Category Archives: Teaching & Living the Faith

ExCons need Christian charity for conversion, new life

chained prisoner Goya.jpgPrograms for prisoner reentry into society is crucial in keeping people clean, working, and being a good citizens. “Do-good-ing” is not a Catholic principle. We have plenty of good people doing good all the time. In fact, my heart is really moved by those who don’t have a faith tradition to call their own and are motivated to act charitably toward those in need. Living a life of virtue and prayer are Catholic ways of proceeding. Showing mercy is what we are called to live in concrete ways. Helping the excon get on his or her feet again and walking with them is Jesus-inspired act.

Faith-based community projects, church-based communities of faith, Catholic groups like the Order of Malta and Catholic dioceses are among those who are doing good work to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith-based communities have compassion as part of their mission and many are facing compassion fatigue. Money and red-tape are real obstacles to living the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.
“… I was in prison and visited me” (Matthew 25:36)

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Prayer, Doctrine, Life and Evangelization: are we coherent?

In weekly classes on the Catholic I’ve been stressing a few (of many) points:

  • lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi (prayer, doctrine, life): all have to cohere
  • the Incarnation is a fact: in faith we encounter this fact, this Person, experience the exceptionality and the wonder
  • the contemporaneousness of Jesus Christ
  • the witness of the Catholic faith is true and it is true for all people


In November the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Peter Cardinal Turkson, 63, gave an interview to Zenit on his new work as the head of a Roman office after being a pastor of a diocese in Ghana. Cardinal Turkson is a trained biblical scholar.
My point of bringing this matter up is that those of us who make the claim to be faithful Catholics need to live the faith as though Jesus Christ truly mattered and that what we profess at Mass and in prayer is lived according to correct doctrine while sharing the Good News of Salvation coherently. Cardinal Turkson is not the first to say that we don’t always understand social justice, but we need to put a greater effort in doing so. How do we imitate the love of God for other?

Towards a ‘Cybertheology’ — Antonio Spadaro asks the right question

Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the literature editor
the Italian bi-weekly journal
La Civiltà Cattolica published an article
“Towards a ‘Cybertheology’?” which will appear in the January 1st issue.
Father Spadaro’s summary: 

Lord of the universe.jpg

The intelligence of faith in the era of the Net – The
Internet has become part of everyday life for many people, and for this reason
it increasingly contributes to the construction of a religious identity of the
people of our time, affecting their ability to understand reality, and
therefore also to understand faith and their way of living it. The Net and the
culture of cyberspace pose new challenges to our ability to formulate and
listen to a symbolic language that speaks of possibility and of signs of
transcendence in our lives.  Perhaps the time has arrived to consider the
possibility of a cybertheology also understood as the intelligence of faith in
the era of the Net. It would be the fruit of faith that releases from itself a
cognitive boost at a time in which the logic of the Net influences the way we
think, learn, communicate and live.

Seeking Christ’s face and body, a foreign concept to many Catholics

The authority of sacred Scripture should be authoritative enough, but in case Scripture fails your logic, the Church also says that Truth is identified and lived through and with sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. More clearly: the believing Catholic holds that Truth is revealed in three inter-related pillars: sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. One can’t have one of the pillars without the others. To do so would mean that you are Protestant.

Concerning many in the Church (catechist, laity and ordained) is the lack of understanding of who Jesus is, and His place in our lives today. Many Catholics are functional agnostics; they have no concept of who Jesus is, why He is important, and what he has to do with the Church. No surprise to me since I contend that many of the ordained can’t adequately explain matters of Christology or Sotierology (the study of Chist and the study of salvation respectively) as is evidence in their praying the Mass, preaching, their practice of the sacraments in their own lives, and their teaching in other venues. I would also contend that many of the ecclesial problems we face today are the direct result of not really knowing who Jesus is, and how to conform ourselves to His Way. The Pslams, as one example, tell us to seek the face of the Lord (the Christian would understand this to mean, seek the face of Christ). As one consequence of not knowing Jesus is the denial that we are already saved –that salvation has already happened, that the hundredfold promised by the Lord is already fulfilled. Do you know that you are saved? Do act as though you are saved or are still persisting in your sinful ways?

In the recent English edition of the L’Osservatore Romano (7 April 2010), Lucetta Scardaffia’s article “The Shroud and secularization” makes a few good points to think about when asking the questions about who Jesus is and what we face today:

“It seems incredible, but many young people do not even know that Jesus existed historically: in various countries, including Italy, today the history of Christianity no longer forms part of the school curriculum, and this leads to an ignorance that is also the result of tendencies geared to make Christianity a religion like others, with no specificity, hence leading to considering Christ as a mythical being, almost as if he were a Greek, Roman or Orienal divinity.

In international milieus — even in organizations such as the United Nations– propaganda for a mistaken concept of multiculturalism has been spreading for decades: this is proposed as a panacea for every conflict, providing that all religions be considered absolutely equal, in other words that each waives all claim to truth.

Remembering that Christianity is born from the existence in history of a man, Jesus, who said he was the Son of God, is an obstacle to the seemingly irenic fabrication because it highlights the difference of Christianity in comparison with other religions. A God who becomes incarnate to save human beings, in fact is an absolute unicum [absolutely unique], difficult to standardize.

The history of the birth of the individual is also interwoven with the history of the theological and sacramental significance of the Body of Christ –with the history of the sacrifice of the altar, for which the Body becomes a monstrance.

Sin is in opposition to God’s infinite holiness

I went to confession the other day. I try to go once a month and for the most part I make that commitment. For some reason, it was a about 8 weeks since I darkened the confessional. I was leaving that afternoon for my hermitage day (spoken of in another blog post below) and Lent was fast approaching. Going to confession was awkward, lonely, fearful BUT intensely gratifying, freeing, and loving. Facing one’s sinful nature is NEVER easy; it is NEVER anything but a hassle, it is NEVER anything but embarassing but it is the only way I know how to be honest with myself in front of God. As an Opus Dei priest tells me when I see him occasionally for confession: you’ve got sin, I’ve got the grace for you to live … by the ministry of the Church. Of course, this priest is echoing the notion that I am not confessing my sinful self to him personally (I really don’t think he cares one-way-or-another truely in the best sense) but ipse Christus –to Christ Himself. I read the passage noted below from a rather famous spiritual treatise today and the last line from sacred Scripture struck me: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself. Do you have a clear understanding of mortal sin? Have you gone to confession? How is your struggle with sin going in the face of grace?


Only mortal sin is completely opposed to God; this opposition is so great that it separates the soul from God. However, every sin, even venial sin, and every fault and imperfection, is in opposition to God’s infinite holiness. Therefore Jesus offers the perfection of his heavenly Father as a norm for our Christian life, and engages us in an intense struggle against sin in order to destroy in us its deepest roots and even its slightest traces.


This is what Jesus teaches in these few short words: deny yourself. We must deny self with all its imperfect habits and inclinations; and we must do so continually. Such a task is fatiguing and painful, but it is indispensable if we wish to attain sanctity. Jesus says: The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Mt. 7:14).


In echo of Jesus, all the masters of the spiritual life insist strongly on detachment and self-renunciation as the indispensable foundation of the spiritual life. St. John of the cross offers a soul who is desirous of attaining union with God the harsh way of the “nothing”.


But first and foremost, it is Jesus, the divine Teacher, who has pointed out to us the absolute necessity of passing through this way: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself (Mt. 16:24).


Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD

Divine Intimacy

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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