Tag Archives: faith and 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.


The Brooklyn Oratory

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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Benedict Ashley, OP, RIP

Ben Ashley OP.jpgWord received this evening that the venerable theologian and priest, Father Benedict Ashley, OP, 97, died today. Father Benedict was a teacher of mine when I was in St Louis.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Father Benedict was a professed member of the Order of Preachers–Saint Albert the Great Province– for 71 years and a priest. He was educated at the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, Aquinas Institute of Theology (River Forest, IL) and the Angelicum.
Father Benedict was the author (or, co-author) of at least 19 books and numerous articles. Among Ashely’s academic interests were healthcare and social ethics and intellectual history. Faith and reason (science) coalesced in the life and work of this Dominican friar. He was a terrific priest and teacher, a man of the Church and person of great humanity.
Ashley was a member of the River Forest School of Thomism and he helped to form the Albertus Magnus Lyceum which was an effort to respond to Pope Leo XIIIs call to re-establish the thought of the 13th century Saint Thomas Aquinas into the life of the Church. This thought is called Thomism. He was a professor of moral theology at the Aquinas Institute of Theology (St Louis, MO).
Ashley’s Barefoot Journeying ~ An Autobiography of a Begging Friar is available at New Priory Press.
A biographical essay may be read here.
Dominican Father Richard Peddicord edited a collection of essays in honor of Father Ashley, In Medio Ecclesiae (2007), on the occasion of Ashley’s 90th birthday.
May Father Benedict’s memory be eternal.
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A change of heart

The New Haven Register’s Michael Bellmore has something to say to me in “Lapsed Catholic has a confession to make.” His struggle with Christian faith is not unique to him, nor is the struggle for living coherently. Earlier this evening I had a conversation with friends about faith, meaning and struggle for truth in the lives we lead. I was privileged to be invited to a gathering at a friend’s house sharing in an interesting conversation with his niece who’s a freshman at Providence College and who just read Saint Augustine’s Confessions as part of a Western Civ class. Wow! Someone is still reading Augustine’s Confessions. Admittedly, the book is challenging for a well-educated person, and yet I find it clarifies my own journey and the path most people make in life.

To be honest the first line of the article gave me the feeling, “Oh, hear we go again, another angry, complaining, silly reporter trying to give another black eye to the Church.” But I read the article and I found something else. I found a young man searching for meaning, reaching out in anxiety and finding friendship, mercy and forgiveness: a stony heart exchanged for new  one.

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Cardinal Francis George details keeping Catholic faith part of American consensus

English: Coat of arms of Francis cardinal Geor...

Chicago’s archbishop, Francis Cardinal George, soon to be 76, spoke to 45 members of his Archdiocese Pastoral Council on November 17th about the need to clarify what we as Catholics believe and how we ought to live if we want to make a contribution to any of the national dialogues. For example, had the topic been center stage at the time of the meeting, the cardinal may asked a question like, given the tragedy in Newtown, CT, how would an informed and reasonable Catholic respond to matters: of mental health, to the Second Amendment, to God’s role in our life with such violence?

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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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