Tag Archives: New Evangelization

How Catholics use Scripture: Pope Francis talks on inspiration and truth in the Bible

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Yesterday, the Holy Father met with the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) led by German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The theme the PBC’s annual plenary assembly was “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.” On the personal and parish level, this theme is revisited year-in and year-out. Catholics (and the Orthodox) have a particular way of praying, reading, studying and living the sacred Scripture that is very different from the Protestant ecclesial communities: from WITHIN the context of the living community of faith, i.e., the Liturgy.

Pope Francis paid close attention to this year’s work of the PBC by saying it “affects not only the individual believer but the whole Church, for the Church’s life and mission are founded on the Word of God, which is the soul of theology as well as the inspiration of all of Christian existence.”

He noted that in Dei Verbum the emphasis of what the nature of Scripture is, how the Church interprets Scripture, what is conserved by the Church, and by whose authority is at work. I  think one of the “money quotes” is when Francis reminded us that “The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be just an individual academic effort, but must always be compared to, inserted within, and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church.” 

The point we Catholics have to come to understand and to work on is that we are a biblically based religion, like none other, established by Jesus Christ, and preaching Him since 33 AD. We can’t get away from the Scriptures and that’s why bible study AND lectio divina are crucial every day. The Scriptures are testimony of how God works and humanity responds to God’s invitation.

Here is the Pope’s text:

I am pleased to welcome you at the end of your annual Plenary Assembly. I thank the President, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, for his greeting and summary of the topic that has been the subject of careful consideration in the course of your work. You have gathered again to study a very important topic: the inspiration and truth of the Bible. It is a matter that affects not only the individual believer, but the whole Church, for the life and mission of the Church is founded on the Word of God, which is the soul of theology and the inspiration of all Christian life .

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St. Edmund’s Retreat, Enders Island at Mystic, CT

Assumption chapel, Enders.jpgThursday’s beautiful spring weather jettisoned me (and a friend, James) to take a road trip to visit Saint Edmund’s Retreat House in Mystic Connecticut.

Saint Edmund’s is situated on Enders Island in a comfortable neighborhood that easily shares the beauty of nature –Long Island Sound and beautiful gardens. Walking the grounds you become aware of the Divine Presence.
The chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption is also a beautiful place to pray and rest in the Lord. Special to the chapel is the arm of Saint Edmund of Canterbury, and the other relics of saints. But not to be missed are magnificent icons, the illuminated Stations of the Cross done by artists connected with the Retreat House.
In recent years Saint Edmund’s has become a place of evangelization with the many programs of spiritual renewal. In addition to spiritual retreats offered to laity and clergy, there are programs in learning Gregorian chant, iconography, AA programs and more. I hope, in time, there will be a possibility of adding other programs attending to Catholic theology and formation (on the Liturgy, Scripture, catechetics and spiritual formation). Saint Edmund’s is poised to be a wonderful center for the new evangelization.
Saint Edmund of Canterbury, pray for us.
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Women in the New Testament

It is true that women have had a better sense in recognizing the risen Jesus than men:  “the women were the first witnesses” of Jesus’ resurrected existence. The teaching of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus and our own future resurrection is undeniably hard teaching to grasp. Yesterday, we heard in the account of the Marys at the tomb. One of the Marys, that of Magdala, is known as the Apostle to the Apostles. Below are three paragraphs on the subject from today’s Wednesday General Audience of Pope Francis. I am sure some will raise the issue that the Pope is not going far enough by denying the ministerial priesthood to women. Of course, we are not talking about ministerial priesthood here; the Pope’s point here is to draw our attention that God’s ways, God’s criteria in selecting those who called to serve Him is not same as human ways of judging AND the identification and verification of the Lord’s truth as the Son of God, alive and present to each of us. As Francis says, “In our journey of faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love.”

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I would like to dwell the second, on testimony in the form of the accounts that we find in the Gospels. First, we note that the first witnesses to this event were the women. At dawn, they go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, and find the first sign: the empty tomb (Mk 16:1). This is followed by an encounter with a Messenger of God who proclaims: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, he is not here, he is risen (cf. vv. 5-6). The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves. They cannot contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their heart. This should also be the same in our lives. Let us feel the joy of being Christian! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! Let us also have the courage to “go out” to bring this joy and light to all the places of our lives! The Resurrection of Christ is our greatest certainty, it is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this beautiful certainty with others! It’s not just for us it’s to be transmitted, shared with others this is our testimony!

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The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Francis: Covenant and holiness for service and life

Breaking of the bread. Español: Fracción del p...

As the “new man” on the block I am trying to figure what the new Roman Pontiff’s taught prior to his move to Rome. In 2008, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio now Pope Francis, was invited to give a teaching on the Holy Eucharist to International Eucharistic Congress, Quebec City, Canada. The title of his talk was “The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World.”

I would say that his controlling idea is based on the Aparecida document where it is written, “The Eucharist is the vital center of the universe, able to satisfy our hunger for life and happiness. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood in this happy banquet participates in eternal life, and thus our daily existence is transformed into an extension of the Mass.” He then develops the theme of the Eucharist as gift and mission in light of the Church’s enduring self-understanding as covenant. He appeals to tradition, some saints and the Mother of God to demonstrate that evangelization is about Eucharistic Presence, sacrifice, and communion. He argues in the key of communio theology.

Much of what we’ve heard in the last two weeks in his papal addresses and homilies given here.

The text: Bergoglio Eucharist Gift of God for the Life of the World.pdf

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Faithful catechists are “witnesses rather than teachers,” Pope Francis said

Catechism Clips

Catechism Clips (Photo credit: thicke)

As the archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio spoke of the importance of the ministry of catechesis, as a “pillar of the Church.” For him, as you would expect, catechesis is the sowing of seed in soil. No what type of soil, as the parable goes, you sow, cultivate, and pray. In a letter addressed to catechists, the cardinal stated, “In our task of evangelization, God asks us to accompany a people that walks in the faith.”

Cardinal Bergoglio paid attention to the ecclesial and evangelical nature of the catechetical ministry that is often overlooked, mismanaged, and otherwise dismissed by clergy and laity alike. You get a clearer sense of the the scope –successes and failures– in catechetical ministry throughout the last hundred plus years if you read George Weigel’s recent book, Evangelical Catholicism. And this why catechetical methods such as Catechesis of the Good Shepherd aim at doing what is consistent with the long-view of teaching the faith is about, and the emphases Pope Francis made in 2010.

Bergoglio, like Weigel, and other reasonably attentive pastors of the Church speak of the handing on the faith to others (children and adults alike) is a “splendid mission, ministry of the Word that catechists have been carrying out uninterruptedly for almost two thousand years”; it is “an ecclesial service that is expressed in many ways and in different places.”


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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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