Tag Archives: theology

NFP (Natural Family Planning): formation for a fertile life

Saint Joseph Seminary – Dunwoodie was the setting today for a clergy seminar on Natural Family Planning (NFP) sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York Family & Respect Life Offices, The Couple to Couple League International and with the generosity of others as well. Some 40 clergy types (priests, deacons and seminarians) attended. It was a blessing to have Dr Theresa Notare, Dr Kyle Beiter, Richard & Vicki Braun, Dr. Jack Burnham, Fr John Higgins, Andrew & Tracey Pappalrdo, and Erik & Anne Tozzi as presenters.

So what did I learn today?
YOU can control YOUR reproductive health care sensibly and morally without spending tons of money and selling your values. The point of the day was to introduce us to the most wholistic, safe form of family planning that there is today. This approach is pro-life, pro-woman, pro-faith, and pro-humanity. NFP is totally Catholic. It shows that it’s possible for a husband and wife to communicate and to collaborate with each other on all facets of life, especially the facet of sex and reproduction.

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Leaning on the Master

I frequently
stand in awe of people who, like Pope Benedict, can draw my attention to the
essentials of faith, reason and culture. His audience on Wednesday where he
speaks about St. Bernard is one of these instances because he shows me the
beauty of St. Bernard, the purpose of theology study, life with the saints, and why we have to suffer some things for the Kingdom. For example, the Pope
offers a corrective in my work as a seminarian.

St resting on Jesus' Chest.jpg

Here are a few germane sentences with emphasis added: In one place in the talk Pope says: “Faith is above all an
individual and intimate encounter with Jesus
; it means experiencing His
closeness, His friendship and His love.” He continues “St. Bernard, solidly
based on the Bible and on the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound
faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, by a profound relationship
with the Lord
, our reflections on the divine mysteries risk becoming a futile
intellectual exercise, and lose their credibility
. Theology takes us back to
the “science of the saints,” to their intuitions of the mysteries of
the living God, to their wisdom, gift of the Holy Spirit, which become the
point of reference for theological thought.”

And given that I think there’s much discussion
in a seminary work, sometimes too much discussion, I am leaning St. Bernard as
he says, “but perhaps He can be sought better and found more easily with
prayer than with discussion. We put an end here to the book, but not to the
search.” 

(Pope Benedict XVI,
Wednesday General Audience, October 21, 2009) 

Purgatory: Understanding the Catholic doctrine

Just this morning one of the assisting priests where I am living and I had a brief discussion about purgatory and the need to raise our awareness of praying for “those who have gone before marked by the sign of faith.” I don’t get to think much about purgatory but it’s been a funny thing: I’ve been thinking about the Catholic practice of praying for the souls in purgatory and need to keep in mind and heart the place the dead continue to have in our lives and in Church. I suspect that most of us observe All Souls Day once a year but is that enough? We probably don’t think of those who have died, our family, friends and even those unknown to us personally, as needing prayers for purification. Perhaps we think of our dead as already being with God face-to-face and therefore in no need of prayer. Affectively this line of thinking is understandable. But really, do we think that our deceased friends and family were that perfect in life that aren’t in need of prayer and sacrifice?

Also today I was surfing the usual Catholic news sites and I was astonished to see this video news item on Rome Reports talking about purgatory. Something is in the air! Since Divine Providence works in mysterious ways, I leave it to you to pray and think about the holy and not yet holy souls.
There is much unsound doctrine on the Church’s faith in purgatory. I bid you to do some personal work on knowing what the Church believes AND what it doesn’t believe. See this entry on purgatory.
This video clip on a museum on purgatory in Rome is very interesting.

In praise of Defending Truth: Garrigou-Lagrange

Over at First Things Rusty Reno reviews the idea of defending truth by looking at the work of Dominican Father Reginald-Marie Garrigou-Lagrange. What a novel notion! Reno gives us another look in this seminal thinker and priest.

ADL wants to revise Catholic theology

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wants the US Catholic bishops to revise the statement, Reflections on Covenant and Mission (2002) to emphasize that Catholics don’t want to convert Jews to Christianity. Here’s the US Bishops’ recent statement on clarifications made to RCM. This is not a document of the Roman Catholic Church, i.e., the Magisterium, nor of the US Bishops. It is a work of a group of theologians, Jewish and Catholic, reflecting on mutual interests in theology.

Our theology is such that Jesus Christ is The Way, the Truth and the Life: all people come to salvation in and through Jesus Christ; God’s promises through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are fulfilled in Jesus as the definitive revelation of God. Jews are not the singular group here; Catholics believe this is true for all the world’s peoples. This is revealed by the Lord Himself. It was not dreamed up by a committee. Having said all this, the Church’s missiology is governed by the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which understands Judaism in special light when it comes to evangelization but nowhere in Vatican II theology (or praxis) does it say that the Church capitulates to another faith group because of its belief is “controversial.”
If someone doesn’t understand or even like or wants to reject this theology, OK. We propose belief in Christ as salvific and not impose this belief on others. We have to be clear on what we believe so as to be clear on the method of sharing our belief. But why does the ADL presume to tell the Church what to believe. Do Catholics tell the Jews what remove from their theology because Catholics don’t like it? Not likely.
I think RCM is fair-minded and accurate. 

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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