Tag Archives: faith and reason

Raymond Thomas Gawronski meets the Lord

Gawronski Jason crocker Sophia CWeddingA man who followed Christ to the priesthood and to the personal companionship in the spiritual life died recently. Jesuit Father Raymond Thomas Gawronski, 65, died after living with cancer on 14 April 2016. His most recent ministry was to serve as professor of dogmatics at St. Patrick’s Seminary and University in Menlo Park, California.

I knew Father Gawronski as gifted in very many ways due to the natural gifts of his humanity and because of the integration of his intellect and life of prayer. All his friends and associates would say this. Most keenly he was nurtured by the Eastern Christianity and served as a Byzantine (Melkite) priest for the Eparchy of Newton.

In an interview with CNA, seminary rector Father Stevens said what he appreciated about Father Gawronski was the insistence he placed on integration of faith and reason: “we have to do a better job bringing together the intellectual and spiritual life.” He was speaking of the seminarians he was mentoring. Further, “That comes a lot from his work on von Balthasar. This recognition that the life of the mind and the life of the spirit cannot be seen as two separate things to be cultivated: and that was certainly apparent when he put together the spiritually program, but that’s how he approached everything. In his homilies, his spiritual direction, in his class, he just went back and forth between his life of prayer and his scholarship without skipping a beat, and I admire that so much.” Indeed, this is THE ONLY model of Christian living that’s tenable.

If you are inclined to read good theology then I would recommend Father Gawronski’s book, Word and Silence: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Spiritual Encounter Between East and West. There is also: A Closer Walk with Christ: A Personal Ignatian Retreat.

May Father Gawronski’s memory be eternal!

Christian society diminishes

I am came across something the poet TS Eliot said that I am finding true when matched to experience:
 
In his 1940 work, “The idea of a Christian Society,” Eliot wrote, “…a society has ceased to be Christian when religious practices have been abandoned, when behavior ceases to be regulated by reference to Christian principle, and when in effect prosperity in the world for the individual or for the group has become the sole conscious aim.”
 
In1930 he was speaking about his fellow citizens of Great Britain (Eliot was English you will recall): from his vantage point they were “… becoming more and more de-Christianized by all sorts of unconscious pressure: paganism holds all the most valuable advertising space. Anything like Christian tradition transmitted from generation to generation within the family must disappear, and the small body of Christians will consist entirely of adult recruits.”
 
How do you live your life?

Religious practice of Americans fall

The practice of religion is falling according to the Pew Research Center on religion and public life. Experience tells us by looking at the Mass attendance and participation in religious education programs that many people no longer consider official religious practices essential to their life of “faith.” Sherry Weddell, as other researchers have said, has said that the fastest growing religious denomination is the USA are the “nones” –those people who check the box saying they are spiritual but not religious.

While Pew research is interesting, it does not cover the entire story of a person’s journey in faith. The caution I would propose is whether a person believes in the need of having a savior. Many people, I contend, don’t think they need to be saved. Their conception of salvation, heaven, sin, grace, sanctity is now very much a private affair, these people isolate themselves from other members of the Church. In the USA, as in other countries, the need and desire fora religious community is waning.

On one level I can see why people don’t want to be a part of a religious community: their priest/minister no longer really cares for them and their spiritual life, the priest/minister is a gossip, the priest/minister doesn’t preach well, know the ritual well, and the sacred music is poor, the priest/minister has little concern for the poor, the needy, sick, etc. The teaching of the faith is grossly watered down with no ideal to strive for and to live within (the journey of faith is flat).

In short, our pastoral ministers have become very narcissistic and self-serving. I know several priests who are in trouble in their ministry: they do not attend to their spiritual life, they do not read literature or spiritual topics, they are lazy and watch tons of TV. One can see why over the centuries many of the saints have proposed a new way of living, acting and working for the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and the administration of the sacraments. The Latin phrase comes comes to mind: the Church always needs reform. Our ecclesiastical reform movements have generated great beauty and intense of love for the Church and for humanity. We’ve had saints like Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, Bernard, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Francis, Angela Merici, Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, John Paul II, Luigi Giussani and countless others who have pointed a new way.

But all the blame can’t be placed on the ministers. Our Christian Faith requires a personal engagement, a personal bringing together of faith, reason, and living concretely in the community of the family and the secular world. You have to show up, you have engage your heart, mind and body. You have to be willing to be honest, and to be with others and to allow our spiritual life to be changed by Christ Jesus.

The Pew report is here.

Pray for the Church and ALL her members.

Georges Lemaître remembered at birthday

Lemaitre and EinsteinToday is the birthday of Father Georges Lemaître, born in 1894 in Charleroi, Belgium.

Father Lemaître studied civil engineering at the Catholic University of Louvain before serving in the Belgian army during World War I. After the war he trained to become a priest and a cosmologist. He succeeded in both endeavors. He is a great witness to work of faith and reason and faith and science.

In 1923, he was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Malines. He was a secular a priest and not a Jesuit as some assume. Father received his PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1960 Saint John XXIII bestowed the title of Monsignor on Lemaître. Also in 1960, Lemaître became the presidentof the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences.

A biographer writes: In 1927 he published his most famous paper, “A Homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Growing Radius Accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extragalactic Nebulae,” in which he applied Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity to the entire universe. According to Lemaître’s analysis, the universe was in a state of constant expansion, having begun at a specific point in time. Two years later, Edwin Hubble published his observations of distant galaxies that supported the idea. Although Lemaître remained a devout Catholic, he opposed efforts to link the creation and expansion of the universe to divine action.”

“He successfully persuaded Pope Pius XII to refrain from making proclamations about cosmology. Lemaître died on 20 June 1966, two years after the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation provided experimental evidence in favor of his bold idea.”

Monsignor died at the age of 71 on June 20, 1966 in Leuven, Belgium.

Once an unbeliever, now a Catholic

In a week’s time many people will be baptized, received into full communion with the Catholic Church or receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Truly an process of discernment on the parts of the persons and the parish staff who take the time to teach the faith, propose a new way of seeing life, and being a good example that it is possible to be a Catholic. The process we use is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults –the RCIA (and there is another process for children of catechetical age but not yet in regular Christian education).

What I have found is that the RCIA not only forms persons in accepting Jesus Christ into their hearts for the first time, but the RCIA also challenges me to live differently and to recommit myself to the salvation offered to me by the Lord. The RCIA has helped me to love the Church, myself, and others in a deeper way. From experience, I can I say with certainty, that a properly organized RCIA process will show the contours of faith and reason by demonstrating a Catholic faith is not decrepit but rooted in Jesus Christ showing the to world how to become authentic apostles. A properly organized RCIA program will give the fullness of the revealed faith and the faith, not chain of opinions or sentimental moralisms.

I think some of the key questions before all of us this Lent is: In what ways has the content of the Catholic faith changed me? Am I familiar with the Lord? Have I developed the capacity with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to share the good news with others? Am I willing to say that Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior and a priority in my life, today and forever?

A recent article by Catherine Quinn, “I Was a Pagan, Hedonistic, Man-hating Feminist. But Now I am Catholic. This is My Story: How I found happiness in the place I least expected.” Ms Quinn will open a new door for you.

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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