Tag Archives: faith formation

Seeing clearly

Seeing clearly is evidently a Christian method for being a mature disciple given today’s gospel reading at Mass (Lk 6:39ff). The images of disciple/teacher revolve around the notion of discipline? What might the New Testament mean with regard to discipline? It means that we have good energy, stability, focus, appreciation for learning, training, the ability to center on wonder and awe, and the capacity of listening. Discipline also means that you test, verify and assent to objective truth.

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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Pope Benedict speaks to Roman Curia, reviews 2012, gives Christmas greetings

B16 blesses Curia 21 Dec 2012.jpgIt’s custom for the Holy Father to speak to the members of his Curia in way that reviews the past year, assessing the “situation” faced in the Apostolic ministry, and to give some idea of what will be worked on in the coming year. The address is ALWAYS worth the time to read, to study, and to reflect on in a serious manner. The Pope is a masterful thinker and writer; he really sets the bar pretty high but with clarity. One is clear to me is that the Pope is calling the laity to a new engagement in faith formation, worship of God, and cultural and political activities (not activism, there’s a difference). You might say that the goal of the Pope in his address is to help us to rediscover the gift and beauty of Catholic faith. As he notes, God comes to us in the circumstances of life. Some people will latch on the sensational parts of the talk, especially with some of the more heated topics discussed in society today but the raising of issues and talking about them intelligently isn’t a sign of trouble or weakness in the communion of the Church, but a way to seriously look at what is before us and to rely on God for help. We do, as you will agree, have a nostalgia for the Infinite which shows that we are limited human beings in need for a deeper conversion to the Good News. What the Pope reminds us here is that our Salvation doesn’t come from within us but is given by Someone outside, that is, by the Most Holy Trinity.
The foci:

A. pastoral visits: Mexcico, Cuba, Milan, Lebanon 

B. post-synodal exhortation to Eastern Churches
C. synod of bishops: on the New Evangelization
D. matters of concern: the family, marriage, justice, peace, interreligious dialogue, sexuality, evangelization, the person, community life, self-giving, conversion

The papal address

It is with great joy that I meet you today, dear Members of the College of Cardinals, Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governorate, for this traditional event in the days leading up to the feast of Christmas. I greet each one of you cordially, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his kind words and for the warm good wishes that he extended to me on behalf of all present. The Dean of the College of Cardinals reminded us of an expression that appears frequently during these days in the Latin liturgy: Prope est iam Dominus, venite, adoremus! The Lord is already near, come, let us adore him! We too, as one family, prepare ourselves to adore the Child in the stable at Bethlehem who is God himself and has come so close as to become a man like us. I willingly reciprocate your good wishes and I thank all of you from my heart, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the generous and competent assistance that each of you offers me in my ministry.

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Saint John Damascene

John the Damascene.jpg

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength.

Saint John of Damascus (c. 676-749) is a pretty amazing man, priest, and Father of the Church; noted as the last of the Greek Fathers. He’s known as the “golden speaker” and while he was not an original or brilliant theologian, his gift is his ability to compile what the Church believed in his era. In many ways Avery Dulles was the same.

Much of his preaching and teaching was a defense of the faith in the face of severe opposition, particularly with the rise of Islam.

The Damascene is revered as a saint by the Churches of East and West.

From The Statement of Faith by Saint John Damascene:

O Lord, you led me from my father’s loins and formed me in my mother’s womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for nature’s laws always obey your commands.

By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, you prepared my creation and my existence, not because man willed it or flesh desired it, but by your ineffable grace. The birth you prepared for me was such that it surpassed the laws of our nature. You sent me forth into the light by adopting me as your son and you enrolled me among the children of your holy and spotless Church.

You nursed me with the spiritual milk of your divine utterances. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son for our redemption. And he undertook the task willingly and did not shrink from it. Indeed, he applied himself to it as though destined for sacrifice, like an innocent lamb. Although he was God, he became man, and in his human will, became obedient to you, God his Father, unto death, even death on a cross.

In this way you have humbled yourself, Christ my God, so that you might carry me, your stray sheep, on your shoulders. You let me graze in green pastures, refreshing me with the waters of orthodox teaching at the hands of your shepherds. You pastured these shepherds, and now they in turn tend your chosen and special flock. Now you have called me, Lord, by the hand of your bishop to minister to your people. I do not know why you have done so, for you alone know that. Lord, lighten the heavy burden of the sins through which I have seriously transgressed. Purify my mind and heart. Like a shining lamp, lead me along the straight path. When I open my mouth, tell me what I should say. By the fiery tongue of your Spirit make my own tongue ready. Stay with me always and keep me in your sight.

Lead me to pastures, Lord, and graze there with me. Do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left, but let your good Spirit guide me along the straight path. Whatever I do, let it be in accordance with your will, now until the end.

And you, O Church, are a most excellent assembly, the noble summit of perfect purity, whose assistance comes from God. You in whom God lives, receive from us an exposition of the faith that is free from error, to strengthen the Church, just as our Fathers handed it down to us.

Significant remarks from the Evangelization Synod: a catechist’s view

TSpinelli.jpgTommaso Spinelli, 23, a catechist of young catechumens who works at the Catechetical Office of the Diocese of Rome, has some good things to say:

The new evangelization needs substance: it needs catechesis of a certain depth that is able to say something serious to our lives, but also and above all it needs lives of substance that demonstrate through actions the solidity of the Christian. It is even more important today, now that families are disunited and often abdicate their educative role, that priests demonstrate to the young their faithfulness to a vocation and the possibility of choosing an alternative way of living, better than that proposed by society.

My concern however is that these figures of substance are becoming a minority. The priest has lost trust in the importance of his ministry, he has lost charisma and culture. I see priests who adapt to the dominant thought. The same is true of the liturgy, which in the attempt to become original becomes meaningless. Priests, I ask you to find the courage to be yourselves. Do not fear because where you are truly priests, there you propose the truth of the faith without fear, we the young will follow. Indeed, the words of Peter are also ours: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life”. And we are infinitely hungry for something eternal and true.

I therefore propose:

1) an increase in the formation of priests, not only in spiritual but also cultural terms. Too often I see priests who have lost their role as masters of culture which had made them important for the whole of society. Today if we want to be credible and useful, we must return to having good cultural tools;

2) the rediscovery of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its conciliar sense: in particular the first part of each session where the documents of the Council enlighten the traditional themes. The Catechism has, indeed, the wisdom of making the premise to the explanation of the Creed an inspired part of the Dei Verbum, in which the personalistic vision of revelation is explained, the Sacrosantum Concilium prior to the Sacraments, and the Lumen Gentium, which shows man created in God’s image, before the Commandments. The first part of each section of the catechism is fundamental to enable today’s man to feel faith as something that relates to him closely, and to be able to give an answer to his most profound questions;

3) Finally the liturgy: too often it is neglected and desacralized. It must be restored with dignity to the center of both the parochial and the territorial community.

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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