the bishops in synod and on all who assist them in fulfilling their task. Make them more faithful to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches; stir their souls and teach them truth by that same Holy Spirit. Through their work, may the faithful of their Churches be purified and strengthened in spirit, so that they might greater follow the Gospel through which you accomplished salvation and they might make of themselves a living offering to the heavenly Father.

May Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God and Mother of the Church, assist the Bishops in these days, as she assisted the Apostles in the Upper Room, and intercede with motherly affection to foster brotherly communion among them, to allow them to rejoice in prosperity and peace in the calmness of these days, and, in reading the signs of the times, to celebrate the majesty of the merciful God, the Lord of History, to the praise and glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Crossroads Oct ad.jpg

The devotion I have to praying the Rosary comes from my connection with Our Lady of Pompeii Church, East Haven, Connecticut. The Church ladies as my mother called them, instilled in me--along with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth--a deep love of the Rosary. These ladies communicated to me the experience of the Rosary being a powerful tool of prayer.  Some speak of the Rosary as the divine tool that decapitates the head of evil. Our Lady of Pompeii Church remains special to me because it is my family's parish, where my parents were married and where I was Baptized.


Bl Bartolo Longo.jpgPope John Paul II said of Longo at his beatification: "Rosary in hand, Blessed Bartolo Longo says to each of us: 'Awaken your confidence in the Most Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. Venerable Holy Mother, in You I rest all my troubles, all my trust and all my hope!'" And of himself, Blessed Bartolo said: "I wish to die a true Dominican tertiary in the arms of the Queen of the Rosary with the assistance of my holy Father Saint Dominic and of my mother Saint Catherine of Siena." Blessed Bartolo is a wonderful example of a saintly man who is husband and father.


Today is also the feast of Blessed Bartolo Longo, the author of the following prayer, the Supplica, composed 125 years ago, is always prayed at noon on the first Sunday of October.


Petition to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii

Blessed Bartolo Longo


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O August Queen of Victories, O Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, at whose name the heavens rejoice and the abyss trembles, O glorious Queen of the Rosary, we your devoted children, assembled in your Temple of Pompeii, on this solemn day, pour out the affection of our heart  and with filial confidence express our miseries to You.

From the Throne of clemency, where You are seated as Queen, turn, O Mary, your merciful gaze on us, on our families, on Italy, on Europe, on the world. Have compassion on the sorrows and cares which embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many dangers of body and soul, how many calamities and afflictions press upon us.

O Mother, implore for us the mercy of your divine Son and conquer with clemency the heart of sinners. They are our brothers and your children who cause the heart of our sweet Jesus to bleed and who sadden your most sensitive Heart. Show all what you are, the Queen of Peace and of Pardon.

Hail Mary


It is true that, although we are your children, we are the first to crucify again Jesus into our heart by our sins and we pierce anew your heart.

We confess it: we are deserving of the most severe punishments but remember that, on Golgotha, You received with the divine Blood, the testament of the dying Savior, who declared You to be our Mother, the Mother of sinners.

You then, as our Mother, are our Advocate, our Hope. And we raise our suppliant hands to You with sighs crying: "Mercy!"

O good Mother, have pity on us, on our souls, on our families, on our relatives, on our friends, on our deceased, especially on our enemies, and on so many who call themselves Christian and yet offend the Heart of your loving Son. Today we implore pity for the misguided Nations, for all Europe, for all the world, so that it may return repentant to your heart. Mercy on all, O Mother of Mercy!


Hail Mary

OL Rosary Caravaggio.jpgKindly deign to hear us, O Mary! Jesus has placed in your hands all the treasures of His graces and His mercies. You are seated a crowned Queen, at the right hand of your Son, resplendent with immortal glory above all the Choirs of Angels. You extend your dominion throughout heavens and the earth and all creatures are subject to you. You are omnipotent by grace and therefore You can help us. Were You not willing to help us, since we are ungrateful children and undeserving of your protection, we would not know to whom to turn. Your Mother's heart would not permit to see us your children, lost. The Infant whom we see on your knees and the mystical Rosary which we gaze at your hand, inspire confidence in us that we shall be heard. And we confide fully in You, we abandon ourselves as helpless children into the arms of the most tender of mothers, and on this very day, we expect from You the graces we so long for.


Hail Mary

One last favor we now ask You, O Queen, which You cannot refuse us on this most solemn day. Grant to all of us your steadfast love and in a special manner your maternal blessing.

We shall not leave You until You have blessed us. Bless, O Mary, at this moment, our Holy Father. To the ancient splendors of your Crown, to the triumphs of your Rosary, whence you are called the Queen of Victories, add this one also, O Mother: grant the triumph of Religion and Peace to human Society. Bless our Bishops, Priests and particularly all those who are zealous for the honor of your Sanctuary. Bless finally all those who are associated with your Temple of Pompeii and all those who cultivate and promote devotion to the Holy Rosary.


O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet Chain which binds us to God, Bond of love which unites us to the Angels, Tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe Port in our universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon You. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony: to You the last kiss of our dying life. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. Be Blessed everywhere, today and always, on earth and in Heaven. Amen.


Salve Regina


Saint Francis of Assisi

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St Francis Giovanni da Milano.jpgSaint Francis teach us to hold fast with the same burning love you had for Christ crucified!


O God,

Who bestowed upon Saint Francis the grace of being configured to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that by walking in the same path, we may follow your Son, and be joined to you in the joy of charity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.



To bring light to the people of this world which ... and to lead them back to the pure ideals of the wisdom of the Gospels, there appeared, in the Providence of God, St. Francis of Assisi who, as Dante sang, "shone as the sun" (Paradiso, Canto XI), or as Thomas of Celano had already written of a similar figure, "he shone forth as a resplendent star on a dark night, like the morning which spreads itself over the darkness." (Legenda I, No. 37)


...the Seraphic Father, motivated by the idea of perfect poverty which had taken complete possession of his soul, made himself so small and humble as to obey others (it would be better to say almost everyone) with the very simplicity of a child, for the reason that he who does not deny himself and give up his own will, certainly cannot be said to have renounced all things or to have become humble of heart. St. Francis by his vow of obedience consecrated gladly and submitted fully his will, the greatest gift which God has bestowed on human nature, to the will of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. (Rite Expiatis, Pope Pius XI, 30 April 1926)


As you know, there is a synod happening in Rome. It will be working on themese related Thumbnail image for bible.jpgto the sacred Scriptures. This synod and our study of the Bible is essential to our spiritual life and our life in the Catholic Church, so spend time with materials that will broaden your scriptural horizon. The synod and the Year of Saint Paul are apt for our times.


The 29 September 2008 issue of America Magazine published worthwhile articles on the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. They are worth your consideration.


Abbot John B. Klassen, OSB, "Ever Ancient, Ever New"


Bishop Richard J. Sklba, "Nourished and Ruled By Sacred Scripture"


Father Richard J. Clifford, S.J., "The Original Testament"


Father John R. Donahue, S.J., "A Hymn With Many Voices"


Father Ronald D. Witherup, S.S., "From Council to Synod"


Doctor Pheme Perkins, "Sowing the Word"


AND when you're finished with the above, read John Allen's article here.


Blessing of Animals

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For the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi the blessing of animals is observed. St Francis preaching to birds.jpgHerewith are two blessings: one for healthy animals and one for sick ones.



Blessing of Animals



V. Our help is the name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.


V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit. (or use the new form)


Let us Pray.


O God, our refuge and our strength, give ear to the entreaties of Your Church, You are the Source of mercy, and grant that what we seek in faith, we may receive in fact. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Let us Pray.


Almighty and everlasting God, Who did assist Saint Antony [and Saint Francis of Assisi] to emerge unscathed from many temptations of this world, grant Your servant to progress in virtue by his illustrious example; and by his merits and intercession, free us from the ever-present dangers of life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Let us Pray.


Let these animals receive Your blessing, + O Lord, to the benefit of their being, and by the intercession of Saint Antony [and Saint Francis], deliver them from all harm. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


They are sprinkled with holy water.



Blessing of Sick Animals



Vested in surplice and purple stole, the priest says:


V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven and earth.


V. Deal not with us, O Lord, according to our sins.

R. Nor take vengeance upon our transgressions.


V. You, O Lord, shall heal men and animals.

R. For You, O God, do proffer full mercy.


V. You open Your hand.

R. And fill every creature with blessing.


V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto You.


V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit. (or use the new form)



Let us Pray.


O God, You give consolation to mankind when afflicted, and even to mute beasts. Wherefore, we suppliantly pray - let these animals not perish, for they are indispensable to our needs. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Let us Pray.


Your mercy, O Lord, we humbly and perseveringly implore, that these animals afflicted with sever sickness may be cured in Your name and by the power of Your blessing +. Let any effects in them of evil spirits become extinct, lest sickness afflict them again, and You, Lord, are the guardian of their existence and the remedy to health. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for all eternity. Amen.


Let us Pray.


Turn away every scourge from Your servants, we beseech You, Lord, and drive out from these beasts the destroying sickness. For just as You punish us when we deviate from Your paths, so reward us with Your mercy when we correct our evil ways. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


They are sprinkled with holy water.

Crucifixion.jpgSacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut is building a new University Chapel and has commissioned a rather unique team of artists to create original works of art for use in the sacred Liturgy.


Jesuit Father Marko I. Rupnik heads the artistic and theological team from the Aletti Center in Rome, Italy. He is a world-renowned artist whose works grace Pope John Paul II's Redemptoris Mater chapel at the Vatican and at the Basilica of Notre Dame du Rosaire, at Lourdes in France (a recent installation). His first work in the USA was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Office in New Haven, Connecticut in 2005.


Virginaletti.jpgThis art doesn't just decorate a space. It is liturgical art that is integrated into a particular space for the celebration of the sacred Liturgy. In relation to the sacred Liturgy, the liturgical art together with word and ritual gesture articulate the Church's interior life of holiness. By this, a church is an ecclesial edifice that not only allows a person to encounter the dynamic work of the Blessed Trinity, but it allows you to pray, think and relate at a real human level about the Divine Presence. The experience of good liturgical art, like the work of Father Rupnik, is not a mere static experience; it is an experience that vivifies our humanity. The artwork Rupnik has created in the Fairfield and in New Haven like that of the works in Rome and other places, is an expression of a dynamic spiritual quest of the divine and human, oriented in Church with a totality and energy of the living Trinitarian love communicated in Christ.


The Aletti Center is animated by a team of Jesuits and religious. The members of the team Aletti team.jpgare specialists in Eastern theology and in related arts brought together to promote and to develop activities for theological-cultural reflection. A well-known member of the Aletti team is Jesuit Cardinal

Tomáš Špidlík from the Czech Republic but who has spent more than 50 years teaching in Rome (pictured in the center). Founded in 1991, the Aletti Center is part of the Pontifical Oriental Institute which specializes in the study and research of the theology of the Eastern Churches.



Blessed Columba Marmion

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O God, almighty Father, who called the blessed abbot Columba to the monastic way of life and opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ, mercifully grant that, strengthened by his intercession, in the spirit of your adoption as sons, we may become a dwelling place worthy of your Wisdom. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.




Deeply steeped in the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church, through the Liturgy, the Benedictine charism and St. Thomas Aquinas, Dom Marmion emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ:


...Holiness then, is a mystery of Divine life communicated and received: communicated in God from the Father to the Son by an ineffable generation; [Isaiah 52:8] communicated by the Son to humanity, which He personally unites to Himself in the Incarnation; then restored to souls by this humanity, and received by each of them in  the measure of their special predestination: according to the measure of the giving of Christ  [Ephesians 4:7] so that Christ is truly the life of the soul because He is the source and giver of life...


In his teaching, Dom Marmion emphasizes 'Redemption from', oriented toward 'Redemption for':


... According to our manner of speaking, holiness seems to us that it is composed of a double element: first, infinite distance from all that is imperfection, from all that is created from all that is not God Himself. This is only a 'negative' aspect. There is another element which consists in this: that God adheres by an innumerable and always present act of His will, to the Infinite Good, which is Himself, in order to conform Himself entirely to all that this Infinite Good is. God knows Himself perfectly. His All-Wisdom shows Him His own essence as supreme norm of all activity.


(Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS, "A Reflection on the Hope of Dom Columba Marmion")


The author of this blog has more on Blessed Columba, plus you may want to survey this site.

Thumbnail image for Benedict XVI.jpgAddress of His Holiness Benedict XVI

to the Participants

In the International Benedictine Abbots' Conference


Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Saturday, 20 September 2008


Dear Father Abbots,
Dear Sister Abbesses,


I receive you with great joy on the occasion of the International Congress for which all the Abbots of your Confederation and the Superiors of independent Priories meet in Rome every four years to reflect on and discuss ways to embody the Benedictine charism in the present social and cultural context and respond to its ever new challenges to Gospel witness. I first greet the Abbot Primate, Dom Notker Wolf and thank him for what he has said on behalf of all. I likewise greet the group of Abbesses who have come representing the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum, as well as the Orthodox Representatives.


In a secularized world and an epoch marked by a disturbing culture of emptiness and meaninglessness, you are called to proclaim the primacy of God without compromise and to advance proposals for possible new forms of evangelization. The commitment to personal and communitarian sanctification that you pursue and the liturgical prayer that you encourage equip you for a particularly effective witness. In your monasteries, you are the first to renew and to deepen daily the encounter with the Person of Christ, whom you always have with you as guest, companion and friend. For this reason your convents are places where in our time too men and women hasten to seek God and learn to recognize the signs of Christ's presence, charity and mercy. With humble trust, you never tire of sharing with those who turn to your spiritual care the riches of the Gospel message, which are summed up in the proclamation of the love of the merciful Father who is ready to embrace every person in Christ. Thus you will continue to make your precious contribution to the vitality and sanctification of the People of God, in accordance with the special charism of Benedict of Norcia.


Dear Abbots and Abbesses, you are custodians of the patrimony of a spirituality anchored radically to the Gospel, "per ducatum evangelii pergamus itinera eius", as St Benedict says in the Prologue to the Rule. It is precisely this that engages you to communicate and give to others the fruits of your inner experience. I know and deeply appreciate the generous and competent cultural and formative work carried out by so many of your monasteries, especially for the young generations, creating an atmosphere of brotherly acceptance that favours a unique experience of Church. In fact, it is of primary importance to prepare young people to face their future and measure up to the many demands of society, having as a constant reference the Gospel message, which is ever timely, inexhaustible and life-giving. Devote yourselves, therefore, with fresh apostolic zeal to youth who are the future of the Church and of humanity. Indeed to build a "new" Europe it is necessary to start with the new generations, offering them the possibility of coming into close contact with the spiritual treasure of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina.


This pastoral and formative action is in fact more necessary than ever for the whole human family. In many parts of the world, especially Asia and Africa, there is a pressing need for vibrant places of encounter with the Lord, in which, through prayer and contemplation, the individual may recover peace with himself and peace with others. Therefore, do not fail to meet with an open heart the expectations of all those, outside of Europe too, who express a keen desire for your presence and your apostolate in order to draw from the riches of Benedictine spirituality. Let yourselves be guided by the deep desire to serve every person charitably, irrespective of their race or religion. With prophetic freedom and wise discernment, may your presence be meaningful wherever Providence calls you to settle, always distinguishing yourselves for the harmonious balance of prayer and work that is a feature of your way of life.


St Benedict in a Psalm.jpgAnd what should be said of the famous Benedictine hospitality? It is a special vocation of yours, an experience that is fully spiritual, human and cultural. May balance exist here too: may the heart of the community be wide open but in proportion to the times and forms of hospitality. You will thus give the men and women of our day a possibility of deepening the meaning of life within the infinite horizon of Christian hope, cultivating inner silence in communion with the Word of salvation. A community capable of authentic fraternal life, fervent in liturgical prayer, in study, in work, in cordial availability to your neighbour who is thirsting for God, is the best impetus for inspiring in hearts, especially those of young men, the vocation to monastic life and in general a fruitful journey of faith.


I would like to address a special word to the representatives of the Benedictine nuns and sisters. Dear sisters, like other religious families you too are suffering from the lack of new religious vocations. Do not let yourselves be disheartened but face these painful situations of crisis calmly, aware that it is not so much success that is asked of each one as faithful commitment.

What should be absolutely avoided is a weakening of spiritual attachment to the Lord and to one's vocation and mission. On the contrary, by persevering in it faithfully we profess most effectively, also to the world, our firm trust in the Lord of history, in whose hands are all the times and destinies of individuals, institutions and peoples; and let us also entrust ourselves to him with regard to the actuation in history of his gifts. Make your own the spiritual attitude of the Virgin Mary, happy to be the "ancilla Domini", totally available to do the will of the heavenly Father.


Dear monks, nuns and sisters, thank you for this pleasant visit! I accompany you with my prayers so that at your meetings during these days of your Congress you may discern the most appropriate ways to witness visibly and clearly in your life-style, work and prayer, to your commitment to a radical imitation of the Lord. May Mary Most Holy sustain your every project of good, help you above all to keep God before your eyes and accompany you maternally on your journey. As I invoke an abundance of heavenly gifts to support all of your generous resolutions, I warmly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to the entire Benedictine Family.


© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana




The Catholic Underground NYC is meeting on Saturday, October 11th. You know the plan: people gather at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church (230 East 90th Street, NYC) at 7:30 pm for Vespers and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Confessions will be heard. From 8:30-10:30 the crowd moves to the church hall for a musical performance. At this Underground NYC's Messengers of Christ (M.O.C.) will be performing.


Parking: Parking garage across the street from the Church available, $10 a night with Catholic Underground stamp.


e-mail: catholicunderground@gmail.com


Are you praying for the Holy Spirit's holy-spirit.jpgintercession? Will you following the Pope's meeting on the Bible?  Prayer to the Spirit is always key to the work of our Church: the scholars, pastors, students and faithful rely on our intercession on their behalf.


A meeting was called by Pope Benedict XVI to study the role of the Bible in our lives as Catholics. The meeting (October 5-26) is technically called by the Church a "Synod of Bishops" which is a gathering of invited bishops, experts and others to offer input on a particular subject to the Holy Father who will later write a paper as a follow up setting a direction in which he thinks the entire Church should go. It was Pope Paul's intention that "Synod [is] in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the spirit of collegiality engendered by the conciliar experience." The Holy See's own understanding of the role of a synod is:


A Synod is a religious meeting or assembly at which bishops, gathered around and with the Holy Father, have opportunity to interact with each other and to share information and experiences, in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application. The Synod, generally speaking, can be defined as an assembly of bishops representing the Catholic episcopate, having the task of helping the Pope in the governing of the universal Church by rendering their counsel. Pope John Paul II has referred to the Synod as "a particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of bishops.


Nikola Eterovic.jpgThe commission which coordinates the Synod of Bishops is headed by Croatian Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. In collaboration with the cardinals, bishops and experts, and of course with the Holy Father himself, a theme and an agenda is set for the Synod participants to work on. Therefore, the coming Synod is thus...


The topic of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church" can be understood in its christological sense, namely, Jesus Christ in the Life and Mission of the Church. This christological approach, linked by necessity to the pnuematological one, leads to the discovery of the Trinitarian dimension of revelation. Looking at the subject in this way ensures the unity of revelation. All the words and deeds, recorded in Sacred Bishops.jpgScripture by the inspired authors and faithfully guarded in Tradition, come together in the Person of the Lord Jesus, the Word of God. This is seen in the New Testament, which narrates and proclaims the mystery of his death, resurrection and presence in the midst of the Church, the community of his disciples called to celebrate these sacred mysteries. Because of the grace which leads to the destruction of sin (cf. Romans 6:6), his followers seek to conform themselves to their Master so that each might live Christ (cf. Galatians 2:20). Such is also the case in the Old Testament which, according to Jesus' own words, refers to himself (cf. John 5:39; Luke 24:27). Reading the Scriptures from a christological and pneumatological perspective leads from the letter to the spirit and from the words to the Word of God. Indeed, the words often conceal their true meaning, especially when considered from the literary and cultural point of view of the inspired authors and their way of understanding the world and its laws. Doing so leads to rediscovering the unity the Word of God in the many words of Scripture. After this necessary and ardent process, the Word of God shines with a surprising splendour, more than making up for the labour expended.


Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for October is: "That the Synod of Bishops may help the pastors and theologians, the catechists and promoters who are engaged in the service of the Word of God to courageously transmit the truth of faith in communion with the entire Church."


So, let's remember the Synod members in prayer. Perhaps we should offer a rosary and fast for the Pope's intention.

Angel1.jpgO God,

Who in Thine ineffable providence hast deigned to send Thy holy Angels to watch over us, grant Thy suppliants always to find safety in their protection and in eternity to share their happiness.



Today we honor the guardian angels and the Church has had this feast on the universal calendar since 1670 as a way of proclaiming God's protection for all of us, believer and non-believer alike; the guardian angels are not given only to helpless humanity. Today's memorial also reminds us that there is a spirit world and that there are beings without bodies in our midst, who are of good and evil.


In your prayers today, kindly remember the monks of the American-Cassinese Congregation who are under the patronage of the Guardian Angels. Pray for vocations to the monastic way of life and holiness of life.





This feast may be confusing to some people so I thought presenting some of the Church's teaching on angels would be good.




The Angels in Relation to God


Holy Writ adjures the angels to praise God and attests that they glorify God by their praise. (Cf. Ps 102, 148, Dn 3:58, Is 6:3, Rev 4:8, Heb 1:6)


The Angels in Relation to Man


De fide


Since the 16th century the Church celebrates a feast of in honor of the guardian angels. The Roman Catechism (IV.9.4) teaches: "By God's Providence the task is given of protecting the human race and individual human beings, so that they may not suffer any serious harm whatever."


Holy Writ testifies that all the angels are in the service of mankind. Hebrews 1:14: "Are they not all ministering angels, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" Psalm 90:11ff describes the care of the angels for the just.


According to Origen (De princ. I Praed. 10) it is "a constituent part of the doctrinal promulgation of the Church that there are angels of God and benevolent powers, which serve Him, in order to complete the salvation of mankind." (Cf. Origen, contra Celsum, VIII 34.)


Sent. certa.


Angel2.jpgAccording to the general teaching of the theologians, however, not only every baptized person, but every human being, including unbelievers, has his own special guardian angel from his birth. This view is biblically founded on the words of Our Lord. Matthew 18:10: "See that you do not dispise one of these little ones. For I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."


St. Basil with reference to Matthew 18, teaches: "Every one of the faithful has an angel standing at his side as educator and guide, directing his life" (Adv. Eumonium III.1) According to the testimony of St. Gregory the Wonder-worker and of St. Jerome, every person has from his birth his own special guardian angel. St. Jerome comments on Matthew 18:10: "How great is the value of the (human) soul that every single person has from birth (ab ortu navitatis) received an angel for his protection" (cf. St Gregory the Wonder-worker's thanksgiving speech on Origen. C.4.S.th.I.113, 1-8).


The Veneration of Angels


The veneration by men of the good angels is justified both by their glorification by God and their relation to men. That which the Council of Trent teaches as to the invocation and veneration of the saints (D 984ff), may also be applied to the angels. The rejection of the veneration of the angels by St. Paul (Col. 2:18) refers to a false, exaggerated veneration of Gnostic false teachers. St. Justin Martyr is an early witness to the Church's veneration of the angels. (L. Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 1960)



When I was a little boy my grandmothers taught me this prayer by saying it with me every night before bed when I spent the night at their homes. It brought me comfort then, and it brings me confort today. Each time I pray the prayer I am reminded of my grandmothers. Teach your children this prayer and say it yourself.


Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to Whom His love,
commits me here,
ever this day,
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. Amen.



Finally, there are some in the Church who undoubtedly will be singing this hymn for a communion meditation. Enjoy!!!

On the occasion of the Feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, we invite you to attend the first presentation of "Crossroads on the Road." The 75-minute theatrical production, Maurice & Therese: A Story of a Love will be performed this Sunday, October 5, at 3 pm at St. John the Martyr Church in Manhattan. The performance is free of charge and open to the public. See below for more details.


Maurice & Therese.JPG

The centuries of Catholic life reveal a variety of "violations" of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the real Presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These violations include heretical writings, sermons, plays, burnings, descration of the sacred Host, etc. Now we are dealing with technology's assistance in abusing the eucharistic Lord.


A problem we face is invinsible ignorance and flagrant behavior meant to shock and discourage the faithful. One of the disappointing things is the lack of media coverage on this topic and how relatively few Catholics standing up for their confessed faith in Jesus Christ. Of 65 million Catholics in the USA, how many are protesting this act of sacrilege? By protesting I don't mean shaking their fingers and heads and saying, "That's terrible!" but actually saying and doing something in a public way with friends, colleagues, etc. to make it clear that abusing something as sacred as the Communion is not to be tolerated.


In an era when religious sensitivity has lots of currency, even to an extreme, why isn't this  a matter significant discussion and reaction from the Christians of all stripes? Here I take issue with a point in the article below: I don't see this act getting people mobilized to correct an abuse. Even though the other ecclesial communities who have some belief in Communion should stand up and demonstrate. Where are they??? Why aren't the Catholics as vocal as the Jews and Muslims are when they experience a preceived abuse of their theology? Think of the Danish cartoons that got Muslims excited.


Elizabeth Ela writes a piece for HeadlineBistro.com which is helpful. AND write to YouTube at the email address noted below to register your complaint.


adoration.jpgPeople can find a video of almost anything on YouTube: babies' first steps, Saturday Night Live skits, news clips, concerts and now - to the shock of Catholics everywhere - desecration of the Eucharist.


YouTube has long been a destination for Catholics seeking video clips of Masses, apologetics lectures or devotions, but now Catholic outrage is growing as the site has become home to a string of videos depicting acts of Eucharistic desecration, including flushing a host down the toilet, putting one in a blender, feeding one to animals, shooting one with a nail gun and more. "I don't know what to say," said a stunned Msgr. C. Eugene Morris, professor of sacramental theology at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, when told about the videos. "I am outraged that YouTube is tacitly supporting this and giving this behavior an audience."


The most prominent series of videos come from one YouTube user who claims to steal a consecrated host every day and desecrate each one in a different way. His videos began two months ago with the user saying into a webcam that he denied the Holy Spirit, then splitting a host in half and eating it with disrespect.


Most of the videos only have a few hundred views - relatively low for YouTube standards - although the latest installment, "Eucharistic Desecration #33: Nail Gun," has been watched over 1,000 times.


The user, who lists his first name as Dominique, has also posted a video of his receiving communion at an unidentified Catholic church and removing the host from his mouth in the church parking lot. Msgr. Morris said people need to "stand up" for their faith in cases like this. Some have taken up the challenge.


Thomas Serafin is president of the International Crusade for Holy Relics, an internet watchdog group of Catholic laymen. His group has been fighting online affronts to the Catholic Church, including the sale of the Eucharist and of relics of the saints online, for more than a decade. "YouTube has to be held accountable and stopped," Serafin said from Los Angeles. "If Catholics don't take a stand right now, they can expect such outrages to continue."


Serafin added: "The internet is, in many ways, a new world, and it is our duty to evangelize this world, but we have to speak up and be heard to do that."


YouTube's content policy technically restricts users from posting videos that contain hate speech or "shocking and disgusting" elements.


"We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view," YouTube's Community Guidelines state. "But we don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity)."


YouTube spokesperson Kathleen Fitzgerald asked for additional links to the desecration videos, but did not respond to a request for comment prior to the publication of this story.

However, YouTube defines hate speech as "content that promotes hatred against members of a protected group. For instance, racist or sexist content may be considered hate speech. Sometimes there is a fine line between what is and what is not considered hate speech. For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation, but not okay to make insulting generalizations about people of a particular nationality."


The guidelines add, "YouTube is not a shock site. Don't post gross-out videos of accidents, dead bodies or similar things intended to shock or disgust."


Users may "flag" offensive videos, which YouTube says will alert their reviewers to videos that may violate content guidelines. A video featuring the Eucharist desecrated with a knife was flagged by Headline Bistro staff but remains on YouTube.


"Here you have someone attacking another group, and there's no outcry," Msgr. Morris said. "We're not hurting anybody or attacking other's beliefs," he added, saying he would ask perpetrators of Eucharistic desecration, "Why are you so concerned about this? Why is it your business?"


One name still making the rounds in YouTube and bloggers' discussions on Eucharistic desecration is Paul Z. Myers, the University of Minnesota professor who asked his blog readers in July to "score" him "some consecrated communion wafers."


"If any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare," Myers wrote in response to the case of a University of Central Florida student who stole a consecrated host the previous month.


Myers later posted a picture of a host - which he claimed was consecrated and sent to him via mail - as well as pages from the Koran and atheist Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" in a trash can, underneath coffee grounds and a banana peel.


As for the current YouTube videos, Dominique cited Myers as inspiration for the video series. In terms of the response he's received for his own acts of Eucharistic desecration, Dominique said most reactions are "quite funny."


"The best I have are from moderate Catholics," he wrote in an email to Headline Bistro. "Catholics who really believe that a cracker can become somebody after a magic ritual don't get the point, but some moderate Catholics who see the wafer as a symbol of Jesus' flesh realize something. Sometimes they disagree with what I do, but they realize that some of their friends are quite insane and that something must be done about that."


Fr Eugene Morris.jpgMsgr. Morris refuted Dominique's portrayal of believing Catholics as "insane."

"If you don't believe in the mystery of Christ, then of course you don't understand the sublime mystery of the Eucharist," Morris said.


"We have confidence," he added, in what "(Christ) has said to us" in regards to the Eucharist. Morris also pointed out the many examples of men and women who died for their faith in the Eucharist over the past 2,000 years.


Serafin said people should call or write YouTube to demand that the videos be taken down. YouTube's public relations email address is press@youtube.com


"Christ died on the cross for us," said Serafin. "The least we can do is defend him in cases like this."

Bxvi adoring.jpg"Prayer is less a function and more a disposition. Indeed, prayer, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, is 'a vital and personal relationship with the living God...the living relationship of the children of God with their Father'" (nn. 2558, 2565).




How much more vital and personal can prayer be than when it is before the Beloved?


The general intention

That the Synod of Bishops may help all those engaged in the service of the Word of God to transmit the truth of faith courageously in communion with the entire Church.


The mission intention

That in this month dedicated to the missions, every Christian community may feel the need to participate in the universal mission with prayer, sacrifice, and concrete help.

From the First Steps on the Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a publication of the

St Therese.jpgCatholic Information Service:


God has raised up St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, to enable us to grasp and live the profound truth of divine Love with the same intensity as she lived it. Or to put it another way, the Church has proclaimed St. Thérèse a Doctor of the Church in order to help God's people love the love that is mercy.


Therese was so convinced about how much we need to love the love that is mercy - instead of some twisted, inept infatuation with justice - that she made it the theme of a little Christmas play she wrote and performed for the community in 1894.


In the play, the Angel of Judgment approaches the infant Jesus in the manger and says this:


Have you forgotten, Jesus, O Beauty supreme, that the sinner must at last be punished? I will chastise the crime in judgment; I want to exterminate all the ungrateful. My sword is ready! Jesus, sweet victim! My sword is ready!! I am set to avenge you!!! (Theatre au Carmel, Paris: Cerf DDB, 1985, p. 108, author's translation)


And the baby Jesus replies:


O beautiful angel! Put down your sword. It is not for you to judge the nature that I raise up and that I wish to redeem. The one who will judge the world is myself, the one named Jesus! The life-giving dew of my Blood will purify all my chosen ones. Don't you know that faithful souls always give me consolation in the face of the blasphemies of the unfaithful by a simple look of love? (ibid.)


This little dramatic scene proved to be prophetic. In it we see prefigured the very model for Thérèse to be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. We hear a little child... speaking with the authoritative voice of God...correcting a destructive concept of divine justice...offering a new way to grasp God's love...and transforming the world through a graced teaching on God's mercy.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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