Monthly Archives: April 2013

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm statue canterbury cathedral outside.jpgYou might be surprised to read this, not all theologians root their work in theology in prayer, personal and communal, of personal devotion, liturgical and lectio divina. I am somewhat confident that some Catholic theologians have a beautiful relationship with the Divine Majesty; that they care, in an intense way, about their spiritual lives through a regular practice of daily prayer, meditation, by availing themselves to the sacraments, attendance at Mass and even the daily singing of the Divine Office. However, you would never know that theologians, particularly Catholics, have rely on prayer for their work  because rarely talk about their experiences of prayer. A notable Jesuit spiritual director and writer once said that if you can’t articulate the pattern of your prayer, you aren’t praying.

Yesterday I heard Cardinal William Levada speak at More House of Yale University on a new apologetic for the new evangelization and it struck me that in addition to neglecting the role of suffering as part of framing this a new apologetic, he neglected to speak about personal and liturgical prayer. No doubt that he say you have to pray, but the absence of speaking about the place of prayer in apologetics and evangelization is telling.
Just as a priest who never prays the Divine Office, attend to the sacrament of love and Mercy, see a spiritual director, practice lectio divine, and do spiritual reading, theologians who likewise neglect these things aren’t really helping us to build a culture of prayer, study, service and community. That is, the proclamation of the gospel will be stunted.

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VIP party

VIP Party Livre de la Vigne nostre Seigneur, France ca. 1450-1470 (Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 134, fol. 85r).jpg

a VIP party

(popes, cardinals, bishops and abbots on the left. kings, princes and dukes on the right)

Livre de la Vigne nostre Seigneur, France ca. 1450-1470 (Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 134, fol. 85r)

The Church, ecology and Earth Day: works of being Pro Life

In his short pontificate Pope Benedict XVI became the “green pope.” He was the one who really did do much to bridge a gap between faith and ecology. In his mind, faith and ecology appeals not only a respect for the environment but it is integral for a profound respect for human dignity, womb to tomb. Hence, a respect for creation is also a pro life stance; pro life work is properly called a “human ecology.”

The Brazilian bishops in 2011 heard Benedict teach that “man is not God, but his image, that is why he must try to be more sensitive to the presence of God in what surrounds him: in all creatures and, especially, int eh human in whom there is a certain epiphany of God.” To do otherwise, establishes in humanity “contempt for himself and for what surrounds him.”

Hence, “This is why the first ecology that must be defended is ‘human ecology.’ That is, without a clear defense of human life, from its conception to its natural death, without a defense of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, without a defense of those who are excluded and marginalized by society, without forgetting in this context those who lose everything, victims of natural disasters, there can never be talk of a genuine defense of the environment…. [There is] “an imperative that stems from the awareness that God entrusts his creation to man, not so that he can exercise over it an arbitrary dominion, but to preserve and care for it, as a son takes care of his father’s inheritance.”

Actually, the church can call other popes by the same title. Nevertheless, the emphasis today is care for what has given us as a gift to cherish, and to work effectively with, the earth. In 2011 Benedict addressed Italian students calling them to be “guardians of nature” by walking the path prepared by Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.

Pope in creation.jpg

Today is Earth Day, an observance started in 1970 to encourage us to breathe fresh air, enjoy nature and do something respectful of creation.

The pope emeritus said, “Today more than ever, it has becomes clear that respect for the environment cannot forget the recognition of the value of the human person and its inviolability at every stage and in every condition of life. Respect for the human being and respect for nature are one, but both can grow and find their right measure if we respect in the human being and in nature the Creator and his creation. On this, dear young people, I believe to find allies in you, true “guardians of life and creation.”


In 2010, Pope Benedict wrote in message on the World Day of Peace,

Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II devoted his Message for the World Day of Peace to the theme: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation. He emphasized our relationship, as God’s creatures, with the universe all around us. “In our day”, he wrote, “there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened … also by a lack of due respect for nature“. He added that “ecological awareness, rather than being downplayed, needs to be helped to develop and mature, and find fitting expression in concrete programs and initiatives.” Previous Popes had spoken of the relationship between human beings and the environment. In 1971, for example, on the eightieth anniversary of Leo XIII‘s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, Paul VI pointed out that “by an ill-considered exploitation of nature (man) risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation”. He added that “not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family.”

Various churchmen, including Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI have lent their voices to those of Patriarch Bartholomew’s in drawing our attention to have care and concern for the earth. Indeed, our ecumenical and interfaith partners have provided some good work to demonstrate in concrete way our respect for the Earth. The thinking is based on the biblical narrative and a ecclesial tradition.

Some Church and ecumenical documentation:

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St Gianna Center, New Haven blessed today by Hartford Archbishop

Mansell blesses Giannn Center New Haven.jpgThe brand NEW Saint Gianna Center of New Haven, CT was officially and blessed today, a beautiful spring day.

More than a 100 people gathered on the corner of Whitney Avenue and Trumbull Street for the dedication followed by a reception at St Mary’s Church. The Archbishop of Harford, The Most Reverend Henry J. Mansell, blessed the Center.
This pregnancy care center provides care, support and education to pregnant mothers and men who are learning to be a father.
The Center is named for the 20th century wife, mother, physician and saint, Gianna Beretta Molla, who died of cancer a week after giving birth to her last child, Gianna Emmanuela. She was beatified on April 24, 1994 and canonized on May 16, 2004. Today is the birthday of Gianna Emmanuela.
As a light in darkness, the Saint Gianna Center is a pregnancy resource center that seeks to provide housing, financial and legal aid, emergency food and transportation, pre-natal care, adoption information, education and more.
Volunteers are always welcome to join in the work of helping pregnant women. Notable is the involvement of the local chapter of the Fraternity of Saint Dominic (known to many as the Third Order Dominican Laity), a group of women and men who follow the life and teaching of Order of Preachers (the Dominicans).
Contact:; 203-624-BABY.
Saint Gianna, pray for the new center, and all the women who seek help there; pray for all of us.
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Pope ordains 10 men to the priesthood of Jesus Christ

Francis ordains.jpg

Earlier today in Rome Pope Francis ordained 10 men to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. He showed up early to the sacristy to spend time in prayer with each of the men to be ordained. For bishops, ordinations are their way of being generative; the newly ordained are often referred to as spiritual sons of the bishop. The Pope ordained pastors, not functionaries; he ordained shepherds of souls, not church babysitters. Below is his homily.

Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

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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]
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