Category Archives: Faith & Reason

Being a mature Christian in the face of difficulty from within

Benedict’s abdication has opened the door for lots of interesting thinking these days. Some are taking the opportunity to complain about how bad they think the Church is, some taking the time to pause, evaluate, and to pray for the Pilgrim People of God. The Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, warts and all, it is beautiful, but it can be ugly at times due to the immature Christian faith of some people. Paul Elie’s article in the Times causes to me think many things; I neither disagree with him completely, nor do I agree. He raises interesting things to consider but there are parts of the article that annoy me. But that’s not to be discussed here. But I have to ask: To whom do we belong, Jesus Christ or an ideology? Is the Church leading you to salvation in ChristDo we assess the needs, pray and work for change where needed and where possible with prudence? Or, do we whine and walk away like teenagers? How mature is our Christian following?

The Provost of the Brooklyn Oratory, The Very Reverend Father Dennis Corrado, CO, writes in response to Elie’s article in the Times. The Oratorians are good shepherds to their people. 

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I read Paul Elie’s NY Times piece “Give up your Pew for Lent” in Friday’s Op. Ed. page early this morning. To say it is thought provoking is an understatement .

I am hopeful most people reading his words can appreciate how we priests serving this wounded Church feel while reading it.

I am grateful that the Brooklyn Oratory [Church of Saint Boniface] is described so positively.

This weekend, I will begin to preach a parish retreat in what Fr. Anthony of the Brooklyn Oratory tells me is one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of New York.

I’ll preach at 5 Masses and then have sessions each day for three days. The theme is forgiveness…forgiving each other and forgiving ourselves…asking God to forgive us for the stupid, sinful things we do.. as the path to wellness and joy.

During that time I will quote Carlo Carretto’s now famous reflection which begins :How much I must criticize you, my Church.

My favorite line being: Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face, (my Church) and yet each night I pray I might die in your sure, safe arms

Carretto’s list of anger and regret and pain about the Church members’ duplicity and hypocrisy ends with the conviction that those failures are all our failures and that we are one with them as we are one with the holiness we practice.

I will remind myself and my retreat attendees that our faith is in the Person of the Church who is Jesus Christ and not in the personnel who are not…pews and pulpit alike.

And I will once again remind myself and them that my experience of four decades of public ministry has taught me that nobody changes the Church from without… only from within.

Not a single one of my priest friends who have left the Church have helped change the institution they so wanted to be better and truthful and modern and humane.

Perhaps that is why we feel the Oratory makes a difference . And it is certainly why I can never separate myself from the Eucharistic Body of Christ as some kind of protest against our Church’s failures… no matter how often they occur.

Did Theresa of Avila or Francis of Assisi or Catherine of Siena or Philip Neri vacate the corrupted Church of their ages?

As a son of Vatican II I have never stopped preaching that the Church is the People of God,: flawed, foolish, sinful, brilliant, graced. holy and even saintly that is, all of us …. not just the Chanceries nor the Curias.

We do make a difference and I am reminded of Woody Allen’s remark that 80 percent of success is showing up.

I know wherever each of us will find ourselves this weekend, in whatever equally flawed and holy place as ours, we will still be one with each other, baptized as we are into the eternal Body of Christ.

And while I feel the painful reality of each of our diasporas, I pray any kind of suggested Lenten “abstinence” brings us back to our sede vacante.

As they say in Rome: con affetto,

F. Dennis, c.o.

Provost

The Brooklyn Oratory

Apologetics for Teens sponsored by Envoy Institute

Apologetics Camp.pngThe 4th Annual Catholic Apologetics Camp is planned for the summer of 2013, August 8-14. The Envoy Institute under the direction of Patrick Madrid, is doing the programing.

Knowing your faith, knowing the person at the center of your faith, Jesus Christ, is SO VERY crucial at every stage of life, including the time you spend at college. We need to form and inform the next generation of Catholics to propose the truth and beauty of the Faith! Make a suggestion to a senior in high school to participate in Apologetics Camp.
Jennifer Fulwiler’s article on the camp can be read here.
Have a spare $50.00, why not make a donation to the Apologetics Camp???? Any thing you can spare is greatly appreciated!

CDF Prefect rehearses work at hand for moral formation, dignity of the person

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard L. Müller, addressed the Pontifical Academy of Life on 22 February 2013. It was the annual meeting in Rome. Müller’s talk didn’t shatter too many windows by unearthing new problems, nor did it break new ground in the Church’s teaching. Müller gives a brief assessment of the situation and that we have gone off the tracks in some ways. He does, however, shed light on the fact that we need to take more seriously our moral and faith formation and to put in the time doing the hard work to know the issues and how to respond to them according the parameters of the Catholic Faith. Too often we are afraid to do the hard work. And that’s the ministry of the Prefect: to illumine and offer a corrective. Archbishop Müller did challenge, to a degree, the theological professorial establishment, even if the talk may be seen a bit anemic. 

The full text: Gerhard Müller Human Life in Some Documents of the Magisterium.pdf

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The Catholic Moment is over … where does hope exist?

The news media is hot to assess the Church and her legacy in the wake of Benedict XVIs abdication announcement on February 11, 2013. And, to be honest, much of the assessment is tedious and lacking substance, even from veteran and well-known and reliable Catholic thinkers. No shortage of prattle. Pick up the daily paper or turn on the TV/radio news and you will be treated to comparisons and rumination between the still current papacy (the Pope is not gone yet) and the previous one but too often with secular criteria and interests. Judging the pope and the Church with criteria other than a focus on God and the proclamation of the Gospel is not faithful. The media, we have to recognize, is not too conversant in matters of Catholic faith. In fact, they generally so very little and merely repeat clichés. Far more people are interested in questions of power, authority, the teaching, the numbers of faithful, “successes” and “failures,” the position of “the pope who resigned” and the like than they are in matters pertaining to the Word of God, the salvation of souls and to eternal life. 

Perhaps in the days to come we can come to a new and vital interest in the substance of the faith than in power.
Ross Douthat’s editorial, “The End of a Catholic Moment,” is correct and sad but true. His final thought is interesting and I with curiosity to see how and who will lead us both in the Church universal and in America….

Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church

Weigel Evangelical Catholicism.jpgIn today’s mail I received my copy of George Weigel’s latest book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21-Century Church (Basic Books, 2013).

I am already pleased to read a very fine book on the needs of the flourishing of Catholicism again in an era of significant discord viz. the Faith. I hope many will pay attention to what Weigel has to say.
Weigel’s pointing to a niche Catholicism that’s only now gaining currency in Catholic places. “Niche” in the sense that Catholics are now adopting an approach, a method, a manner of proposing the Truth that is more associated with Evangelical Christians than with Catholicism. We don’t always have the confidence and vocabulary to make the Christian proposal to others (to Catholics and non-Catholics alike). But if you think about, we’ve always been evangelical but we’ve been shy to share our faith with others in meaningful ways.
Certainly an evangelical approach is Catholic and is being picked up once again as a valid and faithful way of living the Truth. Perhaps our priests, religious, faith formation directors and not a few members of Roman Curia will see this light. It is not lost, however, on Pope Benedict XVI who has espoused an approach to the faith with his great emphasis on the new evangelization and the calling of the Year of Faith. Even some circles of the Orthodox Church have looked to evangelical ways as good and helpful.
Here is Brad Miner’s review article published on The Catholic Thing. It’s OK. I would have read the book anyway because George Weige’s the author. Turning Weigel on himself by quoting Weigel by saying, “He does chicken right.” The book is a terrific exposition on what we need in having our face set on the Lord. I would, however, say that Miner does not quite comprehend as fully as he ought what the theology of the Church fathers teach, especially Benedict, in that he seems to have an appreciate the cult of personality of those in the papal office than a relationship has with the Lord. Miner does pick this tendency up from Weigel, I fear. But there are times Weigel does the same. It is a serious flaw if not monitored. We unequivocally need to center on a renewed emphasis on Church reform that is personal first because only then it will effect a true reform/renewal in the Church organization. If I am not personally converted to Christ, then it matters little who pope is. But who is setting the agenda? As Weigel says in the March issue of First Things,
“The internal dynamics of he Church itself, attentive tot eh promptings of the divine Bridegroom and the unique challenges posed to the Great Commission by late modernity and post-modernity, have, together, impelled a new evolution in the Church’s self-understanding and self-expression. The result of that evolution, Evangelical Catholicism, is an expression of the four enduring marks of Christian ecclesial life –unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.” 
You need to read Deuteronomy in this way: distance yourself from distractions and choose life: life in God; life in the communion of the Trinity. What is clear about Evangelical Catholics insistence on Catholics distancing themselves from confused thinking and acting, being more focused and less mediocre, to work for concrete unity both interiorly and exteriorly, and not to fear persecution.

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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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