Evangelization & Formation: April 2013 Archives

In a recent article for the Our Sunday Visitor newspaper, Father Robert takes up the concept of the religious sense that Father Giussani taught, and that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio --now Pope Francis spoke about. Shortly after the papal election I posted the chapter that Father Barron references in his article noted below, from A Generative Thought: An Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani (2003), where Bergoglio writes about our need to educate our religious sense and how Giussani influenced him in his method of dealing with ultimate questions.

You may read that chapter here that's noted in a previous post on Communio.

Here is a paragraph of Barron's OSV article. The full text is accessed here.

Part of Msgr. Giussani's genius, Cardinal Bergoglio argued, was that he did not often commence his discourse with explicitly dogmatic or doctrinal language, but rather with an awakening of the often implicit religious sensibility that every person possesses. This sensibility expresses itself in terms of the most fundamental questions: What is my ultimate origin? What is my final destiny? Is there a meaning or logic that runs through the universe? Why, precisely, is there something rather than nothing? These interrogations lead ineluctably to God, for God alone can answer them.

Father Robert Barron

OSV Newsweekly, 5 May 2013

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Last week, the Benedictine monks and nuns of St Mary's Monastery (monks) and St Scholastica Priory (nuns) (Petersham, MA) hosted a public conference, "Giving a Reason for the Hope that Is in Us," by Father Robert P. Imbelli for the Year of Faith given on April 20, 2013.

Father Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York and is a Professor of Theology at Boston College. He studied in New York, Rome and is a graduate of Yale University.

In the Pauline Chapel in Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis offered Mass with some of the cardinals on the feast of Saint George, the name day of the Pope, Saint George. There are several stellar points made the Pope noted below with my emphasis. In these days when one's identity as a Christian is questioned, or even rejected for superficial reasons, I think that if you consider what the Church teaches, especially through the eyes of Pope Benedict and now through Pope Francis, you will notice the truth, not ideology, joy, not grumpiness. The Pope uses another previous pope to help him and us to understand the work of the Church --her mission-- under the power of the Holy Spirit.

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter ...
The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene - not these, but others who had become Christians - went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But ... it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward ... But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became 'nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well.

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

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The homily of Pope Francis at St Paul outside the Walls.

It is a joy for me to celebrate Mass with you in this Basilica. I greet the Archpriest, Cardinal James Harvey, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. Along with him, I greet and thank the various institutions that form part of this Basilica, and all of you. We are at the tomb of Saint Paul, a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart. These are the three key ideas on which I would like to reflect in the light of the word of God that we have heard: proclamation, witness, worship.

In the First Reading, what strikes us is the strength of Peter and the other Apostles. In response to the order to be silent, no longer to teach in the name of Jesus, no longer to proclaim his message, they respond clearly: "We must obey God, rather than men". And they remain undeterred even when flogged, ill-treated and imprisoned. Peter and the Apostles proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what he represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this afternoon, Fr. Z's Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) and read his post St Peter's Church in Omaha, NE. As I am curious about many things, especially in the ways the Incarnation is made manifest in parishes, I was stunned with the clarity of the pastor's clarity, charity, and competence in leading souls. In fact, I watched the video on St Peter's Church more than once because I had to get it clear in my mind and heart what Father Damian Cook and his collaborators are doing, and in the ways the Holy Spirit has allowed His gifts to be extroverted. There is a distinctive focus on the cultures of prayer, community, study and service which is a wonderful gift. St Peter's is a place that the proposal of the gospel and the Church come alive.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Father Cook is orchestrating so many good things for Christ and His Church, both universal and in the local Church of Omaha. But let's be clear: it is not Cook but Christ; it is not the community that's center, but the Communio of the Trinity. I don't want to canonize Father Cook but I do want to draw attention to the good being done.

As the Prophet Ezekiel showed us, and more importantly what the Lord did for us in His Resurrection: that it is possible for old bones to be constituted again (and in the Lord's case, in a glorified body). Father Cook is illustrating how a decaying church community in urban Omaha can become a thriving religious and cultural treasure.

This is a clear and contemporary example of Saint Benedict rebuilding culture, or Saint Francis rebuilding the Church, or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta caring for all people. And the examples are plentiful...

The question I seem to come back to: who cares? In the context of the practice of religion where we often seem to slice the pie in half: spiritual and religious, one wonders even we know what the words mean. The archbishop of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George, wrote about this topic in his column for Easter in the Catholic New World. The Cardinal outlines the issue pretty well: religion is becoming an isolated affair (some use the word private but I think it is better to say isolated since many families rarely talk about transcendent things with each other), that a question of authority disappears when you "when you make it up as you go along" and what it means to say there is an objectivity of what is true, beautiful, good and one is no longer easy to hold as a given. What exactly is religion?  Not to mention, many of our friends are now saying that the faith community as less and less credibility and the community of faith is trite. The missing element here is that Christianity is not about a set of rules, it is about a person; the practice of religion is not about the worship of myself, but the worship of a personal God revealed through the biblical narrative and seen in the sacraments; Christianity's truth is weak unless it is about conversion, vocation and mission made manifest in the life we share with others. As Cardinal Geroge said,

Meeting the risen Christ spiritually therefore depends upon believing in him religiously. We are given the gift of faith in the sacrament of Baptism, in which we are configured to the risen Christ. Faith perdures, even when there's not a lot of spiritual tingle in our lives! "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief," is the cry of a religious person who asks Christ to take him beyond his own spiritual experience into a new world where bodies as well as minds share in God's grace. Faith takes seriously everything that comes from God. The faith-filled person is sure of God and distrustful of himself. Unlike faith in God, experience is often wrong in religious matters.

Here is the full text of Cardinal George's "Easter 2013: I'm spiritual but not religious."

In short, it is impossible to call oneself Christian and not be honestly engaged in the weekly practice of worship with the faith community and worthily receive the sacraments.

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La Civiltà Cattolica is one of the Church's most important journals of informed opinion. It was founded on 6 April 1850 by a group of Jesuits from Naples and therefore Italy's longest running journals. It now has a new look and approach through new efforts at renewal motivated by Pope Benedict when he spoke with the Journal staff in 2006 when he said, 

Here then, is where the mission of a cultural journal such as La Civiltà Cattolica fits in: active participation int he contemporary cultural debate, both to propose and at the same time to spread the Christian faith in a serious way. Its purpose is both to present it clearly and in fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, and to defend without polemics the truth that is sometimes distorted by unfounded accusation directed at the Ecclesial Community. I would like to point out the Second Vatican Council as a beacon on the path that La Civiltà Cattolica is called to take.

The current pontificate of Francis will look to the Journal "to collect and express the expectations and needs of our time" and "to provide the elements for a reading of reality" that has "a particular attention to the truth, to goodness and to beauty."

There are seven Jesuits full time work at La Civiltà Cattolica, plus another seven senior Jesuits who assist in the publication but it has an increasing international group of thinkers and writers. The journal has a print edition plus a digital presence.

English: Photo of fr. Antonio Spadaro taken in...
Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, 47, is the editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica and he serves as a consultor to several Church organizations. Father Spadaro also writes a well-received blog, CyberTeologia.

La Civiltà Cattolica can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

In defense of the Pope, La Civiltà Cattolica's is understood to be supportive of the Church by following the indications of the Second Vatican Council. As a journal of the Society of Jesuit and the Church its work to show a relationship faith and reason, faith and culture, faith and science, faith and the public order;to understand the world in which we live in light of the Incarnation. The Journal cuts across the various sectors of the intellectual, spiritual and cultural ambits showing a particular attentiveness with the Catholic Church through the Secretary of State;  La Civiltà Cattolica is considered to be not official but authoritative.

Vatican Radio's piece on the new edition can be read here.

An interview with Father Antonio Spadaro and Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio is here.
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Assumption chapel, Enders.jpgThursday's beautiful spring weather jettisoned me (and a friend, James) to take a road trip to visit Saint Edmund's Retreat House in Mystic Connecticut.

Saint Edmund's is situated on Enders Island in a comfortable neighborhood that easily shares the beauty of nature --Long Island Sound and beautiful gardens. Walking the grounds you become aware of the Divine Presence.

The chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption is also a beautiful place to pray and rest in the Lord. Special to the chapel is the arm of Saint Edmund of Canterbury, and the other relics of saints. But not to be missed are magnificent icons, the illuminated Stations of the Cross done by artists connected with the Retreat House.

In recent years Saint Edmund's has become a place of evangelization with the many programs of spiritual renewal. In addition to spiritual retreats offered to laity and clergy, there are programs in learning Gregorian chant, iconography, AA programs and more. I hope, in time, there will be a possibility of adding other programs attending to Catholic theology and formation (on the Liturgy, Scripture, catechetics and spiritual formation). Saint Edmund's is poised to be a wonderful center for the new evangelization.

Saint Edmund of Canterbury, pray for us.
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It is true that women have had a better sense in recognizing the risen Jesus than men:  "the women were the first witnesses" of Jesus' resurrected existence. The teaching of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus and our own future resurrection is undeniably hard teaching to grasp. Yesterday, we heard in the account of the Marys at the tomb. One of the Marys, that of Magdala, is known as the Apostle to the Apostles. Below are three paragraphs on the subject from today's Wednesday General Audience of Pope Francis. I am sure some will raise the issue that the Pope is not going far enough by denying the ministerial priesthood to women. Of course, we are not talking about ministerial priesthood here; the Pope's point here is to draw our attention that God's ways, God's criteria in selecting those who called to serve Him is not same as human ways of judging AND the identification and verification of the Lord's truth as the Son of God, alive and present to each of us. As Francis says, "In our journey of faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love."

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I would like to dwell the second, on testimony in the form of the accounts that we find in the Gospels. First, we note that the first witnesses to this event were the women. At dawn, they go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, and find the first sign: the empty tomb (Mk 16:1). This is followed by an encounter with a Messenger of God who proclaims: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, he is not here, he is risen (cf. vv. 5-6). The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves. They cannot contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their heart. This should also be the same in our lives. Let us feel the joy of being Christian! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! Let us also have the courage to "go out" to bring this joy and light to all the places of our lives! The Resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty, it is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this beautiful certainty with others! It's not just for us it's to be transmitted, shared with others this is our testimony!

Breaking of the bread. Español: Fracción del p...
As the "new man" on the block I am trying to figure what the new Roman Pontiff's taught prior to his move to Rome. In 2008, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio now Pope Francis, was invited to give a teaching on the Holy Eucharist to International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec City, Canada. The title of his talk was "The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World."

I would say that his controlling idea is based on the Aparecida document where it is written, "The Eucharist is the vital center of the universe, able to satisfy our hunger for life and happiness. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood in this happy banquet participates in eternal life, and thus our daily existence is transformed into an extension of the Mass." He then develops the theme of the Eucharist as gift and mission in light of the Church's enduring self-understanding as covenant. He appeals to tradition, some saints and the Mother of God to demonstrate that evangelization is about Eucharistic Presence, sacrifice, and communion. He argues in the key of communio theology.

Much of what we've heard in the last two weeks in his papal addresses and homilies given here.

The text: Bergoglio Eucharist Gift of God for the Life of the World.pdf

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About the author

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



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This page is a archive of entries in the Evangelization & Formation category from April 2013.

Evangelization & Formation: March 2013 is the previous archive.

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