Tag Archives: L’Osservatore Romano

The lost Caravaggio, The Martyrdom of St Lawrence, found with the Jesuits

OR.jpgThe art world is abuzz due to an article in L’Osservatore Romano on Sunday stating that a “lost Caravaggio” may now be found.

The as yet unauthenticated painting, “The Martyrdom of St Lawrence,” owned by the Society of Jesus, is thought to be a Caravaggio because it has the hallmarks of a Caravaggio, including dramatic lighting effects, the L’Osservatore Romano said. “Certainly it’s a stylistically impeccable, beautiful painting,” the article stated in its Sunday edition. “One can’t but be reminded of works like the Conversion of St Paul, the Martyrdom of St Matthew and Judith and Holofernes.”

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is the acknowledged pioneer of the Baroque painting technique of contrasting light and dark known in Italian as “chiaroscuro.” It is estimated that about 80 of the painter’s works are extant. He was born in Milan and trained there under Titian. Many are also aware of the artist’s wild lifestyle and the alleged murder he committed of a man in a brawl and then fled Rome. Moreover, Caravaggio’s mysterious death in 1610 has long intrigued scholars. Among the theories of his disappearance are that he was killed on a deserted Tuscan beach or collapsed there due to an illness. Italian anthropologists announced last month they had found the famous artist’s mortal remains. The artist’s club is observing the 400th anniversary of the artist’s death.

Leave it to the Jesuits to have at least two Caravaggio’s!

Looking toward a time of peace, reconciliation and social justice

I’ve had some spare time to read and so this morning I pondered the address given by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People at the 2010 Conference of European University Chaplaincies, 14-18 June 2010. The title of the address is “Young hearts and minds toward ‘Peace, Reconciliation, and Social Justice.”

A few paragraphs that I thought would be germane for reflection and deeper prayer.

Pope John Paul II … wrote that “forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil. The measure of such a decision is the love of God who draws us to himself in spite of our sin.  Forgiveness therefore has a divine source and criterion. Forgiveness, as a fully human act, is above all a personal initiative (World Day of Peace message 2002). The ability to forgive lies at the very basis of the idea of a future society marked by justice and solidarity. Peace is essential for development, but true peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation” (ibid).

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message to the youth in 2007, invited them to “dare to love” and not to desire anything less for their life than a love that is strong and beautiful: love that is capable of making the whole of their existence a joyful undertaking of giving themselves as a gift  to God and their brothers and sisters, in imitation of the One who vanquished hatred and death forever through love (cf. Rev 5:13). Love is the only force capable of changing the heart of the human person and of all humanity, by making fruitful the relations between men and women, between rich and poor, between cultures and civilizations.

Pope John Paul II in fact was convinced that the future far lies in the hands of the youth. The future of peace lies in their hearts. To construct history, as they can and must, they to free history from the false paths it is pursuing. To do this, the youth must have a deep trust in the grandeur of the human vocation -a vocation to be pursued with respect for truth for the dignity and inviolable rights of the human person. Pope Wojtyla felt the feeling of the modern youth indeed. He said that he saw them being touched by the hunger for peace; that they are troubled by so much injustice around them and sense overwhelming danger in the gigantic stockpiles of arms and in the threats of nuclear war; that they suffer when they see widespread hunger and malnutrition and are concerned about the environment today and for the coming generations; that they are threatened by unemployment and many already without work and without the prospect of meaningful employment and are upset by the large number of people who are oppressed politically and spiritually and who cannot enjoy the exercise of their basic human rights as individuals or as a community. All this can give rise to a feeling that life has little meaning. In this situation, some may be tempted to take flight from responsibility: in the fantasy worlds of alcohol and drugs, in short-lived sexual relationships without commitment to marriage and family, in indifference, in cynicism and even in violence. Pope John Paul II invited them therefore to be themselves on guard against the fraud of a world that wants to exploit or misdirect their energetic and powerful search for happiness and meaning. He invited them not to avoid the search for the true answers to the questions that confront them (World Day of Peace 1985).

L’Osservatore Romano
June 23, 2010

Priesthood: “First of all, authentically human,” Fr Carron suggests

Father Julián Carrón, published the following commentary on priesthood in the  L’Osservatore Romano (June 9, 2010), at conclusion of the Year of Priest.

I will never forget the impact of a question at a spiritual retreat with some priests in Latin America. I had just finished saying that often our faith lacks the human, when a priest approached me and said that when he was in seminary, they taught him that it was better to hide his concrete humanity, not to have it in sight “because it disturbed the journey of faith.” This episode made me more aware of how Christianity can be reduced and of the state of confusion in which we are called to live our priestly vocation. Once someone asked Fr. Giussani his advice for a young priest, “That he be above all a man,” he answered, to the surprise of those present. We find ourselves at the polar opposite of the advice given the seminarian: on the one hand, to look away from one’s humanity, and on the other, a gaze full of fondness for oneself.


So then, what is decisive for our faith and our vocation? What do we need? Fr. Giussani repeatedly indicated that “the forgetfulness of the ‘I’,” the absence of authentic interest for one’s own person is the “supreme obstacle to our human journey” (Alla ricerca del volto umano, Rizzoli, Milano 1995, p. 9). Instead, true love for oneself, true affection for oneself is what leads us to rediscover our constituent exigencies, our original needs in their nakedness and vastness, so as to see ourselves as relationship with the Mystery, entreaty for the
infinite, structural expectant awaiting. Only people so “wounded” by reality, so seriously engaged with their own humanity can open themselves totally to the encounter with the Lord. Fr. Giussani affirms, “In fact, Christ offers Himself as the answer to what “I” am and only an attentive and also tender and passionate awareness of myself can throw me wide open and dispose me to acknowledge, admire, thank, and live Christ. Without this awareness, even that of Jesus Christ becomes a mere name” (At the Origin of the Christian Claim, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal 1998, p. 4).

“There is no response more absurd than that to a question one hasn’t asked” wrote Reinhold Niebuhr. This also applies to us when we uncritically submit to the influence of the culture in which we are immersed, which seems to favor the reduction of humanity to our biological, psychological and sociological antecedents. But if humanity is truly reduced to this, what is our task as priests? What use are we? What is the sense of our vocation? How can we resist a flight from reality, taking refuge in spiritualism or formalism, seeking alternatives that make life bearable? Or wouldn’t it be better, obeying the cultural climate, to become social assistants, psychologists, cultural operators or politicians? As Benedict XVI reminded us in Lisbon, “Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic. Perhaps we have placed an excessive trust in ecclesial structures and programs, in the distribution of powers and functions; but what will happen if salt loses its flavor?” (Homily at Holy Mass at Terriero do Paco of Lisbon, May 11, 2010).


Therefore, everything depends on the perception, first of all for us, of what humanity is and what truly corresponds to our infinite desire. The decision with which we live our vocation therefore derives from the decision with which we live our being men. Only within an authentically human vibration can we know Christ and let ourselves be fascinated by Him, to the point of giving Him our lives to make Him known to others. “Why does the faith still absolutely have a chance of success?” then Cardinal Ratzinger asked himself, and answered, “I would say because it finds correspondence in the nature of man. […]  In man there is an inextinguishable nostalgic aspiration toward the infinite. None of the answers sought is sufficient; only the God who has made Himself finite, to lacerate our finiteness and lead it in the breadth of His infinity, is able to meet the questions of our being. Therefore today as well, Christian faith will return to find humanity” (Fede, Verità, Tolleranza [Faith, Truth, Tolerance] Cantagalli, Siena 2003, pp. 142-143).

This certainty that Benedict XVI testifies to continually even in the face of all the evil we bring upon ourselves or cause others – just think of the pedophilia issue – invites us on a journey to rediscover and deepen our understanding of the reasonableness of the faith: “Our faith is well-founded, but this faith needs to come alive in each of us […]: only Christ can fully satisfy the profound longing of every human heart and give answers to its most pressing questions about suffering, injustice and evil, concerning death and life hereafter” (Homily at Holy Mass at Terriero do Paco di Lisbon, May 11, 2010). Only if we experience the truth of Christ in our life will we have the courage to communicate it and the audacity to challenge the hearts of the people we meet. In this way, the priesthood will continue to be an adventure for each of us and thus the opportunity to testify to our fellow women and men the answer that only Christ is for the “mystery of our being” (G. Leopardi). Thank you.

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Father Julián Carrón is a priest of the Archdiocese of Madrid and he is the President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation centered in Milan, Italy. He was appointed by Benedict XVI to be among the experts at the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God and he is a consultant on the Pontifical Council of the Laity.

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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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