Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
The following tragic news comes from our Salesians in the Dominican Republic:
Fr. Víctor Martínez was heading to his hometown to celebrate his first mass when he was tragically killed in an accident.
(Decosal - Jarabacoa) - Fr. Víctor Martínez, SDB died Sunday in a tragic road accident when the newly ordained priest who was traveling with family and friends to celebrate his first Mass in his hometown of Puerto Plata.
Fr. Victor Martinez, a Salesian of Don Bosco, was ordained yesterday at the Parish of Mary Help of Christians in Jarabacoa at the hands of Bishop Julius Caesar Corniel, Bishop of Puerto Plata. He was heading home today to celebrate his first Mass with his family and friends. The accident also killed an uncle of the priest and injured several other people.
The news has brought deep sorrow upon the whole Salesian Family who just yesterday celebrated joyfully his priestly ordination. The Reverend Father Victor Pichardo, Provincial of the Salesians, announced with deep sorrow the news to the youth of all the Salesian houses that were in the concluding Eucharist of Don Bosco Summer Camp. These same young people had witnessed the joyful celebration of the ordination of Fr. Victor the day before and received his first blessing.
Fr. Victor Martinez was born on September 17, 1982 in the city of Puerto Plata. He joined the Salesian Domingo Savio Aspirantate at Jarabacoa in 2000. His last four years were as a theology student at the Salesian Seminary in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was ordained a priest one day before his death.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Salvo D’Acquisto was a Salesian Past Pupil and a hero of WWII. The following comes from the Catholic Herald:
My last post about St Edith Stein brought to mind the figure of the Servant of God Salvo D’Acquisto, another martyr of love from the period of the Second World War. Back in 1995, I visited some of the places associated with him, and wrote an article for the print edition of this newspaper, which I have salvaged from the archives. I think people in the English-speaking world need to know more about this martyr, so here is the article, slightly adapted:
Modern Italy has few war heroes: Marshal Badoglio, King Victor Emmanuel, Mussolini – their names do not appear on public buildings. The attentive tourist will only see blank spaces where stonemasons have done their best to erase the past.
Only one soldier from the period is honoured today; he has squares, schools and streets named after him, He is an NCO named Salvo D’Aquisto, who died aged 22. He has a simple tomb in Santa Chiara, the most beautiful church, in his native Naples, and in Italy they are waiting for him to be canonised; when that happens Salvo D’Acquisto will be the first soldier saint of the Second World War. He is one of many buried in beautiful Santa Chiara. By the altar there’s Robert of Anjou; on the other side of the nave lies Blessed Cristina, Queen of Naples, surrounded by a clutch of Bourbons. Salvo D’Aquisto is in exalted company.
He was the eldest of eight children: three died in infancy, one in childhood; the youngest brother is still alive and living in Naples, and is now in his late seventies. The entire family, including a formidable grandmother, all lived in one large room in the Vomero quarter.
They were not particularly poor by the standards of the time. Their father worked in a chemical factory. Salvo himself was a studious child, even bookish, but still left school aged 14, as working-class boys did in those days.
At 18, the minimum age, having done a few jobs in the meantime, he enrolled in the Carabinieri, the oldest regiment in the Italian Army, which carries out the functions of a police force. Archbishop Giovanni Marra, Italy’s military bishop, describes Salvo as tall, athletic and with limpid eyes, “a true son of Southern Italy”; and so he was in more than just looks. No less than four of his immediate male relatives had enrolled in the Carabinieri a sure sign then that there were few alternative careers available for a talented but poor Neapolitan. He enjoyed the military life. There are facts all documented by the beatification process. In October 1939, as a young recruit, he stood guard outside Palazzo Venezia, where the vainglorious Duce was even then itching to enter the war.
He spent 18 months in North Africa on active service; he was recalled, promoted to NCO, and had his last posting in a little village north of Rome.
But these are only facts: one gazes at photographs, reads his letters home, and speaks to his brother. From these pieces a mosaic emerges of the life of the man who now lies in Santa Chiara. “So quiet you would hardly think he was Neapolitan,” a schoolmaster of Salvo’s says. Much given to the interior life, perhaps?
One sees the young soldier paddling in the Mediterranean, in grainy black and white; or wearing a pith helmet in Libya, smiling. “You are just the type of Neapolitan girl that I have always had in my heart and so much prized,” he writes to his madrina di guerra, a young lady called Maria, who, as was the custom, had sent him her photograph, along with a picture of the Sacred1 Heart, to bolster his morale. “I’ll keep them both next to my heart,” he tells her. In these fragments we see a life.
A typical son of the Italian South? Perhaps. Certainly devoutly Catholic. But there is more than that: his letters to his parents and to his madrina di guerra have a peculiar quality about them. No one could write them today. In seeking the man who lies in Santa Chiara one enters a lost world of purity and innocence. But he was not a plaster saint; unlike so many Italian soldiers, he did not have the good luck to be captured by the British.
When Italy changed sides in September 1943, Salvo was at his post at Torrimpietra, north of Rome; Victor Emmanuel and Badoglio had fled to Bari in a convoy of limousines, but Salvo stayed put. On 23 September, a Thursday, a day of special Eucharistic devotion, he went to confession, Mass and Holy Communion.
His commanding officer had been called to Rome that day, and Salvo was thus, at the age of 22, the senior representative of the Italian state in Torrimpietra. At eight that morning a party of Germans arrived, wearing the uniform of the dreaded SS. Salvo, ever polite, went to greet them, holding out a hand only to be struck by a rifle and taken away without even time to put on his jacket. What had happened was this; the day before, the SS, in occupying a medieval tower at nearby Palidoro had caused an explosion. One German was dead, two wounded, and sabotage suspected.
Despite the fact that the explosion was accidental, the commander of the SS had decided on reprisals. Twenty two local men had been rounded up and were going to be shot unless Salvo could point out the person responsible for the supposed crime.
It was to be a long day.
The Italian prisoners were ordered to dig a trench, some of them with their bare hands. The process of digging their own mass grave reduced many of them to tears.
Only Salvo kept calm and tried to reason with the SS. In vain. It was only at 5pm that he at last succeeded in persuading the SS to let their prisoners go. One of the prisoners stayed to see the outcome, while the others fled in gratitude. He was a 17-year-old boy, and the sole witness of Salvo’s death at the hands of the SS firing squad. For Salvo had convinced the Germans that he was responsible for the imaginary crime, and saved the lives of the 22 hostages in so doing. “You live once, you die once,” he had told the boy while they had been digging the trench that afternoon.
These are the facts, but behind them lies a story of generosity, bravery and Christian charity.
Here is one Italian who did not run away; one man who, in the sorry history of the war, did something immediate to save victims of unjust oppression.
He had been to Holy Communion early that morning; he made his thanksgiving by offering his life for his brethren. But unlike so many on the way to canonisation, the dust of the cloister does not hang heavy upon him. He lived in terrible times, but by his action of giving up his life for his friends, he redeemed them.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Changes in the nature of American society call the faithful to renew their commitment to living out their beliefs in public life, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.
The “America of Catholic memory is not the America of the present moment or the emerging future,” Archbishop Chaput said July 26, as he addressed the annual gathering of Catholic leaders hosted by the Napa Institute in Napa, Calif.
In response to this reality, he urged Americans to “recover our distinctive Catholic identity and history” in order to restore a proper understanding of freedom in the U.S.
The archbishop explained that America’s founders, whose “moral framework was overwhelmingly shaped by Christian faith,” welcomed the cooperation of government and religious groups in promoting society’s interests.
They realized that religion was not merely a matter of private belief or worship, but a matter of “active discipleship,” which involves “preaching, teaching, public witness and service to others,” he said.
Given that context, the founders understood religious freedom encompasses “the right of religious believers, leaders and communities to engage society and to work actively in the public square,” Archbishop Chaput said.
But a growing secularism and the loss of a moral foundation suggest that “America is becoming a very different country.”
But a growing secularism and the loss of a moral foundation suggest that “America is becoming a very different country.”
He pointed to growing “contempt” for religious faith, as well as “government pressure on religious entities,” seen not only in the highly-publicized contraception mandate but also in attacks on the conscience rights, hiring practices and tax statuses of businesses, charities, medical workers and private citizens.
Such threats will “get worse as America’s religious character weakens,” he warned.
However, there is still an opportunity to change the culture, Archbishop Chaput said, adding that Catholics need to acknowledge “America is now mission territory.”
Change is brought about “not just by our actions, but by what we really believe – because what we believe shapes the kind of people we are,” he said. “A culture is more than what we make or do or build. A culture grows organically out of the spirit of a people – how we live, what we cherish, what we’re willing to die for.”
This change in culture will require a shift in thinking, he explained, and a realization that there is not an “automatic harmony between Christian faith and American democracy.”
“Democracy is not an end in itself,” the archbishop reminded the Catholic leaders gathered in Napa. “Majority opinion does not determine what is good and true.”
Rather, there is a need for politics rooted in virtue, he said. Catholics must stand up for what they believe, realizing that political involvement is “urgent” and will play a significant role in shaping the nation’s future.
“Democracies depend for their survival on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square,” he insisted.
Archbishop Chaput explained that the cooperation required for democracy cannot become “an excuse for compromising with grave evil” or for “standing idly by while our liberty to preach and serve God in the public square is whittled away.”
If we are not willing to work tireless to promote a culture that respects human dignity and a true freedom, “we should stop trying to fool ourselves that we really believe what we claim to believe,” he said.
There is also a need for interior renewal, allowing for silence and God in our lives, he added, explaining that this is necessary to form the prudent and reasonable electorate on which America depends.
Looking to the future of the U.S., Archbishop Chaput called on the faithful to work towards “growing” a culture of religious freedom by living out the Gospel without hesitation.
“The firmer our faith, the deeper our love, the purer our zeal for God’s will – then the stronger the house of freedom will be that rises in our own lives, and in the life of our nation,” he said.
Participants in the July 26-29 Napa Institute Conference will hear from numerous Catholic leaders on how to live as Catholics in modern-day America. The sessions aim to help them to grow in their understanding of the faith and be motivated to live and defend their beliefs in a secular culture.