November 2008 Archives

The feast of Saint Andrew sparks the question in my heart about the nature --cost of discipleship. What is "discipleship" and what is its cost? Why is there a cost? Truth be told, obedience to the Gospel is not easy. Following the Lord is not easy when there are pressures from within and from without that say "go the other way" or "don't be bothered, no one else is." If one really wants to walk the path that leads to happiness, how does one do this? The monastic life which I am now trying to lead asks the same questions. There are days that the life is beautiful; there are days in which it's a nuissance (to say the least). Doing the will of God must be easy, clear and satisfying for some people. I can't always say the same. I think of the call of Andrew and Peter and what they must have felt and thought and did...


St Andrew and Peter's calling.jpgThe Cost of Discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


The call of Jesus goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience. The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus. How could the call immediately evoke obedience?


The story of the call of the first disciples is a stumbling-block to our natural reason, and it is no wonder that frantic attempts have been made to separate the two events. By hook or by crook a bridge must be found between them. Something must have happened in between, some psychological or historical event. Thus we get the stupid question: Surely the disciples must have known Jesus before, and that previous acquaintance explains their readiness to hear the Master's call. Unfortunately our text is ruthlessly silent on this point, and in fact it regards the immediate sequence of call and response as a matter of crucial importance. It displays not the slightest interest in the psychological reasons for a person's religious decisions. And why? For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself. It is Jesus who calls, and because it is Jesus, the disciple follows at once.


This encounter is a testimony to the absolute, direct, and unaccountable authority of Jesus. There is no need of any preliminaries, and no other consequence but obedience to the call. Because Jesus is the Christ, he has the authority to call and to demand obedience to his word. Jesus summons us to follow him not as a teacher of a pattern of the good life, but as the Christ, the Son of God. In this short text Jesus Christ and his claim are proclaimed to the world. Not a word of praise is given to the disciple for his decision for Christ. We are not expected to contemplate the disciple, but only him who calls, and his absolute authority. According to our text, there is no road to faith or discipleship, no other road -only obedience to the call of Jesus.


And what does the text inform us about the content of discipleship? Follow me, run along behind me! That is all. To follow in Christ's steps is something which is void of all content. It gives us no intelligible programme for a way of life, no goal or ideal to strive after. When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to his person. The grace of his call bursts all the bonds of legalism. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. It transcends the difference between the law and the gospel. Christ calls the disciples follows; that is grace and commandment in one.


(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, English trans. R. H. Fuller, London, 1959, pp. 48-9.)


Saint Andrew

| | Comments (0)

St Andrew2.jpgOne of the two who followed the Lord was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, alleluia.


V. Their sound goes forth to all the earth.


R. And their speech to the end of the world.


We humbly beseech Thy majesty, O Lord, that blessed Andrew the Apostle was both a preacher and ruler of Thy Church, so that he may unceasingly intercede for us with Thee.





Let pray, on this feast of Saint Andrew, for the unity of the Christian Churches, for the See of Constantinople and the See of Rome!

Behold, the great Prophet shall come; and He shall renew Jerusalem, alleluia.


A thrilling voice by rings

Rebuking guilt and darksome things:

Vain dreams of sins and visions fly;

Christ in His might shines forth on high.


St John the Baptist.jpgNow let each torpid soul arise

That sunk in guilt and wounded lies;

See, the new Star's refulgent ray

Shall chase disease and sin away.


The Lamb descends from heaven above

To pardon sin with freest love:

For such indulgent mercy shown

With tearful joy our thanks we own.


That when again He shines revealed

And trembling worlds to terror yield,

He give not sin its just reward

But in His love protect and guard.


To God the Father, God the Son,

And God the Spirit, Three in One,

Praise, honor, might and glory be

From age to age eternally. Amen.


V. The voice of one crying in the desert: make ready the way of the Lord.

R. Make straight His paths.


We beseech Thee, O Lord, show forth Thy power and come, that we may deserve to be rescued from the ever-threatening danger of our sins, and be saved by Thy deliverance.

OFMs walking.jpgOur sensibilities are heightened,our sense of peace is frequently threatened. Violence erupts so easily these days that it's hardly news anymore. Being spat on would likely enrage me and I would hope that I could remain calm. But who knows. I pray for peace in my morning offering, at Mass and whenever I hear a news report revealing any insane act of violence (which is a million times a day). How do we engage pugnacious youth to to live in peace? Do we turn the other cheek? How and why? How do the Franciscan friars live in the Holy Land day after day in the middle of violence and remain at peace with their vocation?

A recent incident is reported by one of the friars.


Celebrating 20 years, the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family seeks to transform and renew society


By Alton J. Pelowski


In 1987, Cardinal James Hickey of Washington, D.C., and Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant requested permission from the Vatican to establish an English-language campus, or session, of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. Permission was granted, and thanks to financial and administrative support from the Knights of Columbus, the Institute's North American presence began the following year.

            Since that time, graduates have gone on to work in a variety of occupations and ministries. Many are employed in dioceses and parishes as directors of family life or religious education, while others are teachers at Catholic high schools or seminaries. Still others integrate their education into fields such as law, medicine and public policy work. Additionally, a number of books and resources on John Paul II's theology of the body and related topics have been published in recent years, many by Institute faculty and alumni.

            Today, after 20 years of steadfast support from the Knights of Columbus and with a new home on the campus of The Catholic University of America (CUA), the Pontifical John Paul II Institute continues to grow and remains faithful to its mission.


Back to Basics


The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family was initially founded at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome in response to the 1980 synod of bishops, which focused on the family. Yet, there is no doubt that John Paul II believed that issues related to marriage and family are of the utmost importance. Throughout his pontificate, he often repeated the words of his 1981 apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World): "The future of humanity passes by way of the family" (86).        

            It is appropriate that the Institute bears John Paul II's name, for the core content john paul ii coat of arms.pngof its studies consists of the late pope's vision of what it means to be a human being, created in the image and likeness of God. In addressing cultural confusion about human sexuality and human dignity from this broad perspective, the Institute is not concerned with simply debating moral norms or sexual ethics. "Rather, we need to recover the very concept of morality and why it's important for the human being -- why it liberates and doesn't oppress," explained Dr. David L. Schindler, provost and dean of the Institute's Washington session. "We are faced," he continued, "with a crisis of foundations and first principles."      

            In a 2001 address to the Institute, John Paul II said that when people forget the principle of man's creation, "the perception of the singular dignity of the human person is lost and the way is open for an invasive 'culture of death.'" In other words, the theological and philosophical tenets of the Institute have enormous practical import, as they pertain to a person's most basic understanding of himself and his relationship to the world.  

            Drawing on Scripture, sacred tradition and human experience, Pope John Paul II taught that the meaning of human life is ultimately revealed in Jesus Christ and rooted in the very nature of God as a Trinitarian communion of persons. Ultimately, he explained, a person can only be understood in light of one's vocation to love. Moreover, a person's identity as male or female -- and as mother, father or child -- are not merely accidents of biology or the result of "private" decisions.

            "We are not abstract agents of choice and intelligence, as the modern world believes," explained Schindler, who is a member of Potomac Council 433 in Washington, D.C. "Concretely, every human being is born as a child." From this perspective, marriage and family are seen as central to understanding reality itself, and a major task of students at the Institute is to examine basic assumptions about human existence -- assumptions about truth, freedom, the body, nature, grace and even technology.        

            "I was very pleased to discover the Institute was a very serious theological program, and at the same time, that seriousness is essential to evangelization," said Pavel Reid, who was sent by the Archdiocese of Vancouver to study at the Institute in 2003. While working as the director of the Office of Life and Family, and testifying on behalf of the archdiocese about emerging political issues such as same-sex marriage, human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, Reid recognized the need for a more adequate response.

            "Before, I didn't even know what questions to ask, but the professors were able to show us whole new levels of questioning," he said. "There's so much greater depth to the Church's teaching and answers to contemporary problems than people realize."

            Reid has since worked as the director of young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA, and is now a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. A member of Coquitlam (B.C.) [Knights of Columbus] Council 5540, he encourages Knights not only to pray for the students and faculty of the Institute, but also to learn about and promote the Church's wisdom.


Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger addresses the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 1990. Audience members include Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant (second from left).


The New Evangelization


"The Institute is really at the forefront of the new evangelization," affirmed Father Brian Bransfield, who in September was named the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis. "They really capture all the ingredients of what is required to form a culture of life through a civilization of love."

            A priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Father Bransfield taught at a Catholic high school before receiving both licentiate (S.T.L.) and doctorate (S.T.D.) degrees in sacred theology from the Institute. Following his graduation in 2005, he taught moral theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. "When I would teach the categories of John Paul II, it spoke both to the heart and to the mind of the students," he said. "They don't know whether to take notes or just listen. It forms their memory, and they are on fire to bring this to other people."

            Although the depth of the writings of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and others who have articulated the Church's vision of the human person can be intimidating, Father Bransfield encourages his fellow priests and catechists to "go to the original sources and persevere." It is important, he said, to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the Church to share a truly Christian anthropology, such as in homilies, small faith groups, parish workshops and marriage preparation. "It's a response to the culture on so many levels. It's not an option."

            People find John Paul II's insights attractive because they are logical and concrete, added Father Bransfield. When the teaching is grasped, it is "life changing and transformative," he said.

            The role of the Institute in furthering the new evangelization, in other words, goes much deeper than simply learning and repeating facts or arguments. Rather, its goal is to provide "education and formation at the most fundamental level," Schindler explained.      

            Since a primary focus is on vocation and mission, rooted in one's baptismal call, the Institute's faculty is careful not to put undue importance on graduates' occupations. "One of the main purposes of the education here is realized when people actually get married and have good families," said Schindler.

            "It's not just a matter of getting the word out," said Lisa Lickona, who pursued both master's in theological studies (M.T.S.) and licentiate degrees from the Institute from 1991-1998. "The most significant thing is for people to embrace the Church's teaching and live in such a way that compels others to ask, 'What is making these people so happy?'"         

            With a love for theology, Lickona initially planned to teach higher education, but over the years, her goals changed. "I came to see that the work that would be most integral to the formation of my personality was first and foremost my work as a mother," she said.     

            Today, Lickona lives on a small farm in McGraw, N.Y., with her husband and seven children. Although she still writes and speaks at various conferences, she sees that work as secondary. "To give myself to my family is precisely my vocation and precisely what God wants for me right now."    

            Sister M. Maximilia Um, of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, said studying at the Institute helped her to see the world differently and better understand her own vocation. "It instilled in me a radically new way of looking at all aspects of life with an attitude of contemplation," she said. "I understand more profoundly that, before doing something, I am called to be someone before God," added Sister Maximilia, who went on to receive a degree in Canon Law from CUA after graduating from the Institute in 2005. She now serves as the defender of the bond on the marriage tribunal for the Diocese of Springfield, Ill.       


 'A Dream Come True'


In recent years, the Institute has seen considerable growth. Today, there are nearly 100 students enrolled at the Washington session, and many of the 318 alumni have graduated within the past five years. A Ph.D. program was added in 2004 and a master's with a specialization in biotechnology and ethics was launched last year.

            Internationally, the Pontifical John Paul II Institute is now also present in Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Benin, India and Australia, and there is interest in developing new sessions in several other countries. Indeed, it was the wish of John Paul II that the Institute would be present in every major language area.

            Throughout the Institute's brief history, the Knights of Columbus has been close at KofC.jpghand. The Order provides financial support and scholarships to the Washington session, and Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, the founding dean, continues to serve as its vice president. Most recently, the Institute received a new home on the CUA campus thanks to a donation from the Supreme Council. The building, renovated and renamed McGivney Hall after the Order's founder, was blessed and dedicated Sept. 8. Before reading the statement of dedication, Vincentian Father David O'Connell, president of CUA, shared a word of gratitude with the Knights, saying "Today is a dream come true, and I thank you."

            Prior to the dedication, representatives and friends of the Institute, the Knights and CUA gathered for Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in celebration of the Institute's 20th anniversary and the beginning of a new academic year. Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, vice chancellor of the Institute, observed in his homily, "This institute stands in the midst of our society and culture as the voice of the Catholic Church and offers an alternative to the failed vision of the secular world."

            In the face of many cultural challenges, the faculty, students and friends of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family face the future with a message of great hope.


Alton J. Pelowski is managing editor of Columbia and a 2006 graduate (M.T.S.) of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America.


This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Columbia magazine and is reprinted here with permission.

Ben 16.jpgIn last Wednesday's catechesis [11/19], I spoke of the question of how man is justified before God. Following St. Paul, we have seen that man is not capable of making himself "just" with his own actions, but rather that he can truly become "just" before God only because God confers on him his "justice," uniting him to Christ, his Son. And man obtains this union with Christ through faith.

In this sense, St. Paul tells us: It is not our works, but our faith that makes us "just." This faith, nevertheless, is not a thought, opinion or idea. This faith is communion with Christ, which the Lord entrusts to us and that because of this, becomes life in conformity with him. Or in other words, faith, if it is true and real, becomes love, charity -- is expressed in charity. Faith without charity, without this fruit, would not be true faith. It would be a dead faith.

We have therefore discovered two levels in the last catechesis: that of the insufficiency of our works for achieving salvation, and that of "justification" through faith that produces the fruit of the Spirit. The confusion between these two levels down through the centuries has caused not a few misunderstandings in Christianity.

In this context it is important that St. Paul, in the Letter to the Galatians, puts emphasis on one hand, and in a radical way, on the gratuitousness of justification not by our efforts, and, at the same time, he emphasizes as well the relationship between faith and charity, between faith and works. "For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6). Consequently, there are on one hand the "works of the flesh," which are fornication, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, etc. (Galatians 5:19-21), all of which are contrary to the faith. On the other hand is the action of the Holy Spirit, which nourishes Christian life stirring up "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22): These are the fruits of the Spirit that arise from faith.

St Paul rembrandt.jpgAt the beginning of this list of virtues is cited ágape, love, and at the end, self-control. In reality, the Spirit, who is the Love of the Father and the Son, infuses his first gift, ágape, into our hearts (cf. Romans 5:5); and ágape, love, to be fully expressed, demands self-control. Regarding the love of the Father and the Son, which comes to us and profoundly transforms our existence, I dedicated my first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. Believers know that in mutual love the love of God and of Christ is incarnated by means of the Spirit.

Let us return to the Letter of the Galatians. Here, St. Paul says that believers complete the command of love by bearing each other's burdens (cf. Galatians 6:2). Justified by the gift of faith in Christ, we are called to live in the love of Christ toward others, because it is by this criterion that we will be judged at the end of our existence. In reality, Paul does nothing more than repeat what Jesus himself had said, and which we recalled in the Gospel of last Sunday, in the parable of the Final Judgment.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul becomes expansive with his famous praise of love. It is the so-called hymn to charity: "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. ... Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests ..." (1 Corinthians 13:1,4-5).

Christian love is so demanding because it springs from the total love of Christ for us: this love that demands from us, welcomes us, embraces us, sustains us, even torments us, because it obliges us to live no longer for ourselves, closed in on our egotism, but for "him who has died and risen for us" (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15). The love of Christ makes us be in him this new creature (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17), who enters to form part of his mystical body that is the Church.

Holy Spirit.jpgFrom this perspective, the centrality of justification without works, primary object of Paul's preaching, is not in contradiction with the faith that operates in love. On the contrary, it demands that our very faith is expressed in a life according to the Spirit. Often, an unfounded contraposition has been seen between the theology of Paul and James, who says in his letter: "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (2:26).

In reality, while Paul concerns himself above all with demonstrating that faith in Christ is necessary and sufficient, James highlights the consequent relationship between faith and works (cf. James 2:2-4). Therefore, for Paul and for James, faith operative in love witnesses to the gratuitous gift of justification in Christ. Salvation, received in Christ, needs to be protected and witnessed "with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning ... as you hold on to the word of life," even St. Paul would say to the Christians of Philippi (cf. Philippians 2:12-14,16).

Often we tend to fall into the same misunderstandings that have characterized the community of Corinth: Those Christians thought that, having been gratuitously justified in Christ by faith, "everything was licit." And they thought, and often it seems that the Christians of today think, that it is licit to create divisions in the Church, the body of Christ, to celebrate the Eucharist without concerning oneself with the brothers who are most needy, to aspire to the best charisms without realizing that they are members of each other, etc.

The consequences of a faith that is not incarnated in love are disastrous, because it is reduced to a most dangerous abuse and subjectivism for us and for our brothers. On the contrary, following St. Paul, we should renew our awareness of the fact that, precisely because we have been justified in Christ, we don't belong to ourselves, but have been made into the temple of the Spirit and are called, therefore, to glorify God in our bodies and with the whole of our existence (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19). It would be to scorn the inestimable value of justification if, having been bought at the high price of the blood of Christ, we didn't glorify him with our body. In reality, this is precisely our "reasonable" and at the same time "spiritual" worship, for which Paul exhorts us to "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God" (Romans 12:1).

To what would be reduced a liturgy directed only to the Lord but that doesn't become, at the same time, service of the brethren, a faith that is not expressed in charity? And the Apostle often puts his communities before the Final Judgment, on which occasion "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Corinthians 5:10; and cf. Romans 2:16).

Emmaus Duccio.jpgIf the ethics that St. Paul proposes to believers does not lapse into forms of moralism, and if it shows itself to be current for us, it is because, each time, it always recommences from the personal and communitarian relationship with Christ, to verify itself in life according to the Spirit. This is essential: Christian ethics is not born from a system of commandments, but rather is the consequence of our friendship with Christ. This friendship influences life: If it is true, it incarnates and fulfills itself in love for neighbor. Hence, any ethical decline is not limited to the individual sphere, but at the same time, devalues personal and communitarian faith: From this it is derived and on this, it has a determinant effect.

Let us, therefore, be overtaken by the reconciliation that God has given us in Christ, by God's "crazy" love for us: No one and nothing could ever separate us from his love (cf. Romans 8:39). With this certainty we live. And this certainty gives us the strength to live concretely the faith that works in love.


Benedictus XVI

Pontiff of the Roman Church

26 November 2008

Christ's beauty

| | Comments (0)

Sometimes God sends me moments in which I am utterly at peace. In those moments I Christ washing the feet2.jpghave constructed for myself a creed in which everything is clear and holy for me. Here it is: to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more profound, more sympathetic, more reasonable, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ, and not only is there nothing, but I tell myself with jealous love, that there never could be.


Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Happy Thanksgiving

| | Comments (0)


Max thankful relatives.JPGHappy Thanksgiving and God's Blessings!

November 26, 2008
Michael Sean Winters

America Magazine


Pope Benedict XVI greeted a group of pilgrims this past weekend with a short discourse on the Feast of Christ the King that has an obvious application to the political circumstance of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States in the wake of President-elect Obama's decisive win among Catholic voters.


"Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope told the pilgrims, "this is what interests God. The kingship of history is of no importance to him -- he wants to reign in people's hearts, and from these, in the world: He is the king of the entire universe, but the crucial point, the place where his reign is at risk, is our heart, for there God finds himself encountering our freedom." Reign in the heart, then in the world. That is the proper order for political influence by the Christian Churches.


Unfortunately, political power inevitably invites that deadliest of the seven deadly sins, pride, and it is always tempting for those of us whose involvement in politics grows out of our religious motivations to conflate the two, to think that politics is about the Kingdom not the kingdom, to collapse our eschatons into our exit polls. And, this happens on both left and right.


But, Benedict is right. The primary means by which the Church should influence the realm of politics is by converting hearts and generating culture. This insight was the principal reason Don Luigi Guissani founded his movement, Communione e Liberazione and distanced himself from the Christian Democratic Party of his day. And, the Holy Father's reliance on the insights of Don Guissani is well known.


So, as we Americans prepare to celebrate the quintessential American holiday, so soon after a tumultuous election, let us all remember that the kingship of history is less important than breaking bread with our friends. And, for those of us who are Catholic Americans, let us commit ourselves anew to the wonderful adventurous drama of the human heart where, as Pope Benedict said, "God finds himself encountering our freedom."


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! back on Monday with more analysis of the transition.

In today's general audience, the Pope said:

St Paul Giotto2.JPGIn our continuing catechesis on Saint Paul, we now consider his teaching on faith and works in the process of our justification. Paul insists that we are justified by faith in Christ, and not by any merit of our own. Yet he also emphasizes the relationship between faith and those works which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence and action within us. The first gift of the Spirit is love, the love of the Father and the Son poured into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5). Our sharing in the love of Christ leads us to live no longer for ourselves, but for him (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-15); it makes us a new creation (cf. 2 Cor 5:17) and members of his Body, the Church. Faith thus works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). Consequently, there is no contradiction between what Saint Paul teaches and what Saint James teaches regarding the relationship between justifying faith and the fruit which it bears in good works. Rather, there is a different emphasis. Redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we are called to glorify him in our bodies (cf. 1 Cor 6:20), offering ourselves as a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God. Justified by the gift of faith in Christ, we are called, as individuals and as a community, to treasure that gift and to let it bear rich fruit in the Spirit.


I've been reading some of the issues of America Magazine, a Jesuit weekly. Frankly, it is a chore to do so. The Jesuits are often too snarky without reason and not all that insightful for my taste. Of course, today I found a rather good article to think about (see the following) regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It was a surprise. Something so "quaint" as the Sacred Heart is rather surprising the pages of America these days even knowing that the precursor to America is The Messenger of the Sacred Heart. (Jesuit Father John J. Wynne changed the name in 1909 to make the magazine more "intelligent.") Don't get me wrong: I don't think the devotion to the Sacred Heart is old-fashioned at all. As the author points out, the Lord communicated His desires to Sister -later Saint--Margaret Mary to make this act of reverence known. It is, therefore, a request of the Lord Himself to spend time in loving adoration of Him. Hence, I think it ought to be promoted regularly and with sensitivity to beauty. There is great respectability in the adoration of the Sacred Heart which needs to be recovered in our daily living.



Heart of the Matter

Rediscovering a time-honored devotion


By David M. Knight

America Magazine

November 10, 2008


There was a time when devotion to the Sacred Heart needed no introduction. Not any more. Many people today have never even heard of it. Should we try to revive it or let it die?


Before answering that question, let us recall that at least two popes have written encyclicals presenting this devotion as "no ordinary form of piety" but rather "a summary of all our religion." These are strong words. Four popes have been calling for a "new evangelization." What better time to launch a revival of the devotion to the Sacred Heart than during the Year of Paul, which began on June 29, 2008?


The devotion to the Sacred Heart as we know it today began with a vision of Christ given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673 at Paray-le-Monial, France. In that vision the heart of Jesus was visible, on fire with love, pierced by a lance and thorns. Christ's words were, "See the heart that has loved so much and receives so little in return." Christ's desire was to focus people's attention on his love. He asked that individuals and families display a picture of his Sacred Heart in their home.


The devotion encouraged people to begin each day with a morning offering, to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart and dedicate themselves to making reparation through prayers and penance for the failure of people to respond to Christ's love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart encouraged frequent Com-munion and adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, especially during a holy hour before the first Friday of every month, in order to promote "a truly grateful love for Jesus."


How might each of these elements be practiced today in ways consonant with the progress Catholic spirituality has made since the 17th century?


Sacred Heart4.jpgThe Image


Focusing on the image of the Sacred Heart should recall us to a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the very center of our spirituality. We need to live and experience our religion, not as a system of laws and practices, but as a spirituality of exciting, personal and even passionate interaction of love and friendship with Jesus. Christianity is a religion of love aroused by an awareness of God's love for us first. In St. Paul's words, it is the "love of Christ" that "urges us on."




The act of consecration fundamental to Christian life is baptism. We need to deepen our understanding of the commitments inherent in the sacrament that made us Christians, until we all say with St. Paul, "I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). This is the mystery of our identity as Christians. The image of the Sacred Heart reflects the promise of the Christian identity bestowed by baptism. Contemplating that image should lead us to live as the saving Christ, fired by his love. This means inviting Jesus constantly to act with us, in us and through us to "save" and lift up all of our activities and engagements--at home, at work, in our social and civic life.


Our act of consecration and morning offering are combined in the ongoing affirmation of our baptismal promises: "Lord, I give you my body. Live this day with me, live this day in me, live this day through me." We extend this by repeating the WIT prayer before everything we do: "Lord, do this with me; do this in me; do this through me."




Sacred Heart3.JPGReparation to the Sacred Heart is realized in the prayers and penances we offer to Jesus to make up for the failure of people to respond to his love. For ordinary Christians leading busy lives in the world, the most practical form reparation can take is repair work. We need to respond effectively to the landslide loss of faith among those around us, to the distressing defection of Catholics who no longer attend Mass and to the uncritical acceptance of the distorted values of our contemporary culture, including the relativism that Benedict XVI has called the "greatest threat to faith in our day." We need to recognize and resist the implicit idolatry of so many for whom religion is just a part, and not even the most important part, of their life. Our resistance should be fundamental and radical.


Baptism commits us to such a response. The minister's words as he anointed us with chrism were, "As Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king, so live always as a member of his body." This is our job description as Christians: to bear witness as prophets, to minister to everyone with love as priests by baptism, and to take responsibility for the transformation of society as stewards of Christ's kingship. This is radical reparation.


As prophets we can repair the damage sin has done and is doing to the world by bearing witness to the Gospel through a lifestyle that wins people to faith. If we contemplate the contrast between Christ's passionate love and the lukewarm response given to it by most believers, the image of Christ's heart will motivate us to live a lifestyle radically different from the conventional expectations of our society.


Paulus VI PP.jpgPope Paul VI defined witnesses as those who "radiate faith in values that go beyond current values, and hope in something not seen, that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness, they stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way?" Witnesses are those whose lifestyle raises eyebrows.


To commit oneself to a life of witness is to change one's whole standard of morality. We would never ask again just whether something is right or wrong, but whether it bears witness to the values of the Gospel. This is reparation that echoes the teaching of Paul: "If with Christ you died [in baptism]... why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?.... Live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ" (Col 2:20).


As priests by baptism we say in our hearts to every person we encounter, "This is my body, given for you; my flesh for the life of the world." The contemplation of Christ's heart, wounded by the denial of love, leads us to recognize those same wounds now borne by others; it motivates us to make reparation through the healing ministry of love.


It is not just the heart of Christ that is wounded by the absence of love in the world; all of us are. People sin because they are not loved. People sin seeking love. People live mediocre lives because they feel they are only moderately loved. People do not respond to God with passion because they do not believe God loves them with passion. And they do not believe this because they do not experience the passionate love of Jesus reaching out to them in the visible members of his body.


The problem with the world is that the church does not love enough. The heart of Christ is not a vivid presence in today's world, because it is not sufficiently visible in his body on earth. The Sacred Heart needs to be seen as a living heart, full of love for living people.


When we "presented our bodies" at baptism "as a living sacrifice to God," we pledged that we would be "sacrificed" to continue the mission of Jesus, both priest and victim. As Christians, we never deal with anyone on a purely professional or impersonal level, ignoring their humanity. Paul saw ministry as the mystery of bringing Christ to birth and to full stature in every member of the human race. Our ministry of reparation must "build up the body of Christ" in love.


As stewards of Christ's kingship we repair what sin has done to the world. We address the social structures, policies and practices that produce environments that breed destruction and deceit.


Baptism.jpgOur baptismal anointing as sharers in Christ's kingship makes us responsible for extending the reign of his love over every area and activity of human life on earth. This commits us to leadership, to taking the initiative in promoting the changes we perceive as desirable in family, church, business, politics, social life and neighborhood. If we love Jesus Christ and understand his love for the world, we cannot remain indifferent or passive in the face of false principles and destructive policies that block the "peace and unity of his kingdom."


Jesus said that in devotion to his heart people will find "all the sanctifying and saving graces needed to draw them back from the abyss of destruction." John Dear, S.J., has identified this abyss in "The Politics of the Sacred Heart," (National Catholic Reporter Conversation Café (, 6/19/07):


Today we stand at the brink of unprecedented global destruction, global warming and global violence. This violence pushes us personally and internationally ever closer to the abyss of destruction, but the grace of the Sacred Heart--with all its burning social, economic and political implications--has the power to convert us into people of Gospel nonviolence, pull us back from the brink, and create a new world of peace with justice.... If we were to adopt the image of the Sacred Heart as our image of a nonviolent, peacemaking God, and live not just individually but communally, nationally and globally according to that nonviolent, radiant love, the world would be disarmed.


If we love Jesus Christ and share his love for the world, we will "make reparation" for the sins of the world by working against anything that delays what Paul described as God's "plan for the fullness of time," which is to "gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth" so that Christ might be "all in all."




Adoration has always been part of devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. But adoration, in its pure form, is just wordless absorption in the awesome reality of God. In the act of adoring we do not do anything else. But most people cannot sustain this for more than a few minutes at a time. So instead of adoration we pray the Rosary, read Scripture or other books, or say other familiar vocal prayers. These are all good things to do, but they are not what the church understands by adoration.


Before we can practice adoration, we need to know the heart we are to adore. So when we invite others to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we should teach them to prepare themselves for it by learning the mind and heart of Christ. We enter Christ's heart by letting his words abide in us: by reading and reflecting on Scripture and by making the connection constantly between what we learn and what we live.


True devotion to the Sacred Heart is not simply the repetition of certain acts; it is a profound change in consciousness that we acquire as a result of that repetition. St. Paul exhorts us, "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). This is a call to discipleship: a lifelong commitment to studying the mind and heart of Christ.


Why revive devotion to the Sacred Heart?


Devotion to the Sacred Heart is not a particular devotion that needs to be revived. Rather, it is the fundamental center of all Catholic spirituality that needs to be revitalized by a "new evangelization." If we revive devotion to the Sacred Heart in its authentic identity, we will have revived Christianity in the church. This would be a great way to celebrate the Year of Paul.



Rev. David M. Knight, a priest of the Memphis diocese and the author of more than 20 books, has taught at The Catholic University of America and at Loyola University in New Orleans.



Benedict XVI arms.jpgAddress of the Holy Father Benedict XVI

To the Participants in the

Plenary Assembly of the Congregation

For Institutes of Consecrated Life

And Societies of Apostolic Life


Clementine Hall
Thursday, 20 November 2008




Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,


I meet you with joy on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which is celebrating 100 years of life and activity. Indeed, a century has passed since my venerable Predecessor, St Pius X, with his Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29 June 1908, made your Dicastery autonomous as a Congregatio negotiis religiosorum sodalium praeposita, a name that has subsequently been modified several times. To commemorate this event you have planned a Congress on the coming 22 November with the significant title: "A hundred years at the service of the consecrated life". Thus, I wish this appropriate initiative every success.


Today's meeting is a particularly favourable opportunity for me to greet and thank all those who work in your Dicastery. I greet in the first place Cardinal Franc Rodé, the Prefect, to whom I am also grateful for expressing your common sentiments. Together with him I greet the Members of the Dicastery, the Secretary, the Undersecretaries and the other Officials who, with different tasks carry out their daily service with competence and wisdom in order to "promote and regulate" the practice of the evangelical counsels in the various forms of consecrated life, as well as the activity of the Societies of Apostolic Life (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, n. 105). Consecrated persons constitute a chosen portion of the People of God: to sustain them and to preserve their fidelity to the divine call, dear brothers and sisters, is your fundamental commitment which you carry out in accordance with thoroughly tested procedures thanks to the experience accumulated in the past 100 years of your activity. This service of the Congregation was even more assiduous in the decades following the Second Vatican Council that witnessed the effort for renewal, in both the lives and legislation of all the Religious and Secular Institutes and of the Societies of Apostolic Life. While I join you, therefore, in thanking God, the giver of every good, for the good fruits produced in these years by your Dicastery, I recall with grateful thoughts all those who in the course of the past century of its activity have spared no energy for the benefit of consecrated men and women.


This year the Plenary Assembly of your Congregation has focused on a topic particularly 2 nuns.jpgdear to me: monasticism, a forma vitae that has always been inspired by the nascent Church which was brought into being at Pentecost (Acts 2: 42-47; 4: 32-35). From the conclusions of your work that has focused especially on female monastic life useful indications can be drawn to those monks and nuns who "seek God", carrying out their vocation for the good of the whole Church. Recently too (cf. Address to the world of culture, Paris, 12 September 2008), I desired to highlight the exemplarity of monastic life in history, stressing that its aim is at the same time both simple and essential: quaerere Deum, to seek God and to seek him through Jesus Christ who has revealed him (cf. Jn 1: 18), to seek him by fixing one's gaze on the invisible realities that are eternal (cf. 2 Cor 4: 18), in the expectation of our Saviour's appearing in glory (cf. Ti 2: 13).


Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, "a reference point for all the baptized" (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God's glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final "revelation of the sons of God" (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation's Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.


Trap2.jpgThe path pointed out by God for this quest and for this love is his Word itself, who in the books of the Sacred Scriptures, offers himself abundantly, for the reflection of men and women. The desire for God and love of his Word are therefore reciprocally nourished and bring forth in monastic life the unsupressable need for the opus Dei, the studium orationis and lectio divina, which is listening to the Word of God, accompanied by the great voices of the tradition of the Fathers and Saints, and also prayer, guided and sustained by this Word. The recent General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in Rome last month on the theme: The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, renewing the appeal to all Christians to root their life in listening to the Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture has especially invited religious communities to make the Word of God their daily food, in particular through the practice of lectio divina (cf. Elenchus praepositionum, n. 4).


Dear brothers and sisters, those who enter the monastery seek there a spiritual oasis where they may learn to live as true disciples of Jesus in serene and persevering fraternal communion, welcoming possible guests as Christ himself (cf. Rule of Benedict, 53, 1). This is the witness that the Church asks of monasticism also in our time. Let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord, the "woman of listening", who put BVM sub tuum.jpgnothing before love for the Son of God, born of her, so that she may help communities of consecrated life and, especially, monastic communities to be faithful to their vocation and mission. May monasteries always be oases of ascetic life, where fascination for the spousal union with Christ is sensed, and where the choice of the Absolute of God is enveloped in a constant atmosphere of silence and contemplation. As I assure you of my prayers for this, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all of you who are taking part in the Plenary Assembly, to all those who work in your Dicastery and to the members of the various Institutes of Consecrated Life, especially those that are entirely contemplative. May the Lord pour out an abundance of his comforts upon each one.


Some data:

Currently, there are 12,876 monks living in 905 monasteries and 48,493 contemplative nuns living in 3,520 monasteries, two-thirds of which are found in Europe. Spain has, by far, the most of any country.

The story is carried here.


Saint Sylvester, abbot

| | Comments (0)

St Sylvester abbot2.jpgMost merciful God, Who, when the holy abbot Sylvester stood by the side of an open tomb meditating on the vanity of the things of this world, did vouchsafe to call him into the wilderness and there to adorn him with the merits of a most holy life; we humbly beseech Thee, that following his example and despising earthly things, we may enjoy eternal fellowship with Thee.


The Sylvestrine Benedictine charism has a constant devotion to the passion of Christ, a special relationship to Mary, the Mother of God. What Saint Sylvester gave his followers was the blessing of being true spiritual father with a genuine ability to attract and to form his disciples according to God's own ways. The monks of this congregation seriously lived the vocation in simplicity and poverty for Christ and the Church.


In speaking to the venerable Sylvestrine Benedictines, Pope John Paul II said:


A contemplative and anxious to be consistent with the Gospel, Sylvester became a hermit, practicing a strict ascetical life and growing in a deep and vigorous spirituality. For his disciples he chose Saint Benedict's Rule, wishing to build a community that would be dedicated to contemplation but would not ignore the surrounding social reality. In fact, he himself united a life of recollection, with the ministry of an esteemed spiritual fatherhood and the proclamation of the Gospel to the people of the region.

Fr Chrysogonus Waddell entered into the joy of the Lord on this solemnity Father Chrysogonus.jpgof Christ the King. Born in 1930 to parents serving in the military and stationed in the Philippines, he joined the community of the Abbey of Gethsemani on August 2, 1950.

His ordination to the priesthood took place on May 31, 1958. Blessed with many talents and an exuberant spirit, Fr Chrysogonus returned the gifts generously and tirelessly. His musical compositions are known and played throughout the world.

His scholarly contributions are highly renowned and acclaimed. Humble and faithful, humorous and devout, he sought the face of the Lord with zeal and tenacity. May his song in heaven be jubilant and eternal!

A Kentucky obit.

The Father of English Hymnody died 260 years ago today. I suppose if you write about 750 hymns you should be called a "father of something".... There's hardly a week that goes by that Isaac Watts' music isn't used. Watts, a well-educated man though he was prevented from studying at Oxford because of theological views.  He was considered a Isaac Watts.jpgnonconformist, known as Congregationalist in the USA. Yale University holds the papers of Watts.


Watt's originality is that he revolutionizes music written for sacred worship by using the philosophy known through the 16th century Protestant Reformers, namely that of John Calvin. The Reformers made a significant departure from the Roman Church's use of psalmody for the entrance, gospel and communion antiphons at Mass and the Divine Office.  The ancient usage was jettisoned; the connection with Old Testament types rejected when the Psalms were rejected. The replacement music added extra-Biblical poetry and Christian experience for content, verse forms and metrical translations replaced chant, and congregational singing was employed figuring that the truth revealed in Scripture and doctrine about salvation in Jesus Christ would be more fully apprehended if the liturgical music was in the vernacular and "user friendly" hymns.


On another note, Isaac Watts' poem "Against Idleness And Mischief" found in Divine Songs for Children, a poem that uses the bee as a model of hard work and later parodied in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.


How doth the little busy bee

Improve each shining hour,

And gather honey all the day

From every opening flower!


How skillfully she builds her cell! Bee.jpg

How neat she spreads the wax!

And labours hard to store it well

With the sweet food she makes.


In works of labour or of skill,

I would be busy too;

For Satan finds some mischief still

For idle hands to do.


In books, or work, or healthful play,

Let my first years be passed,

That I may give for every day

Some good account at last.

On August 10th I posted an article on the Pope's prohibition of the use of tetragrammaton in the sacred Liturgy. You can read the original posting here.


A recent reflection on the restoration of this practice follows.


Why "Yahweh" Isn't Used in Catholic Liturgy

Biblical Expert Says It Reflects Jewish Tradition

JERUSALEM, NOV. 21, 2008 ( - To understand the Vatican directive reiterating that the name of God revealed in the tetragrammaton YHWH is not to be pronounced in Catholic liturgy, it helps to know the history behind the Jewish tradition, says a biblical expert.

Father Michel Remaud, director of the Albert Decourtray Institute, a Christian institute of Jewish studies and Hebrew literature, explained to ZENIT that the message published in June by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments reflects current Jewish practice.

The Vatican note explained: "The venerable biblical tradition of sacred Scripture, known as the Old Testament, displays a series of divine appellations, among which is the sacred name of God revealed in a tetragrammaton YHWH -- hwhw.

YHWH.jpg"As an expression of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, it was held to be unpronounceable and hence was replaced during the reading of sacred Scripture by means of the use of an alternate name: 'Adonai,' which means 'Lord.'"

Father Remaud said that "until almost the year 200 B.C., the divine name was pronounced every morning in the temple in the priestly blessing: 'The Lord bless and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you'" (Numbers 6:24-26).

He said this blessing originated out of the context of the next verse in Numbers: "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."

Left unsaid

Furthermore, the priest said that the Mishna, the Jewish law codified toward the end of the second century, "specifies that the name was pronounced in the temple 'as it is written,' while another denomination (Kinuy) was used in the rest of the country. After a certain period, the divine name was no longer pronounced in the temple's daily liturgy.

"The Talmud leads one to understand that the decision was taken to avoid a magic use of the name by some."


According to Father Remaud's sources, ever "since the death of the high priest Simon the Righteous, about 195 B.C., the divine name was no longer pronounced in the daily liturgy."

The expert compared the Talmud's testimony with the Book of Sirach, which mentions Simon the Righteous in Chapter 50. Chapters 44-50 remember all "godly men" since Enoch, including Abraham, Moses and David.


Father Remaud said the seven-chapter passage ends with the high priest Simon pronouncing the divine name: "Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his mouth, and to glory in his name; and they bowed down in worship a second time, to receive the blessing of the Most High" (Sirach 50:20-21).

Yom Kippur.jpgFrom the time of Simon the Righteous until the temple's ruin, the name was only heard "as it is written" during the Yom Kippur liturgy at the temple of Jerusalem, where the high priest pronounced it 10 times, continued Father Remaud.


"On hearing the explicit name from the mouth of the high priest, the 'cohanim' [Aaron's descendants] and the people present in the atrium knelt down, prostrated themselves with their face on the ground saying: 'Blessed be the glorious name of his Kingdom forever.'"

The Mishna does not say that the high priest pronounced the divine name, but that the name "came out of his mouth," he clarified.

A whisper


Moreover, continued Father Remaud, it seems that toward the end of the period of the second temple -- 70 A.D. -- the high priest now only pronounced the word in a whisper. This was explained in a childhood memory of Rabbi Tarphon (1st-2nd centuries), who recalls that even straining to hear, he could not hear the name.


The biblical scholar also noted that the formula of Exodus -- "This is my name forever" (Exodus 3:15) -- through a play of words in Hebrew is interpreted by the Talmud of Jerusalem as "This is my name to remain hidden."


"Today, the divine name is never pronounced," continued Father Remaud. "In the Yom Kippur office of the synagogue, which replaces the temple's liturgy by the recitation of what took place when the temple existed, the people prostrated themselves in the synagogue when recalling -- though not pronouncing -- that the high priest pronounced the divine name."


The Catholic priest noted that the first Christians called "Jesus by the term 'Lord' (Kyrios)," by which they "deliberately applied the term used in Greek to translate the divine name."


"In Judaism's liturgical tradition, this divine name was only pronounced in the liturgy of forgiveness of sins, on the day of Kippur," he continued. "One might see an allusion to this tradition and to the purifying power of the Name, in this verse of the First Letter of St. John: 'Your sins are forgiven for his names' sake' (1 John 2, 12)."

Sant Egidio peace.jpgOn November 21, Andrea Riccardi, the founder of the international Community of Sant'Egidio announced that the next international inter-religious encounter, in 2009, will be in Krakow, Poland, honoring the memory of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II and to recall the terrible tragedy of Auschwitz, where evil manifested its ugly face.




World leaders, religious and political, have met for prayer periodically since 1986 when the landmark event was first lived in Assisi.

Sant Egidio member.jpg 

The H2O News video report.


The Community of Sant'Egidio has been in the United States since 1990, more info is found here.


The Wiki article is here.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

| | Comments (0)

Born of a noble family, Catherine was committed to her faith in Christ and made the claim she was his bride; she therefore refused the marriage proposal of the emperor. Defending her decision before 50 philosophers by making a superior argument, she was tortured by being splayed on a wheel and then beheaded.


St Catherine of Alexandria2.jpg

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking good pearls, who, when he had found one of great price, gave all that he had and bought it.



O God, Who did give the law to Moses from the top of Mount Sinai and did  miraculously convey there by Thy holy Angles the body of blessed Catherine, Thy Virgin and Martyr; we beseech Thee, grant  that by virtue  of her merits and intercession, we may attain to that mount which is Christ.






In Praise of Virginity
by Saint Ephrem of Edessa, deacon & Doctor of the Church


Blessed are you, virgin, with whom 
the comely name of virginity grows old. 
In your branches chastity built a nest; 
may your womb be a nest for her dwelling place. 
May the power of mercy preserve your temple.


Blessed are you, heavenly sparrow 
whose nest was on the cross of light. 
You did not want to build a nest on earth 
lest the serpent enter and destroy your offspring.


Blessed are your wings that were able to fly. 
May you come with the holy eagles 
that took flight and soared from the earth below 
to the bridal couch of delights.


Blessed are you, O shoot that Truth cultivated; 
He engrafted your medicine into the Tree of Life. 
Your fruit exults and rejoices at all times 
to drink the drink of the Book of Life. 
Blessed are your branches.


Blessed are you, O bride, espoused to the Living One, 
you who do not long for a mortal man. 
Foolish is the bride who is proud 
of the ephemeral crown that will be gone tomorrow.


Blessed is your heart, captivated by love 
of a beauty portrayed in your mind. 
You have exchanged the transitory bridal couch 
for the bridal couch whose blessings are unceasing.


Blessed are you, free woman, who sold yourself 
to the Lord who became a servant for your sake! 

Thumbnail image for St Andrew Dung-lac & comp.JPGO God, the source and origin of all fatherhood, you kept the blessed martyrs Andrew and his companions faithful to the cross of your Son even to the shedding of their blood. Through their intercession enable us to spread your love among our brothers and sisters, that we may be called and may truly be your children.




An excerpt of a letter written 1843 by Paul Le-Bao-Tinh, shortly before his martyrdom:


I, Paul, chained for the name of Christ, wish to tell you the tribulations in which I am immersed every day, so that you, inflamed with love for God, may also lift up your praise to God, 'for his mercy endures forever'. This prison is truly the image of the eternal Hell: to the cruelest tortures of all types, such as fetters, iron chains and bonds, are added hate, vindictiveness, calumny, indecent words, interrogations, bad acts, unjust oaths, curses and finally difficulties and sorrow. But God, who once freed the three boys from the path of the flames, is always with me and has freed me from these tribulations and converted them into sweetness, 'for his mercy endures forever...


Assist me with your prayers so that I may struggle according to the law, and indeed 'fight the good fight' and that I may be worthy to fight until the end, finishing my course happily; if we do not see each other again in this life, in the future age, nonetheless, this will be our joy, when standing before the throne of the spotless Lamb, with one voice we sing his praises, exulting in the joy of eternal victory. Amen.

Here is the description of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity (Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted], 2006).


Official name: Fraternity of Communion and Liberation; also known as: Communion and Liberation (CL)


Established: 1954


History: At the beginning of the 1950s, realizing the need to rebuild the Christian presence in the student world, Father Luigi Giussani, a professor at the Theological Faculty at Venegono, dedicated himself to teaching religion in schools.


The experience of a small group of students from the Berchet classical high school in Milan, which gathered around him, led to the establishment of Gioventù Studentesca (Student Youth). With the strong encouragement of the archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, Gioventù Studentesca spread to other Italian cities, and after 1968 it also began to involve undergraduates and adults.


This led to the establishment of Communion and Liberation which, in 1980, was to be canonically recognized by the Benedictine Ordinary (Bishop) Abbot of Montecassino, Martino Matronola. The first fraternity groups were set up in the latter half of the 1970s by CL graduates who, using a method based on communion, wished to strengthen their membership in the Church as adults, along with the responsibilities that this entails.


It was through their spread to various countries that the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation came about. On Feb. 11, 1982, (Our Lady of Lourdes) the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation as an international association of the faithful of pontifical right.


Identity: The essence of the CL charism is

the proclamation that God became Man; in the affirmation that this man -- Jesus of Nazareth, who died and rose again -- is a present event,

whose visible sign is communion, that is to say, the unity of a people led by a living person, the Bishop of Rome

in the awareness that it is only in God made Man, and hence within the life of the Church, that man is more true and humanity is truly more human.


In the educational proposal made by CL, the free acceptance by the individual of the Christian message is determined by the discovery that the needs of the human heart are met by the annunciation of a message that fulfills them.


It is the reasonableness of the faith which leads men and women who have been transformed by their encounter with Christ to commit themselves with Christian experience to affect the whole of society. This commitment strengthens their awareness of their own identity, enabling them to see their life as a vocation, and is supported by the experience of communion which makes the memory of Christ's coming a daily reality.


The educational process,

nurtured by proclamation and catechesis

by attendance at retreats and spiritual exercises

and by the celebration of the sacraments,

gives pride of place to the dimensions of


1.   cultural work, as a means of deepening and expressing their faith and as a condition for having a responsible presence in society

2.   charity work, as education in service to be freely given to others and social commitment

3.   and the mission, as education in the sense of the catholicity of the Church and as a vocational choice.


Bearing witness to Christ

  • in schools and universities
  • in factories and offices
  • in the local neighborhood and in the city
  • takes place above all through work, which is the specific way in which adults relate to reality.


Organization: The life of the fraternity is lived through the free formation of groups of men and women of ail conditions and states of life, whose friendship and communion are based upon their common commitment to move forward together toward holiness, which they acknowledge to be the genuine purpose of human existence.


The association is guided by the president and by the Central Diakonia, of which all the international leaders are members.

[There are also] the officials in all the various areas in which it is present, and representatives of the other entities that have emerged from the CL charism:

·         the Memores Domini Lay Association (The life of its members (lay men and women who normally live in houses made up of either men or women, following a rule of group living and personal ascesis) is governed by the call to contemplation, understood as the constant memory of Christ, and of mission, especially in the workplace. The life is committed to the conception of virginity is based on St. Paul's call to "possess as though not possessing." It is not in order to give up something that one makes a sacrifice, but rather to possess reality completely analogous to the possession of Christ);

·         the priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo;

·         the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Assumption;

·         Fraternity of Saint Joseph (dedicated their lives definitively to Christ and the Christian life, while remaining in their current life situations; members of this fraternity are free of marriage bonds, because widowed or unmarried, according to the Gospel tradition: in obedience, poverty, virginity, which are dimensions of faith, hope, and charity).


ln the dioceses, the diocesan leader is assisted by a

Diakonia and by a spiritual assistant appointed by the local bishop acting on a proposal by the fraternity president.


Since 1997, the Communion and Liberation International Center has been operating in Rome, as the liaison center linking all the parts of the movement worldwide.


Membership: The fraternity has 47,994 members in 64 countries. More than 60,000 people share the CL experience.


Works: Individuals and groups belonging to the fraternity have taken the responsibility to establish cultural, charitable and entrepreneurial works linked together in the Company of Works which has offices in Italy and abroad.


These works of CL include

·         shelter homes for the mentally ill, drug addicts, the disabled, AIDS patients and the terminally ill

·         companies to provide employment for the disabled

·         nongovernmental organizations (AVSI in Italy and CESAl in Spain) to provide assistance and foster the development of poor countries

·         foundations such as the Food Bank, which provides daily food to more than 1 million poor people in Italy,

·         and the Pharmaceutical Bank

·         solidarity centers to assist the unemployed in seeking a job

·         welfare facilities in children's prisons in Africa and America

·         and aid for needy families and finding homes for people in difficulty.


The initiatives that have emerged in the field of culture have become a special place for ensuring that the pooling of different experiences is an opportunity for every individual to communicate their own "proprium" regarding the Christian event:

·         cultural centers

·         schools (often established by parents' cooperatives)

·         publishing houses, publishing and newspaper initiatives

·         foundations and academic institutions

·         and international conferences, such as the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples.(Rimini)


The Sacred Heart Foundation in Milan is directly dependent upon the Fraternity, as a nonprofit entity which manages schools, and works for the promotion and protection of free education, consistent with the Christian tradition and the teaching of the Church.


Publications: Traces Litterae Communionis, a monthly magazine in Italian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese/Brazilian, Russian, German and Spanish; Piccole Tracee, a magazine for children published every two months


Web site:

Blessed Miguel Pro

| | Comments (0)

Bl Miguel Augustin Pro.jpgToday is the liturgical memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro, a fitting connection with today's  Solemnity of Christ the King, and the devotion to the Sacred Heart. The memorable line of Pro's is his last: Long live Christ the King. With that he was killed. Blessed Miguel Pro teaches us to serve Christ the King all that we do and remain close to the mercy of God. He wrote:


I believe, O Lord, but strengthen my faith... Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigor to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life.


Chaplet of Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ


Blessed Miguel, before your death, you told your friend to ask you for favors when you were in Heaven. I beg you to intercede for me and in union with Our Lady and all the angels and saints, to ask Our Lord to grant my petition, provided that it be God's Will. {mention the request}

We honor and adore the triune God. The Gloria.
We ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Come Holy Ghost.
We pray as Jesus taught us to pray. The Our Father.
We venerate with love the Virgin Mary. The Hail Mary.
All you angels, bless you the Lord forever.
Saint Joseph, Saint {name of your patron}, and all the saints, pray for us.

Blessed Miguel, high spirited youth, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, loving son and brother, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, patient novice, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, exile from your homeland, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, prayerful religious, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, sick and suffering, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, defender of workers, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, courageous priest in hiding, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, prisoner in jail, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, forgiver of persecutors, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.
Blessed Miguel, holy martyr, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.

Imprimatur: Joseph A. Fiorenza, Bishop of Galveston - Houston, August 13, 1995


Christ the King

| | Comments (0)

Christ the King.jpgThe Feast of Christ the King is of recent origin, but what it celebrates is as old as the Christian Faith itself. For the word Christ is, in fact, just the Greek translation of the word Messiah: the Anointed One, the King. Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified son of a carpenter, is so intrinsically King that the title "king" has actually become his name. by calling ourselves Christians, we label ourselves as followers of the King, as people who recognize him as their King. But we can understand properly what the kingship of Jesus Christ means only if we trace its origin in the Old Testament, where we immediately discover a surprising fact. It is obvious that God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom. The kingdom was, in fact, a result of Israel's rebellion against God and against his prophets, a defection from the original will of God. The law was to be Israel's king, and, through the law, God himself.... But Israel was jealous of the neighboring peoples with their powerful kings.... Surprisingly, God yield to Israel's obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The son of David, the King, is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself. If we look closely, we shall discover that this is, in fact, the usual form of the divine activity in relation to mankind. God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out; on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even of turning his wrong ways into right ways.


We can see that, for instance, in the case of Adam, whose fault became a happy fault, and we see it again in all the twisted ways of history. This, then, is God's kingship--a love that is impregnable and an inventiveness that finds man by ways that are always new. For us, consequently, God's kingship means that we must have an unshakeable confidence. For this is still true and is applicable to every single life: no one has reason to fear or to capitulate. God can always be found. We, too, should make this the pattern of our lives: to write no one off; to try to reach them again and again with the inventiveness of an open heart. Our most important task Is not to have our own way but to be always ready to follow the path that leads to God and to one another. The Feast of Christ the King is not, therefore, the feast of those who are under a yoke but of those who are grateful to find themselves in the hands of him who writes straight on crooked lines.

 (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year, pp. 377-8)

First Things editor-in-chief Father Richard John Neuhaus puts his finger on a persistent topic that concerns me at this time: Christ and culture.  In "The Deadly Convenience of Christianity Without Culture" Neuhaus briefly explores what it means to be an engaged member of the Church, the Body of Christ. He identifies what the Church is and how she is to act.


What I am seeing, and you may be seeing a similar thing, is that Church (clergy and laity alike) are giving into the pressure from the radical secularists to remove the Christian proposal from the public platform. A good example is the South Carolina politician who wanted to refuse a local Catholic Church from expanding because the Catholics were against abortion, women priests and held "ideologies" (i.e., theology) that conflicted with Unitarian Universalist "freedoms." Of course, it is not only the outside world that is becoming more and more reticent toward the Church, it's those who make the claim of being Catholic who are speaking less of Christ, the Church and true Christian living that makes me unnerved and thus becoming biege, even engaging in spiritual malpractice. 


Christians seem to be accepting that belief in Christ and the flourishing of faith in world is irrelevant. Can it be that Christians are willing to absent themselves more and more from a public discussion of what it means to live morally, or the exploration of how faith and reason intersect, or the reality of life issues which holds to a principle of human dignity, or the need for a sensible national security plan, or the requirement of just immigration policies, or an adequate distribution of natural resources which feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and give drink to the thirsty? Do we not see the face of God in the world around us? How can it be that some of us call ourselves Christians and yet shy away from actually living the Gospel? How is it that professed Christians, clergy and laity alike, are ashamed at being identified as Christian in the public square? Are these questions above your pay grade? Is virtue that shameful that it can't be spoken of or demonstrated? Is faith in Christ truly a mere private affair that one's engagement in culture (art, politics, economics, romance, religion, friendship, etc.) can actually thrive without Christ?


I am hopeful that Catholics will begin to see that the notion of "Christ without cultural" is an impossible way to live, that is, bankrupt, and therefore pick up the shovel and starting digging a new foundation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be built upon. We are baptized into a communion, a Church, not a social club. We need to do more than just show up for "church." Either is Christ King of heaven and earth, or we're in trouble. How will our lives different this week?

Chiara Lubich.jpgA brief story about Chiara Lubich, the Focolari Movement and the new leader of Focolari.


And the first Focolari university...

Saint Cecilia

| | Comments (0)

While musical instruments were playing,

Cecilia sang to the Lord, saying:

St Cecilia at organ.jpgLet my heart be undefiled, that I be not confounded.



O God, Who does gladden us by the annual solemnity of blessed Cecilia, Thy Virgin and Martyr, grant that as we venerate her by this festival we may also follow in the example of her holy life.


But Oh! What Art Can Teach,
What Human Voice Can Reach

The Sacred Organ's Praise?

Notes Inspiring Holy Love,

Notes That Wing Their Heavenly Ways
To Mend The Choirs Above



(John Dreyden, Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687.)

Do you know the work of Georges Rouault? Well you should. Franco Mormando writes "Of Clowns And Christian Conscience: The art of Georges Rouault" in the November 24th issue of America Magazine. The article follows.


Georges Rouault was 34 years old and barely recovered from a physical and nervous breakdown when he had a life-changing epiphany in 1905, which he described in a letter to his friend, édouard Schuré. While out walking one day, the artist happened to come across a "nomad caravan, parked by the roadside." It was a circus, preparing for its next public performance. Rouault's eye fell upon one of the figures: an "old clown sitting in a corner of his caravan in the process of mending his sparkling and gaudy costume." It was then that Rouault had a piercing flash of insight, one that was to affect deeply his vision of life and art.


The artist was utterly struck by the jarring contrast between the clown's external garb and Clown Georges Rouault.jpg professional accoutrements--"brilliant scintillating objects, made to amuse"--and the wretchedness of his condition as an impoverished, vagabond laborer living on the fringes of society, enduring a "life of infinite sadness, if seen from slightly above." From that contrast came another equally eye-opening realization: "I saw quite clearly that the 'Clown' was me, was us, nearly all of us.... This rich and glittering costume, it is given to us by life itself, we are all more or less clowns, we all wear a glittering costume...." (Rouault summed up this vision in several studies entitled "Sunt Lacrymae Rerum"--"There are tears [of grief] at the very heart of things.")


From that moment on, the clown, as well as other circus figures and denizens of the disreputable periphery of society, haunted Rouault's imagination and art, becoming one of his signature icons. An icon of what? Of the painful disconnection between appearances and reality, between who we are on the inside and who we pretend to be, or what society judges us to be, on the outside. Rouault confronts us on the one hand with clowns and prostitutes, whose real (if battered and buried) human dignity nonetheless still emits some light from within their souls, and on the other hand with the furthest extreme of the social spectrum: the rich, the well-born, the powerful, the "glitterati," wearing the masks of their expensive clothes and polished manners, hiding cruel, narcissistic hearts full of dust and ashes. (See, for example, Rouault's "The Accused" of 1907 and "Superman" of 1916). In his professional life Rouault knew this type well, for it was and is a familiar figure in the upper echelons of the art establishment. His own art dealer, the unsavory but hugely successful Ambroise Vollard, certainly seems to have been of that ilk.


To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rouault's death, the McMullen Museum at Boston College has mounted a magnificent, comprehensive review of his prodigiously productive career, Mystic Masque: Semblance and Reality in Georges Rouault, 1871-1958, on view until Dec. 7. This landmark exhibition features over 180 works from every period of the artist's life, some never before seen in the United States. The exhibition was boldly conceived and curated by Stephen Schloesser, S.J., of the Boston College History Department, who also edited an ample and illuminating catalog that features interdisciplinary contributions from more than 20 scholars.


The key word is "masque," meaning both "theatrical face cover" and "masked pageant" (think of Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death"). Not only in his clown paintings, but everywhere in his art, Rouault explores--and provokes his viewers into exploring--the private human reality behind the public mask in order to expose the soul. In that exposure, the high and mighty are reduced to the level of the risible, if not the pathetic (as in his 1927 aquatint, "As proud of her noble stature as if she were still alive"), while the lowly are made to shine in their inherent human dignity. Again, as the artist himself explained to Schuré: "I have the defect...of leaving no one his glittering costume, be he king or emperor. I want to see the soul of the man in front of me...and the greater he is, the more mankind glorifies him, the more I fear for his soul." In Schloesser's view, "Rouault felt compelled to unmask society's well-respected and well-born, and to raise up society's lowly and overlooked." In other words, Rouault's art comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. It is an art that a Peter Maurin or a Dorothy Day would assuredly have cherished.


Crucifixion Georges Rouault.jpgWith his fertile imagination and years of productivity, Rouault treated many different themes beyond clowns and masks and employed a variety of media and styles. A revelation for me, and, I suspect, for many viewers, is the Rembrandt-inspired style of his earliest period, represented in the exhibition by two stirring canvases, "The Way to Calvary" and "Job." But perhaps his most enduring stylistic trademark is the use of richly luminous colors gleaming forth from a heavy matrix of thick black lines, clearly the influence of his youthful apprenticeship with stained-glass makers. The exhibition includes one actual stained-glass window by Rouault, a crucifixion scene, and it is simply a gem in the literal sense of that word.


Rouault uses the same stained-glass-inspired style to perhaps its most memorable effect in Veronica veil Rouault.jpg his many depictions of the "Holy Face," the face of the suffering Jesus as traditionally seen in representations of the sudarium of St. Veronica, which, according to pious belief, shows the true likeness of Christ. The face of Christ is an almost obsessive visual leitmotif for Rouault, a potent symbol of the suffering of an innocent humanity oppressed by an unjust society.


Another disturbing existential question is raised by Rouault's art, most literally in the title he gives to several of his works: "Are we not all slaves?" Here Rouault is speaking from bitter personal experience. In 1917, desperately poor and with a family to support, he was forced into what was essentially indentured servitude to that same infamous art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, or Fifi Voleur (Fifi the Thief) as Gauguin called him, a cunning businessman whose ambiguous personal life had much to hide, as Christopher Benfey has probingly written for the online magazine Slate.


Those who prefer art that presents only what Charles Baudelaire would call "la vie en beau" (the pretty side of life) or who shun the examination of conscience might not fully savor this exhibition, but Rouault's style is so visually compelling that it will certainly arrest anyone's attention and ultimately give delight on some level. For many viewers, I dare say, questions surrounding the moral life, social justice, sincerity and authenticity will likely dominate their response to this exhibition, as they dominated Rouault's artistic imagination and as they dominate the conception of the exhibition itself.


Rouault is probably familiar to anyone who went through the parochial school system in the United States. My own introduction to "Rouault the Catholic artist" occurred many years ago at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. Yet Rouault himself (a true believer, albeit not of the orthodox kind) rejected the very notion of sacred art or the "Catholic artist." "There is no sacred art," he has been quoted as having said. "There is just art pure and simple." Nonetheless, Rouault's work not only has the power to please the eye and feed the mind, but to quicken our attention to the moral and spiritual dimension of human experience and to help move us to a higher plane of consciousness.




Blessed art thou, O may, who did believe; those things shall be fulfilled in thee which were spoken to thee by the Lord, alleluia.


Presentation of the BVM3.jpgO God, Who did will that the blessed Mary ever Virgin, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, should this day be presented in the temple; we beseech Thee, grant that through her intercession we may be found worthy to be present in the temple of Thy glory.




Mater Amabilis

Mother most lovable


WHY is she "Amabilis" thus specially? It is because she was without sin. Sin is something odious in its very nature, and grace is something bright, beautiful, attractive.


However, it may be said that sinlessness was not enough to make others love her, or to make her dear to others, and that for two reasons: first, because we cannot like anyone that is not like ourselves, and we are sinners; and next, because her being holy would not make her pleasant and winning, because holy persons whom we fall in with, are not always agreeable, and we cannot like them, however we may revere them and look up to them.


Now as to the first of these two questions, we may grant that bad men do not, cannot like good men; but our Blessed Virgin Mary is called Amabilis, or lovable, as being such to the children of the Church, not to those outside of it, who know nothing about her; and no child of Holy Church but has some remains of God's grace in his soul which makes him sufficiently like her, however greatly wanting he may be, to allow of his being able to love her. So we may let this question pass.


But as to the second question, viz., How are we sure that our Lady, when she was on earth, attracted people round her, and made them love her merely because she was holy? -- considering that holy people sometimes have not that gift of drawing others to them.


To explain this point we must recollect that there is a vast difference between the state of a soul such as that of the Blessed Virgin, which has never sinned, and a soul, however holy, which has once had upon it Adam's sin; for, even after baptism and repentance, it suffers necessarily from the spiritual wounds which are the consequence of that sin. Holy men, indeed, never commit mortal sin; nay, sometimes have never committed even one mortal sin in the whole course of their lives. But Mary's holiness went beyond this. She never committed even a venial sin, and this special privilege is not known to belong to anyone but Mary.


Now, whatever want of amiableness, sweetness, attractiveness, really exists in holy men arises from the remains of sin in them, or again from the want of a holiness powerful enough to overcome the defects of nature, whether of soul or body; but, as to Mary, her holiness was such, that if we saw her, and heard her, we should not be able to tell to those who asked us anything about her except simply that she was angelic and heavenly.


Of course her face was most beautiful; but we should not be able to recollect whether it BVM.jpgwas beautiful or not; we should not recollect any of her features, because it was her beautiful sinless soul, which looked through her eyes, and spoke through her mouth, and was heard in her voice, and compassed her all about; when she was still, or when she walked, whether she smiled, or was sad, her sinless soul, this it was which would draw all those to her who had any grace in them, any remains of grace, any love of holy things. There was a divine music in all she said and did -- in her mien, her air, her deportment, that charmed every true heart that came near her. Her innocence, her humility and modesty, her simplicity, sincerity, and truthfulness, her unselfishness, her unaffected interest in every one who came to her, her purity -- it was these qualities which made her so lovable; and were we to see her now, neither our first thought nor our second thought would be what she could do for us with her Son (though she can do so much), but our first thought would be, "Oh, how beautiful!" and our second thought would be, "Oh, what ugly hateful creatures are we!"


(taken from Card. John Henry Newman's "Discourses to Mixed Congregations", 1849)

In the past month or so I advertized a lecture series at Columbia University entitled "What's faith got to do with it?" given by Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete.


The point of the lectures was to think about the relationship between faith and life in four important human experiences: politics, science, economics and affectivity. Often I hear, or it is intimated, that we live in a world where the vast majority of the citizens either don't care about faith or are searching for "something" (or both). There is a sense of craziness going on in today's world that can't be ignored by believers. Why? How is that people get out of bed in the morning intimidated by feelings (thoughts?) of inadequacy, narcissism and nihilism in piecemeal or all at once. Curious! I am usually looking for the bathroom, the toothpaste and a cup of coffee.


Nevertheless, I think there is a need to explore the issues and interpersonal relations that man and woman face regularly: other people, science, money and sex/sexuality/intimacy viz. the Catholic faith. It is distinctly "Catholic" to engage these matters; to ignore them is to betray unbelief in the Incarnation and it is irrational. There is a relationship between these 4 areas and faith and a public forum shows how they intersect "live". Albacete is taking life seriously by engaging these facts of life because he knows that faith is a form of knowledge (read the book Is It Possible To Live This Way? Vol. I Faith by Luigi Giussani) and therefore it broadens reason. As it's been said, "faith should give us a better vantage point to understand the realities of life."


The transcripts of the 4 lectures are available for download:


Faith and Politics: Do they mix?

Faith and Science: Are they in conflict?

Faith and Money: Do they add up?

Faith and Romance: Are they a good match?

St Edmund.jpg

We have heard of many wonders in the popular talk about the holy Edmund, which we will not set down here in writing; but every one knows them. By this saint is it manifest and by others like him, that Almighty God can raise man again, in the day of judgment, incorruptible from the earth, He who preserves Edmund whole in his body until the great day, though he was made of earth. Worthy is the place for the sake of the venerable saint that men should venerate it and well provide it with God's pure servants, to Christ's service, because the saint is greater than men may imagine.


The English nation is not without the Lord's saints, since in England lie such saints as this holy king, and the blessed Cuthbert, and saint Æthelthryth in Ely, and also her sister, incorrupt in body, for the confirmation of the faith. There are also many other saints among the English who work many miracles, as is widely known, to the praise of the Almighty in whom they believed. Christ shows to men, through His illustrious saints, that He is Almighty God who causes such wonders... No wonders are wrought at their sepulchres because they believe not in the living Christ; but Christ manifests to men where the true faith is, since He works such miracles by His saints widely throughout the earth; wherefore to Him be Glory ever with His Heavenly Father, and with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.       (an excerpt from Aelfric's Life of Saint Edmund)


A brief biography can be read here and here.


Lectio Divina

| | Comments (0)

This article by Jesuit Father John Belmonte on lectio divina is helpful for coming to know the Lord. Lectio is a place of encounter with the Lord and it is in lectio we come to know and love Him in whom and by whom we are saved.


Talk show host Jay Leno has a very funny segment on his "Tonight Show" where he interviews the "man on the street," testing people's knowledge in a given subject matter. Rare is the person who does well. On one occasion, he asked questions about a topic that keenly interests me: the Bible. While the survey was hardly scientific, the questions were very basic. No historical-critical method here. "Name one of the Ten Commandments," Jay asked. "Freedom of speech," a man unhesitatingly responded. "Name the four Gospels," Jay asked. With a befuddled look, a woman was unable to answer. "Name the four Beatles," Jay asked. Without any hesitation and a relieved smile, the woman responded, "John, Paul, George, and Ringo." My personal favorite was the man whom he asked, "In the Old Testament, who was swallowed by the whale?" He looked directly into the camera and, as serious as death, said, "Pinocchio."


As someone who has taught Scripture to high school students, these answers did not surprise me. Religious educators and biblical scholars regularly decry a growing lack of familiarity with Scripture. Catholic ignorance of the Bible is proverbial. A study of 508 teenagers by the Princeton Religion Research Center confirmed that Catholic young people are much less familiar with Scripture than their Protestant counterparts. Even more distressing is the finding that thirty percent said that they never even opened the Bible. If Saint Jerome's axiom, "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ," is true, then those of us who are full members of the Catholic Christian community have a serious situation on our hands. Isn't it incumbent upon us to pass on the tradition, to introduce others to the living God, to dispel ignorance of the Word of God? If not us, then who?


monks1.jpgEven amid the decline in elementary biblical knowledge, help is on the way. Vatican II did much to help revive interest in Scripture, and one method that may help bridge the gap Mr. Leno so cleverly pointed out is the ancient monastic method of reading the Bible called lectio divina. The Latin expression lectio divina does not translate into English with great accuracy. Literally, it means "holy reading within the monastic tradition, and in Saint Benedict's rule in particular, its meaning is obvious. Lectio divina is an attentive and in-depth reading of the sacred Scriptures intended not simply to satisfy one's curiosity but to nourish one's faith. Benedict's monks were to nourish themselves with the divine food of Scripture in order to have sufficient resources for the journey of faith. In the Rule of Saint Benedict, the monk is exhorted to listen carefully and willingly to holy readings, the lectiones sanctae. The reading is holy because its object is the word of God. Scripture is approached not for scientific or technical reasons but in order to deepen one's personal commitment to God and God's Son.


Lectio Divina from the Monastery to the Marketplace


All quarters of the church, from official pronouncements to informal movements, have in recent times repeatedly affirmed the need for and effectiveness of lectio divina. There are many ways in which one can encounter God through the biblical word. Yet, the rich history, significant connection to tradition, genuine spirituality, and pastoral applicability of lectio divina make it a particularly attractive method.


St Ignatius & Paul III.jpgLectio divina is one instrument of grace by which we encounter Christ in the Scriptures. When practiced every day, lectio divina fosters the kind of contact with God's word that, over the course of a lifetime, promises a life of prayer lived out in faithful love. To suggest that a specific method for lectio divina might be necessary carries with it a risk. In our practice of this method, we might be tempted to follow rigidly the proposals offered as rules and not as suggestions. To do so would be a mistake. What lectio divina demands in the first place is an openness to the Spirit, which any master of the spiritual life would see as a prerequisite to prayer. Ignatius of Loyola's instruction in his Spiritual Exercises to those who intend to pray is a good example. He suggests that believers must always pray "with great spirit and generosity toward their Creator and Lord." Balance and flexibility are very important as one begins to practice lectio divina. We should always avoid rigidity, excessive formalism, or forcing things. My intention is not that the suggested schema that follows be realized as a fixed program; lectio divina is a way to encounter God, and we should always feel free to utilize it according to our own rhythms, gifts, and desires.


Having pointed out the importance of some prerequisites to lectio divina, such as balance,

Monks2.jpgopenness, and flexibility, a word is in order about the structure or steps that this ancient practice usually takes. Much has been written about these steps, but the most exhaustive and perhaps best-known example comes from Guigo II (1115-1198), the Cistercian prior at Chartres from 1173 to 1180. In his "Letter on the Contemplative Life," also known as Scala Claustralium, Guigo gives the classic four-part expression to the lectio divina: lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio. Since Guigo's text has become a nearly obligatory point of reference for someone considering lectio divina, it seems appropriate to reproduce here a brief summary citation from the letter:


One day during manual labor, as I was beginning to reflect on the spiritual exercise of man, suddenly four spiritual steps appeared to my mind: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. This is the ladder of the monks by which they are elevated from the earth to heaven and even though it may be formed by only a few steps, nevertheless it appears in immense and incredible greatness. The lower part rests on the earth; however, the higher part penetrates the clouds and scrutinizes the secrets of the heavens.


Now the reading consists in the attentive observation of the Scriptures with one's spirit applied. The meditation is the studious action of the mind, which seeks the discovery of hidden truth by means of one's own intelligence. The prayer consists in a religious application of the heart of God in order to dispel evil and obtain favors. The contemplation is an elevation into God, from the mind attracted beyond itself, savoring the joys of eternal sweetness....


Reading seeks the sweetness of the blessed life, while meditation finds it. Prayer asks for it and contemplation tastes it. Reading, in a certain way, brings solid food to the mouth, meditation chews and breaks it up, prayer obtains its seasoning, contemplation is the same sweetness which refreshes and brings joy.


Guigo sets down a four-part method, but for our purposes we will reduce that structure to three: lectio, meditatio, and oratio. The reason for collapsing the final two steps into one is simple. Prayer is at the core of the way the two final steps are conceived. By collapsing them into a third phase, we respect the progression that naturally develops from the first two steps. However, we leave open the possibility of expanding on the process of prayer by adding three more steps: discretio, deliberatio, and actio. Some critics object to any tinkering with the traditional structure of lectio divina. Even so, a brief look at the historical development of the method over the centuries shows that one can understand Guigo's four steps as an expression of the monastic world of his time. Our minor change should be viewed in the same light.


The Practice of Lectio Divina


The first thing necessary to practice lectio divina should be obvious: time. As with anything worth doing or any relationship worth maintaining, the practice of lectio divina must be worth spending time doing. While we should avoid the kind of rigidity described above, the spiritual life does demand a certain amount of healthy discipline. Whether we want to fix a regular time, a certain period, or the most effective time, regularity is important. Our time is a precious thing, and offering it to God is a very simple and concrete first step toward our meeting God in prayer.


St Jerome.jpgEqually obvious but also quite necessary to consider is which text to use for lectio divina. Our emphasis in lectio divina remains squarely with the biblical text. It is possible to substitute other texts for biblical texts; however, we should not lightly forfeit the surpassing value of reading, meditating, and praying with what the Fathers called the sacra pagina. Jerome himself reminds us that "the text presents itself simply and easily in words, but in the greatness of its meaning, its depth is unfathomable."


Related to our emphasis on the biblical text itself is the presupposition that lectio divina is a continuous reading of the whole Bible. In our practice of lectio divina, we should avoid the temptation to select texts well suited to topics chosen in advance. By attending to the whole of Scripture, as the liturgy does in the lectionary, we preserve the context of biblical revelation, both the Old and New Testament. We must avoid the risk of allowing the lectio to "overflow the riverbanks of the tradition and the church," as Cardinal Martini has written. Practicing lectio divina within the context of the whole of biblical revelation emphasizes the unity of Scripture and our belief in the Bible's inspiration by God. Moreover, emphasis on the unity of Scripture allows us to avoid the temptation of placing Scripture at the service of ideology or subjectivism.


bible3.jpgTime set aside for God should take on a dimension different from the rest of one's day. To help mark that moment, most spiritual masters suggest that the person who sets out to pray begin by making some kind of epiclesis, which is an invocation or "calling down" of the Holy Spirit to consecrate. In the Eucharist, we call down the Spirit upon the bread and wine to transform them into the body and blood of Christ. As we begin lectio divina, we should remind ourselves that it is through the work of God in the Spirit that the written word is transformed in our lives into the living word.


The Four Steps of Lectio Divina: Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, Actio


Having set aside the time, "selected" the text, and invoked the Spirit, we are ready to begin the first formal step of lectio divina, called the lectio. This is the moment in which we read and reread a passage from the Old or New Testament, alert to its most important elements. The operative question is, What does the text say? Patient attentiveness to what the text has to say characterizes our stance before it. We should read the text for itself, not to get something out of it, like a homily, a conference, or a catechism lesson. The word of God should be allowed to emerge from the written word.


In lectio, each person's experiences and talents before the text come into play. The more experience or education one has, the more one will potentially bring to the text. Knowledge of biblical languages or an understanding of theology can also enrich one's reading. Consultation of available biblical commentaries or dictionaries can be especially helpful as we attempt to expand our understanding about what the text is saying. Paying attention to grammar, the usage of words, and the relationships of verbs to nouns or of subjects to objects can make the text begin to take on new and unexpected significance.


contemplation.jpgThe second step, called the meditatio, is equally important. We leave behind the specifics of the text and focus instead on what is behind it, on the "interior intelligence" of the text, as Guigo puts it. The meditatio is a reflection on the values which one finds behind the text. Here, one must consider the values behind the actions, the words, the things, and the feelings which one finds in a particular scriptural passage. Anyone who honestly seeks God and one's authentic self in prayer will hear the echoes of joy, fear, hope, and desire coming from the sacred page. The operant question for this stage doesn't stop at what the text says, but asks, What does the text say to me? We seek to make emerge from history and context the specific message of the text. The shift from external forms to internal content makes this stage an important one.


The meditatio is an activity that engages our intellect. As we pass from the second to the third stage of lectio divina, we move more into the realm of religious emotions. Remaining on an intellectual level can be safe and comfortable, but the goal of prayer is not knowledge about God, but God himself. In the oratio, our imagination, will, and desires are engaged as we seek union with God. Oratio in its most fundamental sense is dialogue with God. Gregory the Great called it "the spontaneous meeting of the heart of God with the heart of God's beloved creature through the word of God."


When we progress from meditatio to oratio, an immediate experience of infused mysticism is hardly to be expected. Mystical union with God is not necessarily an ordinary part of Christian life. Nevertheless, the passage from meditatio to oratio is the vital and decisive moment of Christian experience. The more deeply we enter the oratio, the more we move beyond the text, beyond words and thoughts. The lectio is useful and the meditatio is important since they lead us to the oratio, which is life in its fullest sense, the life of Christ that he lives in the one who contemplates him. Oratio is the passage from the values behind the text to adoration of the person of Jesus Christ, the one who brings together and reveals every value. Unlike the lectio and meditatio, there is no operant question in the oratio. At its core, oratio is the silent adoration of the creature before the Creator, a rare and miraculous gift.


When the person who practices lectio divina reaches the level of oratio, it would seem that that moment would be conclusive. However, the dynamism of prayer that began during the epiclesis before the lectio is not interrupted here. To the contrary, it naturally continues and the oratio, as we are proposing it here following Cardinal Martini's insight, possesses its own steps, called discretio, deliberatio, and actio. These three steps represent the way lectio divina is lived out in daily life. Given the growing dissociation of the faith from daily life, these three successive moments take on great significance.


Since the meditatio intends to put one in contact with the values of Christ, to encourage our identification with those things that are important to Christ, we naturally come to moments of decision. The discretio is the capacity that the Christian acquires through grace to make the same choices as Christ. Cardinal Martini describes discretion like this: "It is the discernment of that which, in a determined historical moment, is best for oneself, for others, and for the church."


The second moment of the oratio is called the deliberatio. It is an interior act by which one decides in favor of the values of the gospel. One chooses to associate oneself with Christ and everything that association represents--in a word, discipleship. If the discretio is described as the capacity of a person to choose, then the deliberatio is the choice itself.


The final moment is called actio. In this final step, the choice we make in the deliberatio is given form and substance. Prayer becomes something more than simply setting aside time for God or an attempt to better ourselves. Our lives begin to take shape from the choices we have made as a result of prayer. The actio is the integration of a kind of apostolic consciousness that informs our choices so that we have made and lived our choices from our encounter with the living God.


Christ washing the feet.jpgSome critics would leave these last steps, particularly the actio, out of any proposed lectio divina. The addition of an extra step suggests perhaps overzealousness or even the influence of an "ideology of efficacy" regarding one's prayer. Too often we feel we need to make prayer into something. However, in the face of a modern world in which the outward signs of the mystery of God are ever more difficult to recognize, where a daily experience of gospel or even  transcendent values becomes harder to find, and where choices besiege one's conscience and stifle rather than uplift the Spirit, this criticism is unconvincing. If anything, the connection between prayer and our life choices should become more explicit, not less. The faith, hope, and love made manifest in the choices our lives become must be nourished by contact with the word of God.




Daily Bread.jpgLectio divina is one graced instrument to bridge the gap that exists between our hearts and God's. As the faith risks being further dissociated from daily life, the simplicity and potential of a method like lectio divina take on greater significance. Firmly rooted in the church's tradition, it presumes careful attention to what biblical specialists are thinking and teaching. Rigorous study is complemented by disciplined meditation and prayerful contemplation of the word of God. Far from being an objective or rigid technique whereby one produces religious experience, lectio divina represents daily contact with God's word that occurs within a lifetime's engagement with the Living God. The principal aim of such engagement is to foster living prayer in faithful love. Lectio divina unfolds more than it proceeds; progresses and develops more than it advances.


Dedicated practice engages the whole person--the intellect as well as the imagination, the will as well as the affect. It promises contact with God that is the normal fulfillment of prayer. Lectio divina is open to every person and not the exclusive property of a select few. Those who practice lectio divina reaffirm the belief that the proper place for the word of God is in the hands of the faithful.


Wouldn't Geppetto have been pleased if, instead of his firm response, "Pinocchio," that young man had looked into Jay Leno's TV camera and answered with conviction, "Jonah"?


Reprinted from Chicago Studies 39 (2000): 211-19.

Lord our God,

St Mechtild.jpgthrough Your loving favor,

You revealed to blessed Mechtild, your virgin, the hidden secrets of your providence. May we who know You now through faith rejoice hereafter to see You face to face.


Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


A brief biography can be read here. One key point in the life of Saint Mechtild is that she was the dear friend of Saint Gertrude the Great and who had a spiritual daughter in the other Mechtild, that of Magdeburg, who lived at the same time.

Mom's 66th birthday!

| | Comments (0)

Yep! Mom is 66 today! I was able to come to New Haven for dinner with the family to properly celebrate with Mom. God's blessings. A few recent pics.


M, D & PAZ2 18 Nov 08.JPG

(Here's 3 of 4 us.)


Mom & PAZ 18 Nov 08.JPG

(Here's Mom and me.)


PAZ with Aunt Gloria 18 Nov 08.JPG

(Here's me with Aunt Gloria.)


Mom with LAZ & Brooke.jpg

(Mom, Lauren and Aunt Gloria on a recent trip to Rome.)

And tomorrow is the 42nd wedding anniversary of my parents. May God grant many years!

Edward Pentin writing for tries to contextualize the rather distasteful events among "Christians" at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre earlier in the month. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the complexities that exist in the Holy Land. Certainly, there are many and not easy to sort out. But the scandal of these "ecclesial acts" by betray the fragility of faith and lack of engagement in the spiritual life. For the life me I can't help but think these monks have abandoned faith and salvation in Christ and yet persist in living as monks, at least on the superficial level.


Thumbnail image for fight.jpgArmenian and Greek Orthodox monks clashed violently in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday 9th November. Fighting erupted when Greek Orthodox monks blocked a procession of Armenian clergymen. The two Orthodox churches and the Custody of the Holy Land are resident in the Church under the terms of the 'Status Quo' agreement. Father Athanasius Macora (46, an US citizen) monitors the agreement on behalf of the Custody. He spoke with about the underlying reasons behind the clash, and what can be done to resolve long-standing tensions in the Church built over the place of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection.


What are your reflections on the recent clashes in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?

The representatives of the Three Major Communities (the Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate) have been meeting regularly about once a week or every ten days. In these meetings I negotiate on behalf of the Custody of the Holy Land all matters pertaining to the Status Quo, so I know exactly why it [the fight] happened. Now it's not in my interest to say who was right and who was wrong. What set it off was that the Armenians have a Pontifical Procession and they objected to the presence of a Greek Sacristan inside the tomb during the procession. The Greeks claim to have the right to put a Greek Sacristan there.


Is this something that happens every year?

No it started one year ago. Since then, of course, there have been four such Armenian Pontifical Processions; there were problems with each one, but in this one, things kind of came to a head.


Why this one in particular?

The pressure had built up, because the problem was unresolved.  There was no fight2.jpgcompromise by the two parties - whether the Greek sacristan should or shouldn't be inside the Tomb. Here, what rules is the custom, what was happening before - in other words, what the practice was. Is there a Greek Sacristan inside or not? That is the question. So the Armenians blocked the tomb to prevent the Greeks from putting a guy inside, and the Greeks tried to put a guy inside and that's when the fighting started.


What are the chances of this being resolved now, even after the fight?

We had a problem four years ago. We were attacked by the Greeks, quite a big attack. They also attacked the Police over something they had no right to do. After things settled down and there was another Greek procession in the near future, we presented our proofs in the presence of the Greeks to representatives of the Israeli government and police. The government has the obligation to enforce the prevailing Status Quo. We're not necessarily asking the government to arbitrate. We're asking the government to enforce. I provided sufficient proof: three video tapes from previous years showing how the Greek Procession was meant to take place, not through the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalen but by its side. The government then told the Greeks they had to do it in the proper way, and ever since then they have.  Now both the Armenians and Greeks will have to furnish evidence to the government. There should be a meeting with all of them in the same room.  It is not always easy however, to determine what is the prevailing status quo. You can demand that the government make a decision on it, to curtail the party that's violating the Status Quo.


So that's one way forward, you think?

What has to be understood is that for these communities every little thing is symbolic for them. So they don't want to lose anything in the church. There's a fear of compromise, everybody has maximal positions. I want to be fair here that this may not apply exactly to this situation, but both sides think they're absolutely right.


Holy-Sepulchre icon.jpgThese kinds of tensions have been going on for years, as you say. But why is it such a difficult place for these different denominations to worship together in the Holy Sepulchre?

The problem is this: the Status Quo is an imperial decree that was imposed by the Ottoman Turks on the communities. It's not a code and this means there's no clarity on certain issues. It's a long story, but basically France was attempting to regain Catholic predominance in certain places such as the Holy Sepulchre. France was attempting to pressure the Ottomans while the Russians were pressuring the Ottomans on behalf of the Greeks. The Ottomans couldn't deal with the situation. If they took France's position or Russia's position, they were in big trouble. So what they did was, they simply declared the Status Quo: everybody stays in his place. It's a very short decree, maybe three pages long. It doesn't define things, it simply says everyone has to stay in his place. Now because there were a lot of areas that were vague, the communities would enter into conflict over who got to clean, or repair something. These things indicated rights. For instance, we often object if the Coptic Orthodox go on too long during their prayers. If one of the communities prays over its allotted time, we object to it because it causes us to lose time in our schedule.


But it is, as you know, such a counter-witness isn't it?

I've gotten to the point where I don't like talking about it. There's a good book out on the subject called Saving the Holy Sepulchre by Raymond Cohen. It's a very good book and talks about very positive things, that basically since 1957 until 1997, the communities undertook extensive renovations and that more or less, let's say, a strategic decision was taken on the part of the Greeks to work with the other communities. So the Three Major Communities did hammer out a lot of agreements, and a lot of things have been settled permanently. What happened on Sunday is really an anomaly. If you know the Status Quo well, and let's say if I know it well, I'm going to insist where it's my right to insist, and I'm not going to insist when I don't have a right to insist. If one of the communities doesn't know the way it works, then we're going to have problems.


Do you foresee in the future that everyone will get along if perhaps there's a Code that's written up and people know where they stand?

I'm quoted in this book on the Holy Sepulchre as saying that my approach would be to codify everything. If you codify everything then you end disputes, everyone knows where they're supposed to be. If they make a mistake then OK, it's understood, it's written down.


And what are the chances of that happening?

It's not going to happen anytime soon. There was a chance of it happening a few years ago, but it depends on who the players are now.


HS2.jpgWith the Franciscans having this great reputation of peace-making, do you think there is way that you could be the real protagonists of bringing peace to the Holy Sepulchre?

I think that we can serve, we can help, but to make peace you need political will. You need to have the desire for peace. In the case of the Custody, we have a desire for it, but for the others, they have to see what is at stake. It's better for us to finish with all these issues and be a proper witness rather than continue fighting over this - I mean one sacristan in or out of the Tomb is a relatively small issue if it only happens four times a year. It doesn't change significantly one's rights but because everything in the Church is so highly symbolic, every a tiny thing becomes a major issue.

As Franciscans we basically enjoy good relations with both sides. We hope to get back to work, we hope they can reconcile and move on, and we hope this doesn't happen again because it's very negative. It got a lot of press. It was extremely damaging what happened.


But you're hopeful all sides can come together in the long run?

Yes, we have common projects going on. We're actually working on things right now, so we are cooperating but this was something that was unfortunate.


(courtesy of

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

| | Comments (0)

St Rose Philippine Duchesne.jpgGracious God, You filled the heart of Rose Philippine Duchesne with charity and missionary zeal, and gave her the desire to make you known among all peoples. Fill us, who honor her memory today, with that same love and zeal to extend your kingdom to the ends of the earth.


Saint Rose Philippine immigrated to the USA and was a missionary on the North American frontier. As a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart she founded convents of her order, schools and ministered to a variety of peoples. If it weren't for her help the Jesuits would not have succeeded in settling in Missouri. Her shrine is near St. Louis, MO.


A brief note is read here.

Advent in the Maronite Church

| | Comments (0)

Do you know if Advent's begun? It has if you are a Maronite Catholic. The typical 4 week Advent season for many Catholics is not the norm for all Catholics.


qoorbono.jpgSeason of the Glorious Birth of the Lord

(Season of soboorey, or "Happy Announcements")


Visitation1.jpgThe pre-Christmas Cycle has six Sundays, which all focus on the unfolding revelation of the Birth of the Messiah. This is done in the context of the immediate family of Jesus, centering on Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1, 2; Luke 1, 2). This is certainly in line with the Antiochene emphasis on the humanity of Jesus and its appreciation of the historical aspect of Scripture. The greatest Announcement, of course, is that of the angels on Christmas.


There are one or two Sundays after Christmas (depending upon the day of the week that Christmas occurs), one of which is always celebrated: the Finding in the Temple. On 1 January the liturgical commemoration is Feast of the Circumcision (Naming) of the Child Jesus, with a second commemoration of the common Eastern observance of Saint Basil.


The Sundays of this Season are:


Announcement to Zechariah

Announcement to the Virgin Mary

Visitation to Elizabeth

Birth of John the Baptizer

Revelation to Joseph

Genealogy Sunday

The Finding in the Temple


In celebrating the Finding in the Temple (Sunday after Christmas) the Maronite Church uses the 3rd Infancy Narrative of Luke (chapter 2) to parallel closely the Gospel development of Jesus' own growth. He is seen in the Temple, recognizing his true "Father" (his divine Origin) and preparing himself for his Baptism and public life. In addition, Joseph disappears from all the Gospel narratives: Joseph's earthly fathering is done, and Jesus will now proclaim the heavenly Father. The Twelve Days of Christmas take us to the Feast of the Epiphany (Theophany).


Season of Epiphany (in Syriac this feast is called Denho)


Jesus lover of humanity.jpgTaking the Baptism of Jesus (6 January) as the model, the Maronite Church celebrates our new life of Baptism and Chrismation in this Season. In Syriac it is called denho. For some Syriac Churches, this season is the traditional time of reception of catechumens into the Church. But for all Syriac Christians, denho is a time to reflect on our baptism. During the first three days of the Sixth Week of Epiphany (Monday-Wednesday) the Maronite Church observes "Nineveh Days." These three days are penitential and serve to anticipate the Season of Great Lent. In one form or another, these days are observed by all the Syriac Churches, East and West.


(Thanks to R. Dom Bartholomew Leon, OSB, Saint Rafka Mission, Greenville, SC)

Saint Gertrude the Great

| | Comments (1)

St Gertrude3.jpgO God, Who in the most pure heart of blessed Gertrude Thy Virgin did prepare for Thyself a well-pleasing dwelling, mercifully efface all stains from our hearts, so that they may merit worthily to be made the dwelling place of Thy divine majesty.


Saint Gertrude was not drawn to the Heart of Jesus as much as through the Heart of Jesus, to the Father, in the Holy Spirit. Her prayer is essentially Trinitarian. Her whole being is oriented ad Patrem, and this because she is united to the Son, because she has entered through the pierced Heart of the Son as through an open door, oriented and carried as it were, by the breath of the Holy Spirit.


Saint Gertrude reminds us that the entire liturgy is Trinitarian: every detail, the smallest word or gesture in the sacred liturgy is a contact with Christ. In the liturgy, nothing is insignificant. Everything is invested with sacramentality, that is, with the potential to unite us to Christ, so that through Him and with Him we might pass into the fiery embrace of the Holy Spirit and the bosom of the Father. Saint Gertrude reminds us that the liturgy -- the Eucharist and other the sacraments, but also the Liturgy of the Hours -- is more than a complex of words and chants, rites and gestures. (courtesy of MDMK)


Sacred Heart2.jpgSaint Gertrude's Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Hail! O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and quickening source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary, O my amiable Savior.


Consume my heart with that burning fire with which Yours is ever inflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love, and let my heart be so united with Yours, that our wills may be one, and mine in all things, be conformed to Yours. May Your divine will be equally the standard and rule of all my desires and of all my actions. Amen.

Saint Gertrude on friendship


One day between Easter and Ascension I went into the garden before [Office of] Prime, and sitting down beside the pond, I began to consider what a pleasant place it was. I was charmed by the clear water and flowing streams, the fresh green of the surrounding trees, the birds flying so freely about, especially the doves. But most of all, I loved the quiet, hidden peace of this secluded retreat.


I asked myself what more was needed to complete my happiness in a place that seemed to me so perfect, and I reflected that it was the presence of a friend, intimate, affectionate, wise, and companionable, to share my solitude


123.jpgOn October 28th, Pope Benedict wrote to Most Reverend Father Marco Tasca Minister General of the Friars Minor Conventual and Grand Chancellor of The Pontifical Theological Faculty of St Bonaventure Seraphicum on the occasion of an institute dealing with the theme of "The Second Vatican Council in the Pontificate of John Paul II." Here are a few relevant paragraphs from His Holiness:


I can only rejoice at the choice of a theme that unites two topics of quite special interest to me: on the one hand, the Second Vatican Council, in which I had the honour of taking part as an expert and on the other, the figure of my beloved Predecessor John Paul II who made a significant personal contribution to that Council as a Council Father and subsequently, by God's will, became its first executor during the years of his Pontificate. In this context it seems only right also to recall that the Council sprang from the great heart of Pope John XXIII, the 50th anniversary of whose election to the Chair of Peter we are commemorating today, 28 October. I said that the Council sprang from John XXIII's heart, yet it would be more accurate to say that ultimately, like all the great events in the Church's history, it came from the Heart of God, from his saving will: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3: 16). To make divine salvation accessible to contemporary man was Pope John XXIII's main reason for convoking the Council, and the Fathers worked with this in mind. For this very reason, "As the years have passed, the Conciliar Documents" as I recalled on 20 April 2005, the day after my election to the Pontificate, "have lost none of their timeliness; indeed, their teachings are proving particularly relevant to the new situation of the Church and the current globalized society" (Message to Cardinals, 20 April 2005).

12.jpgIn practically all his documents, and especially in his decisions and his behaviour as Pontiff, John Paul II accepted the fundamental petitions of the Second Vatican Council, thus becoming a qualified interpreter and coherent witness of it. His constant concern was to make known to all the advantages that could stem from acceptance of the Conciliar vision, not only for the good of the Church but also for that of civil society itself and of the people working in it. "We have contracted a debt to the Holy Spirit", he said in his Reflection prior to the Angelus on 6 October 1985, referring to the extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops which was about to be celebrated precisely in order to reflect on the Church's response during the 20 years that had passed since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. "We have contracted a debt to the Spirit of Christ.... This, in fact, is the Spirit who speaks to the Churches (cf. Rv 2: 7); during the Council and by means of it, his word has become particularly expressive and decisive for the Church" (ore, 14 October 1985, p. 12).

KW with bps at V2.jpgWe are all truly indebted to him for this extraordinary ecclesial event. The multiple doctrinal legacy that we find in its Dogmatic Constitutions, Declarations and Decrees still stimulates us to deepen our knowledge of the Word of God in order to apply it to the Church in the present day, keeping clearly in mind the many needs of the men and women of the contemporary world who are extremely in need of knowing and experiencing the light of Christian hope. The Synod of Bishops that has just ended placed these needs at the centre of its own rich and fruitful reflections, reaffirming the hope expressed in the past by the Constitution Dei Verbum: "So may it come that, by the reading and study of the sacred books, "the Word of God may speed on and triumph' (2 Thes 3: 1), and the treasure of the Revelation entrusted to the Church may more and more fill the hearts of men" (n. 26), bringing them the salvation of God and with it authentic happiness.

This is a commitment that I am pleased to entrust in particular to you, dear Professors of the Pontifical Theological Faculty, who venerate the Seraphic Doctor St Bonaventure as its heavenly Patron. In the wealth of his thought, St Bonaventure can offer interpretative keys which are still up-to-date and with which you may approach the Conciliar Documents to seek in them satisfactory answers to the many questions of our time. The anxiety for humanity's salvation which motivated the Council Fathers, guiding their commitment in the search for solutions to the numerous problems of the day was equally alive in St Bonaventure's heart as he faced the hopes and anguish of the people of his own time. On the other hand, since the basic questions that man carries in his heart do not change with the changing of times, the answers the Seraphic Doctor attained have remained substantially applicable also in our day. In particular, the Itinerarium mentis in Deum that St Bonaventure composed in 1259 has remained valid. Although it is a guide to the heights of mystical theology, this precious little book also speaks to all Christians of what is essential in their lives. The ultimate goal of all our activities must be communion with the living God. Thus, for the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council too, the ultimate aim of all the individual aspects of the Church's renewal was to lead the faithful to the living God revealed in Jesus Christ.

The Civilization of Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue


cipro2008.jpgThe meeting, which has been promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Church of Cyprus, takes place in Nicosia from 16 to 18 November.

The Cyprus date is a further leg of the pilgrimage undertaken by the Community of Sant'Egidio to carry forward the legacy of the historic World Day of Prayer for Peace convened in Assisi by Pope John Paul II on October 27, 1986.

Over these twenty-two years, invitations from the Community have led men and women from diverse cultures and religions onto the pathway of encounter, dialogue and prayer for peace. The pilgrimage has called on various locations around the world, spreading the "Spirit of Assisi", creating ties of friendship and cooperation, testifying to a common will to create a culture of coexistence.

On opening the last meeting, held in Naples in October 2007, Pope Benedict 16th stated: "In respecting the differences between the various faiths, we are all called upon to work for peace and to make a concrete effort to further reconciliation between nations. This is the authentic "Spirit of Assisi"... religions can and must offer a precious resource for constructing a peaceful humanity, because they speak of peace being at the heart of humankind".

The Cyprus Meeting constitutes part of this commitment.

The island, lying at the heart of the Mediterranean, touched on by the preaching of St Paul the Apostle, place of encounter between a variety of cultures and religions, will host several hundred figures from every part of the world: representatives of the worlds of religion, of culture and of politics. They will enliven around 20 "round tables", open - as is the tradition at these encounters - to participation by the public.

The Closing Ceremony will take place on November 18 in the heart of the capital, Nicosia; it will feature the proclamation the Appeal for Peace.

As in previous years, this site will follow the event via a live video web-link.


The Program


The (C.I.S.R.O.) is a network of Angelo Scola.jpgcontacts that gives Christians and Muslims a chance to meet and promote mutual knowledge and understanding. Founded in September 2004 by the Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Cardinal Scola, as part of the Studium Generale Marcianum, the Centre sees itself as a venue for the exchange of experiences and points of view between people from different ecclesial realities (some churches in Europe and some Christian communities in predominantly-Muslim countries) and Muslims from various backgrounds.

The Centre's main field of interest is to examine how Christian and Muslim believers actually relate to and interact with one another for the purpose of building the "good life" in personal and social terms in a world like today's world that is characterised by cross-cultural and intra-civilisational métissage.


A recent introduction to the Oasis journal read:


The first seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum belongs to a long line of meetings that have been promoted above all since the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate, a point of reference for inter-religious dialogue. The visit of John Paul II to the mosque of Damascus and the visit of prayer of Benedict XVI to the Blue Mosque of Istanbul remain emblematic.

Blue mosque visit of B16.jpgBut the meeting of these days has two new features - one relating to method and the other to contents. At the level of method, the Forum appears on the Muslim side no longer as an initiative of individual personalities or States but as the expression of a general agreement. From the initial response to the Ratisborn address with its 38 signatories to the subsequent declaration A Common Word with the adherence of 138 personalities, which was subsequently expanded, the tendency on the Muslim side has been to achieve basic agreement to dialogue with Christians. This is not a secondary question because agreement for a large part of Muslim theology is one of the sources of the elaboration of doctrine.   

The second new feature is that in this Forum, as in the open letter, the emphasis has been placed in a decisive way on the religious dimension, if not even on the strictly theological dimension. In the communiqué that preceded this event one reads that the composition of the delegations is 'religious and not political', 'is separate from the diplomatic relations of States and was constituted on the basis of sapiential authority'. Indeed, it is evident that the statement of principle contained in the open letter must be verified in the light of its concrete translation into a context which is increasingly difficult for Christian minorities, as the continuing exodus of Christians from the Middle East demonstrates. However, the wish of the two parties is not to dissolve the specificity of the religious fact into, albeit important, geopolitical considerations.

One of the moving spirits of Islamic-Christian dialogue, Father Georges Anawati, loved to repeat that in this field it was necessary to arm oneself with 'geological patience'. It would, therefore, be illusory to imagine that wounds that go back more than a thousand years can be healed in the space of a few months. The aim of the Forum is to explore the affirmation of love of God and neighbour in its theological and spiritual aspects but also in relation to its practical consequences for the defence of the dignity of the human person and the defence of religious freedom. The fifteen points of the final document offer different points of departure in this direction. It is certainly the case that today there are many questions which must be answered, but for a believer the most burning question is perhaps the simplest one: do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Without this mutual recognition everything becomes more difficult. The answer on the Catholic side is clear and was proposed by Lumen Gentium, in n. 16: 'But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind'. This was an answer emphasised yesterday by Benedict XVI in his audience to the participants: 'I am well aware that Muslims and Christians have different approaches in matters regarding God. Yet we can and must be worshippers of the one God who created us and is concerned about each person in every corner of the world'

On the Muslim side Seyyed Hossein Nasr stated: 'For both us and you, God is at once transcendent and immanent, creator and sustainer of the world... the lover whose love embraces the whole of the created order'. This is the basic belief that inspires the continuation of dialogue.


All the articles and other documentation is archived here.


cis 317.JPGAlso, you might want to read a good, brief introduction to the field of Catholic-Muslim theology, What Catholics Should Know about Islam by Dr. Sandra T. Keating published by the Catholic Information Service.

Benedictine All Souls

| | Comments (0)

It is a treasured monastic tradition to pray for the dead, to visit the cemetery and to recall triumph of death.jpglives of those who have gone ahead of us to receive the Lord's mercy. Some groups of monks have the custom of praying an entire Psalter for their deceased confreres, concluding each psalm with the verse, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them." Generally the Mass and private devotions are all that mark the day in many monasteries.


The Mass offered today is offered for all the departed monks, nuns, sisters and oblates who persevered in their consecration under Saint Benedict's guidance. After death, the monks, nuns, sisters and oblates buried in the monastery's cemetery are not abandoned, not forgotten by their monastic family who remain on earth. The Mass, psalmody, and other prayers, like the rosary or particular litanies to effect in God's plan their purification and obtain the beatific vision.


O God, giver of pardon and lover of humankind, we beseech your mercy that through the intercession of blessed Mary ever-virgin, and of all the Benedictine saints, our brothers and sisters, relatives and benefactors who have passed out of this life, may be admitted into the fellowship of everlasting bliss.
NEW YORK (CNS) -- Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete told a recent gathering at Columbia University that faith broadens reason, making "it more powerful, wider in scope and, in fact, stronger in courage." "This 'broadening of reason' achieves its highest expression in what (Msgr. Luigi) Giussani called 'the virtue of poverty.' And this is the proposal we make to the world, to people concerned about economic justice," the New York priest said in a talk on "Faith & Money: Do They Add Up?" But "the virtue of poverty doesn't create a bunch of idealists running around," he said. "If we know history, (we know) people who had been called to a life of poverty ... created the great institutions of Western civilization -- hospitals, universities, works for the poor, refuges, schools." Msgr. Giussani, to whom Msgr. Albacete referred, is the late Italian clergyman who founded the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation in 1954. A theologian and an author, Msgr. Albacete is the national director of the Communion and Liberation movement in the U.S.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

| | Comments (2)

The first American citizen canonized a saint in 1946, Mother Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Her shrine is in Washington Heights, New York City.


St Frances Xavier Cabrini.jpgInspired by the grace of God, we join the saints in honoring the holy virgin Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was a humble woman who became outstanding not because she was famous or rich or powerful, but because she lived a virtuous life. From the tender years of her youth, she kept her innocence as white as a lily and preserved it carefully with the thorns of penitence; as the years progressed, she was moved by a certain instinct and supernatural zeal to dedicate her whole life to the service and greater glory of God.

She welcomed delinquent youths into safe homes, and taught them to live upright and holy lives. She consoled those who were in prison, and recalled to them the hope of eternal life. She encouraged prisoners to reform themselves, and to live honest lives.

She comforted the sick and the infirm in the hospitals, and diligently cared for them. She extended a friendly and helping hand especially to immigrants, and offered them necessary shelter and relief, for having left their homeland behind, they were wandering about in a foreign land with no place to turn for help. Because of their condition, she saw that they were in danger of deserting the practice of Christian virtues and their Catholic faith.

Undoubtedly she accomplished all this through the faith which was always so vibrant and alive in her heart; through the divine love which burned within her; and finally, through constant prayer by which she was so closely united with God from whom she humbly asked and obtained whatever her human weakness could not obtain. Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond her strength.

From a homily at the canonization of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini by Pope Pius XII


God our Father, you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America. By her example teach us concern for the stranger, the sick, and the frustrated. By her prayers help us to see Christ in all the men and women we meet.

Faith, Always a New Act

| | Comments (0)

This 1995 essay by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) is a marvelous piece to meditate on today. Faith and communion, freedom and personal integration in God are relevant topics in our era where there is a lack of understanding of the basics of Christian faith. Without mentioning his name and his work, the author points to Msgr. Giussani's Communion and Liberation and other ecclesial movements.


Let me begin with a brief story from the early postconciliar period. The Council documents - particularly the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, but also the decrees on ecumenism, on mission, on non-Christian religions, and on freedom of religion - had opened up broad vistas of dialogue for the Church and theology. New issues were appearing on the horizon, and it was becoming necessary to find new methods. It seemed self-evident that a theologian who wanted to be up to date and who rightly understood his task should temporarily suspend the old discussions and devote all of his energies to the new questions pressing in from every side.


At about this time, I sent a small piece of mine to Hans Urs von Balthasar. Balthasar HUB.jpgreplied by return mail on a correspondence card, as he always did, and, after expressing his thanks, added a terse sentence that made an indelible impression on me: Do not presuppose the faith but propose it. This was an imperative that hit home. Wide-ranging exploration of new fields was good and necessary, but only so long as it issued from, and was sustained by, the central light of faith.


Faith is not maintained automatically. It is not a "finished business" that we can simply take for granted. The life of faith has to be constantly renewed. And since faith is an act that comprehends all the dimensions of our existence, it also requires constantly renewed reflection and witness. It follows that the chief points of faith - God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, grace and sin, sacraments and Church, death and eternal life -are never outmoded. They are always the issues that affect us most profoundly. They must be the permanent center of preaching and therefore of theological reflection. The bishops present at the 1985 Synod called for a universal catechism of the whole Church because they sensed precisely what Balthasar had put into words in his note to me. Their experience as shepherds had shown them that the various new pastoral activities have no solid basis unless they are irradiations and applications of the message of faith. Faith cannot be presupposed; it must be proposed. This is the purpose of the Catechism. It aims to propose the faith in its fullness and wealth, but also in its unity and simplicity.


What does the Church believe? This question implies another: Who believes, and how does someone believe? The Catechism treats these two main questions, which concern, respectively, the "what" and the "who" of faith, as an intrinsic unity. Expressed in other terms, the Catechism displays the act of faith and the content of faith in their indivisible unity. This may sound somewhat abstract, so let us try to unfold a bit what it means. We find in the creeds two formulas: "I believe" and "We believe." We speak of the faith of the Church, of the personal character of faith and finally of faith as a gift of God, as a "theological act", as contemporary theology likes to put it. What does all of this mean?


Faith is an orientation of our existence as a whole. It is a fundamental option that affects every domain of our existence. Nor can it be realized unless all the energies of our existence go into maintaining it. Faith is not a merely intellectual, or merely volitional, or merely emotional activity -it is all of these things together. It is an act of the whole self, of the whole person in his concentrated unity. The Bible describes faith in this sense as an act of the "heart" [Romans 10:9].


Faith is a supremely personal act. But precisely because it is supremely personal, it St Augustine6.jpgtranscends the self, the limits of the individual. Augustine remarks that nothing is so little ours as our self. Where man as a whole comes into play, he transcends himself; an act of the whole self is at the same time always an opening to others, hence, an act of being together with others (Mitsein). What is more, we cannot perform this act without touching our deepest ground, the living God who is present in the depths of our existence as its sustaining foundation.


Any act that involves the whole man also involves, not just the self, but the we-dimension, indeed, the wholly other "Thou", God, together with the self. But this also means that such an act transcends the reach of what I can do alone. Since man is a created being, the deepest truth about him is never just action but always passion as well; man is not only a giver but also a receiver. The Catechism expresses this point in the following words: "No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life." Paul's description of his experience of conversion and baptism alludes to faith's radical character: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" [Galatians 2,20]. Faith is a perishing of the mere self and precisely thus a resurrection of the true self. To believe is to become oneself through liberation from the mere self, a liberation that brings us into communion with God mediated by communion with Christ.


So far, we have attempted, with the help of the Catechism, to analyze "who" believes, hence, to identify the structure of the act of faith. But in so doing we have already caught sight of the outlines of the essential content of faith. In its core, Christian faith is an encounter with the living God. God is, in the proper and ultimate sense, the content of our faith. Looked at in this way, the content of faith is absolutely simple: I believe in God. But this absolute simplicity is also absolutely deep and encompassing. We can believe in God because he can touch us, because he is in us, and because he also comes to us from the outside. We can believe in him because of the one whom he has sent "Because he has 'seen the Father,' " says the Catechism, referring to John 6:56, "Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him". We could say that to believe is to be granted a share in Jesus' vision. He lets us see with him in faith what he has seen.


This statement implies both the divinity of Jesus Christ and his humanity. Because Jesus is the Son, he has an unceasing vision of the Father. Because he is man, we can share this vision. Because he is both God and man at once, he is neither merely a historical person nor simply removed from all time in eternity. Rather, he is in the midst of time, always alive, always present.


Trinity Rublev.jpgBut in saying this, we also touch upon the mystery of the Trinity. The Lord becomes present to us through the Holy Spirit. Let us listen once more to the Catechism: "One cannot believe in Jesus Christ without sharing in his Spirit . . . Only God knows God completely: we believe in the Holy Spirit because he is God." It follows from what we have said that, when we see the act of faith correctly, the single articles of faith unfold by themselves. God becomes concrete for us in Christ. This has two consequences. On the one hand, the triune mystery of God becomes discernible; on the other hand, we see that God has involved himself in history to the point that the Son has become man and now sends us the Spirit from the Father. But the Incarnation also includes the mystery of the Church, for Christ came to "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" [John 1:52]. The "we" of the Church is the new communion into which God draws us beyond our narrow selves [cf. John 12:32]. The Church is thus contained in the first movement of the act of faith itself. The Church is not an institution extrinsically added to faith as an organizational frame work for the common activities of believers. No, she is integral to the act of faith itself The "I believe" is always also a "We believe." As the Catechism says, "'I believe' is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both 'I believe' a 'We believe.'" We observed just now that the analysis of the act of faith immediately displays faith's essential content as well: faith is a response to the triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We can now add that the same act of faith also embraces God's incarnation in Jesus Christ, his theandric mystery, and thus the entirety of salvation history. It further becomes clear that the People of God, the Church as the human protagonist of salvation history, is present in the very act of faith. It would not be difficult to demonstrate in a similar fashion that the other items of belief are also explications of the one fundamental act of encountering the living God. For by its very nature, relation to God has to do with eternal life. And this relation necessarily transcends the merely human sphere. God is truly God on1y if he is the Lord of all things. And he is the Lord of all things oo1y if he is their Creator. Creation, salvation history and eternal life are thus themes that flow directly from the question of God. In addition, when we speak of God's history with man, we also imply the issue of sin and grace. We touch upon the question of how we encounter God, hence, the question of the liturgy, of the sacraments, of prayer and morality.


But I do not want to develop all of these points in detail now; my chief concern has been precisely to get a glimpse of the intrinsic unity of faith, which is not a multitude of propositions but a full and simple act whose simplicity contains the whole depth and breadth of being. He who speaks of God, speaks of the whole; he learns to discern the essential from the inessential, and he comes to know, albeit oo1y fragmentarily and "in a glass, darkly" [I Corinthians 13:12] as long as faith is faith and not yet vision, something of the inner logic and unity of all reality.


Finally, I would like to touch briefly on the question we mentioned at the beginning of our reflections. I mean the question of how we believe. Paul furnishes us with a remarkable and extremely helpful statement on this matter when he says that faith is an obedience "from the heart to the form of doctrine into which you were handed over" [Romans 6:17]. These words ultimately express the sacramental character of faith, the intrinsic connection between confession and sacrament. The Apostle says that a "form of doctrine" is an essential component of faith. We do not think up faith on our own. It does not come from us as an idea of ours but to us as a word from outside. It is, as it were, a word about the Word; we are "handed over" into this Word that reveals new paths to our reason and gives form to our life.


We are "handed over" into the Word that precedes us through an immersion in water symbolizing death. This recalls the words of Paul cited earlier: "I live, yet not I"'; it reminds us that what takes place in the act of faith is the destruction and renewal of the self. Baptism as a symbolic death links this renewal to the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be handed over into the doctrine is to be handed over into Christ. We cannot receive his word as a theory in the same way that we learn, say, mathematical formulas or philosophical opinions. We can learn it only in accepting a share in Christ's destiny. But we can become sharers in Christ's destiny only where he has permanently committed himself to sharing in man's destiny: in the Church. In the language of this Church we call this event a "sacrament". The act of faith is unthinkable. without the sacramental component.


These remarks enable us to understand the concrete literary structure of the Catechism. To believe, as we have heard, is to be handed over into a form of doctrine. In another passage, Paul calls this form of doctrine a confession [cf. Romans 10:9]. A further aspect of the faith-event thus emerges. That is, the faith that comes to us as a word must also become a word in us, a word that is simultaneously the expression of our life. To believe is always also to confess the faith. Faith is not private but something public that concerns the community. The word of faith first enters the mind, but it cannot stay there: thought must always become word and deed again. The Catechism refers to the various kinds of confessions of faith that exist in the Church: baptismal confessions, conciliar confessions, confessions formulated by popes.


Each of these confessions has a significance of its own. But the primordial type that serves as a basis for all further developments is the baptismal creed. When we talk about catechesis, that is, initiation into the faith and adaptation of our existence to the Church's communion of faith, we must begin with the baptismal creed. This has been true since apostolic times and therefore imposed itself as the method of the Catechism, which, in fact, unfolds the contents of faith from the baptismal creed. It thus becomes apparent how the Catechism intends to teach the faith: catechesis is catechumenate. It is not merely religious instruction but the act whereby we surrender ourselves and are received into the word of faith and communion with Jesus Christ.


Adaptation to God's ways is an essential part of catechesis. Saint Irenaeus says a propos of this that we must accustom ourselves to God, just as in the Incarnation God accustomed himself to us men. We must accustom ourselves to God's ways so that we can learn to bear his presence in us. Expressed in theological terms, this means that the image of God - which is what makes us capable of communion of life with him - must be freed from its encasement of dross. The tradition compares this liberation to the activity of the sculptor who chisels away at the stone bit by bit until the form that he beholds emerges into visibility.


Catechesis should always be such a process of assimilation to God. After all, we can only know a reality if there is something in us corresponding to it. Goethe, alluding to Plotinus, says that "the eye could never recognize the sun were it not itself sunlike. The cognitional process is a process of assimilation, a vital process. The "we", the "what" and the "how" of faith belong together.


This brings to light the moral dimension of the act of faith, which includes a style of humanity we do not produce by ourselves but that we gradually learn by plunging into our baptismal existence. The sacrament of penance is one such immersion into baptism, in which God again and again acts on us and draws us back to himself Morality is an integral component of Christianity, but this morality is always part of the sacramental event of "Christianization" (Christwerdung) an event in which we are not the sole agents but are always, indeed, primarily, receivers. And this reception entails transformation.


The Catechism therefore cannot be accused of any fanciful attachment to the past when it unfolds the contents of faith using the baptismal creed of the Church of Rome, the so-called "Apostles' Creed". Rather, this option brings to the fore the authentic core of the act of faith and thus of catechesis as existential training in existence with God.


Equally apparent is that the Catechism is wholly structured according to the principle of the hierarchy of truths as understood by the Second Vatican Council. For, as we have seen, the creed is in the first instance a confession of faith in the triune God developed from, and bound to, the baptismal formula. All of the "truths of faith" are explications of the one truth that we discover in them. And this one truth is the pearl of great price that is worth staking our lives on: God. He alone can be the pearl for which we give everything else. Dio solo basta, he who finds God has found all things. But we can find him only because he has first sought and found us. He is the one who acts first, and for this reason faith in God is inseparable from the mystery of the Incarnation, of the Church and of the sacraments. Everything that is said in the Catechism is an unfolding of the one truth that is God himself - the "love that moves the sun and all the stars".

JRatzinger arms.png 

[From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - Benedict XVI, Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism. Sidelights on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1977, pp. 23-34. Original title: Evangelium, Katechese, Katechismus. Streiflichter auf den Katechismus der katholischen Kirche ©Verlag Neue Stadt 1995.

Benedictine All Saints

| | Comments (0)

Christ and saints.jpgToday we celebrate the feast of All Saints who persevered under the Rule of Saint Benedict are now with God as intercessors for us at the Throne of Grace.


Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival in honor of all the saints who did battle under the Rule of Saint Benedict, at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice and all together praise the Son of God.


Almighty and ever-faithful God, who ceaselessly bestow the gift of monastic life upon your Church, grant us, we beseech you,   perseverance in that same vocation that we may advance full of gratitude for those who have gone before us on this path, holding nothing more dear than Christ.

This vote of the US bishops is long in coming. Kudos to Abbot Gregory and the monks of Conception Abbey. I look forward to using the psalter.

Bishops choose Revised Grail Psalter for liturgical use in U.S.

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops chose the Revised Grail Psalter produced by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri over the Revised New American Bible translation of the Book of Psalms for liturgical use in the United States. The vote at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' meeting in Baltimore Nov. 12 was 203-5 in favor of accepting a recommendation of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship to adopt the Grail Psalter for use in all liturgical settings. The decision also must be confirmed by the Vatican. There was little debate before the vote and no amendments could be made to the translated psalms. Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, said the Revised Grail Psalter also had been recommended over the Revised New American Bible version by the Committee on Doctrine's Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Text and by the now-defunct music subcommittee of what was then called the Committee on the Liturgy.

Today the Orthodox Church in America elected Bishop Jonah as their new Metropolitan bishop (the Primate). Metropolitan Jonah is the 8th and he's only a been a bishop for Metropoliotan Jonah.jpg10 days!

Born in 1959, received into the Orthodox faith in 1978, ordained a priest in 1995 and ordained a bishop in 2008. He's been a monk for the last 12 years.

The announcement is published here.

Listen to Metropolitan Jonah address some questions regarding faith and matters pertaining to the Church.

Eis polla eti, Despota!

Saint Theodore of Studis

| | Comments (0)

I solemnly tell you: those who have left everything and followed me will be repaid a St Theodore of Studios.JPGhundredfold and will gain eternal life. (Matthew 19:27-29)


Lord our God, through the blessed abbot Theodore, You restored the beauty and discipline of monastic observance. By his help and example may we conformed to the sufferings of Christ through endurance also share in his glory.


Neuhaus on the bishops

| | Comments (0)

"Obama and the Bishops" is a terrific essay by Father Richard John Neuhaus, Editor-in-Chief of First Things, on the bishops meeting for their annual meeting in Baltimore. Give some time to reading and considering what Father wrote.

Veterans Day

| | Comments (0)

Today we remember those who served the country in the armed forces.


Veterans Day.jpgO God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country. Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord.


O God, we thank you for raising up men and women to serve and defend our country in times of war and peace. We thank you for bringing each one home to their families, friends and neighbors, as we mourn those who gave their lives for our freedom. We ask your special blessing on all those in current service at home and abroad, that you keep them safe from all harm; kindle in them a lively faith in your mercy, and shield them from all temptation, that they may return to us unsullied by the aggressions of men; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reign over all the nations under heaven. Amen.

Saint Martin of Tours

| | Comments (0)

Ss Martin of Tours and Nicholas of Bari.jpgO God, who were magnified in the life of Saint Martin as in his death, renew the wonders of your grace in our hearts, so that neither death nor life may separate us from your love.



Adrienne von Speyr's vision of Saint Martin of Tours (a.d. 316-400) ...


His soul is childlike and good and has something so immediately genuine about it, above all so unspoiled, it is as if he had preserved the faith he had as a child, as if he had never had any bad experiences as all in his life. To be sure, he has experience with sin; he knows how bad people are, but he sees them so much in the light of the Lord's offer of grace that grace is more visible to him than sin is, and he is moved more profoundly by grace than by the possibility of sin. He is like the child in the fairytale who can see only the good fairies and overlooks everything with others and does not even consider the possibility that someone might refuse his offer to share. Like a child who plays around with someone, tells him stories, and is certain his will delight his hearer as much as they delighted him. Thus, he brings all his concerns before God with the awareness that God will hear them. And God constantly hears him, because Christ regards him as one of the little ones whom he invites and calls to himself. He cannot turn down a single request of his. His prayer is good and full of love, and he does not have to lead himself into prayer or be led; his entire life is prayer. His vocal prayer and his contemplation are only sections of this life, which as a whole is a prayer. When he pauses in his work and prays, then it is as if he wanted to rest for a bit and gather a few directions for the next section of life. Even his work in the Church is a labor of love, of love for God and for his neighbor. He occasionally suffers because of the Church, but almost in an impersonal way, that is, not in the sense that certain particular occasions cause it, but from the outset within the Lord's suffering. And he always imagines that the Lord suffers much more from the thing than Martin himself suffers at the moment.


(And what is his death like?) I see anxieties regarding death. And afterward, in the midst of dying, perfect surrender. Perhaps it is also the case that these anxieties in part are a substitute for the anxieties of which he otherwise had so little experience in his life.


(Book of Saints, 2008)


GR.jpgGod at the Ritz: Attraction to Infinity: A Priest-Physicist Talks about Science, Sex, Politics and Religion by Lorenzo Albacete


Trained as a physicist and a Roman Catholic priest, Albacete has written a fine book of short reflections on religion, its place in our world, its at-times troubled relationship to its own truth claims, the meaning of suffering, and the experience of pluralism and liberalism. Albacete cites the thought of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, to be sure, but he also engages with Germaine Greer, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Paul Ricoeur. Albacete's profound sense of the religious leads him not to dogma but to a series of sensitively framed, sincere questions that should catch the attention and empathy of many readers.

Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, National Director, Communion and Liberation; Chairman, Board of Advisors, Crossroads Cultural Center; former President, Catholic University of Puerto Rico; former Professor of Theology, St. Joseph's Seminary, New York.

Wednesday, November 12th, 6:00-7:30pm

Columbia University

Davis Auditorium, Schapiro Center (116th & Broadway)


RSVP here.


Read Christopher West's review of God at the Ritz

How a Community is Born

| | Comments (0)

Traces November 2008

Traces Oct.jpg

Los Angeles


by Paola Bergamini

Work and life in the parish, barbecues on the beach and weddings. Everyday circumstances which, for an Italian transferred to California, became opportunities for meeting people, and for risk. In the capital of the ephemeral, a curious presence emerged.


Los Angeles. In the offices of the Disney movie department, the air is heavy. It's official: the company has decided to shed 300 jobs. Guido is at his desk waiting for his turn to be called by the boss. He is sure that he is on the list to go because he is the last to have arrived. He has been working for Disney for four years, but he has been working in this section for only six months, and only those six months count. At the end of the day, his boss calls him; he is the last. "I'm sorry, Piccarolo, I'm really sorry...," and his eyes are wet. "I'm sorry, too. Not only do I have to find another job. For me, my work is the expression of what I love most, and here this was possible." "It could be seen. Working with you was different. That is why I have managed to keep you on for another year [instead of the usual two weeks] and I'd like to give you a hand in finding another job." The personnel manager, present at the interview, is astonished-nothing of this kind ever happens; at most, there are one or two tears, an expletive, and negotiation about the weeks to be paid. The logic of profit, of power, is unhinged. Another factor has come into play: affection for reality, for the other person, the echo of a greater Love that has embraced you and that changes relationships astonishingly. "It has always been this way for me, since 1994, when I graduated in Economics and Commerce and, at the suggestion of Memores Domini leader Carlo Wolfsgruber, left for New York, where Fr. Marino had asked for the opening of a house of the Memores Domini [the association composed of people of CL who follow a vocation of total dedication to God while living in the world]. I knew nothing, not even the English language. I said 'yes' to a look of love towards me." He told me this at La Thuile, during the CL International Assembly, where we met again after 15 years. As he was speaking, I saw that he had a purer, more likeable look about him.


Behind the circumstances

Guido spent two years living with Fr. Marino, and then he got a job in a telecommunications firm "with younger colleagues who bossed you around. But life passed through there, and through the photocopies I had to make, sometimes all day long," he remembers. After six months, the director called him: "I need a man I can trust in Los Angeles. I've seen how you work, I believe in you, but here you have no future. Do you want to go?" There was nothing in Los Angeles: no community, no Memores Domini house. Giudo wrote to Fr. Giussani, asking to go for two reasons: 1) The chance to learn a job; 2) to take along the beauty of the experience he was living. After a few days, the answer came through Giorgio Vittadini: "This is something great. Fr. Giussani thanks you. There will soon be a Memores Domini house." Every weekend for a month, accompanied by Salvatore, he flew to Los Angeles to look for a house and to find out about the job. Then he set off. The first three months he was alone. "In that period, I always asked for the companionship of Christ for my life, and the simple fact of asking for it means you are not alone. It was not an expectation that blocked life. One day after another proved to be rich with occasions to be beside Him." It is a new way of approaching reality that can be seen-on the job, in the parish that Guido begins to attend, in everyday relationships. After three months, Carlo came to live with Guido for eight months, to write his thesis, and then Mauro came to stay indefinitely. So Fr. Giussani was right: the Memores house was founded. After one year, Guido changed his job so as to stay in Los Angeles. He worked in a firm that was expanding frenetically. He worked twelve hours a day, including Saturday and Sunday. How did he survive it? He laughs. "It's not a question of survival, but of living seriously. I never thought, "What interests me is outside; it's a pity I have so little time to spare." Being there was total. So, in the evening, when it got late, I would go to get food for everybody, to take my break while talking. And someone would ask about your friends, what you do at home, or what you think of the poor in the Third World, and you answer... that you do charity work Sundays with some kids; you speak of what's dearest to you. Then you invite him home to eat Italian." In this way, unexpected relationships sprang up, and this is how the community in Los Angeles was born-without inventing anything, without making speeches.

This was the case with Jennifer. Mauro got to know her at a wedding and he invited her home for lunch. She told him of her difficult situation, being divorced with two children. They offered her company. When he can, Guido crosses the city to help the children with their schoolwork. They invited her to School of Community, but who would stay at home with the kids? She can't afford a babysitter. They take turns babysitting so that she can go. When the problem of changing schools comes up, and Jennifer cannot afford it, Guido called his friends in the Fraternity in Italy, asking if they could help out. Now there is a bridge linking Milan and Los Angeles. Jennifer writes to Laura, telling her about her children, the School of Community, the difficulties in her job... about her life. Why would you do all this, if not out of recognition of a Presence that touches life's circumstances? And it changes life. This is also the case with Brenda, whom Mauro got to know at work and invited to School of Community. "She is an astrophysicist who struck our friend Marco Bersanelli in Liege, Belgium, because of the way she approached her work." [See Traces, Vol. 10, No. 7 (September) 2008.] The parish priest, Fr. Roddy, in contrast, was rather doubtful about these Italians. One day, they threw him an invitation: "Why don't you come on vacation with us?" He has been with us ever since because, "at the age of 70, the encounter with the Movement helped me rediscover the origin of my vocation." Then, there is Nancy. "I met her at Disney," Guido tells us. Another change of job? "In Italy, you are not accustomed to it, but in America this turnover is quite normal. In the case of my firm, they went bankrupt." Nancy was a Protestant. She and Guido became friends, and after three years she came to a gesture of the Movement, the charitable work. After another year, she attended the School of Community for the first time. Last April, she became a Catholic. "In the past, I thought I was the author of my destiny, but now I live rooted in an Other," she commented, some days later.


From bonfires to surfing

It was the pastor of San Sebastian Parish who invited Claudia. She is from Salvador, and she escaped from there during the '80s because of the civil war. "There is a group of Italians who get together every Wednesday; why don't you go to meet them?" Along with her husband, Edwino, she came one Wednesday. These Italians are different: they use words like Mystery, reason, Fr. Giussani. These new friends from Salvador have never left us since: "It was impossible to stay away. The desire to come back to them was to come back to that Presence that was beginning to reveal itself in our lives," Claudia wrote.

After a few years, there are now two houses of Memores Domini and the encounters have multiplied-with Beth, Paul, Christine, and many others, people you meet at a party, at work, or in a thousand other circumstances of life. "You invite them to eat, to your home, to a bonfire on the beach, or to go surfing. Los Angeles is the city of the ephemeral, of appearances. You can either stop short at a moralistic contempt or you can embrace these appearances in an encounter. Then, since we have the finest beaches in the world, why shouldn't we enjoy them?" Right you are, Guido!

How did things turn out at Disney? "I quit." And now? "That is another adventure." He laughs and even his eyes are smiling-as if embracing the world.


The John Templeton Foundation sponsored a debate between a priest and an atheist at New York's Pierre Hotel September 23rd. The pair tried to answer the question "Does science make believe in God obsolete?"

The follow up to the debate can be found here.

Saint Leo the Great

| | Comments (0)

Saint Leo makes the link that encourages us to link the Beatitudes with the health of one's interior life and the adherence to the will of God. Here, humility of spirit is given as a key to living in the kingdom of God.


St Leo the Great.jpgWhen our Lord Jesus Christ, beloved, was preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and was healing various sicknesses through the whole of Galilee, the fame of His mighty works had spread into all Syria: large crowds too from all parts of Judæa were flocking to the heavenly Physician (Matthew 4:23-24). For as human ignorance is slow in believing what it does not see, and in hoping for what it does not know, those who were to be instructed in the divine lore, needed to be aroused by bodily benefits and visible miracles: so that they might have no doubt as to the wholesomeness of His teaching when they actually experienced His benignant power. And therefore that the Lord might use outward healings as an introduction to inward remedies, and after healing bodies might work cures in the soul.


Then He separated Himself from the surrounding crowd, ascended into the retirement of a neighboring mountain, and called His apostles to Him there, that from the height of that mystic seat He might instruct them in the loftier doctrines, signifying from the very nature of the place and act that He it was who had once honored Moses by speaking to him: then indeed with a more terrifying justice, but now with a holier mercifulness, that what had been promised might be fulfilled when the Prophet Jeremiah says: behold the days come when I will complete a new covenant for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah. After those days, says the Lord, "I will put my laws in their minds, and in their heart will I write them." He therefore who had spoken to Moses, spoke also to the apostles, and the swift hand of the Word wrote and deposited the secrets of the new covenant in the disciples' hearts. There were no thick clouds surrounding Him as of old, nor were the people frightened off from approaching the mountain by frightful sounds and lightning, but quietly and freely His discourse reached the ears of those who stood by: that the harshness of the law might give way before the gentleness of grace, and the spirit of adoption might dispel the terrors of bondage.


The nature then of Christ's teaching is attested by His own holy statements: that they who St Leo the Great2.jpgwish to arrive at eternal blessedness may understand the steps of ascent to that high happiness. "Blessed," He says, "are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). It would perhaps be doubtful what poor He was speaking of, if in saying blessed are the poor He had added nothing which would explain the sort of poor: and then that poverty by itself would appear sufficient to win the kingdom of heaven which many suffer from hard and heavy necessity. But when He says blessed are the poor in spirit, He shows that the kingdom of heaven must be assigned to those who are recommended by the humility of their spirits rather than by the smallness of their means. Yet it cannot be doubted that this possession of humility is more easily acquired by the poor than the rich: for submissiveness is the companion of those that want, while loftiness of mind dwells with riches. Notwithstanding, even in many of the rich is found that spirit which uses its abundance not for the increasing of its pride but on works of kindness, and counts that for the greatest gain which it expends in the relief of others' hardships. It is given to every kind and rank of men to share in this virtue, because men may be equal in will, though unequal in fortune: and it does not matter how different they are in earthly means, who are found equal in spiritual possessions. Blessed, therefore, is poverty which is not possessed with a love of temporal things, and does not seek to be increased with the riches of the world, but is eager to amass heavenly possessions.


Eternal Shepherd, graciously guard Thy flock, and through blessed Leo, Thy Supreme Pontiff, whom Thou did appoint pastor of the universal Church, keep it under Thy continual protection.

How Lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

(Psalm 84)


Lateran.jpgToday is a most unusual feast of the Church, the Dedication of the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, a day when a church is born and dedicated for sacred rites. But the celebration is more than architecture; it is about the birth of men and women into eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments of He established for this purpose. The proper name of the Pope's cathedral -not Saint Peter's--is the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior, Saint John Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist at the Lateran. The honor the Church bestows on us today is remembrance of the cathedral on the day it was consecrated. It ought to be noted that the Church in Rome also liturgically remembers the basilica on the feast of the Transfiguration (August 6). The Lateran Basilica is "omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput...the Mother and head of all the Churches of the City and the World."


The basilica was built by Constantine and dedicated by Pope Sixtus III in the 4th century. Lateran baptistery.jpgOne of the best things about the Lateran is the baptistery, though it is a beautiful church in general, but I love the 8-sided baptistery. There one reads:


Here is born a people of noble race, destined for Heaven, whom the Spirit brings forth in the waters he has made fruitful. Mother Church conceives her offspring by the breath of God, and bears them virginally in this water. Hope for the Kingdom of Heaven, you who are reborn in this font. Eternal life does not await those who are only born once. This is the spring of life that waters the whole world, Taking its origin from the Wounds of Christ. Sinner, to be purified, go down into the holy water. It receives the unregenerate and brings him forth a new man. If you wish to be made innocent, be cleansed in this pool, whether you are weighed down by original sin or your own. There is no barrier between those who are reborn and made one by the one font, the one Spirit, and the one faith. Let neither the number nor the kind of their sins terrify anyone; Once reborn in this water, they will be holy.


And so we say with the words of Scripture: zeal for your house consumes me.

Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories: A Critical Appraisal 150 Years After

"The Origin of Species"


In September I announced this conference devoted to a critical review of Charles Darwin's Darwin.jpgwork. You can get more information by visiting the conference website or by email:


The Rome conference looks very promising with top professors collaborating in evaluating this famous work.


The conference is sponsored by the Pontifical Gregorian University in colloaboration with University of Notre Dame, and with the high patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture with a grant of monies from the Templeton Foundation and the Associazione Scienza e Fede.

After two Salesians, now a son of Saint Ignatius will be second in command of the first of the Congregations of the Roman Curia.

An interview with Archbishop

Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer

by Gianni Cardinale


      After two Salesians, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has a Jesuit as its new secretary. On 9 July in fact Benedict XVI appointed as number two in the Department, that he himself directed from 1981 to 2005, the Spaniard Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, 64 years old, originally from Manacor, the second city, after Palma, of the island of Majorca in the Balearic Islands.
      Ladaria takes the place of the Salesian Angelo Amato, promoted Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who in turn succeeded another son of Don Bosco, the then Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, who as Cardinal Secretary of State consecrated Ladaria bishop in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran on July 26.
      30Days met the new secretary, in the Palace of the Holy Office, on his return from vacation, passed mostly in his homeland. In answer to the observation that he didn't look very tanned, Monsignor Ladaria smilingly said: "That comes of the fact that I love the sea, much less the sun...". Before the interview Ladaria spoke of his origins, explaining that, although his family has been rooted for generations in the Balearic Islands, perhaps his ancestors came from the Kingdom of Naples, and more specifically from the Gulf of Policastro. But the pleasantries end there. And the questions begin.

Benedict XVI receiving Monsignor Ladaria Ferrer in audience at Castel Gandolfo, 10 September 2008 [© Osservatore Romano]

      Your Excellency, how did your vocation come about and why did you choose the Society of Jesus?
      Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer: Perhaps the word "choose" is not correct. It was not I who chose but I saw a road in front of me and set out on it. A road, that of vocation, that I began to see when I attended the Jesuit College in Palma de Mallorca and then while studying Law in Madrid. I studied law but I realized that was not what I wanted. I wanted to become a priest and I liked the Society of Jesus which I knew. And so it was a path open before me that I set out on almost naturally. 

 Was your family very religious?
      LADARIA FERRER: Fairly. 

Was there some priest figure who particularly influenced you?
      LADARIA FERRER: Certainly, I have before me the faces of the fathers of the College I attended, the old College of Mount Zion, founded in 1561, but it was rather the whole environment, the air one breathed, that brought me to devote myself entirely to God. 

You took your religious vows in 1968. What memory do you have of that year, so turbulent at least outside Spain?
      LADARIA FERRER: It was a turbulent year in Spain also. But I quietly took my vows, without paying too much attention to the the turbulence. I liked studying and I studied. 

Did you ever feel the fascination of '68?
      LADARIA FERRER: Maybe we are all a little conditioned by '68, but in my case not in any special way. 

Who were your teachers?
      LADARIA FERRER: I am pleased to remember a few. In Frankfurt in Germany, where I studied theology, I had as professors Father Grillmeier, who then became a cardinal, who was a great scholar of Dogma, Father Otto Semmelroth and Father Herman Josef Sieben, at the beginning of his academic career, who would then become one of the world's greatest experts on the concept of Council. In Rome I did my graduate thesis with Father Antonio Orbe, a great patrologist, and I had as professors Fathers Juan Alfaro and Zoltan Alszeghy.

You also studied in Germany. Did you ever meet Professor Ratzinger?
      LADARIA FERRER: Not personally. But I knew his writings. In particular his Introduction to Christianity which was his best known work, but also his book on the People of God. I remember that even in our faculty lecture notes of some of the courses of the then Professor Ratzinger circulated. 

And when did you personally come to know the current Pontiff?
      LADARIA FERRER: In 1992 when I became a member of the International Theological Commission. I recall with pleasure the detailed discussions that took place on the subject of relations between Christianity and other religions. The intervention of Cardinal Ratzinger was always very precise and profound and the discussion was always at a very high level. The work of that Commission is very interesting both for the topics dealt with, always of great importance, and for the international and Catholic air, that one breathes there.

Did you have a role in the drafting of Dominus Iesus?

Your degree at the Gregorian was on Saint Hilary of Poitiers. Why that choice and what attracted you to that saint?
      LADARIA FERRER: The topic was proposed by Fr Orbe who was interested in that Father of the Church. I was lucky because there was not a great bibliography on Saint Hilary, so I could better devote myself to reading his original texts directly. Saint Hilary was not studied enough at the time, but since then many works about him and many translations have appeared, especially in France. And yet he is the demonstration that the Patristic era in the Latin Church did not begin with St. Augustine, who indeed knew, and often cited, Saint Hilary.

What is the relevance of Saint Hilary?
      LADARIA FERRER: It doesn't take much effort to find out the relevance of the Fathers of the Church. We have to read and savor them to be better able to approach the freshness of the Gospel message, Jesus, and that is of permanent value rather than something tied to what is topical, which by its nature is variable, changing minute by minute. The Fathers of the Church are a source that springs in an era closer to the apostolic one. That's what makes them always relevant.

Father Orbe was an expert on Saint Irenaeus and Gnosticism ...
      LADARIA FERRER: In effect, he was one of the greatest experts on the subject. He wrote many books on these subjects, to be honest often complicated because the material is difficult.

For many years you were a teacher at the Gregorian and vice-rector. What did you learn in all these years?
      LADARIA FERRER: The fact that I was vice-rector for eight years is not very important. What is important was the teaching, the supervision of the theses. The Gregorian taught me to live in an international environment with students from over one hundred countries, of different languages, races and cultures. All united by the love of study, but above all of the Lord and His Church. In a real university students not only learn from professors, but also the reverse occurs. And I learned a lot from my students.

When your appointment was made public, John Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter collected some opinions on you from your colleagues. Some have called you gentle and affable ...
      LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I try to be, but it must be up to others to say whether I succeed ...

There are also those who described you as a moderate conservative and theologically centrist. Do you recognize yourself in those decriptions?
      LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I don't like extremisms, either progressive, or traditionalist ones. I believe that there is a via media, which is taken by the majority of professors of Theology in Rome and in the Church in general, which I think is the correct path to take, even if each of us has his own peculiarities, because, thanks be to God, we do not repeat, we are not clones.

Your appointment did not please the traditionalist world. In Spain the theologian Don José María Iraburu accused your Theology of original sin and grace of not conforming to the doctrine of the Church, while the periodical Sì sì No no even wrote that your book Theological Anthropology "is completely outside the Catholic dogmatic tradition". Are you concerned about these judgments?
      LADARIA FERRER: Everyone is free to criticize and make the judgments they want. If you ask me if I'm concerned I have to say that these opinions don't concern me too much. Besides, if I was appointed to this office, I must presume that my works do not deserve these judgments.

You gained a certain notoriety when the Theological Commission published the document on the salvation of children who died before baptism. In it Limbo was finally thrown out of the Magisterium?
      LADARIA FERRER: The International Theological Commission has no power to throw anything or anybody out. Although it is formed not by private theologians but ones appointed by the Pope, its conclusions do not have magisterial value. The document in question reiterates that the doctrine of Limbo, which for centuries was accepted by the majority and dominant in theological reflection, was never defined dogmatically and therefore was never a part of the infallible magisterium. And it does not mean that those who still want to continue to speak of Limbo are outside the Catholic Church because of it. That said, however, the Theological Commission, considering together the revealed data and the universal salvific will of God and the universal mediation of Christ, wrote that there are more appropriate ways to address the issue of the fate of children who die without having received baptism, for whom a hope of salvation cannot be ruled out. These conclusions are not new to tell the truth, they originated around the time of the Council, but bring together the fruits of a very broad theological consensus today.

How do you feel about being the first Jesuit to hold this position?
      LADARIA FERRER: I must say that I didn't pose myself the problem. Even if it's true that it seems no Jesuit has ever held the position. I believe that the Holy Father chose me not as a Jesuit but because, I imagine, I seemed to him the best person.

Monsignor Ladaria Ferrer [© Osservatore Romano]

      How did you learn of the appointment?
      LADARIA FERRER: That was very surprising. I would never have thought of ending up here. And not just me, seeing that my name was never mentioned in the newspapers ... Until the evening of June 24, when I was told that the Holy See was considering giving me this job. For my part I explained my state of mind about this prospect and I indicated that in any case I accepted the decision of the Holy Father.
      As a Jesuit did you have to ask permission of the Provost General first?
      LADARIA FERRER: Yes, we Jesuits have a vow that prevents us from receiving episcopal appointments if not out of obedience. And the Provost General told me that I should accept the will of the Pope.

Adolfo Nicolás, Provost General since January, Spanish like you. Do you know him well?
      LADARIA FERRER: I had heard of him, I knew him by name, but not personally. I met him for the first time only the day after his election, January 20. Then I went to visit him on the issue of my nomination. 

Another well-known Spanish Jesuit is Antonio Martínez Camino, who became the first follower of St. Ignatius to be made bishop in Spain as auxiliary of Madrid. Do you know him?
      LADARIA FERRER: Absolutely. He was my student and so I know him well. And we are good friends.

  You have practically lived in Rome since 1979. What do you think of Spain today? Do you identify with it?
      LADARIA FERRER: Certainly Spain has changed a lot: in the political, religious, cultural, economic spheres. But I must say that when I return to my country to relax I do not deal with major issues of doctrine or policy. I visit my family, my friends, my background again, and I don't find my background of always much changed.

   Recently, your superior, Cardinal Levada, in Spain for a conference, issued a cry of pain at the measures announced by the Zapatero Government about the extension of the right to abortion ...
      LADARIA FERRER: At present Spain is undergoing a worrying drift on ethical issues.

 Do you have any hobbies apart from books of theology?
      LADARIA FERRER: I like to listen to music. Classical, preferably. Johann Sebastian Bach in particular, but without undervaluing the others.

 Enthusiasm for sport?
      LADARIA FERRER: No, I follow the major events a little, but from very far off.

  You, along with Cardinal Levada, were received in audience by the Pope in Castel Gandolfo on September 10. It was the first audience as Secretary of the Congregation. What can you tell us about it?
      LADARIA FERRER: It was a beautiful experience. The Holy Father, as always, was very welcoming and kind.

What are the main issues that the Congregation finds itself facing?
      LADARIA FERRER: I can say that our Congregation is concerned with promoting and protecting the Catholic faith. First promoting and then, if necessary, protecting. But I can't go into details. Our Congregation always moves with discretion and speaks exclusively through its acts.

courtesy of 30 Days

Today I had the opportunity to hear Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes deliver an address at

seton-hall.jpgSeton Hall University, "To Defeat Evil--Possible?" at a ceremony which bestowed an honorary doctorate of humane letters on him. The 71 year old prelate hails from the Archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, though he has worked at the Vatican since 1980. Pope Benedict made him a cardinal in November 2007.


Cardinal Cordes is the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (One Heart) for Human and Christian Development established by Pope Paul VI in 1971. The work of Cor Unum, virtually unknown to many Americans, demonstrates in concrete ways "the care of the Catholic Church for the needy, thereby encouraging human fellowship and making manifest the charity of Christ."


The Cardinal said that sentimentality is unhelpful when it comes to religious and concrete reality; sentimentality allows us to slumber and therefore overlook evil. Look at the well known events of human history to see the effects of the human capacity for evil. The one bomb that still needs to be defused is that of the all-consuming anger in the heart of men and women. Today we continue to demand an answer that promotes real peace. The UN and other socio-political organizations can't do the heavy lifting in eradicating evil: we need a concrete proposal that unveils the many sources of injustice, the psychological problems faced by man and woman and false religion. To zero-in on the serious issues of life that are born of the heart. What often happens and is rather unsatisfactory is dealing with life from the angle of empirical data alone. The Christian needs to step up to the plate approach these questions, particularly evil, from the approach of divine revelation.



Saint Willibrord

| | Comments (0)

St Willibrord2.jpgLord our God,

You inspired blessed Willibrord, your bishop,

to be a pilgrim for Christ

in preaching his Word.

By his intercession,

may we stand firm in faith

and be steadfast in the promise of the Gospel.



Read a little bit about this patron saint of Holland at Vultus Christi.


And if you can find a priest to bless water using the prayer that honors Saint Willibrord be sure to get it done. It's in Fr. Weller's book of blessings volume 2.

Fraternity CL Logo.JPGMilan, November 3, 2008


Dear friends,


Taking part in the Synod of Bishops, which, as you well know, had as its theme "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church" gave me a keener grasp of our responsibility in the Church and in the world. First of all, through what emerged during the work of the Synod: that the word of God is an "event"-Jesus Christ-who goes on being present in history through the Church's life. Therefore the relationship with the living tradition of the Church assimilates us with the novelty witnessed by the Biblical text and makes us share the same experience as those who met Jesus himself. So, as the Pope said at the beginning of the Synod, all our fellow men can discover "the present in the past, the Holy Spirit who speaks to us today in the words of the past." The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation will point the way for our faith and as such we are all waiting for it.


Precisely in virtue of the Spirit's action in his Holy Church, we all need a greater awareness. I lived the fact of being appointed by Benedict XVI as a Synod Father as a sign of esteem for our Movement, but above all as a call to give our contribution to the Church's life. This call was then confirmed by my election as a relator: this meant being the spokesman for the Spanish language group and it implied above all greater involvement in the work of the Synod, collaborating directly with the relator general in giving form to the final Propositions. Many came to me during the days spent together, moved by an interest in or by fondness for our experience.


All this aroused in me the desire to write to you so as to share the experience I had with you--because it concerns you, too--, since it has made me look back over our history to discover the step that I believe we are asked to take. I identify very concisely three phases in our history:


1st phase: the beginning. The birth of the Movement can be characterized by the same dynamics that occur whenever the Spirit breaks into history and arouses a charism for the good of the Church. Like every initiative of the Spirit, our charism, too, was welcomed not without misunderstandings and even hostility, because it could not in any way be confined within preconceived schemes. Not all the suffering of those years was, however, due to the natural resistance that the Spirit's novelty always meets. It was also due to our immaturity, which only Fr. Giussani's educative force enabled us to correct and overcome. The Church's patience in our regard was a sign of her motherhood.


2nd phase: the recognition. The end of Paul VI's pontificate and the pontificate of John Paul II meant for our Movement authoritative recognition and full acceptance in the life of the Church. The unforgettable expression of this was the meeting in St. Peter's Square with Benedict XVI, on March 24, 2007. We find an ulterior confirmation in the esteem and interest shown by many at the Synod. So we are called to deepen further our own awareness of our experience.


3rd phase: the charism for the Church and for the world. Today we are called to become more aware of the aim for which the Spirit gave a charism to Fr. Giussani: to contribute along with all the baptized to the building up and renewal of the Church for the good of the world. Following His usual method, God gives grace to one person so that through him it may reach everyone. We shall be unfaithful to the nature of our charism if the gift we have received is not shared with everyone, inside and outside the Church.


So each one of us must find out in his own circumstances how best he can contribute to the good of the Church. There are many ambits in which many of us are making Christ present with astonishing freedom and boldness. This presence of ours in real places where man's life goes on must not fall short. At the same time, though, we are asked at times to collaborate inside the Church, too. Many of you have been giving this contribution for some time--as catechists in the parish, by charity work and other forms of collaboration-- and we must be found more and more available where our presence is asked for and welcomed. This contribution cannot but be in accordance with the nature of our charism, which finds its complete expression in witness.


I am convinced that this step that the Spirit is asking of us will bring us closer and closer to the heart of the mystery of Christ, in such a way as to be able to witness anywhere at all, even through our frailty.


Together in the adventure,


Fr. Julián Carrón

Resurrection2.jpgDear brothers and sisters:

"And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. ... You are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:14,17). With these heavy words of the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes clear how decisive is the importance that he attributes to the resurrection of Jesus. In this event, in fact, is the solution to the problem that the drama of the cross implies. On its own, the cross could not explain Christian faith; on the contrary, it would be a tragedy, a sign of the absurdity of being. The Paschal mystery consists in the fact that this Crucified One "was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:4) -- thus testifies the proto-Christian witness.

Here is the central key to Pauline Christology: Everything revolves around this gravitational center point. The whole teaching of the Apostle Paul departs from and always arrives at the mystery of the One whom the Father has risen from the dead. The Resurrection is a fundamental fact, almost a previous basic assumption (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12), in base of which Paul can formulate his synthetic proclamation ("kerygma"): He who has been crucified, and who has thus manifested the immense love of God for man, has risen and is alive among us.

It is important to note the link between the proclamation and the Resurrection, just as Paul formulates it, and that which was used in the first pre-Pauline Christian communities. Here one can truly see the importance of the tradition that preceded the Apostle and that he, with great respect and attention, wanted in turn to convey. The text on the Resurrection, contained in Chapter 15:1-11 of the First Letter to the Corinthians, emphasizes well the nexus between "receive" and "transmit." St. Paul attributes great importance to the literal formulation of tradition; the end of the fragment we are examining highlights: "Whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed" (1 Corinthians 15:11), thus spotlighting the unity of the kerygma, of the proclamation for all believers and for all those who would announce the resurrection of Christ.

The tradition to which he unites is the fount from which to draw. The originality of his Christology is never in detriment to fidelity to tradition. The kerygma of the apostles always prevails over the personal re-elaboration of Paul; each one of his arguments flows from the common tradition, in which the faith shared by all the Churches, which are just one Church, is expressed.

And in this way, Paul offers a model for all times of how to do theology and how to preach. The theologian and the preacher do not create new visions of the world and of life, but rather are at the service of the truth transmitted, at the service of the real fact of Christ, of the cross, of the resurrection. Their duty is to help to understand today, behind the ancient words, the reality of "God with us," and therefore, the reality of true life.

Here it is opportune to say precisely: St. Paul, in announcing the Resurrection, does not St Paul preaching.jpgconcern himself with presenting an organic doctrinal exposition -- he does not want to practically write a theology manual -- but rather to take up the theme, responding to uncertainties and concrete questions that are posed him by the faithful. An episodic discourse, therefore, but full of faith and a lived theology. A concentration of the essential is found in him: We have been "justified," that is, made just, saved, by Christ, dead and risen, for us. The fact of the Resurrection emerges above all else, without which Christian life would simply be absurd. On that Easter morning something extraordinary and new happened, but at the same time, something very concrete, verified by very precise signs, attested by numerous witnesses.

Also for Paul, as for the other authors of the New Testament, the Resurrection is united to the testimony of those who have had a direct experience of the Risen One. It is about seeing and hearing not just with the eyes and the ears, but also with an interior light that motivates recognizing what the external senses verify as an objective datum. Paul therefore gives -- as do the four Evangelists -- fundamental relevance to the theme of the apparitions, which are a fundamental condition for faith in the Risen One who has left the tomb empty.

These two facts are important: The tomb is empty and Jesus really appeared. Thus is built this chain of tradition that, by way of the testimony of the apostles and the first disciples, would reach successive generations, up to us. The first consequence, or the first way to express this testimony, is preaching the resurrection of Christ as a synthesis of the Gospel message and as the culminating point of the salvific itinerary. All of this, Paul does on various occasions: One can consult the Letters and the Acts of the Apostles, where it can always be seen that the fundamental point for him is being a witness of the Resurrection.

I would like to cite just one text: Paul, under arrest in Jerusalem, is before the Sanhedrin as one accused. In this circumstance in which life and death are at stake, he indicates the meaning and the content of all his concern: "I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead" (Acts 23:6). Paul repeats this same refrain often in his Letters (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9ff, 4:13-18; 5:10), in which he invokes his personal experience, his personal encounter with the resurrected Christ (cf. Galatians 1:15-16; 1 Corinthians 9:1).

But we can ask ourselves: What is, for St. Paul, the deep meaning of the event of the resurrection of Jesus? What does he say to us 2,000 years later? Is the affirmation "Christ has risen" also current for us? Why is the Resurrection for him and for us today a theme that is so determinant?

Paul solemnly responds to this question at the beginning of the Letter to the Romans, where he makes an exhortation referring to the "gospel of God ... about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3-4).

Paul knows well and he says many times that Jesus was the Son of God always, from the moment of his incarnation. The novelty of the resurrection consists in the fact that Jesus, elevated from the humility of his earthly existence, has been constituted Son of God "with power." The Jesus humiliated till death on the cross can now say to the Eleven: "All power on heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). What Psalm 2:8 says has been fulfilled: "Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth."

That's why with the resurrection begins the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to all peoples -- the Kingdom of Christ begins; this new Kingdom that does not know another power other than that of truth and love. The Resurrection therefore definitively reveals the authentic identity and the extraordinary stature of the Crucified: An incomparable and most high dignity -- Jesus is God! For St. Paul, the secret identity of Jesus, even more than in the incarnation, is revealed in the mystery of the resurrection. While the title "Christ," that is, "Messiah," "Anointed," in St. Paul tends to become the proper name of Jesus and that of Lord specifies his personal relationship with the believers, now the title Son of God comes to illustrate the intimate relationship of Jesus with God, a relationship that is fully revealed in the Paschal event. It can be said, therefore, that Jesus has risen to be the Lord of the living and the dead (cf. Romans 14:9 and 2 Corinthians 5:15) or, in other words, our Savior (cf. Romans 4:25).

Jesus.jpgAll of this carries with it important consequences for our life of faith: We are called to participate from the depths of our being in the whole of the event of the death and resurrection of Christ. The Apostle says: We "have died with Christ" and we believe "that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him" (Romans 6:8-9).

This translates into sharing the sufferings of Christ, as a prelude to this full configuration with him through the resurrection, which we gaze upon with hope. This is also what has happened to Paul, whose experience is described in the Letters with a tone that is as much precise as realistic: "to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11; cf. 2 Timothy 2:8-12). The theology of the cross is not a theory -- it is a reality of Christian life. To live in faith in Jesus Christ, to live truth and love implies renunciations every day; it implies sufferings. Christianity is not a path of comfort; it is rather a demanding ascent, but enlightened with the light of Christ and with the great hope that is born from him.

St. Augustine says: Christians are not spared suffering; on the contrary, they get a little extra, because to live the faith expresses the courage to face life and history more deeply. And with everything, only in this way, experiencing suffering, we experience life in its depth, in its beauty, in the great hope elicited by Christ, crucified and risen. The believer finds himself between two poles: on one side, the Resurrection, which in some way is already present and operative in us (cf. Colossians 3:1-4; Ephesians 2:6), and on the other, the urgency of fitting oneself into this process that leads everyone and everything to plenitude, as described in the Letter to the Romans with audacious imagination: As all of creation groans and suffers near labor pains, in this way we too groan in the hope of the redemption of our body, of our redemption and resurrection (cf. Romans 8:18-23).

In sum, we can say with Paul that the true believer obtains salvation professing with his lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in his heart that God has raised him from the dead (cf. Romans 10:9). Important above all is the heart that believes in Christ and in faith "touches" the Risen One. But it is not enough to carry faith in the heart; we should confess it and give testimony with the lips, with our lives, thus making present the truth of the cross and the resurrection in our history.

In this way, the Christian fits himself in this process thanks to which the first Adam, earthly and subject to corruption and death, goes transforming into the last Adam, heavenly and incorruptible (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20 - 22:42-49). This process has been set in motion with the resurrection of Christ, in which is founded the hope of being able to also enter with Christ into our true homeland, which is heaven. Sustained with this hope, let us continue with courage and joy.


Pope Benedict XVI

anno Paolino logo.jpgWednesday Audience

November 2, 2008

Courtesy of

CL Community Day


Saturday, November 8, 2008


Jesus' call always entails entrusting yourselves to a community

(L. Giussani, Is it Possible to Live This Way).



We will meet at 10:15 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint James to participate in the Nicholas DiMarzio.jpg annual event of the Ecclesial Movements in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Bishop DiMarzio is bringing together the ecclesial movements for prayer, fraternity and diocesan unity.


After the diocesan event Communion & Liberation will then move to Saint Patrick's Church in Bay Ridge for lunch, singing, witnesses and an assembly.


Location & times:


9:30 a.m., Holy Hour

10:15 a.m., Mass


Cath St James.jpgThe Cathedral Basilica of Saint James

Jay Street & Cathedral Place (one block south of Tiliary Street)

Brooklyn NY 11201


Saint Patrick Church

9511 Fourth Avenue

Brooklyn (Bay Ridge) NY 11209


Bring your own lunch and a little something to share. Bring the song book.


National Catholic Register Correspondent

June 8-14, 2008

WASHINGTON -- When five Dominicans were ordained on May 23 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., it was the fruit of a long process.

St Dominic receiving the habit.jpgThe Order of Preachers, whose religious and priests are commonly called Dominicans after their founder St. Dominic, took a high profile role in Pope Benedict XVI's U.S. visit. And their profile is only getting higher.

The Dominican House of Studies -- the order's prominent seminary in Washington, D.C. -- recently announced plans to build a new academic center and theological library, confirming an increase in vocations and a broad expansion of the order.

The Dominicans' long-standing reputation for forming highly educated religious and priests appeals to many called to vocations these days, but study alone is not the draw, said Father John Langlois, master of students at the Dominican House of Studies.

"We see study as a contemplative activity," he said. "We seek to integrate it into our prayer life. It's pushing lectio divina [prayerful reading of Scripture] to a new level: This is a meditative study of theology, nourishing our life of prayer."

To that end, the study of St. Thomas Aquinas -- one of the Church's master theologians and a Dominican himself -- is an important emphasis for those in formation.

"They imbibe the teaching of Aquinas," said Father Langlois, who agreed that the Angelic Doctor is neglected even in Catholic education these days. "If they don't do it here, where are they going to do it?"

The new priests for the Dominicans are: Father Martin Philip Nhan, Father Pius Pietrzyk, Father Hugh Vincent Dyer, Father John Martin Ruiz-Mayorga, and Father Thomas Joseph White. There are as many stories as there are Dominicans.

"Our formation takes place in the context of our community life," said Father Langlois, "which models the life for the brothers. There's a fraternity with the older members who've been active for many years, and they share their experience. It's a complete integration of study, prayer, common life and the apostolate, from direct service with the poor to hospital and campus ministries to RCIA in parishes."

Even the order's prayers, while deeply liturgical and traditional, have their own ring to them.

"There are distinctive antiphons and Psalm tones," Father Langlois said, "as well as Dominican propers. There are some chants that are proper to the order. We do a fair amount of chant, and we're trying to integrate it more. While our Salve Regina and Regina Coeli are in the same modes as the Gregorian, they are distinctive, with their own flourishes."

Gabriel O'Donnell.jpgThis unique path within the living tradition of the Church comes down from the establishment of the order, said Father Gabriel O'Donnell, vice president and academic dean of the pontifical faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

"Our way is unique in that we are tied together by the decision of St. Dominic and St. Thomas," said Father O'Donnell, who has spent some of his life in diocesan seminaries. "We're tied inextricably together through liturgical life and community life; it's not possible to be formed for the priesthood without the whole life."

That corpus, as it were, goes beyond preparation for the priesthood. A more apt description, said Father O'Donnell, "is formation for a way of life in which one is a priest. You're not a Dominican and a priest; you're a Dominican priest."

The same charism cannot be mirrored in diocesan formation, which prepares a man for a way of life he carries with him from one parish to the next.

"Dominican formation," said Father O'Donnell, "is not preparatory; it is the way of life we continue until we die. Formation is never outside of the framework of the strong community of faith. The community takes responsibility for caring for each other, and there's a lot of freedom there."



Martin Farrell OP.jpgStill, Father O'Donnell admitted, community life has its challenges. "We're all a little bit eccentric. The greatest penance of Dominican life is the common life."

Brother Austin Litke, who's finishing his second year of theology at the Dominican House of Studies, agreed.

"Community life presents you with all kinds of involuntary penances, and they're always more efficacious than the ones we take on ourselves. If you embrace that, it creates a habit of deferring your will to another, and in the spiritual life that trains you to give your will to God."

The common life is, in fact, what drew Brother Austin to transfer to the Dominicans after studying for five years in diocesan seminaries as a collegian and first-year theologian.

"Back in my home diocese in rural western Kentucky, [diocesan priests are] pastors for likely two or three parishes. Being very busy in the ministry of parishes is a beautiful way of life, but I felt the draw of the common life. Part of it is temperament, but part of it is accountability, which forms character. The common life is a school of charity, day in and day out, and that's a challenge."

Brother Austin also agreed that study integrated with prayer and the common life takes a different kind of dedication.

"In diocesan seminaries you study in a way that you most likely won't again. Here, study is to be a part of our lives always, a formal commitment that distinguishes how we live our priesthood. There's a continuity of life here; there's no urgency to get ordained."

How seminarians are guided along that path -- how their formation is administered, in other words -- is a question specific to their ministry, said Father Stephen Boguslawski, president of the Dominican House of Studies and executive director of the John Paul II Cultural Center.

"The diocesan rector establishes the general tone of the seminary; he oversees the whole operation," he said. "He stands in for the bishop, and that means a high concentration of administration in one person. In Dominican formation, those responsibilities are diversified; I, for instance, oversee the intellectual development as well as our own" plan of studies.

Thumbnail image for OP arms.jpgThat expansion of responsibility extends down through the ranks, with the newest seminarians learning directly from Dominicans ordained for decades.

"There is a sense in Dominican formation," Father Boguslawski said, "that all are being led by their older brothers; in that sense it's more comprehensive. What happens in the choir or in the chapel is carried into the classroom, just as what happens in the library affects their manner of prayer."

This program of formation is working exceedingly well for the Dominicans, said Father David Toups, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' associate director of the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. "There's a very healthy integration of spiritual, human, academic and ministerial formation at the Dominican House," he said. "Section 115 of the "Program for Priestly Formation" speaks of spirituality as the integrating force of the other dimensions, and I see that happening there."

The author of "Reclaiming Our Priestly Character" -- a scholarly and spiritual treatise on the sacrament of Holy Orders -- Father Toups lauded in the Dominican House of Studies' formation what he sees in successful seminary programs across the country. "In all of his addresses, Pope Benedict XVI brings it back down to the basics: a personal, loving, and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It's about teaching our young people how to pray. It's a genuine relationship with Christ that grounds everything."

Father Boguslawski also mentioned the importance of reaching youth.

"The rising generation is coming with a different set of challenges forged from the matrix of the culture. That's why the 'Program of Priestly Formation' will always undergo updating."

Jordan Kelly.jpgIn the meantime, the Order of Preachers will continue to serve according to their charism.

"From the very inception of our ministry," Father Boguslawski said, "the order was established to serve the Church and the bishops through the preaching office."

Angel Gabriel Angelico.jpgIt is easy to think that uniformity is more valuable than diversity in unity. Through the centuries the Church in Rome allowed for different liturgical calendars to flourish which sort of exists down until today. AND this is the beauty of being Catholic. Lest we forget, the Church Universal allows for a variety of liturgical observances in local churches and religious orders in addition to the ones designated for the "person in the pew" by the Supreme Pontiff in the Roman Missal. Life does not need to be so restricted to think one way is better or more exclusive than the another. For example, consider the various observances of All Saints and All Souls noted below (if I am missing a group let me know). Benedictines and Dominicans celebrate All Saints and All Souls on November 1 & 2 respectively and days dedicated to the saints and souls of their religious families.


The Observance of All Saints and Blesseds in Various Orders


November 5, Society of Jesus


November 7, Order of Preachers


November 13, Augustinians, Benedictines, Cistercians, Order of Prémontré


November 14, Order of Carmelites Discalced & Order of Carmelites


November 29, Franciscan Family



The Commemoration of All Souls in Various Orders


November 3, Society of Jesus


November 8, Order of Preachers


November 13, Carthusians


November 14, Benedictines, Cistercians


November 15, Order of Carmelites Discalced & Order of Carmelites


November 25, Franciscan Family



REQUIEM aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

orthodox church.jpgOne Magazine, the monthly of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association has a brief but very good article on Orthodoxy in Russia and a spectacular multimedia presentation of Orthodox churches. Please read the article and watch the slide show, it's all worth it.

A few paragraphs of a homily from a Mass at the Birmingham Oratory for transfer of remains of Cardinal Newman


It is surely the lesson the month of November speaks to us about: it is the lesson that our JHN3.jpgcommon end, be we who we may, is death and decay and the dissolution of all things. The month begins with All Saints and All Souls: we will all be swept up into that great mass of all the faithful departed, and we hope to become, sooner or later, one with the saints of God. But November ends with the Feast of Christ the King ­ to remind us who it is we must love and serve, to remind us whose is the Kingdom to which we truly belong, to remind us whose gentle and all persuasive rule calls us from the transitoriness of this life to the glory of the life of the Resurrection. That path to the Kingdom is not always easy: as Cardinal Newman himself wrote: "All God's providences, all God's dealings with us, all his judgments, mercies, warnings, deliverances, tend to peace and repose as their ultimate issue ... after our souls' anxious travail; after the birth of the spirit; after trial and temptation; after sorrow and pain; after daily dyings to the world; after daily risings unto holiness; at length comes that 'rest which remaineth unto the people of God'. After the fever; after weariness and sicknesses; fightings and despondings, languor and fretfulness; struggling and failing, struggling and succeeding; after all the changes and chances of this troubled unhealthy state, at length comes death, at length the white throne of God, at length the Beatific Vision."

The lesson we must learn is that, as the Cardinal also said: "He knows what He is about", and that life's trials and difficulties, its joys and its beauty all have the object of shaping us to be friends with God, to be at one with Our Lord: this is the aim and purpose of life. That is what John Henry Newman put into practice his whole life-long; it is what he taught others to do, it is what he is calling us to do today.

Cardinal Newman has left us but few earthly remains as focal points for our devotion, as if, and quite explicitly, to point us to that higher goal ­ as a son of St Philip should ­ to lead us away from himself and, as he put it in his hymn to St Philip, "towards the bright palace where our God is present throned in high heaven." That is what we would want for us as for himself, and the poignancy of his all but empty grave speaks loudly of it.

The Very Reverend Father Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator for the Cause for the Beatification and Canonisation of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, delivered this homily on Sunday, November 2, 2008. For the full text see it here.

Saint Charles Borromeo

| | Comments (0)

"The Lord led the just in right paths. And the Lord showed him the kingdom of God."

St Charles Borromeo2.jpg


[Saint Charles Borromeo's (1538-1584)] love is good, simple, and at the same time intense. He loves God like a child, and he takes it for granted that one ought to bring everything to God. But then he has a certain system of love, which is certainly beautiful but also a bit complicated. He brings all his worries and everything that occupies him, and lays it before God. And he often commends it to him with vehemence. He also often simply allows it to ripen under God's gaze. And at first he leaves it to his own intuition how he ought to treat the things he brought before God in order for God to accept them (emphasis mine; von Speyr, Book of All Saints, 2008).







We beseech Thee, O Lord, keep Thy Church under the continual protection of Saint Charles Thy Confessor and Bishop; and as his pastoral care made him glorious, so may we through his intercession every grow in fervor of love for Thee.

And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)


Cemetery2.jpgOn All Souls Day I joined the community of monks here at Saint Mary's Abbey for the annual and traditional prayers at the cemetery. There the gathered monks read aloud more than 100 names of the deceased confreres buried in the two cemeteries (here and in East Orange, NJ) since the founding of the abbey in 1857. After each set of names was read aloud we sang the Kyrie. At the conclusion we sang the traditional hymn at the burial of a monk in the American Cassinese Congregation, the "Ultima" (see below). It was a terse but moving experience especially since this was a time in which many of the monks remembered their friends who have gone before them marked with the sign of faith.


Saint Martin de Porres

| | Comments (0)

Blessed Pope John XXIII said of Saint Martin de Porres:


St Martin de Porres.jpgSaint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers and with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men and because he honestly looked on them as God's children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself, and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.

He did not blame others for their shortcomings. Certain that he deserved more severe punishment for his sins than others did, he would overlook their worst offenses. He was tireless in his efforts to reform the criminal, and he would sit up with the sick to bring them comfort. For the poor he would provide food, clothing and medicine. He did all he could to care for poor farmhands, blacks, and mulattoes who were looked down upon as slaves, the dregs of society in their time. Common people responded by calling him, "Martin the charitable."

He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: 'Martin of Charity.'


A good overview of Saint Martin's life can be read here.


O God, the rewarder of the humble, you raised up the blessed confessor Martin to the kingdom of heaven. May his merits and prayers help us to imitate his humility on earth that we may be exalted with him in heaven.

Do you desire eternal life?

| | Comments (0)

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, on All Saints' Day, we dwelt upon "the heavenly city, Jerusalem, our mother" (Preface of All Saints). And today, our souls turn again to these last things as we commemorate all the faithful departed, those "who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and sleep in peace." It's very important for us Christians to live our relationship with the dead in the truth of faith, and to look at death and the afterlife in the death.jpglight of Revelation. Already the Apostle Paul, writing to the first communities, exhorted the faithful to "not be downhearted, like the others who have no hope." "If in fact" he wrote, "we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also God, by means of Jesus, will gather up with him all those who have died" (1 Thes 4:13-14). It's necessary even today to spread the message of the reality of death and eternal life -- a reality particularly subject to superstitious and syncretic beliefs, for the Christian truth cannot risk itself to be mixed up with mythologies of various sorts.

In my encyclical on Christian hope, I myself investigated the mystery of eternal life. I asked: even for the men and women of today, the Christian faith is a hope that can transform and sustain their lives? Even more radically: the men and women of our time likewise desire eternal life? Or maybe their earthly existence has become their only horizon? In reality, as St Augustine already observed, everyone wants the "blessed life," that happiness. We don't know what it is or what it's like, but we feel ourselves attracted toward it. This is a universal hope, shared by people of all times and places. The expression "eternal life" gives a name to this insuppressible expectation: not a progression without end, but the immersion of oneself in the ocean of infinite love, where time, the beginning and end exist no more. A fullness of life and of joy: it's this for which we hope and await from our being with Christ.

Let us today renew our hope in eternal life, one really drawn in the death and resurrection of Christ. "I am risen and now I am always with you," the Lord tells us, and my hand sustains you. Wherever you might fall, you will fall in my hands and I will be present even at the gate of death. Where none can accompany you any longer and where you can bring nothing, there I await you to transform for you darkness into light. Christian hope is never something merely individual, it's always a hope for others. Our lives are deeply linked, one to another, and the good and bad each one does always impacts the rest. So the prayer of a pilgrim soul in the world can help another soul that continues purifying itself after death. And for this, today the church invites us to pray for our beloved dead and to spend time at their tombs in the cemeteries. Mary, star of hope, make stronger and more authentic our faith in eternal life and sustain our prayer of suffrage for our departed brothers.


Benedictus XVI PP


Dies Irae

| | Comments (0)

Day of wrath, day that
Crucifixion ANDREA DA FIRENZE.jpgwill dissolve the world into burning coals,
as David bore witness with the Sibyl.


How great a tremor is to be,
when the judge is to come
briskly shattering every (grave).


A trumpet sounding an astonishing sound
through the tombs of the region
drives all (men) before the throne.


Death will be stunned and (so) will Nature,
when arises (man) the creature
responding to the One judging.


The written book will be brought forth,
in which the whole (record of evidence) is contained
whence the world is to be judged.


Therefore when the Judge shall sit,
whatever lay hidden will appear;
nothing unavenged will remain.


O Thou, God of Majesty,
Trinity Ballen.jpgnourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed.


What am I the wretch then to say?
what patron I to beseech?
when scarcely the just (man) be secure.


King of tremendous Majesty,
who saves those-to-be-saved free,
save me, Fount of piety.


Remember, faithful Jesus,
because I am the cause of your journey:
do not lose me on that day.


Thou has sat down as one wearied seeking me,
Thou has redeemed (me) having suffered the Cross:
so much labor let it not be lost.


Just judge of the avenging-punishment,
work the gift of the remission (of sins)
before the Day of the Reckoning.


I groan, as the accused:
my face grows red from (my) fault:
spare (this) supplicant, O God.


O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed.


Thou who forgave Mary [the sinful woman],
and favorably heard the (good) thief,
hast also given me hope.


My prayers are not worthy,
but do Thou, Good (God), deal kindly
lest I burn in perennial fire.


Among the sheep offer (me) a place
and from the goats sequester me,
placing (me) at (Thy) right hand.


After the accursed have been silenced,
given up to the bitter flames,
call me with the blest.


Kneeling and bowed down I pray,
burial.jpgMy heart contrite as ashes:
Do Thou {, my End,} care for my end.


That sorrowful day,
on which will arise from the burning coals
Man accused to be judged:
therefore, O God, do Thou spare him.


Faithful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.


O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed. Amen.

All Souls

| | Comments (0)

The Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed -All Souls--follows the Solemnity of All Saints. The Church's remembrance of our deceased friends and loved dates back to Saint Isidore of Seville's Rule for Monks but it wasn't until the monks of the Abbey of Cluny under the leadership of Abbot Odilio, who in 998 ordered all the Cluniac houses to observe a day in which the dead were prayerfully remembered. By the 13th century the custom was extended to the entire Church in the West; the Churches in the East have a similar day depending on what ecclesiastical community we are talking about. The custom of singing the Dies Irae set the tone and theology of this observance; today one rarely hears the Dies Irae sung in parishes because it is considered a "downer" and thus completely neglecting what the hymn says; it seems, however, to be making a come-back (even the 1928 BCP included the Dies Irae post World War I) as an apt expression of grief rooted not in civil secularity but in theology reminding faithful that we neither make not sustain ourselves. This feast like all other liturgical feasts points to God and to his love and mercy more than to us and our to condition.


Last Judgment.jpg 

An excerpt of an oration of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus


"What is man that you should be mindful of him, mere mortal  that you should care for him?" What is  this new mystery confronting me? I am both small and great, both lowly and exalted, mortal and immortal, earthly and heavenly. I am to be buried with Christ and rise again with him, to become a co-heir with him, a son of God, and indeed God himself.


This is what the great mystery means for us; this is why God became man and became poor for our sake: it was to raise up our flesh, to recover the divine image in us, to re-create mankind, so that all of might become one in Christ  who perfectly became in us everything that he is himself. So we are no longer to be "male and female, barbarian and Scythian, slave and free" -distinctions deriving from the flesh--but to bear within ourselves only the seal of God, by whom and for which we were created. We are to be so formed and molded by him that we are recognized as belonging to his one family.


If only we could be now what we hope to be, by the great kindness of our generous God! He asks so little and gives so much in this life and in the next, to those who love him sincerely. In a spirit of hope and out of love for God, let us then "bear and endure all things" and give thanks for everything that befalls us, since even reason can often recognize these things as weapons to win salvation. Meanwhile let us commend to God our own souls and the souls of those who, being more ready for it, have reached the place of rest before us although they walked the same road as we do now.


Lord and creator of all, and especially of your human creatures, you are the God and Father and rule of your children; you are the Lord of life and death; you are the guardian and benefactor of our souls. You fashion and transform all things in their due season through your creative Word, as you know to be best in your deep wisdom and providence. Receive this day those who have gone ahead of us in our journey from this life.


(Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 7, 23-24; PG 35, cols 786-7; ET by ICEL)


V. From the gate of hell.

R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.


V. May they rest in peace.

R. Amen.


V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto Thee.


V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit.


Let us pray.


O God, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins, that through our devout prayers they may obtain pardon which they have always desired. Who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.


V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

R. And let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

All Saints

| | Comments (0)

Christ glorified in heaven.jpgThe feast of All Saints has observed by the Church at least since the fourth century. For a time it was celebrated on the Sunday following Pentecost due to the obvious link of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the foundation of the Church. Tertullian's famous insight that the Church is built on the blood of the martyrs rings true; the witnesses to the person of Jesus Christ concretizes the Christian faith and makes relevant for us the work of holiness given to us by God. In Rome, Pope Boniface IV consecrated what was the pagan pantheon as the Church of All Saints and moved the liturgical observance of All Saints to November first.


From a sermon by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux for the feast of All Saints


Why should our praise and glorification, or even our celebration of this feast day, mean anything to the saint? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of his Son? What does our commemoration mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is already theirs. Clearly, when we venerate their memory, it is serving us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous longing to be with them.


Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company which is desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.


St Bernard Clairvaux.jpgCome, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.


When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather and honor. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his gloried member will shine in splendor with him, when he transforms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.


Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints, that what is beyond our own efforts to obtain may be granted through their intercession.


(Sermon 2; S. Bernardi Opera, ed. J. Leclercq and H. Rochais, vol. V, 1968, pp364-8; ET by ICEL)



Almighty and everlasting God, Who has given us in one feast to venerate the merits of all Thy Saints, we beseech Thee through the multitude of intercessors, to grant us the desired abundance of Thy mercy.


Benedict XVI arms4.JPG"[B]y prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father" (CCC 2629). Petition is not the highest kind of prayer, but precisely because it is not, it is humble and honest, and thus pleasing to God. (Prayer, CIS Hart Series booklet)


The general intention

That the testimony of love offered by the saints may fortify Christians in their devotion to God and their neighbor, imitating Christ who came to serve and not to be served.


The mission intention

That the Christian communities of Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may know how to find the most suitable ways to announce Him, in full faithfulness to the Gospel, to the people of that vast continent so rich in culture and ancient forms of spirituality.


Visit the Catholic Information Service (CIS) and read or listen to the booklet on Prayer.

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]



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.