Tag Archives: evangelization

Francis outside the Walls: called to proclaim, witness, worship God

Apse mosaic of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outs...

At the Mass offered by Pope Francis at the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls today reminded us that “we must obey God”!  Francis asked, do we know how to speak of Christ today? 

Faith is born from listening and strengthened by proclamation.
The teaching gained from today’s papal homily as the Pope took possession of the this basilica that is close the Petrine ministry, he gave yet another way of looking at being in relationship with the Lord Jesus in concrete ways. He was not abstract, he did give us a direction. In typical Benedictine terms, that God be glorified in all things (the Jesuits say, adapting the phrase just quoted: “to the greater glory of God). We need to be carried by God’s will under all circumstances, even if it costs our lives. Every detail matters in speaking of the grace given by God. We all, no matter to rank, experience, education, socio-economic class, are in relationship with Jesus Christ. The tangible witness of our lives is crucial. Inconsistencies by pastors and ministers betray Christ and undermine the Good News. We need to be close the Lord as the 12 were, as the 72 were, as those who heard and saw Him as described in the Acts of the Apostles. 
Do we worship the Lord? Do only turn the Lord ask of Him things, or do we turn to Him to worship Him?
Worshiping God means learning to be with Him, stop dialogue, but sensing his presence is the most true and most important of all. It means striping ourselves of our idols (e.g., money, power, and fame) and placing God in the center of our lives. Does God have the first place in our lives, that we are convinced that God is the God of our lives and our history? 
The Pope’s three key ideas spoken: proclamation, witness, worship.
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That heaven and earth touch, St Peter’s Omaha guides

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this afternoon, Fr. Z’s Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) and read his post St Peter’s Church in Omaha, NE. As I am curious about many things, especially in the ways the Incarnation is made manifest in parishes, I was stunned with the clarity of the pastor’s clarity, charity, and competence in leading souls. In fact, I watched the video on St Peter’s Church more than once because I had to get it clear in my mind and heart what Father Damian Cook and his collaborators are doing, and in the ways the Holy Spirit has allowed His gifts to be extroverted. There is a distinctive focus on the cultures of prayer, community, study and service which is a wonderful gift. St Peter’s is a place that the proposal of the gospel and the Church come alive.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Father Cook is orchestrating so many good things for Christ and His Church, both universal and in the local Church of Omaha. But let’s be clear: it is not Cook but Christ; it is not the community that’s center, but the Communio of the Trinity. I don’t want to canonize Father Cook but I do want to draw attention to the good being done.

As the Prophet Ezekiel showed us, and more importantly what the Lord did for us in His Resurrection: that it is possible for old bones to be constituted again (and in the Lord’s case, in a glorified body). Father Cook is illustrating how a decaying church community in urban Omaha can become a thriving religious and cultural treasure.

This is a clear and contemporary example of Saint Benedict rebuilding culture, or Saint Francis rebuilding the Church, or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta caring for all people. And the examples are plentiful…

Is it possible to be spiritual and not religious and still be Christian?

The question I seem to come back to: who cares? In the context of the practice of religion where we often seem to slice the pie in half: spiritual and religious, one wonders even we know what the words mean. The archbishop of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George, wrote about this topic in his column for Easter in the Catholic New World. The Cardinal outlines the issue pretty well: religion is becoming an isolated affair (some use the word private but I think it is better to say isolated since many families rarely talk about transcendent things with each other), that a question of authority disappears when you “when you make it up as you go along” and what it means to say there is an objectivity of what is true, beautiful, good and one is no longer easy to hold as a given. What exactly is religion?  Not to mention, many of our friends are now saying that the faith community as less and less credibility and the community of faith is trite. The missing element here is that Christianity is not about a set of rules, it is about a person; the practice of religion is not about the worship of myself, but the worship of a personal God revealed through the biblical narrative and seen in the sacraments; Christianity’s truth is weak unless it is about conversion, vocation and mission made manifest in the life we share with others. As Cardinal Geroge said,

Meeting the risen Christ spiritually therefore depends upon believing in him religiously. We are given the gift of faith in the sacrament of Baptism, in which we are configured to the risen Christ. Faith perdures, even when there’s not a lot of spiritual tingle in our lives! “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief,” is the cry of a religious person who asks Christ to take him beyond his own spiritual experience into a new world where bodies as well as minds share in God’s grace. Faith takes seriously everything that comes from God. The faith-filled person is sure of God and distrustful of himself. Unlike faith in God, experience is often wrong in religious matters.

Here is the full text of Cardinal George’s “Easter 2013: I’m spiritual but not religious.”

In short, it is impossible to call oneself Christian and not be honestly engaged in the weekly practice of worship with the faith community and worthily receive the sacraments.

The First American Pope: Catholicism’s turn into an evangelical future

Francis & Giovanni Re.jpgNational Review Online published today George Weigel’s “The First American Pope: Catholicism’s turn into an evangelical future.”

Weigel calls His Holiness, Pope Francis a “True Man of God,” “A Pope for the New Evangelization,” “A pope in defense of human rights and democracy,” “The 2005 runner-up takes the checkered flag in 2013?” and “The first Jesuit pope?”

Fr Pacwa on The Eucharist for the Year of Faith

In this Year of Faith there are some new books that have arrived and that are coming out to help all of us discover anew the the beauty of the Christian Faith. No one can ever say that they know it all, or, have heard it all before, and at the same maintain credibility in knowing the Truth. It’s not possible.

Pacwa The Eucharist.jpg

Father Mitch Pacwa, SJ, theologian and EWTN host, is in the middle of a publishing campaign to help us respond with confidence to the proposals of the Year of Faith.
Father Pacwa is a Chicago native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Detroit, a Masters from the Jesuit School of Theology (Chicago) before being ordained a priest in 1976. He also earned a PhD from Vanderbilt in Old Testament studies which included learning 12 languages. Father Pacwa offers the Mass in both the Latin and Maronite Churches. He is the president of Ignatius Productions.
On 23 January, The Eucharist: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics will be released to the public. Order now.
The Eucharist is published in order to draw connections between the Holy Eucharist and the Bible. The author looks at Old Testament types of the Eucharist, shows the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life, what Eucharistic Presence means to call Jesus the Lamb of God, the meaning of sacrifice as applied to the Sacrifice of the Mass and more.

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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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