Spiritual Life: June 2010 Archives

St Joseph Cafasso.jpg

The Pope's weekly general audience address today was dedicated to Saint Joseph Cafasso (1811-1860), a member of the "St Francis of Assisi Institute," a priest (ordained in 1833) who died 150 years ago. He is most known as Saint John Bosco's spiritual father (director) from 1835 to 1860. Cafasso died in 1860; Pius XII canonized in him 1947. In 1948, Pope Pius XII named him the patron of Italian prisons and, in 1950, proposed him "as a model for priests involved in Confession and spiritual direction." His uncle is Blessed Joseph Allamano. Saint Joseph Cafasso's feast day is June 23.

I never heard of Saint Joseph Cafasso until today, partly because I am not well attuned to the life of Saint John Bosco of which he seems to be most connected. According to the Benedict, Joseph Cafasso's ministry helped to form "the true pastor with a rich interior life and a profound zeal for pastoral care: faithful in prayer, committed to preaching and catechesis, dedicated to the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, in keeping with the model incarnated by St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis of Sales, and promoted by the Council of Trent. St. Joseph Cafasso sought to establish this model in the formation of young priests so that, in their turn, they too could become formators to other priests, religious and lay people, thus creating a unique and effective chain." AND how could anyone NOT take Saint Joseph Cafasso as a paradigm for Christian life?

A theme that I am picking up these days from some of the Pope's addresses is the constant need to stay in the "state of grace." You might say, "no Kidding, Paul! Really?" Mock if you want, but there is an increasing distancing from God, especially staying close to God by means of staying in a state of grace through the sacrament of confession. We know that the pure of heart are the ones who inherit the kingdom of God. One of the things we know of Saint John Vianney is that he devoted himself to confessional. Cafasso, the Pope said, "loved the Lord totally, he was animated by a well-rooted faith and supported by profound and prolonged prayer, he showed sincere charity to everyone. He knew moral theology but was equally well aware of the condition of people's hearts for which, like the good shepherd, he took responsibility."

Benedict XVI explained that that Saint John Bosco never copied his master. Not an insignificant point: we need to take under consideration those who guide us but we also need to assert our independence from a "master teacher" in order for grace to flourish.  Otherwise we merely parrot the other in an unthinking manner. The Pope said, "He imitated him in the human and priestly virtues - defining him as a 'model of priestly life' - but maintained his own attitudes and his own specific vocation. ... This is a precious lesson for those involved in the formation and education of the young generations."

What may be interesting for us to know is that Saint Joseph Cafasso was renown for his "concern for the lowest, especially for prisoners ... who lived in inhuman and dehumanizing conditions." Characteristic of Cafasso's work with prisoners is remembered today as he "often delivered great sermons that came to involve almost the entire prison population, with the passage of time he came to favor individual catechesis, made up of conversations and personal meetings. While respecting the individual situation of each individual, he tackled the great themes of Christian life, speaking of trust in God, adherence to His will, the utility of prayer and the Sacraments, the culmination of which is Confession, the meeting with God Who, for us, becomes infinite mercy."

Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati3.jpgToday begins nine days of prayer in honor of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, "the man of the 8 Beatitudes."

The invitation to prayer is posted in various languages on the international website. The course of prayer for the nine days can be found here.

Join us in the confidence of Blessed Pier Giorgio's intercession. This is 20th anniversary of Frassati's beatification...what a wonderful time to get to know Blessed Pier Giorgio!

Pilgrimage to Chartres

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Pilgrimage 2009.jpgGoing from point A to point B whether it is a physical move or a spiritual one is a pilgrimage. Something happens to the person making the move between points. Traditionally speaking a pilgrimage is not a tourist event nor is a undertaken for frivolous reasons. Tourism is fine and necessary but I want to think about a different type physical and spiritual journey not often talked about in Catholic circles today. It is a journey; it's a path walked; it is a time to review your life. A pilgrimage is time spent either alone or with others on a path to a change of heart, a conversion. Often we take on the burdens and the delights of a pilgrimage to gain a deeper insight into our lives as Christians asking questions about how the experience of Christ has changed me, or where I need to change based on what I discern the Lord to be asking.

Saints have made pilgrimages, sinners have made and continue to make pilgrimages. My own home parish priest just led a very beautiful pilgrimage to the Lourdes Shrine and other religious places in France this past April. Members of the lay movement Communion and Liberation makes an annual pilgrimage to the famous Marian shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa (also here) or to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loretto and the Conventual Franciscans (and the Capuchins, CFRs and Dominicans [to sights related to Saint Dominic] do the similarly) often lead pilgrims to Assisi in order to be faithful to the path set out by Saint Francis of Assisi. The Benedictines of Saint John's Abbey sponsor a regular pilgrimage to religious shrines and monastic foundations in Europe related to Saint Benedict and the Benedictine patrimony. OK, the point is not to catalog the pilgrimage possibilities but to give examples of current types of pilgrimages and to say that making a pilgrimage is not a dead, outmoded pious gesture. Real, good stuff happens to people on pilgrimage!

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One such pilgrimage taking place on annual basis is the Pilgrimage to Chartres by an international group of young people numbering in the neighborhood of 10-15k. Their form of prayer is Catholic: rosary, litany, mortification, acts of asceticism, confession of sins and the Mass according to the missal of Blessed John XXIII.

Watch a most fascinating video on the experience... and the 2009 photo album ...and the report with pictures of the 2010 pilgrimage in 4 installments from The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny.

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Spiritual Life category from June 2010.

Spiritual Life: May 2010 is the previous archive.

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