- Friday, 27 September 2013 11:14
Many of thee books I read or glanced at over the recent six months have not been too helpful in understanding the newly elected Pope, Francis. A recent publication, Pope Francis: Key to His Thought, has promise. Penned by Monsignor Mariano Fazio, Vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Argentina since 2010, begins the substance of his narrative when he first met Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio in Rome in 2000. Fazio was then working at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; he was rector there from 2002-2008.
The author’s thesis is based on many friendly meetings with Francis and thus sketches in a lively manner some of the key ideas that are fundamental in knowing who the Pope is as a person and as a shepherd. I think this perspective opens wider the door of our opinion of the new pope and hopefully engenders in us a spirit of greater collaboration based on something concrete versus the media hype that is prevalent these days.
Monsignor Fazio’s text covers Francis’ “urgency to defend human life and marriage, and the need to ‘go out to the periphery’ to meet people where they are. The latter concern is reflected in the strong encouragement given by Cardinal Bergoglio to the so-called “shantytown priests” for the envangelization of the poorest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. This effort was grounded on sacramental catechesis and educational projects that foster human dignity, and was never to be confused, Bergoglio always insisted, with an overly political ‘liberation theology.'”
As Fazio says, “I have three letters he sent me in recent years. Whenever I sent him anything, he would respond in writing, in his own hand. The format was always the same: a large card with an image of La Virgen Desatanudos (Our Lady Undoer of Knots), a title originating in Augsburg, Germany (Maria Knotenlöserin) that he had made known in Buenos Aires . . . In the blank space he writes in small letters, much like Benedict XVI, a few personal and affectionate lines. Here are some: ‘I wish you a holy and happy Christmas. May Jesus bless you and our Lady take care of you. And, please, I ask that you pray and have others pray for me’ . . . These notecards were always accompanied by two holy pictures: one of St. Joseph and the other of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, saints to whom he had great devotion . . . On the back of the picture of St. Joseph is the famous text of St. Teresa of Jesus about the efficacy of devotion to the Holy Patriarch. On various occasions when, having spoken with him, I asked for his blessing, he always invoked these saints and in addition placed me under the protection of St. Josemaria.”
Pope Francis: Keys to His Thought is available from Scepter Publishers.
- Monday, 20 August 2012 10:10
Bouncing around in Catholic religious orders for some time is the notion that one can be a member of the Jesuits or the Sisters of Mercy and “go beyond Jesus and the Church.” I can remember hearing from a Jesuit whom I respected in the early 1990s that he was a “post-Christian Jesuit.” I wondered how a member of the Society of Jesus, a son of Saint Ignatius, could be post-Christian. The former Dominican Father Matthew Fox tried the same line of thinking. In fact, he’s neither a Catholic nor a Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Preachers as he’s gone to the Episcopal Church and now some kind of new ager. Christ is optional for him. Not long ago a religious sister who teaches at CTU said that the sisters in the USA can go beyond Jesus. So the recent crisis in faith in religious orders reflects a deeper divide in Christian faith in the rest of society.
I try to wrap my mind around what it means to be a post-Christian American. Father C. John McCloskey III, priest of the Opus Dei wrote a piece, “Post-Christian America
,” which I am recommending. Father McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute (Washington, DC). The point of the article is not demonstrate America’s abandonment of Christian faith but to say how it happened.
- Thursday, 28 June 2012 10:30
Two “New Yorkers” advance in the study of their sanctity: Fulton J. Sheen and Mother Angelina Teresa.
Today, Pope Benedict XVI gave his permission for the promulgation of the decree concerning the “heroic virtues” of now Venerable Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979). Sheen was a great communicator of the faith in the 20th century. His winning personality and sincerity drew people to Christ.
A wonderful development is the recognition that Brigida Teresa McCrory (1893-1984) known as Mother Angelina Teresa, foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirmed, lived a life of heroic virtue. This is good news because it highlights the good work these Carmelite sisters continue to do, notably around the corner from St Catherine of Siena Church (NYC).
Moreover, he did the same for the former Prelate of Opus Dei, the Servant of God Alvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano, Spanish prelate of the Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei (1914-1994). He was the immediate successor to Saint Josemaria.
Angelo Cardinal Amato SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented these and other causes for sainthood.
UPDATE: Cardinal Dolan writes about the 2 New Yorkers…
- Tuesday, 26 June 2012 16:43
Don’t let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love…Don’t flutter around like a hen, when you can soar to the heights of an eagle!
Saint Josemaría Escrivá
More info on the life and works of Saint Josemaría Escrivá can be found here.
- Saturday, 14 January 2012 10:14
At the new year the Hungarians passed a new constitution with some real changes that will affect the Church and other ecclesial communities, including non-Christian groups. The New York Times ran the article that outlines the changes giving the impression that even the Hungarians are unable to name all the changes. What caught my eye thanks to Brother Richard of OSB.org, when he first posted a note on his FB page that some venerable religious orders like the Benedictines and the Carmelites and a group like the Opus Dei are now downgraded in terms of the law. But why? What does the Hungarian government gain by doing such and what are the long-term implications for the Benedictines and Carmelites? Why weren’t the states of the Dominicans and Jesuits changed? Some of what happened is noted here:
new year, as the new constitution goes into effect, all petitions to the
[Constitutional] Court lapse and it becomes much harder for anyone to challenge
this law — or any other.
“But it is worth lingering on the newly
re-enacted law on the status of churches because it is one of the places where
we can clearly see the effects of the new constitutional order on the
protection of constitutional rights. What does the law on churches do? It
creates 14 state-recognized religions, and decertifies the rest. On January 1,
over 300 denominations lose their official status in Hungary — including their
tax exemptions and their abilities to run state-funded schools. While most of
the denominations are tiny, many are not. Among the religions that will no longer
be able to operate with state approval are all versions of Islam, Buddhism,
Hinduism and Baha’i, as well as many smaller Catholic orders including the
Benedictines, Marists, Carmelites, and Opus Dei, and a number of major
Protestant denominations including Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh
Day Adventists, Mormons, Methodists, and all but one of the evangelical
churches. One each of the orthodox, conservative, and liberal Jewish synagogues
are recognized; but all other Jewish congregations are not” (The
A Benedictine from Hungary writes
that “religious orders are still part of the Catholic Church in my country
and being as such they will maintain their legal status — all other
problematic constitutional points nothwithstanding.” (see OSB.org)