Category Archives: Faith & Reason

New Papal document: Ubicumque et Semper (Everywhere and always) making a Vatican Office for the New Evangelization

The Holy Father published a long-awaited Motu Proprio, Ubicumque et semper, by which he established a new office (dicastery) at the Roman Curia: “Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization.” The new head of the Council is, as you know, Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

The objectives of the new Pontifical Council:

  • To deepen the theological and pastoral meaning of the new evangelization.
  • To promote and to foster in close collaboration with bishops’ conferences, teaching of the Magisterium relative to the new evangelization.
  • To make known initiatives already under way in local churches and to promote new initiatives, involving also resources of religious institutes and groups of the faithful and new lay communities;
  • To study and to foster the use of modern means of communications as instruments for the new evangelization.
  • To promote the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

A summary of Ubicumque et semper can be read here

I am happy that a papal document finally appeared since it was expected since four months ago. Now a more concerted effort at the needs of evangelization will be worked on by the Roman Curia and that good works already in play with groups like Communion and Liberation, Opus Dei, Focolare, Sant’Egidio will be more coordinated and collaborated with. I hope the big religious orders like the Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans will respond positively to the hopes and desires of the Pope. The expectation of the new Council are looking to re-energize the work of evangelization of culture and to give renewed interest and thrust of the Church as missionary. Please note, secularism, not secularity needs to be addressed by the entire Church, not just the bishops and certainly not just the Roman Curia.

The Pope said, “At the root of all evangelization there is no human project of expansion, but the desire to share the priceless gift that God wished to give us, sharing His life with us.”

There are, however, a number of missed opportunities already since the announcement of the Council: there was a too long of wait for the motu proprio, the motu proprio is only available in Latin and Italian at this point, the staff has not been announced, and there is no web presence for the new Council as of yet. Another example of not doing the homework on the part of those who work for the Pope.

DiNoia preaches the Red Mass, Washington, DC: Man without God isn’t more free but in greater danger

JADiNoia.jpgThe annual Red Mass celebrated by Archbishop Donald Wuerl at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral (Washington, DC) was preached by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, OP, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship (Rome). Today’s Red Mass is the 57th and was sponsored by the John Carroll Society. Present was the Vice President, the Chief Justice and four other justices. Archbishop DiNoia’s homily follows.


In anticipation of the official opening of the Supreme Court term tomorrow, we unite in prayer today in this solemn liturgy in order to invoke the Holy Spirit upon the distinguished justices, the judges, attorneys, and lawmakers, professors and students of the law, the law clerks and paralegals, and upon all others who serve us in the various sectors of the legal profession. We give thanks to God for their precious service, and we humbly pray, “Holy Spirit, Lord of light / From the clear celestial height / Thy pure beaming radiance give”(Veni Sancte Spiritus, Pentecost Sequence, trans. Nat. Lit. Conf. England and Wales, 1967).

The annual invocation of the Holy Spirit at the start of the judicial year in Washington reflects a 700 year old tradition honoring the sacred character of the law and the vital civic role of its guardians. Indeed, the practice of celebrating a Red Mass–“red” because of the color of both the liturgical vesture and the traditional judicial robes–at the opening of the judicial term is as old as the legal profession itself. According to historian James Brundage (cf. The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession, University of Chicago Press, 2008), the emergence of a distinctive legal profession in the West dates roughly to the thirteenth century–precisely when the first recorded celebrations of the Red Mass occurred in Paris in 1245 and in Westminster in 1301. It may well be that the widespread practice of celebrating a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit at other similar occasions–like the start of the academic year–originated with the tradition of the Red Mass.

Trinity Flamelle.jpgThe celebration of the annual Red Mass signals the profound esteem which the Church has for the Supreme Court and the legal and judicial institutions of this nation, for the invocation of the Holy Spirit on this occasion springs from nothing other than the trinitarian faith which is at the very center of her faith. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling with him.” Christ teaches and the Church proclaims that God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, desires to share the communion of trinitarian life with creaturely persons, that–in the famous formulation of St. Irenaeus–God who is without need of anyone gives communion with himself to those who need him. Christ teaches us, moreover, that it is the Holy Spirit who plays a critical role in fitting individual persons and the Church herself for this high destiny. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name…will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Thus we can pray: Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! “Thou, on us who evermore / Thee confess and thee adore, / With thy sevenfold gifts descend. / Give us comfort when we die; / Give us life with thee on high; / Give us joys that never end.”

What should we be praying for as we invoke the Holy Spirit on the justices and on all the rest of us during this Red Mass? As St. Paul reminds us, the Holy Spirit himself helps us to ask for the right things: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groaning.” We have already heard some verses from the ancient “Golden Sequence” for Pentecost Sunday, the Veni Sancte Spiritus; let us turn to it again to learn more of what we can expect when the Church invokes the Holy Spirit in this solemn setting.

Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! “Thou, of all consolers best, / Thou the soul’s delightful guest, / Dost refreshing peace bestow; / Thou in toil art comfort sweet; / Pleasant coolness in the heat; / Solace in the midst of woe.” In praying to the Holy Spirit, for, among other blessings, consolation, peace, and solace, the Church understands the nearly overwhelming complexity of the climate which envelops the practice of law and the administration of justice today.

And perhaps not just today. It was precisely such complexity that gave rise to the legal profession in the 13th century as popes, kings and bishops found it impossible to carry out their duties without expert legal advice. You will be amused to learn that, during this period, there was lively debate about whether popes should be elected from the ranks of theologians or of canon lawyers: as a theologian, it pains me to report that learned opinion favored the election of qualified lawyers to the See of Peter.

In all seriousness, no informed observer can fail to acknowledge that the social and cultural pluralism of our times–not to mention the relentless and sometimes pitiless public scrutiny to which you are subjected–makes the work of judges and lawyers today very hard indeed. The Church prays that, amidst the clamor of contending interests and seemingly intractable moral disagreements, the Holy Spirit will help you to maintain your personal integrity and professional equilibrium. Not for nothing, then, do we invoke the Holy Spirit today with these poignant words. Veni Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! “Heal our wounds, our strength renew; / On our dryness pour thy dew; / Wash the stains of guilt away. / Bend the stubborn heart and will; / Melt the frozen, warm the chill; / Guide the steps that go astray.”

The words of the prophet Ezechiel recall another important element in our invocation of the Holy Spirit today. “I will put my Spirit within you,” he says, “and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.” Positive law rests on certain principles the knowledge of which constitutes nothing less than a participation in the divine law itself: the pursuit of the common good through respect for the natural law, the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, justice for the poor, protection of minors, and so on. The legal profession is entrusted with the discernment and administration of justice and the rule of law according to an objective measure–in effect, according to principles–not of our own making. A consensus about these principles inspired the founders of modern democracies, and although it was profoundly influenced by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (think of Averroes, Maimonides and Aquinas), this consensus was understood to transcend religious and cultural differences. Thus, it follows that the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Red Mass is a prayer for light and guidance. Among the things for which we ardently pray is the wisdom to affirm and maintain those profound truths about human nature that are at the foundation of the common life we treasure in this great nation. “Holy Spirit, Lord of Light … / Come thou light of all that live … / Light immortal, light divine.”

Pentecost.jpgAt the deepest level, our invocation of the Holy Spirit here today manifests the conviction that the democratic state does not so much confer the most fundamental human rights and the duties of citizenship as acknowledge their existence and source in a power beyond the state, namely in God himself. Your presence here today bears eloquent witness to the enduring power of this conviction.

Yet, as she invokes the guidance and consolation of the Holy Spirit today, the erosion of this conviction is a source of deep concern for the Church. The alternative view–until recently more or less successfully resisted by dem
ocratic societies like ours–is the idea that man can find happiness and freedom only apart from God
. This exclusive humanism has been exposed as an anti-humanism of the most radical kind. Man without God is not more free but surely in greater danger. The tragic history of the last century–as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have unceasingly reminded us–demonstrates that the eclipse of God leads not to greater human liberation but to the most dire human peril. That innocent human life is now so broadly under threat has seemed to many of us one of the many signs of this growing peril. Gabriel Marcel said somewhere that in our time “human flesh has undergone such intolerable outrage that it must receive some kind of reparation in glory…The world today can be endured only if one’s spirit is riveted on [the] hope of the resurrection… If this hope were shared by a greater number, perhaps, respect for the flesh and for the body, so terribly lacking in our time, would be restored.” Thus, along with wisdom and light, today we must also beg the Holy Spirit for the gift of hope in the resurrection.

Our enactment of this ancient ritual of the Red Mass joins us to the generations of judges and lawyers who pursued their professions conscious of their need for divine grace and guidance, for enlightenment, for consolation, for refreshment, for solace, for healing, for comfort, for hope. May these wonderful blessings of the Holy Spirit be yours today!

Veni Sancte Spritus! Come Holy Spirit!

“Come, thou Father of the poor,

Come with treasures which endure…

Light immortal, light divine,

Visit thou these hearts of thine,

And our inmost being fill.” Amen.

The Church does not work to be attractive…but is of service to the other…always, pope says

On the plane to Scotland this morning the Pope held the typical Q&A session with reporters. THE more important of the Q&A, in my opinion, is noted below. The questions are vetted prior to the asking.

Pope answers questions on plane to Scotland.jpg


The UK,
like many other Western countries – there is an issue that you have already
touched on in the first answer -it is considered a secular country. There is a
strong atheist movement, even for cultural reasons. However, there are also
signs that religious faith, particularly in Jesus Christ, is still alive on a
personal level. What can this mean for Catholics and Anglicans? Can anything be
done to make the Church as an institution, more credible and attractive to


I would say that a Church that seeks to be particularly
attractive is already on the wrong path
, because the Church does not work for
her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power
. The Church
is at the service of another
: she serves, not for herself, not to be a strong
body, rather she serves to make the proclamation of Jesus Christ accessible,
the great truths and great forces of love, reconciling love that appeared in
this figure and that always comes from the presence of Jesus Christ
. In this
regard, the Church does not seek to be attractive in and of herself, but must
be transparent for Jesus Christ and to the extent that she is not out for
herself, as a strong and powerful body in the world, that wants power, but is
simply the voice of another, she becomes truly transparent for the great figure
of Christ and the great truth that he has brought to humanity. The power of
love, in this moment one listens, one accepts. The Church should not consider
herself, but help to consider the other and she herself must see and speak of
the other
. In this sense, I think, both Anglicans and Catholics have the same
simple task, the same direction to take. If both Anglicans and Catholics see
that the other is not out for themselves but are tools of Christ, children of
the Bridegroom, as Saint John says, if both carry out the priorities of Christ
and not their own, they will come together, because at that time the priority
of Christ unites
them and they are no longer competitors seeking the greatest
numbers, but are united in our commitment to the truth of Christ who comes into
this world and so they find each other in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism.

Pope to Scotland –and the rest of us: pay attention to faith AND reason viz. Catholic identity

At one point in the Pope’s homily in Glasgow, Scotland, today he said:

Pope Benedict in Glasgow Scotland Sept 16 2010.jpg

The evangelization
of culture
is all the more important in our times, when a “dictatorship of
threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature,
his destiny and his ultimate good.  There are some who now seek to exclude
religious belief from public discourse
, to privatize it or even to paint it as
a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic
liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or
sister. For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in
accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of
faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom
and vision in the public forum.
Society today needs clear voices which propose
our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but
in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them
guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be
afraid to take up this service
to your brothers and sisters, and to the future
of your beloved nation.

A few ideas to consider based on what said above:

  • notice: the pope speaks about the
    evangelization of culture,
    not only evangelization;
  • understand: relativism has become
    dictatorial in all ways, particularly in its approach truth, how it understands true happiness and man’s eternal destiny is questioned, abused and rejected as unimportant for the 21st century person;
  • question: why and in what ways have some people relegate God, honest intercourse between faith and reason and human
    dignity to the sidelines, what are the avoiding?, and why do voices of dissent get more credence than eternal truth;
  • question: has religion lost its ability
    to guarantee authentic human liberty?, how can we propose otherwise?;
  • question: why do Catholics shy away -perhaps even
    intimated from making their voice heard in the public square–from talking about
    their faith in Christ as the supreme savior of all of humanity?;
  • how any true notion of what true
    welfare of people is be neglectful of the unborn, the elderly, prisoners, children, the
    poor and homeless, etc?
Now are the times that I wish God kept Father Richard John Neuhaus and Cardinal Dulles among us! In case you haven’t noticed, what the Pope is talking about here is exactly what groups like Communion and Liberation and Opus Dei are doing what the Holy Father asks to happen in the Church and society.

Anne Rice quits Christianity

Noted author Anne Rice on her Facebook page wrote: “In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian” because she regards Christians as “quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous.”

Ms. Rice also added she refuses to be “anti-gay, anti-feminist and anti-Democrat.”

Interestingly, she quits Christianity in the name of Christ. Hmmm.

I hope Ms Rice knows that Jesus Christ does not leave her alone and neither does He abandon her. And neither does the Church abandon her, nor ceases to care for her salvation.

I pray for Ms Rice’s peace of soul and eventual return to her Mother, the Catholic Church.

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]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory