Category Archives: Culture

Meeting Fr Z in NYC

Thumbnail image for Fr John Zuhsldorf-2 Nov 6 2009.jpgMeeting “blog personalities” is always fun, especially meeting a popular blogging priest. Father John Zuhlsdorf writes the blog, What Does The Really Say? He’s an affable priest with a good sense of humor and a good thinker. He celebrated a Solemn Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form for First Friday at the beautiful Church of the Guardian Angels (NYC). The particular intention for the Mass was for deceased priests.

The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus

In his homily, Father Zuhlsdorf spoke about the priesthood as the result of the outpouring of love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mindful of the human condition and the Incarnation, we have Perfect Love choosing imperfect men to be priests to preach the Gospel and to celebrate the sacraments. And because the priest is a normal human being with the normal failings as other men, we know the imperfect minister needs conversion. Our job is to beg for God’s mercy upon our priests, living and deceased, as an act of love for the priests. Priests are fallible, sinful human beings like everyone else and yet they are called by God to serve Him as priests for the good of His people. It is an awesome thing to consider that our souls are fed by priests, some of whom are worthy ministers of the Lord and some not. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of a priest’s ministry does not depend on the state of his soul (something part of our doctrine since the time of Saint Augustine).
We believe that two sacraments give permanent character to our souls that lasts into eternity: Baptism and Holy Orders. So, when a priest dies his soul is recognized as a priestly soul in heaven by God and whole heavenly court. The priesthood, therefore, does not end on the day when the priest’s body dies.

Thumbnail image for Guardian Angels Church NYC-2 Nov 6 2009.jpg

In this Year for Priests, indeed even outside of this special year, we ought to care for the priests who serve our parishes and other ministries in concrete ways. We ought to pray for the souls of the priests who have died, too. I am particularly thinking of the priests and bishops who gave us new Life in Christ through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist and Penance, and the other sacraments as applicable.
I have an immense sense of gratitude for the faith I received from the priest who baptized me, the bishop who confirmed me, the priests who heard my confessions and gave me the Body of Christ.
Could we offer a prayer once a day during November for the deceased priests we knew? After November, could we offer a prayer for the priests at least once a month in the years to come? 
It would be good to read (or re-read) the Pope’s letter to the Church announcing the Year for Priests. There you will find some startlingly beautiful points to reflect upon and live out of. In my opinion, the Pope’s letter has so much to consider that it would take a lifetime to understand.

Music is an epiphany of beauty in man & woman

piano keys.jpegIn a piano concert in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, the Pope and a full house friends listened to the music of great composers in a concert sponsored by the International Piano Academy of Imola. The experience of the music was joined by some reflections of Benedict XVI’s which said in part, music is the union of persons and peoples in that it accompanies every human experience. He also observed that music gives shape to what you cannot do with words because it arouses the emotions that are difficult to communicate. Likewise, he pointed out what we all know, that is, great music relaxes the mind, stirs deep emotions, and elevates the mind to God. Hear the report of the evening.

Andrea Pozzo: recognized 300 years later at Study Congress at the Gregorian Univ.

2009 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Jesuit
Brother Andrea Pozzo, the 17th century painter whose works adorn many churches
in Europe, including the beautiful Saint Ignatius Church, Rome, Italy. (I love his work and have enthralled by it for years!) He was
born November 30, 1642 and died August 31, 1709.


Andrea Pozzo.jpg

Brother Andrea was known for
his design, architecture and painting.  Several initiatives were planned for the anniversary,
including a week-long celebration that was recently held in Vienna, the city
where he worked for many years and where he died. The Pontifical Gregorian
University
in Rome will hold an International Study Congress from the November
18-20
. Participants will analyze Pozzo’s work and offer insights and reflections
for research and study.

Brother Andrea founded the artistic academy at the
Roman College, the original name of the Pontifical Gregorian University. More
on Brother Andrea Pozzo’s life can be read here and here

Catholic education: where is it going and why?

The Catholic school system in the US has been in a very desperate shape for years: acute and chronic money problems, lack of good, solidly trained Catholic teachers and administrators, a coherent vision of Catholic education as it interfaces with the charism of the religious order/diocese operating the school, building & grounds in near of repair, low endowments, etc. Then there is the assessment of what is purported to constitute a Catholic school: poor formation in the faith, the arts & humanites and science suffer, good use of current technologies, and engagement with people who do things differently, engagement with the vulnerable and culture of life, etc. Many, many Catholic schools don’t offer the Sacrifice of the Mass on a weekly basis for the students; and very few of them that I am familiar with offer reliable guidance and formation of the faculty and parents. In my book, if the bishop rarely shows up and the pastor visits the school only when there is crisis. then the problem is more acute.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a product of a lot years Catholic education and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my time in the Catholic schools I attended but I can see the gaping holes in education and experience. I also believe that the Church needs excellent schools and formation programs.

Five exceptions to this critical view may be the five schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport recently named “Blue Ribbon” by the US Dept of Ed. But for these success stories in Catholic Education there are thousands of others pointing to major problems.

Today, there is an article in Time that speaks to a corrective of what is noted above. The dynamic Mr. Ekicsen is asking the right questions and seeking reasonable solutions. The bishop of Patterson made an excellent choice in hiring Eriksen and I pray his project thrives. It will –the saints are behind him. Read about the Eriksen initiative…

I think of a few things that are contributing to a renewal of Catholic eduation in the US: 1) Luigi Giussani’s The Risk of Education; 2) the Ed Conference; 3) UND’s ACE program; and 4) Dwight Longenecker’s booklet The Risk of Faith; 5) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of reality because I know there are plenty of more good programs/schools out there so please forward the names to me.

Nobel committee members are crazy

The Norwegian based Nobel Peace Prize awarded the 2009 prize to the 44th US President, Barack Obama. For what? They cite “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” (I think it would better if the English should read: among peoples, but who am I?) How would they know what his diplomatic policies and strategies are since the deadline was February 1, barely two weeks after Obama took office? What exactly has he done to merit such a prize? Why is this liberal body of culture makers so enthusiastic at President Obama?

But what about the USA? What about dreadful policies that rage against human dignity including the unborn, the elderly, sensible health care and legal reform, at home and abroad? What about strengthening political, ethical and economic cooperation between/among the Federal government and the states? What about Obama’s administration pushing US policy of abortion legislation and other “reproductive healthcare” policies in other countries while holding money and food over the heads of poor nations? What about the Obama administration’s pursuing Belmont Abbey College’s rejection of contraception as health care in their benefits package? I sincerely and with full voice disagree with the peace award going at all to Obama, never mind so early in Obama’s term as president with so little on the record to sink your teeth into. What type of peace are is the Nobel Foundation acknowledging and holding up as exemplary? The moral decay of this country, and in others, is becoming increasingly toxic and the Nobel is awarding Obama a prize for peace!?! Talk about a loss of credibility for a venerable institution such as the Nobel Prize for Peace.

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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