Theology: August 2008 Archives


Bishop Gregory J. Mansour recently wrote this piece on resentment for the Maronite Voice, the monthly magazine for the two Maronite eparchies in the United States. I think this brief article on resentment is helpful and will open new doors as to how we know ourselves and relate to others. For me it is clear, if we get our "house in order" then living as are made for becomes easier.


Thirty years ago, in his ground-breaking book on spirituality, the late Father Henri resentment2.jpgNouwen described the spiritual life as a series of interior movements in which we go beyond our own self-centered plans in order to reach a deeper communion and authentic love for God and others. The book is appropriately entitled Reaching Out.


A movement "from resentment to gratitude" is described in the book. Father Nouwen says we ought to move from resenting the fact that we were not chosen, not honored, not loved or treated well, to a newfound gratitude for what we have been given, even a gratitude for the valuable lessons we learned from ill treatment. This can only happen when we are honest with ourselves and have the courage to feel once again our hurts and admit that God's grace brought us through. In this way we maintain balance and can love others with a clean heart and peace of mind.


This "re-sentiment" (which literally means "feeling again") allows us to bring all our hurts and disappointments to God, Healer and Lover of Mankind, and to turn from a bitter resentment to an inner peace and gratitude.


The destructive power of resentment abounds in society and even in the Church but so, resentment.jpgtoo, can gratitude. A deep spiritual conversion can take place with God's grace, even in those who have been harshly treated. We see this in the lives of those who forgave their tormentors in war and imprisonment. Likewise, we see it in the lives of those whose sons, daughters, parents, spouses or friends have been innocently harmed or even killed. There are many examples of awe inspiring forgiveness from those who have been hurt, deprived, or disappointed and yet have found the power to forgive and to live the presence of God in peace and gratitude. It is true also of the like of the saints, from St. Stephen to the martyrs of today.


The seeds of new life and peace are present in every difficulty but we cannot see them without the belief in the power of love and a loving God. We must believe God's grace can transform resentment into a life-giving gratitude. This is the meaning of the Cross. Resentment kills, but if we have the courage to face our resentments honestly and to reach out in love, then in the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, a sense of gratitude can bring new life, and as Jesus said, " I came to give life, life in abundance" (John 10:10).


This article was first published in the Maronite Voice in August 2008.


Mansour arms.jpgAbout the Author     The Most Reverend Gregory John Mansour is the third eparch of the Eparchy of Saint Maron, Brooklyn. A native of Flint, Michigan, Mansour was educated at Western Michigan University, Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary, the Catholic University of America, and finally at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He is a teacher of Spiritual Theology. Pope John Paul II named Bishop Gregory to the Brooklyn eparchy in 2004.

Chaput1.jpgLet's start where Archbishop Charles Chaput concludes his letter to Colorado Catholics: "the duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth.  A proper understanding of the 'separation of Church and state' does not imply a separation of faith from political life.  But of course, it's always important to know what our faith actually teaches."


There seems to be a few people who, shall we say, are ignorant about what the Church teaches about abortion; some people seem invincibly ignorant when it comes to reasonable thinking on life issues and basic human rights as they think it is a matter of personal opinion and that the Church has never really and consistently that human life begins at conception. Listening to Madame Speaker Pelosi on Sunday's "Meet the Press" and in other places Senators Obama and Biden in their political rhetoric, one knows pretty quickly that what they offer is thin gruel. Those who dissent from Catholic teaching ought to be honest and state that they in fact dissent from teaching rather than claim they are "good Catholics."  Contrary to Pelosi, the Church is not still making up her mind on matters pertaining to life. The fact is that Speaker Pelosi and Senator Biden, as Catholics, have not embraced the teaching and discipline of the Church. Their position, political and religious, is to publically dissent from the Church's teaching on matters of life and therefore they ought to refrain from the reception of Holy Communion until they repent. Would that the Diocesan Ordinaries of these politicians who claim to be Catholic would do their job and teach and correct error! The salvation of souls is at stake.


According to science and faith (two legitimate ways of knowing), abortion is killing an conception2.jpgunborn human being is not a matter which is left to one's mere opinion. In the face of evidence, it is doubtful that anyone can say with conviction that abortion doesn't kill. Clearly the act of abortion revolves less around the choice of a woman to make decisions about "her" body than the fundamental idea which posits the possibility to abort a pregnancy so that a woman to be relieved of a problem or a mistake. There seems to be no reasonable way to argue with people who advocate for abortion until they see/hear the heart beat or feel the kick. The evidence, that is, the biological activity in a woman demonstrates the existence of life at conception.  Just wait a month or later in a pregnancy and you will see confirmation that human existence is a fact. AND that fact is defined as a person, not a thing, nor a problem, nor a mistake.


So the Church has been correct for two millennia when she teaches that "Abortion kills an unborn, ab_coat.gifdeveloping human life.  It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it.  Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith."


Read what Archbishop Chaput teaches his people and apply it to your circumstance. The teaching is correct and objective, faithful and brilliant.

Today is the 90th birthday of His Eminence, Avery Cardinal Dulles. At Fordham University's Crdl Avery Dulles, .jpgChapel about 175 people gathered to thank God for his many blessings and to offer Thanksgiving for the life and work of this great man of the Church: The Sacrifice of the Mass was offered by the Cardinal's fellow Jesuits and some non-Jesuit priests. Family and friends, the high and the lowly and everyone in between came to celebrate with Cardinal Dulles. His longtime friend and Assistant, Sister Anne-Marie Kirmse, O.P. made today a wonderful event for many friends. No one could want nor hope for a better friend than Sister Anne-Marie!

THE most heart-filled gesture was seeing Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, pushed Cardinal Dulles in and out of the Chapel. What a perfect example of humanity!!!  Later, Cardinal Egan joked at a reception that he doesn't regularly push Jesuits around much less Jesuit Cardinals, but he said it was his honor to push Dulles because of their longtime friendship and esteem; they are classmates in the College of Cardinals.

The Church gave us this prayer for the 21st Sunday Through the Year to praise God; it also Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Avery Dulles SJ.jpgspeaks to the person and work of Cardinal Dulles.

O God, You who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will,
grant unto Your people to love that thing which You command,
to desire that which You promise,
so that, amidst the vicissitudes of this world,
our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.

(trans. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

I first met then Father Dulles in September 1997 at a Communio Circle in Easton, CT, hosted by the remarkable Maria Shrady. Never did I imagine what has happened to all of us since then: some that group became better theologians, some pastors of souls, some have met the Lord face-to-face, some have moved to new work and some have reached 90 years of life as a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. Another terrific thing happened today: the opportunity to renew friendships with many whom I esteem as people and as theologians. While our Communio group has disbanded for now, we decided in 2009 to reconstitute ourselves to work on theological matters of importance under the inspiration of Dulles and under the inspiration of another venerable cardinal, Hans Urs von Balthasar (a former Jesuit I might add who died 28 June 1988).

Crdl Dulles, SJ & JPII.jpgCardinal Dulles himself in this way:

"Although I cannot rival the generous dedication of St. Paul and Ignatius of Loyola, I am, like them, content to be employed in the service of Christ and the Gospel, whether in sickness or health, in good repute or ill. I am immesurably grateful for the years in which the Lord has permitted me to serve him in a society that bears as its motto: Ad maiorum Dei gloriam. I trust that his grace will not fail me, and that I will not fail his grace, in the years to come" (A Testimonial of Grace, 50th anniv. edition). 

The silent but very present witness of Avery Dulles is powerful and a strikingly stark approach than what we see in many parts of our society where the infirmed are moved to the margins of life. On the contrary, these are the people that most make present the beautiful of Jesus Christ. Personal purification and suffering continues to witness, at least to me, to the value of life and powerful presence of the Infinite. Dulles said of himself in the 39th McGinley Lecture, 21 April 2008:

The good life does not have to be an easy one, as our blessed Lord and the saints have Pope & Card Dulles 2008, St Joseph Sem NY.JPGtaught us. Pope John Paul II in his later years used to say, "The Pope must suffer." Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils, but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be accepted as elements of a full human existence. Well into my 90th year I have been able to work productively. As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. "Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Defending the Family

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A Rome-based news agency made a recent entry on the new head of the Pontifical Council of the Family, Ennio Cardinal
EAntonelli.jpgAntonelli  can be viewed here.


In 1973, Pope Paul created Committee for the Family and in 1981, Pope John Paul raised this committee to the rank of a "Pontifical Council." The mission, therefore of the Pontifical Council for the Family is being "...responsible for the promotion of the pastoral ministry and apostolate to the family, through the application of the teachings and guidelines of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, to help Christian families fulfill their educational and apostolic mission. It also promotes and coordinates pastoral efforts related to the issue of responsible procreation, and encourages, sustains and coordinates initiatives in defense of human life in all stages of its existence, from conception to natural death."


Thumbnail image for MJM.jpgHere in the US, the faithful know that in the Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney they have a heavenly patron for the protection of families.


Hence, the Knights of Columbus has as one of its hallmarks the defense of the family and it frequently stands up for the family from the vulgar attacks the family faces today. It is very clear to me that one can find no other lay Catholic organization that defends the dignity of the family than the KofC today. Also, the work of the US bishops on behalf of the family should be noted. 


Holy Family.jpgLet's pray for families especially those facing some difficulty that the protection of Mary Most Holy and of Saint Joseph will be with them. It is the desire of us all that families resist the disintegrating forces of certain elements in contemporary culture which undermine the very foundations of the family. Hence, this desire is only realized through prayer, hard work, education and courage. And as the Pope Benedict asks, "us resolve to make our own homes radiate with Christ's loving harmony and peace."


messico.jpgThe 6th World Encounter of Families is scheduled for 13-18 January 2009 in Mexico. It is hoped that the Pope would attend this meeting.


I am grateful for my family Zalonski family Labor Day 2002.jpgas they have been a great grace to me. My parents are married 42 years this November and this is a wonderful thing! May God grant them many more years together.

In a Georgian Hymnal we see a verse of a hymn which reads:


You went forth from the world,
O virgin Theotokos,
to the eternal light.


The sacred Liturgy bases its Marian Theology on the biblical images of Mary as the "New Eve," the Assumption Murrillo.jpg"Beloved of the Bridegroom," the "Ark of the Covenant," and the "Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven." From what we read in sacred Scripture to what we know by sacred Tradition, Mary remains the mother of mystery. Our Catholic belief is that Mary was raised up body and soul and sits in heaven with the Blessed Trinity. But was she raised up like Enoch (Genesis 5:24) or Elijah (2 King 3:11)? When Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Faith in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, he deliberately left the question open, saying that Mary was assumed after "having completed the course of her earthly life." Later, Pope John Paul II said that he believes Mary, like her Son, experienced the "human drama of death." Perhaps Saint John of Damascus says it best:  "As the Mother of the living God, she goes through death to Him. For if God said: 'Unless the first man put out his hand to take and taste of the tree of life, he shall live forever,' how shall she, who received the Life Himself, without beginning or end, or finite vicissitudes, not live forever."


Looking at the consistent teaching and liturgical observance of the fact of the Assumption it is clear that the Church, East and West, has believed from the earliest days that Mary shared in her Son's dramatic victory over death by conquering death. The Apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah called this fact "the swallowing up of death." AND this is a reason for our Hope. 


Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters reject this feast as idolatry, missing what Pope dormition.jpgPius said about the divine truth revealed in the Assumption: In Mary, Mothers of God, we know, "to what lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined." The Church, therefore, prays at Mass this collect:


Almighty and Eternal God, You Who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of Your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant, we beseech You, that, always intent on higher things, we may merit to be sharers in her glory.

And the Preface


Since today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and pattern of your Church's perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people,
For justly you would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb,
because from her own flesh she brought forth ineffably
your incarnate Son, the author of all life.

(Draft 2006 I.C.E.L. Translation)

Thumbnail image for Benedict XVI.gifOn Friday, 8 August 2008, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments communicated to the relevant ecclesial authorities (i.e., Bishops' Conferences and therefore Diocesan Bishops) that the Holy Father in accord with the same congregation and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the norms for the liturgical use of "...the Divine Name signified in the sacred tetragrammaton...." The document is called "Letter to the Bishops' Conferences on the 'Name of God'" (Prot. N. 213/08/L). The directives are clear and concise. The Letter is issued under the signatures of Francis Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith and dated 29 June 2008. The directives:


1.      In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton.jpgtetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2.      For the translation of the Biblical text in modern languages, destined for liturgical usage of the Church, what is already prescribed by n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "Señor", etc.

3.      In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form "God" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.


The cardinal and the archbishop explain in the first part of the letter the value of remaining faithful to the consistent teaching and tradition of the Church. Here one can say that in following this teaching Catholics have continuity of faith: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi (often abbreviated by the bromide of lex orandi, lex crendendi). The implication of this teaching, therefore, has much to do with Christology, liturgical theology, catechetics and interfaith dialogue with our Jewish brothers and sisters. I think the final paragraph bears prayerful consideration because of the Church's objectivity:

Avoiding pronouncing the tetragrammaton of the name of God on the part of the Church has therefore its own grounds. Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the Church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.


As commentary, the teaching presented by the Church was taught to me and my classmates at Notre Dame High School (W. Haven, CT) in Mr. William Parkinson's Old Testament class in 1983. So, I think we were fortunate to have had the correct catechesis and praxis at that time in our Church's history. Having said this, I wonder about the arrogance (perhaps mere ignorance?) of Christians using of the Divine Name incorrectly and I wonder how long it will take publishers to change their editorial policy. I am thinking of the dreadful liturgical songs still used in parishes.

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 Theology category from August 2008.

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