The Byzantine Catholic Church liturgically recalls Blessed Martyrs of Pratulin: men and boys killed on this date in 1874 defending the Byzantine Catholic Church in Russia. The martyrdom took place when the Tsar destroyed the last Greek Catholic eparchy in the empire, Chelm, in 1873 – 1875.
Suscipe me secundum eloquium tuum, et vivam, et non confundas me ab exspectatione mea. (Psalm 118)
Each year at about this time I have published a list of those who have risked everything to follow Jesus Christ more closely as a priest, deacon, monk, friars, nun, or sister. I think it is a good thing to keep this information in front of us, especially as it concerns how each of prays, fasts and financially support vocations in the Church. Our Christian life helps us to see the need for such witnesses and each of us participates through our good example, by inviting others (even ourselves?) to consider serving the Lord and the Church in this “more excellent” way and by assisting by of the good works.
Let us pray with the psalmist, “The just grow tall like palm trees, majestic like the cedars of Lebanon. They flourish in God’s house, green and heavy with fruit” (Ps 92).
“What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life,” the Lord’s cross, Pope Francis said on July 7.
What follows is an imperfect collection of information; if there are updates, please zap me an email.
Many times when Catholics think of inculturation they mis-identify the term by saying that the Church just needs to lighten up its rule and fit to the local culture. Others will locate the philosophical and missionary effort inculturation in the liturgical sphere. Inculturation matters are a very contentious matter that gets people in crosshairs. Adapting or in some way making changes to a system of living so that you can “fit in” is an external fact and is not the method the Catholic Church uses to bring Lord’s Good News to other peoples, that is, those who outside the European and North American context. The Catholic Church tends to focus on the interior life of the person; externals are secondary and may change in time.
There is, however, a more precise way of understanding inculturation deals with adaption in saying that it is “the incarnation of the Gospel in autonomous cultures and at the same time the introduction of these cultures into the life of the church” (John Paul II’s 1985 encyclical Slavorum Apostoli, or his address to the Pontifical Council for Culture plenary assembly on Jan. 17, 1987). It is also understood that inculturation is, as John Paul II said in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, “an intimate transformation of the authentic cultural values by their integration into Christianity and the implantation of Christianity into different human cultures.”
As Redemptoris Missio said, “By inculturation, the church makes the Gospel incarnate in different cultures and at the same time introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community” (52). And yet the Church speaks of a interpenetration of the Gospel into a given, that is, a particular socio-cultural context which “gives inner fruitfulness to the spiritual qualities and gifts proper to each people …, strengthens these qualities, perfects them and restores them in Christ” (Gaudium et spes, 58). More on this issue here.
This is a long way to introduce the sticky issue of Indian Catholics retaining their customs of endogamy and not truly inculturating the Gospel. Judge for yourself: do the adherents to Knanaya customs cause a philosophical and theological problem here is that if we use the definitions noted above, or are we being “too Western” in wanting others to conform to a radical way of thinking which may weaken a culture? How would Christ judge the situation? Who bears the standard? How are the demands of the gospel really lived in this Christian caste? Who has ultimate authority, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, the Holy See, or the persons involved? Can endogamy be tolerated for a greater good?
Abdel Mohti, Francis, and Raphael were three Maronite laymen killed inside the Franciscan church in Damascus while they were praying.
On 9 July 1860, the killers entered the Franciscan church in Damascus where the Brothers were in prayer. The Islamic fanatics gave the Brothers a choice: reject Christianity and accept Islam, or, be killed. The Brothers said: “You may destroy our lives but you cannot destroy our faith in Christ and our souls; we are Christians. In the faith of Christ we live and in the faith of Christ we shall die.” The three holy brothers were killed as were several of the Franciscan friars.
Pope Pius XI beatified the three Massabki brothers on 7 October 1926.
Blessed Massabki Brothers, pray for Lebanon, the Church in the USA, and each one of us.
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.