Culture: September 2008 Archives

Poor box at SS. Peter and Paul hits million milestone

By Christie L. Chicoine


East Goshen, Sep 28, 2008 (CNA).- Week in and week out, parishioners of all ages at SS. Peter and Paul Parish thoughtfully slip cash -- and occasionally checks -- into the poor box.jpg church's five poor boxes.


Last month, their charitable acts of kindness topped more than $1 million for the 18 years the poor box ministry has been in place there.


"I've been looking forward to that," said Msgr. James J. Foley, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul. "My hope, in the beginning, was that we could raise $6,000 a year. We raised $10,000. Now, we're raising almost $10,000 every two months," and sometimes much more.


An observation made by a nun who was visiting the parish sums up the program's success. "She said, 'It's the only church I've ever been in where people line up to put money in the poor box,'" Msgr. Foley recounted.


Read the rest of the story.

The Palace could get a Catholic

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The English Crown may be up for a change by parliament in the near future.  One of the UK Royal Standard.jpg items being considered for reform is allowing a papist to be a monarch of England. At the moment there is a 300 law preventing such a thing to happen. "The 1688 Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement in 1701 and Act of Union in 1707 - reinforced by the provisions of the Coronation Oath Act 1688 - effectively excluded Catholics or their spouses from the succession and provided for the Protestant succession. Neither Catholics nor those who marry them nor those born to them out of wedlock may be in the line of succession."


Imagine, a Roman Catholic as head of England. I wonder if he or she would remain as head of the CofE? Of course not.....


There are other things being studied. Read the article.

The Last Summer Day

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The Summer Fête


Thumbnail image for sun flowers.jpg"Where are ye now, ye summer days,

"That once inspired the poet's lays?

"Blest time! ere England's nymphs and swains,

  "For lack of sunbeams, took to coals--

"Summers of light, undimmed by rains,

"Whose only mocking trace remains

  "In watering-pots and parasols."


Thus spoke a young Patrician maid,

  As, on the morning of that Fête

  Which bards unborn shall celebrate,

She backward drew her curtain's shade,

And, closing one half-dazzled eye,

Peeped with the other at the sky--

The important sky, whose light or gloom

Was to decide, this day, the doom

Of some few hundred beauties, wits,

Blues, Dandies, Swains, and Exquisites.


Thumbnail image for Summer Flowers.jpgFaint were her hopes; for June had now

  Set in with all his usual rigor!

Young Zephyr yet scarce knowing how

To nurse a bud, or fan a bough,

  But Eurus in perpetual vigor;

And, such the biting summer air,

That she, the nymph now nestling there--

Snug as her own bright gems recline

At night within their cotton shrine--

Had more than once been caught of late

Kneeling before her blazing grate,

Like a young worshipper of fire,

  With hands uplifted to the flame,

Whose glow as if to woo them nigher.

  Thro' the white fingers flushing came.


But oh! the light, the unhoped-for light,

  That now illumed this morning's heaven!

Up sprung Iänthe at the sight,

  Tho'--hark!--the clocks but strike eleven,

And rarely did the nymph surprise

Mankind so early with her eyes.

Who now will say that England's sun

  (Like England's self, these spendthrift days)

His stock of wealth hath near outrun,

  And must retrench his golden rays--

Pay for the pride of sunbeams past,

And to mere moonshine come at last?


Thomas Moore

Sloperton Cottage, November 1881

Meeting at the beautiful upper eastside church of Our Lady of Good Counsel (NYC), on a very rainy Saturday night, the Catholic Underground convened. There is no exaggeration in saying that nearly 500 people, mostly in their 20s and 30s but there were the more mature individuals who may claim to be in their 40s, 50s and above, present to pray Vespers (the Roman Office) in the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament and then to spend time adoring Christ. The ceremony was presided over by the newly ordained deacon, Brother Louis, CFR.


CU.jpgThe Catholic Underground is in its 6th season and it meets on the first Saturday of each month, nine times a year. The Underground is a religious and cultural project of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. They say the Underground exists because "the Gospel lives in conversation with culture, we must be fearless in crossing the cultural threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place." The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (known to some as the CFRs or Fr. Benedict Groeshel's group) is a Capuchin reform movement of Franciscans who live radical yet sensible poverty, who have an intense community life and who are faithful to the teaching authority of the Church. No one who meets these friars could say that they don't live according to their Order's charism and that they are squishy in their faith and liturgical lives. While they may not use the concept outright, the CFRs follow an ancient dictum of lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.


In the crowd you saw a religious brother, 2 Sisters of Life, a woman religious of an unidentified congregation, some minor and major diocesan seminarians and a host of friars. I wasn't aware of the presence of the secular priests or members of other religious orders. But since I was there I can claim the Benedictines were represented by me as a mere postulant.


Liturgically there was a fine sense of the ars celebrandi. Unlike some church venues, these friars follow what the Church expects; no trendy prayers, no making "it relevant," etc. The celebrant and the musicians with the attentive crowd did what the Church expects in living the mystery in front of us. Hence, there was no liturgical innovation. One may quibble over the fact there was no homily but what exactly could have been said at that moment? The Divine Presence was really doing all the work. Perhaps someone may also raise a question of the quality (style?) of music used. Certainly, the Franciscan Steubenville style is appealing to many people under a certain age. But I wonder if that is because they know nothing else than the Steubenville music. The friars know chant and hymnody but for some reason they've selected the Steubenville genre thinking that it's what "speaks to this crowd!" But they well be correct in their choices, I just don't know right now how to judge the choice. When you hear 800-year old hymn texts set to contemporary settings your interest piques. While I suspended criticism of the Steubenville music until I experience these rites again I can't help but think a steady diet of this trendy music would sour over time. Where does this ultimately lead the believer?


Many people were shriven. I have to laugh at the '68ers who claim that the reception Confession.jpgof the sacrament of Confession is dead or its reception is so low that it barely has a heart beat when I look at events like the Catholic Underground. Other experiences tell me the faithful's reception of this sacrament is not on life-support are the steady line of sinners for daily confession at St. Mary's and St. Stanislaus Church, New Haven, CT, the churches of St. Agnes and St Francis, NYC and at meetings of Communion & Liberation (and I am sure there are other places). The supposition made by the '68ers is really about their lack of belief in the effective power of God's mercy and that it is essential in "relating" to the Lord (read the Book of Psalms to see the relationship between man's righteousness and his need to be shriven). It would also seem that this same crowd may not believe that they can forgive or be forgiven and therefore it is a farce to face God viz. human frailty. It gives me great hope to see other in line to hear God say "I love you and I forgive you; go and sin no more you are set free of your sins." What is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to make rationalizations about our humanity? There were at least 5 priests hearing confessions during Vespers and down in the church hall during the music event. Tell me Confession isn't being valued and utilized today! Go ahead, tell me there isn't an awareness of grace and sin in the lives of the young people today!


adoration.jpgIf your measure of success is pure numbers, then it was a success. A very full church of people praying and be shrived is impressive on a Saturday night. That people come to religious ceremonies is a minor miracle in some people's books. But the standard of judgment has to be different: the measure of "success" of a gesture such as Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament can't rely on numbers but on sanctification. Questioning the success by numbers begs the question of participation and yet we all know that a person can participate in a religious event without opening he or her mouth. So, how can one measure how and if sanctification happens?


The other day I was reflecting on what happened at the Catholic Underground first by myself and later with a friend. Questions surfaced about the high level of emotions that exists among the participants. Perhaps one can say, "really!" In front of Holiness what else might there be? I knowing running through me there were the emotions of happiness, sadness, love, peace, anxiety, fear, etc. There seems to be much going on at the service: prayer -personal and congregational, conversion as evidenced by those standing in line for the sacrament of Confession, and prayerful companionship with others. Are the emotions of the participants being played by such events?


Another piece of this evaluation of the Catholic Underground is the catechetical side of the event. I wonder how all of our lives of faith can be strengthened, broadened and realized by a moment of catechesis. Perhaps our time with the exposed Eucharist is the right time for teaching the faith. I do have to wonder about the lack of catechetical materials available in the back of the Church or in the hall. Couldn't the friars use the free materials from the Catholic Information Service (at the Knights of Columbus)? Surely Underground-ers would appreciate knowing about the print and audio materials available to better know their faith?


Catholic identity is fostered and deepened even though notions of identity may not be considered by the participants but participation in such things sets the participants apart from their secular and other religiously oriented friends. What do these people know about the faith? Are they conscious of the event of the Paschal Mystery? Are they aware that congregational praying builds a relationship with God and strengthens fraternal relations with those in attendance? What happens to this people from one Catholic Underground experience and the next Catholic Underground experience? How many come back in a given year?


CFRs.jpgOne thing is crystal clear: the credibility of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal is rock solid. There is no question in my mind that the friars are convicted by their encounter with Christ as Savior and the Church as sacrament. The friars, unlike so many other religious, are not ashamed by their faith in Christ, their religious profession and for those who are priests, their priesthood. AND that's why the CFRs are getting vocations. In seeing the friars at work, I am trying to imagine a full complement of priests who really love their calling to be priests of Jesus Christ and a group of priests who are not afraid of being collaborators with the bishops in serving as priests for good of the Gospel and the Church. Is this too much to ask for? Of course, there are priests who love Christ, who love the Church and love being ordained, but they seem to be few in number.


In the post John Paul II pontificate and now in the Benedict XVI pontificate orthodoxy is a value by which you live and die. There are those who were once called "JPII Catholics" are now "B16 protagonists." That is, looking at and following the example of Pope Benedict XVI you get the strong sense that a right-thinking, right-praying Catholic today is one who is making a difference the public and private squares.


That's it for now.

Catholic Radio 2.0

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180x60_wht.gifGive an ear to Catholic radio on the net. I just learned of a new venture of Well, I am not sure how new it really is, but I am new to it.

On Saturdays, 11-noon, Craig hosts a rather sensible and informative radio program dealing with a host of issues of interest to Catholics where he plainly proposes Jesus Christ using technology. What a novel idea! AND he's not a weirdo.

Catholic Radio 2.0

An international conference "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A Critical human evolution.jpgAppraisal 150 years after 'The Origin of Species,'" will be held in Rome 3-7 March 2009.


This conference is jointly organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome) and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana) coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture as a project of STOQ (Science, Theology and the ontological Quest).


About STOQ


Seeking to foster a dialogue between science and religion, between science and STOQ logo.jpgfaith, three universities in Rome (Italy), under the coordination of the Pontifical Council for Culture, have launched an initiative entitled "Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest" (STOQ), a project that unites professionals from the fields of theology, philosophy and scientific investigation, in the common search for the truth.


STOQ, following the teaching of the Church as found in documents like Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), published by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

"The Church needs science and science needs religion. Science purifies religion of error and superstition; religion purifies science of idolatry and false absolutes," Cardinal Paul Poupard, President-emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

STOQ seeks to promote this dialogue by means of formative courses, in-depth investigations, publications, congresses and a student exchange program. Targeting professors and students alike, the project has three centers of investigation in each of the universities collaborating in the initiative:

-The Pontifical Gregorian University will concentrate on the foundations of philosophy of science.

-The Pontifical Lateran University will focus on the relation between the scientific and humanistic disciplines, especially Logic and Epistemology.

-The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum will focus on the relations among the fields of philosophy, theology and the science of life, especially through its faculty of Bioethics.

The STOQ project seeks to create a new mentality within the Catholic Church that is open to the challenges that science presents to society and our faith of today, while promoting a new outlook in the realms of science, seeking the truth and at the same time open to the mystery of transcendence of the human person.

The Catholic Underground is meeting this Saturday, September 6th, at

Our Lady of Good Council Church
230 East 90th Street
New York, NY 10128

7:30 - 10:30 p.m.

Parking: Parking garage available, $10 a night with Catholic Underground stamp


The musician for Saturday is Vince Scheuerman.


About the evening Underground


Catholic Underground ©, a.k.a. CU, is a cultural apostolate of the Franciscan Friars of Catholic Underground.jpgthe Renewal. It is a direct response to a call that began with Pope John Paul II, and is continued by Pope Benedict XVI.  JPII said that because the Gospel lives in conversation with culture, we must be fearless in crossing the cultural threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place.


Watch this video clip to get a better sense of what's being proposed.

The first part of the evening is Eucharistic adoration, and begins with Vespers (Evening Prayer). This is the universal prayer of the Church - prayed by the Catholics throughout the world in every time zone and in every language.  After Vespers, there is a time of simple praise. This provides a window for each person to personally encounter Jesus Christ. The beauty of the darkened Church illumined by candles helps us enter the mystery of our Lord's presence in the Eucharist. The holy hour ends with solemn Benediction. 

The second part showcases Catholic artists. Here we experience the "new evangelization". The Underground includes music, poetry, visual art, dancers, film, drama, etc.

We end our evening as we began, with the prayer of the Church. Compline (Night Prayer) is simple and beautiful. It concludes with a hymn to Our Lady, Daughter Zion. Mother of the New Jerusalem.


The other day Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of the Diocese of Lancaster, England, released a O'Donoghue.jpg92-page document which is seen as highly critical of the Church in England since the Second Vatican Council. The Catholic Herald carries the story.

Several areas of concern are addressed by Bishop O'Donoghue: hope in Christ, Vatican II, Catholic identity, the work of the Trinity in our lives and in the Church, the role of the sacred. Liturgy, Divine Revelation's hold on us, dogma, and various other points concerning society and culture.

The bishop's document, "Fit for Mission?" seems insightful and is worth the time reading. The concerns that Bishop O'Donoghue has for the Church in his diocese, indeed for all of England are similar for those of us who live in North Americans. For that matter, they are the same concerns Monsignor Luigi Giussani had in the 1950's Italy and later articulated by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Namely, do you have a personal relationship with Christ, do you adhere to the objectivity of the Church, is faith a moralism or a way of knowing, living and loving, does your destiny really matter to you?

Vatican Proposing Presence at Venice Biennial

By Paolo Centofanti

ROME, SEPT. 1, 2008 ( Art just might be the key to reintroducing the great Gianfranco Ravasi2.jpgfigures and images of Christianity to modern culture, according to the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture."

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, who also heads the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, said this in an interview with ZENIT this week regarding his proposal to promote the presence of sacred art at the 2009 Venice Biennial.

He said his idea is to launch a "presence -- not direct, but parallel" -- at the contemporary art exhibition that takes place every other year in Venice, Italy.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in July, he revealed that the Vatican is weighing various proposals concerning the placement of its pavilion, such as at the University of Venice or in a series of Churches. He also spoke of plans for an art prize at the exhibit.

"This presence of the Holy See," the archbishop told ZENIT, "which I would like to realize, has precisely the objective to foster a new art that also takes into account the great religious motifs, including but not only the Marian motif." 


Archbishop Ravasi lamented that great architects are building modern Churches around the world, but the structures "are either naked [inside], as they have only the architecture of light, or images in poor taste, or only the presence of handicrafts and not, as in the past, great works of art."


"Suffice it to think of the great churches of the 16th century," he said, "of Baroque art, which had in themselves the wonder of architecture, but also the presence of artists such as Bernini, for example, or Titian, or Veronese. Let us think of the great Venetian churches, what lofty presences they have from the point of view of art history."


Gianfranco Ravasi arms.jpgThe archbishop said he would like, through his proposal, to encourage "great contemporary artists [...] to represent the great religious images, and also to reawaken in [...] ecclesial authorities the need to propose again great works within their churches."

"Perhaps art," he added, "might be the way to reintroduce the figure of Mary, but also the figures of the great images and great personalities -- beginning with Christ, of course -- of the Christian tradition."

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]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from September 2008.

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