Category Archives: Faith & Reason

Our Christian Object of Faith

Today gave me the opportunity to read through some things today that I have put on the back burner. You can see why I would post this thinking. One such item includes the following:

“The Christian faith has only one object: the mystery of Christ dead and risen. But this unique mystery subsists under different modes: it is prefigured in the Old Testament, it is accomplished historically in the earthly life of Christ, it is contained in mystery in the sacraments, it is lived mystically in souls, it is accomplished socially in the Church, it is consummated eschatologically in the Heavenly Kingdom. Thus the Christian has at his disposition several registers, a multi-dimensional symbolism, to express this unique reality. The whole of Christian culture consists in grasping the links that exist between Bible and Liturgy, Gospel and Eschatology, Mysticism and Liturgy. The application of this method to Scripture is called spiritual exegesis; applied to liturgy it is called mystagogy. This consists in reading in the rites the mystery of Christ, and in contemplating beneath the symbols the invisible reality.”

Jean Cardinal Danielou, SJ

Yielding to public opinion is tragic

In business, in politics, and in fact, in the holy Church of Christ on earth, we are more governed by trends and the opinions of others than seeking the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Dietrich von Hildebrand has something to say about this fact…

“In general, however, the heads of Catholic institutions do not prohibit the teaching of heresies not because they have definitely lost their faith, but because they yield to public opinion and to fashionThey fear to be called ‘reactionaries.’  They shudder at the thought of violating this allegedly holy academic freedom.  Of these St. Augustine says: ‘Who is the hireling who, seeing the approach of the wolf, takes flight?  He who seeks himself and does not seek what is of Jesus Christ; he who does not dare to frankly admonish the sinner (1 Tim. 5:20).  See, someone has sinned, gravely sinned; he should be admonished, excluded from the Church.  But, excluded from the Church, he will become its enemy and will try to ensnare it and harm it where he can.  Now the hireling, the one who seeks himself and not what is of Jesus Christ, will be silent and will not give any admonition, in order not to lose what he seeks, namely the advantages of personal friendship, and in order to avoid the unpleasantness, worry and personal enmity.  The wolf at that moment takes hold of the sheep to throttle them…You are silent O hireling, and do not admonish…Your silence is your flight.  You are silent, you are afraid.  Fear is the flight of the soul. (St. Augustine, Tractatus in Joannem, XLVI, 7-8)’.”

Trusting our Sainted Founders Peter and Paul

Sts Peter and PaulMother Church liturgically remembers today the lives of Saints Peter and Paul. The Apostles Peter and Paul are known as the founders of our Church. As a point of fact, the Church has always considered St. Peter and St. Paul together —they are inseparable. Historically, we know them to born as Jews; each had a personal encounter with Jesus. And each had unique and unrepeatable set of gifts to offer. Both received the mission from Jesus Christ to make the Church a reality in Rome and thus for the world. Their vocation included the sacrifice of their lives in the service of the Gospel: St. Peter was crucified upside down and St. Paul, a Roman citizen, was beheaded with a sword. The point of drawing our attention to Sts. Peter and Paul is to ask if we follow the experience and teaching of these Holy Apostles who were great founders of our Church? Do we know them? Do we trust that their teaching directs our steps on the path that leads to heaven?

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI preached the following homily to new archbishops, words appropriate for us to reflect upon for our formation of faith:

“‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.’ Christian faith is hope. It paves the way to the future. And it is a hope that possesses reasonableness, a hope whose reason we can and must explain. Faith comes from the eternal Reason that entered our world and showed us the true God. Faith surpasses the capacity of our reason, just as love sees more than mere intelligence. But faith speaks to reason and in the dialectic confrontation can be a match for reason. It does not contradict it but keeps up with it and goes beyond it to introduce us into the greater Reason of God. It is our task not to let it remain merely a tradition but to recognize it as a response to our questions. Faith demands our rational participation, which is deepened and purified in a sharing of love. It is one of our duties … to penetrate faith with thought, to be able to show the reason for our hope within the debates of our time. Yet although it is so necessary thought alone does not suffice. Just as speaking alone does not suffice. In his baptismal and Eucharistic catechesis in chapter 2 of his Letter, Peter alludes to the Psalm used by the ancient Church in the context of communion, that is, to the verse which says: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good!’ (Ps 34[33]: 8; 1 Pt 2: 3).

Tasting alone leads to seeing. Let us think of the disciples of Emmaus: it was only in convivial communion with Jesus, only in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were opened. Only in truly experienced communion with the Lord were they able to see. This applies to us all; over and above thinking and speaking, we need the experience of faith, the vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith must not remain theory: it must be life. If we encounter the Lord in the Sacrament, if we speak to him in prayer, if in the decisions of daily life we adhere to Christ then ‘we see’ more and more how good he is; then we experience how good it is to be with him. Moreover the capacity to communicate faith to others in a credible way stems from this certainty lived. The Curé d’Ars was not a great thinker; but he ‘tasted’ the Lord. He lived with him even in the details of daily life, as well as in the great demands of his pastoral ministry. In this way he became ‘one who sees.’ He had tasted so he knew that the Lord is good. Let us pray the Lord that he may grant us this ability to taste, and that we may thus become credible witnesses of the hope that is in us.”

(written/edited for the OLOP bulletin, 6/26/2016)

Raymond Thomas Gawronski meets the Lord

Gawronski Jason crocker Sophia CWeddingA man who followed Christ to the priesthood and to the personal companionship in the spiritual life died recently. Jesuit Father Raymond Thomas Gawronski, 65, died after living with cancer on 14 April 2016. His most recent ministry was to serve as professor of dogmatics at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California.

I knew Father Gawronski as gifted in very many ways due to the natural gifts of his humanity and because of the integration of his intellect and life of prayer. All his friends and associates would say this. Most keenly he was nurtured by the Eastern Christianity and served as a Byzantine (Melkite) priest for the Eparchy of Newton.

In an interview with CNA, seminary rector Father Stevens said what he appreciated about Father Gawronski was the insistence he placed on integration of faith and reason: “we have to do a better job bringing together the intellectual and spiritual life.” He was speaking of the seminarians he was mentoring. Further, “That comes a lot from his work on von Balthasar. This recognition that the life of the mind and the life of the spirit cannot be seen as two separate things to be cultivated: and that was certainly apparent when he put together the spiritually program, but that’s how he approached everything. In his homilies, his spiritual direction, in his class, he just went back and forth between his life of prayer and his scholarship without skipping a beat, and I admire that so much.” Indeed, this is THE ONLY model of Christian living that’s tenable.

If you are inclined to read good theology then I would recommend Father Gawronski’s book, Word and Silence: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Spiritual Encounter Between East and West. There is also: A Closer Walk with Christ: A Personal Ignatian Retreat.

May Father Gawronski’s memory be eternal!

Christian society diminishes

I am came across something the poet TS Eliot said that I am finding true when matched to experience:
 
In his 1940 work, “The idea of a Christian Society,” Eliot wrote, “…a society has ceased to be Christian when religious practices have been abandoned, when behavior ceases to be regulated by reference to Christian principle, and when in effect prosperity in the world for the individual or for the group has become the sole conscious aim.”
 
In1930 he was speaking about his fellow citizens of Great Britain (Eliot was English you will recall): from his vantage point they were “… becoming more and more de-Christianized by all sorts of unconscious pressure: paganism holds all the most valuable advertising space. Anything like Christian tradition transmitted from generation to generation within the family must disappear, and the small body of Christians will consist entirely of adult recruits.”
 
How do you live your life?

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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