Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What is the New Evangelization?

Archbishop Chaput: ‘The only thing that matters is to be a saint’

The following comes from the CNA: 

A friend of mine quipped recently that the real religion of Americans has nothing to do with churches or synagogues. Our “real” religion is politics and the juggling for power it involves. He was being humorous. But as I write these words in late October, and we head into the final days of another, uniquely important, presidential election, his words don’t seem quite so funny.

In the heat of ugly political conflicts, we can easily lose sight of our real vocation as Christians: holiness. We’re called to be in the world but not of the world. Powers and nations – including our own – sooner or later pass away. God’s word does not pass away. Neither does the witness of the holy men and women we call saints, and whose memory we celebrate on All Saints Day and throughout the month of November.

Politics is important. But in the end, all of the passion, all of the egos and even all of the issues in this election will fade. In the end, as the great French Catholic writer Leon Bloy once said, the only thing that matters is to be a saint.

I remembered Bloy’s words in a vivid way on October 21 as I took part in the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri – known around the world as the “Lily of the Mohawks” and now our nation’s first Native American saint – was born in 1656 and orphaned soon after by smallpox. She was raised by relatives who hated Christianity because of the arrogance and brutality of French colonists and the diseases they brought with them. But something in the beauty of the Gospel touched Kateri’s heart.

At the age of 18, she began instruction in the Catholic faith in secret. Her relatives eventually relented and allowed her to be baptized. But she suffered rough treatment and intense ridicule from her own people, and constant health problems. Throughout her short life she tended to the elderly and sick, taught the faith to children, and was known for her love of Mary and the Eucharist. She died at 24, in 1680. Her last words were “Jesus, Mary, I love you.”

Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization has been longed for by the American Indian community for many, many decades. As a member of the Potawatomi tribe myself, I grew up praying to her and asking for her intercession – and waiting for the Universal Church to someday celebrate the purity of her witness. Her life embodied a simple love for Jesus and his cross; a profound affection for her Native American community; and a heroic fidelity, humility and innocence.

One of the greatest issues for Native Americans and other ethnic communities in the Church today is inculturation, the process by which the Gospel becomes an integral part of a people’s soul and way of life. Blessed Pope John Paul II once said that whenever a new culture meets the Gospel in an authentic way, three things happen: The culture itself is purified; the gifts of the culture are brought into the life of the Church; and, as a result, both the culture and the Church are made stronger and more beautiful.

Kateri and saints like her are perfect examples of true inculturation. By their lives of holiness, their cultures are purified and enriched, and through their holiness, the Church is made stronger and more glorious in her diversity.

Today, the Native American Catholic community and the whole Church thank God for the gift of Saint Kateri. Holiness is always God’s work before it’s our work. But in Saint Kateri we now have an example of the Church becoming ever more Catholic, ever more holy; and the naturally good qualities of Native American culture are enlivened by the gift of the Gospel.

One final point is worth noting from my days in Rome. Kateri was canonized with six other new saints, among them Saint Marianne Cope, a Franciscan sister of the Diocese of Syracuse, New York. Saint Marianne died in service to the lepers of Hawaii. She belonged to a religious community that grew out of the Franciscan sisters founded by Saint John Neumann. So Philadelphia had a role – indirect and invisible, but real – in the development of yet another holy woman who became a saint.

It’s not surprising. Philadelphia is the diocese of American saints. But we can’t ever be content with sainthood as part of our past. God made each of us to be saints. That means you and me. The hunger for holiness needs to animate every moment of our lives – today, right now, and into the future.

The only thing that matters is to be a saint. Kateri understood that. More than 330 years later, what a joy and a glory it is to celebrate her memory. May she pray for all of us, and lead us on the same path of love she followed home to God.



Salt and Light TV: Catholic Blogging

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pope Benedict: Faith overcomes spiritual blindness

The following comes from the CNA:

At a Mass on Sunday closing the bishops' synod on the new evangelization, the Pope reflected on the need for faith in overcoming spiritual blindness and also appealed on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Drawing from the day's Gospel of Mark reading, the Pope noted that Christ curing the blind man Bartimaeus “is the last miraculous healing that Jesus performs before his Passion, and it is no accident that it should be that of a blind person, someone whose eyes have lost the light.”

Pope Benedict noted that physical blindness “has great significance in the Gospels” because it “represents man who needs God’s light, the light of faith, if he is to know reality truly and to walk the path of life.”

“It is essential to acknowledge one’s blindness, one’s need for this light, otherwise one could remain blind for ever.”

The blind Bartimaeus represents mankind, the Pope went on to say, because he “represents man who has lost the light and knows it, but has not lost hope.”

Pope Benedict made his remarks at the close of the Oct. 7 - 28 synod on the new evangelization in Rome, which gathered bishops from the world over to Rome to discuss the transmission of the Christian faith in the modern world.

The synod “meaningfully coincided” with the opening of the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope said.

Synod fathers have released a document of 58 propositions about the new evangelization. Pope Benedict will review the findings of the synod and will write a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, after considering their propositions.

During his homily, the pontiff said that Sunday's Gospel reading directly applies to the recent synod,  and highlight three themes that emerged from the event.

“The first concerns the Sacraments of Christian initiation. It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist,” he said. “The importance of Confession, the Sacrament of God’s mercy, has also been emphasized.”

Secondly, “the Church’s task is to evangelize, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ.”

“A third aspect concerns the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism...Such people are found in all continents, especially in the most secularized countries.”

“The Church is particularly concerned that they should encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful.”

The Pope then encouraged all the faithful to embrace full sight in Christ, putting away “all blindness to the truth, all ignorance and, removing the darkness that obscures our vision like fog before the eyes, let us contemplate the true God.”

He also pointed out that while many lands need to be re-evangelized, this is “essentially linked to the Missio ad Gentes” and that there are “still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectations” the first proclamation of the Gospel.

Following the Mass Pope Benedict expressed his own solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Caribbean this past week.

“I wish to assure you of my closeness and my recollection of those who have been affected by this natural disaster, while I invite everyone to prayer and solidarity, in order to alleviate the pain of the families of the victims and offer support to the thousands of people who have been hurt in various ways by the storm.”

More than 60 people have been killed by Sandy, which has already struck the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica. It is due to hit the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States today.

At his Angelus prayer following Mass, the Pope stressed the need for “a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in secularized societies, in the twofold certainty that, on the one hand, he, Jesus Christ, is the only true innovation that meets the expectations of people of all ages, and on the other, that his message asks to be shared in a manner that is appropriate to changing social and cultural contexts.”

This, he said, is the focus of the new evangelization, that call to present Christ and his Church anew to the modern world.

He also pointed out that in reflecting on Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council we see that “the new evangelization is not our invention, but is a dynamic that developed in the Church particularly in the 50s of the last century.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

Prayers for Hurricane Season from Archdiocese of New Orleans

Prayer for Hurricane Season     
O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children.  The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea.  We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control.  The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster.  During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father.  Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time.  O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen. Originally dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Audrey in 1957.  - Fr. Al Volpe, Cameron Parish, LA  
Prayer for Protection against Storms and Hurricanes
Our Father in Heaven through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us during this Hurricane season from all harm.  Protect us and our homes from all disasters of nature.  Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  
Prayer to Avert Storms and Hurricanes 
Father, all the elements of nature obey your command.  Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us and turn our fear of your power into praise of your goodness.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

You Teach Us Our Faith

The following comes from Cardinal Dolan's blog:


Well, the Synod for the New Evangelization here in Rome is winding down.  On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the closing Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.  On Monday, I’m coming home!

This is Friday, and I’m daydreaming . . . I admit it!  Please don’t tell the Holy Father!
All our talk . . . all our ideas . . . all our discussion . . . all our proposals . . . yes, this has been valuable and will, please God, result in a credible and effective document.

But, as I sit here daydreaming, I’m looking outside the synod hall and there I see the little courtyard outside of the Donum Mariae, the shelter for homeless women here in Rome, at the corner of Vatican City, run by Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

In this little courtyard sits about two dozen abandoned women.  They are now clean, in fresh clothes, and just finished a hearty breakfast.  They’re smiling . . . they’re singing hymns taught them by the sisters . . . and they’re learning the rosary from one of the Missionaries of Charity.

And I’m sitting here thinking . . .  Those sisters are brilliantly doing the New Evangelization.  They haven’t been listening to our debates, and may or may not even read our propositions, or the ultimate document.

But they sure understand the imperative of the New Evangelization.  They probably say to us, “What’s all the fuss? Just love God and the ‘least of these’ as Jesus taught.”

I salute not only those sisters whom I now look out on with love and gratitude, but also all of you in your homes and families, around kitchen tables, in our parishes, schools, and classrooms, in our shelters, soup kitchens, healthcare facilities and residences, whose faith in Jesus and love for His Church inspire you daily.
We bishops can learn a lot about the New Evangelization from people like you!
See you Monday!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron: Why do we believe in God?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Every Storm Runs Out of Rain by Gary Allen

Synod on New Evangelization: Message of Hope

The following comes from the CNA:


The synod of bishops on the New Evangelization released a “message to people of God” Oct. 26, emphasizing hope in the face of an increasingly secular culture, because Christ promises salvation.
Addressed to all “people of God,” the nearly 7,000-word proclamation focused on the theme that all the problems confronting the Church throughout the world – from evil expressed in bloody persecutions to the deadening allure of Western secularism – should not cause fear, because Christ promises salvation, now and forever.

“There is no room for pessimism in the minds and hearts of those who know that their Lord has conquered death and that his Spirit works with might in history,” it proclaims. “The work of the New Evangelization rests on this serene certainty.”

In fact, the most dire spiritual assaults on faith should be seen as opportunities, it says. Even “the most bitter forms of atheism and agnosticism” represent not a spiritual “void but a longing, an expectation that awaits an adequate response.”

At the Oct. 26 synod press briefing, one reporter asked if the synod message was too optimistic.
Cardinal-designate Luis Tagle of Manila replied, “I think it is important to affirm that the Church is alive,” in spite of the “fear of some people about the decreased numbers of practicing Catholics … and the influence of oppressors of the Church quite increasing.”

Referring to his native region of Asia, where the overall number of Christians has always been a tiny, often oppressed minority, he said that this should pose no overarching problem for the faithful.
“You live there, you thrive there, you express your joy and your hope. You don’t wait for the situation to change.”

His fellow Synod Fathers’ closing message is a ringing call to personal conversion and to bring the Gospel to others in all places and stations of life in an ever-changing world.

The message begins with the Gospel story about the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well and is instantly transformed. This “shows that whoever receives new life from encountering Jesus cannot but proclaim truth and hope to others. The sinner who was converted becomes a messenger of salvation and leads the whole city to Jesus,” the document says.

But without inner conversion, evangelists for the faith will fall flat.

Starting with the Synod Fathers themselves, Catholics must humbly recognize their weak and sinful natures and accept the transformative power of Christ.

This alone makes people worthy of his call to conversion and evangelization. Without Christ, the Christian mandate to share the message of salvation in Jesus is an impossible mission.

“If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt,” the Synod Fathers said. But “through conversion” and following the Lord, “we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the last word, whether in the Church or in history.”

The message goes on to address different ways the New Evangelization can move people in all areas of life – the arts and sciences, politics, consecrated life – to accept Christ’s salvation through the ministry of the Church.

One of the most important aspects of the New Evangelization concerns families and the young, both of which are under attack due to families falling apart and an anti-Christian culture, especially in secularized Western culture, which is being increasingly exported to the world.

“A New Evangelization is unthinkable without acknowledging a specific responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to families and to sustain them in their task of education,” the message proclaims. “Family life is the first place in which the Gospel encounters the ordinary life and demonstrates its capacity to transform the fundamental conditions of existence in the horizon of love.”

It calls for a strengthening of couples in sacramental matrimony, with a renewed emphasis on catechizing children living in a wayward culture.

In fact, young people are a prime focus and vehicle for the New Evangelization, the message notes.
“We want our communities to harness, and not to suppress, the power of their enthusiasm; to struggle for them against the fallacies and selfish ventures of worldly powers which, to their own advantage, dissipate the energies and waste the passion of the young, taking from them every grateful memory of the past and every earnest vision of the future.”

The message ends by calling on the Virgin Mary to guide the Church in its vocation to re-present her Son and his Church to a dark world.

“Our work … can seem like a path across the desert; we know that we must journey, taking with us what is essential: the company of Jesus, the truth of his word, the Eucharistic bread which nourishes us, the fellowship of ecclesial communion, the impetus of charity.

“It is the water of the well that makes the desert bloom. As stars shine more brightly at night in the desert, so the light of Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, brightly shines in heaven on our way. To her we confidently entrust ourselves.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

Southern Comfort Zone by Brad Paisley

Archbishop Chaput: “We do believe in the separation of church and state, but we don’t believe in the separation of faith from our political life"

The following comes from the CNA:


As the country approaches election day in two weeks, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia is encouraging Catholic voters to place their faith above their allegiance to political parties.

“I’m always encouraging our people minimally to vote, maximally to run for political office, and make sure that they’re Catholic prior to being Democrat or Republican and that they put that into practice politically,” he told CNA in Rome on Oct. 22.

Archbishop Chaput echoed the calls of other American bishops to have their flocks consider their faith in the voting booth.

“We do believe in the separation of church and state, but we don’t believe in the separation of faith from our political life,” he said.
“It’s very important for Catholics to make distinctions when voting that they never support intrinsic evils like abortion, which is evil in all circumstances. That’s a lot different from different economic policies” that people can reasonably disagree on, the archbishop explained.

His remarks come as an Oct. 22 Gallup poll shows the “economy in general” is the issue rated most important by Americans as the election nears.

“But people who are practicing Catholics cannot have alternate views on abortion,” he stated. “Such foundational issues have a huge impact and it’s important that Catholics make those distinctions.”

“A person (candidate) might be right on a lot of secondary issues but wrong on the foundational issues. And if that’s the case, it would be very difficult for a Catholic to vote for someone who, for example, favors unlimited access to abortion … undermines the meaning of marriage or supports policies that really undermine the foundation of our culture.”

Archbishop Chaput sees Philadelphia as a great example of both Catholic and civic virtue. He noted that it both produced two canonized saints, John Neumann and Katherine Drexel, and was the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

“I’m standing on the shoulders both in terms of the Church and the civic community,” the archbishop pointed out. “We have to produce new saints and be really good citizens.”

He also connected patriotism with love of parents and family, saying that “loving our country is really participating in love of our families.”

And “the meaning of family,” he asserted, is “hugely important for the future health of our country.”
“Having mothers and fathers who love us and love one another provides security for the healthy growth of children. Confused family life leads to confused participation in the broader life of the community.”

The Catholic vote has tended to follow the rest of the electorate in recent years, but with the current campaign for president running neck-and-neck, Gov. Romney and President Obama are vying for every segment of voters they can.

The latest polling from Gallup suggests that Romney has 51 percent of the Catholic vote while Obama has 49 percent.

In the 2008 election, 53 percent of Catholic voters supported Obama, and 47 percent supported GOP candidate John McCain.

Archbishop Chaput noted that “Catholics who go to church vote quite differently than Catholics as a group, and that Catholics who take their faith seriously, for them it’s much more than a cultural affiliation – it’s a very personal affiliation with Jesus Christ and his community.”

Fr. Robert Barron on Faith and Reason

Sex, Love and God: The Catholic Answer to Puritanism and Nietzcheanism


The following comes from the CNA:

Many of the Catholic Church’s teachings are vilified in both the high and popular cultures, but none more than its doctrines concerning marriage and sexuality. Time and again, the Church’s views on sex are characterized as puritanical, life denying and hopelessly outdated — holdovers from the Bronze Age. Above all, critics pillory the Church for setting unreasonable limits to the sexual freedom of contemporary people. Church leaders, who defend traditional sexual morality, are parodied as versions of Dana Carvey’s “church lady” — fussy, accusatory, secretly perverse and sex-obsessed.

Let me respond first to the charge of puritanism. Throughout the history of religion and philosophy, a puritanical strain is indeed apparent. Whether it manifests itself as Manichaeism, Gnosticism or Platonic dualism, the puritanical philosophy teaches that spirit is good and matter is evil or fallen. In most such schemas, the whole purpose of life is to escape from matter, especially from sexuality, which so ties us to the material realm. But authentic Biblical Christianity is not puritanical. The Creator God described in the book of Genesis made the entire panoply of things physical — planets, stars, the moon and sun, animals, fish and even things that creep and crawl upon the earth — and found all of it good, even very good. Accordingly, there is nothing perverse or morally questionable about bodies, sex, sexual longing or the sexual act. In fact,  it’s just the contrary. When, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus himself is asked about marriage and sexuality, he hearkens back to the book of Genesis and the story of creation: “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female; for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become as one. They are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk. 10:6-8). That last sentence is, dare I say it, inescapably “sexy.” Plato might have been a puritan, and perhaps John Calvin too, but Jesus most certainly was not.

So given this stress on the goodness of sex and sexual pleasure, what separates the Christian view from, say, the “Playboy” philosophy? The simple answer is that, for Biblical people, sexuality must be placed in the wider context of love, which is to say willing the good of the other. It is fundamental to Catholic spirituality and morality that everything in life must be drawn magnetically toward love, must be conditioned and transfigured by love. Thus, one’s business concerns must be marked by love, lest they devolve into crass materialism; and one’s relationships must be leavened by love, lest they devolve into occasions for self-interested manipulation; even one’s play must be directed toward love, lest it devolve into mere self-indulgence. Sex is no exception to this rule. The goodness of sexual desire is designed, by its very nature, to become ingredient in a program of self-forgetting love and hence to become something rare and life enhancing. If you want to see what happens when this principle is ignored, take a long hard look at the hookup culture prevalent among many young  — and not so young — people today. Sex as mere recreation, as contact sport, as a source only of superficial pleasure has produced armies of the desperately sad and anxious, many who have no idea that it is precisely their errant sexuality that has produced such deleterious effects in them. When sexual pleasure is drawn out of itself by the magnetic attraction of love, it is rescued from self-preoccupation.

Now there is a third step as well, for human love must be situated in the context of divine purpose. Once Jesus clarified that male and female are destined to become one flesh, he further specified that “What God has joined together,” no human being should put asunder. When I was working full time as a parish priest, I had the privilege of preparing many young couples for marriage. I would always ask them, “Why do you want to be married in church?” After some hesitation, the young people would invariably respond with some version of “Well, we're in love,” to which I would respond, “I'm delighted that you're in love, but that’s no reason to be married in church!” My point was that entering into a properly sacramental marriage implied that the bride and groom realized that they had been brought together by God and precisely for God’s reasons, that their sexuality and their mutual love were in service of an even higher purpose. To make their vows before a priest and a Catholic community, I would tell them, was tantamount to saying that they knew their relationship was sacramental — a vehicle of God’s grace to the wider world. This final contextualization guaranteed that sexuality — already good in itself and already elevated by love — had now something truly sacred.

Our culture has become increasingly Nietzchean, by which I mean obsessed with the power of self-creation. This is why toleration is the only objective value that many people recognize, and why freedom, especially in the arena of sexuality, is so highly prized. It is furthermore why attempts to contextualize sex within higher frameworks of meaning are so often mocked as puritanism or fussy antiquarianism. Thank God that, amidst the million voices advocating self-indulgent sexuality, there is at least the one voice of the Catholic Church shouting “No,” a no in service of a higher Yes!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Remembering the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Today in the Church we remember the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

When I was in London a couple of years ago I was able to visit Tyburn Convent. The Convent is situated just down the street from the location of Tyburn Tree (the site of many English Martyrs).

You can feel the presence of these holy martyrs. In 1571, the "Tyburn Tree" was erected near the modern Marble Arch. The "Tree" or "Triple Tree" was a novel form of gallows, comprising a horizontal wooden triangle supported by three legs (an arrangement known as a "three legged mare" or "three legged stool"). Several felons could thus be hanged at once, and so the gallows was occasionally used for mass executions. The "Tyburn Tree" was the site of many of the Roman Catholic Martyrs of England. The most famous among them being St. Edmund Campion.

To learn more about these holy Martyrs please click here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Great Evangelization by Fr. Robert Barron

The Rector Major of the Salesians presents a book on the essential role of religious life


The following comes from the Rome Reports:
“The essence of consecrated life is the relationship with God.” This is one of the quotes included in the book “Testimonies of a Living God,” by Pascual Chávez Villanueva, the Major Rector of the Salesians.

The book, which was recently presented in Rome, gives a profound reflection on the opportunities and challenges of consecrated life,  as seen from the  point of view of a Salesian.


FR. PASCUAL CHÁVEZ VILLANUEVA
Rector of the Salesians

“To show the true identity of the consecrated life at its core. To understand the real purpose for which it was created, the role it has in the Church and in society. And above all, how to make it significant today, credible and fruitful in this world.”

According to the book, the crisis faced by some sectors of the consecrated life, are based on upon three points: identity, visibility and credibility. The author encourages readers to face these challenges as opportunities to renew the their vocation. 

Among those attending the presentation, was Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.

CARD. João Braz de Aviz
Prefect, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life

“I think that above all, we have to see if our consecration to God is the source of our happiness. To see if we can recognize a decisive value in God, forever, only then can we
transmit this happiness to others.”


Many religious attended the presentation as well. Pascual Chavez thanked all of them for their work among the different congregations and asked all of them to give God a proper place
in their consecrated lives.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Interview with Fr. Robert Barron - On the New Evangelization and New Media

Archbishop Sheen on the Mass



"The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host."
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron on Scientism and the Existence of God

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pope Benedict the New Evangelizer


The following comes from Catholic.com:
On Wednesday morning, October 17, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI began a new series of teachings to the pilgrims who gather for his weekly General Audience. His message came in the middle of the Synod of Catholic Bishops who are in Rome to launch a global effort for the New Evangelization of the Church throughout the world from October 7 through 28, 2012.
It comes in the wake of his inauguration of the Year of Faith which will conclude on November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King. This is all no coincidence; it is one of many examples of the profound, prayerful and prophetic leadership we are experiencing from this successor of Peter. Pope Benedict XVI is the chief "New Evangelizer".
In June of 2010 he officially announced the establishment of a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost.
Pope Benedict the New Evangelizer is engaging in the work which he has called the whole Church to do. He told the pilgrims - and all who hear or view his message around the globe - that the Year of Faith is meant "to renew our enthusiasm at believing in Jesus Christ, to revive the joy of walking along the path He showed us, and to bear concrete witness to the transforming power of the faith". 
He announced that this series of teachings will explain that living faith "is not something extraneous and distant from real life, but the very heart thereof. Faith in a God Who is love and Who came close to mankind by taking human flesh and giving Himself on the cross to save us and open the doors of heaven for us, is a luminous sign that only in love does man's true fullness lie", he said. "Where there is domination, possession and exploitation, man is impoverished, degraded and disfigured. Christian faith, industrious in charity and strong in hope, does not limit life but makes it human".
"God has revealed Himself with words and actions throughout the long history of His friendship with man. ... He came forth of heaven to enter the world of men as a man, that we might meet and hear Him; and from Jerusalem the announcement of the Gospel of salvation has spread to the ends of the earth. The Church, born of Christ's side, has become the herald of a new hope. ... Yet, from the very beginning, the problem of the 'rule of faith' arose; in other words, the faithfulness of believers to the truth of the Gospel ... to the salvific truth about God and man to be safeguarded and handed down".
The essential framework for the faith, the Pope explained, is to be found in the Creed, in the Profession of the Faith, from which is developed "the moral life of Christians, which there has its foundation and its justification. It is the Church's duty to transmit the faith, to communicate the Gospel, so that Christian truths may become a light guiding the new cultural transformations, and Christians may be able to give reasons for the hope that is in them.
"We are living today in a society that has changed profoundly, even with respect to the recent past, a society in continuous flux", the Holy Father added. "The process of secularization and a widespread nihilist mentality, in which everything is relative, have left a strong imprint on the collective mentality. ... And while individualism and relativism seem to dominate the hearts of so many of our contemporaneous, it cannot be said that believers remain completely immune from these dangers. ... Surveys carried out on all the continents in preparation for the current Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization have revealed some of these dangers: the faith lived passively or privately, the rejection of education in the faith, the rupture between faith and life".
Benedict XVI went on: "Christians today often do not even know the central core of their Catholic faith, the Creed, thus leaving the way open to certain forms of syncretism and religious relativism, with no clarity about which truths must be believed and the salvific uniqueness of Christianity. We must go back to God, to the God of Jesus Christ, we must rediscover the message of the Gospel and cause it to enter more deeply into our minds and our daily lives".
"In these catecheses during the Year of Faith I would like to help people make this journey, in order to regain and understand the central truths of faith about God, man, the Church, and all social and cosmic reality, by reflecting upon the affirmations contained in the Creed. And I hope to make it clear that these contents or truths of the faith are directly related to our life experience. They require a conversion of existence capable of giving rise to a new way of believing in God".

Cardinal Dolan at the Al Smith Dinner

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

God Must Really Love Me by Craig Morgan

Saint of the day: Ignatius of Antioch


The following comes from the Catholic.org site:

"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire."

In 107, during the reign of the brutal Emperor Trajan, this holy Bishop was wrongfully sentenced to death because he refused to renounce the Christian faith. He was taken under guard to Rome where he was to be brutally devoured by wild beasts in a public spectacle.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - The second Bishop of Antioch, Syria, this disciple of the beloved Disciple John was consecrated Bishop around the year 69 by the Apostle Peter, the first Pope. A holy man who was deeply loved by the Christian faithful, he always made it his special care to defend “orthodoxy” (right teaching) and “orthopraxy” (right practice) among the early Christians.

In 107, during the reign of the brutal Emperor Trajan, this holy Bishop was wrongfully sentenced to death because he refused to renounce the Christian faith. He was taken under guard to Rome where he was to be brutally devoured by wild beasts in a public spectacle. During his journey, his travels took him through Asia Minor and Greece. He made good use of the time by writing seven letters of encouragement, instruction and inspiration to the Christians in those communities. We still have these letters as a great treasure of the Church today.

The content of the letters addressed the hierarchy and structure of the Church as well as the content of the orthodox Christian faith. It was Bishop Ignatius who first used the term “catholic” to describe the whole Church. These letters connect us to the early Church and the unbroken, clear teaching of the Apostles which was given to them directly by Jesus Christ. They also reveal the holiness of a man of God who became himself a living letter of Christ. The shedding his blood in the witness of holy martyrdom was the culmination of a life lived conformed to Jesus Christ. Ignatius sought to offer himself, in Christ, for the sake of the Church which he loved. His holy martyrdom occurred in the year 107.

In his pastoral letters he regularly thanked his brother and sister Christians for their concern for his well being but insisted on following through in his final witness of fidelity: "I know what is to my advantage. At last I am becom¬ing his disciple. May nothing entice me till I happily make my way to Jesus Christ! Fire, cross, struggles with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs-let them come to me, provided only I make my way to Jesus Christ. I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth. Him I seek who died for us; him I love who rose again because of us."

Bishop Ignatius was not afraid of death. He knew that it had been defeated by the Master. He followed the Lord Jesus into his Passion, knowing that he would rise with Him in his Resurrection. He wrote to the disciples in Rome: "Permit me to imitate my suffering God ... I am God's wheat and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.” The beauty of this Eucharistic symbolism in these words reflects the deep theology of a mystic. He was dedicated to defending the true teaching handed down by the Apostles so that the brothers and sisters in the early Christian communities, and we who stand on their shoulders, would never be led astray by false teaching. He urged them to always listen to their Bishops because they were the successors of the Apostles. He died a Martyrs death in Rome, devoured by two lions in one of the cruel demonstrations of Roman excess and animosity toward the true faith.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Pursuit

The Pursuit is based upon the Hound of Heaven by Francis Thomson. Below is the original read by Richard Burton.

Cardinal Dolan: The Call to Evangelize is Universal

The following comes from the CNA:


Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said at an Oct. 15 press briefing for the ongoing Synod for New Evangelization that all Catholics must witness to their faith to the modern world.

“(T)he universal call to the New Evangelization … is a charge from which no one can escape if one takes discipleship and Catholic identity seriously,” said Cardinal Dolan. “I would see in it the emphasis that we're all in it together, folks.”

He also stressed the importance of humility in achieving this mission, especially among the clergy.
“To be humble is not just a pastoral strategy but an evangelical demand,” he said. “Sometimes we bishops haven't been. If we're going to be renewed and converted to Jesus Christ, we need to be humble. But also it's honey, in a way. It attracts people when they see humble bishops.”

Cardinal Dolan also repeated a message that he first delivered to the synod assembly, saying that sacramental confession is a cornerstone of the New Evangelization and that it was wrongly de-emphasized in the minds of many following the Second Vatican Council.

“There are some basic messages of the Church that we haven't mouthed enough, and I think (the need for confession) is one of them,” he said.

“It seemed to be a truism after the Second Vatican Council that the council had done away with the Sacrament of Penance, which is not true. If you read the documents, it called for a renewal of it. I'm afraid that on so many levels we just gave up and we said, 'Well, that ain't going over,' so we stopped trying.”

Instead of giving up on confession, Cardinal Dolan urged Catholics to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who “never gave up. The messages of the Gospel are constant.”
And the call to perpetual conversion through the confession is especially attractive, he said, because it offers a personal encounter with Christ—an encounter attractive to newcomers to the faith.
“One thing that attracts new Catholics is the Sacrament of Penance,” he said, noting that young people “will often say that the Church is impersonal to them, a little faceless. But you can't find a more personal sacrament than Penance.”

The whole Church benefits from continual re-conversion and acknowledging the nature of sin, he added.

“When you're in an adult formation group, some people will bring up scandals in the Church in the past,” he said. “We're well aware of the mistakes, the sins, the failings of the past so much so that it leads us constantly to penance and conversion of heart and interior renewal. I hope that's what the New Evangelization is all about.”

Saint of the day: Margaret Mary Alacoque



Today we remember St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the saint of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The following comes from the Catholic Online site:

Daughter of Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, Margaret was born on July 22, at L'Hautecour, Burgundy, France, was sent to the Poor Clares school at Charolles on the death of her father, a notary, when she was eight years old. She was bedridden for five years with rheumatic fever until she was fifteen and early developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She refused marriage, and in 1671 she entered the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial and was professed the next year. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began a series of revelations that were to continue over the next year and a half. In them Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established. Rebuffed by her superior, Mother de Saumaise, in her efforts to follow the instruction she had received in the visions, she eventually won her over but was unable to convince a group of theologians of the validity of her apparitions, nor was she any more successful with many of the members of her community. She received the support of Blessed Claude La Colombiere, the community's confessor for a time, who declared that the visions were genuine. In 1683, opposition in the community ended when Mother Melin was elected Superior and named Margaret Mary her assistant. She later became Novice Mistress, saw the convent observe the feast of the Sacred Heart privately beginning in 1686, and two years later, a chapel was built at the Paray-le-Monial to honor the Sacred Heart; soon observation of the feast of the Sacred Heart spread to other Visitation convents. Margaret Mary died at the Paray-le-Monial on October 17, and was canonized in 1920. She, St. John Eudes, and Blessed Claude La Colombiere are called the "Saints of the Sacred Heart"; the devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy-five years after her death. Her feast day is observed on October 17.

Monday, October 15, 2012

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman

The Hookup Culture: a commentary by Fr. Barron

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron on Why Catholics Leave the Church

Saint of the Day: Callistus I


The following comes from Catholic.org:

Imagine that your biography was written by an enemy of yours. And that its information was all anyone would have not only for the rest of your life but for centuries to come. You would never be able to refute it -- and even if you couldno one would believe you because your accuser was a saint.

That is the problem we face with Pope Callistus I who died about 222. The only story of his life we have is from someone who hated him and what he stood for, an author identified as Saint Hippolytus, a rival candidate for the chair of Peter. What had made Hippolytus so angry? Hippolytus was very strict and rigid in his adherence to rules and regulations. The early Church had been very rough on those who committed sins of adultery, murder, and fornication. Hippolytus was enraged by the mercy that Callistus showed to these repentant sinners, allowing them back into communion of the Church after they had performed public penance. Callistus' mercy was also matched by his desire for equality among Church members, manifested by his acceptance of marraiges between free people and slaves. Hippolytus saw all of this as a degradation of the Church, a submission to lust and licentiousness that reflected not mercy and holiness in Callistus but perversion and fraud.

Trying to weed out the venom to find the facts of Callistus' life in Hippolytus' account, we learn that Callistus himself was a slave (something that probably did not endear him to class-conscious Hippolytus). His master, Carporphorus made him manager of a bank in the Publica Piscina sector of Rome where Callistus took in the money of other Christians. The bank failed -- according to Hippolytus because Callistus spent the money on his own pleasure-seeking. It seems unlikely that Carporphorus would trust his good name and his fellow Christians' savings to someone that unreliable.

Whatever the reason, Callistus fled the city by ship in order to escape punishment. When his master caught up with him, Callistus jumped into the sea (according to Hippolytus, in order to commit suicide). After Callistus was rescued he was brought back to Rome, put on trial, and sentenced to a cruel punishment -- forced labor on the treadmill. Carporphorus took pity on his former slave and manager and Callistus won his release by convincing him he could get some of the money back from investors. (This seems to indicate, in spite of Hippolytus' statements, that the money was not squandered but lent or invested unwisely.) Callistus' methods had not improved with desperation and when he disrupted a synagogue by shouting for money, he was arrested and sentenced again.

This time he was sent to the mines. Other Christians who had been sentenced there because of their religion were released by negotiations between the emperor and the Pope (with the help of the emperor's mistress who was friendly toward Christians). Callistus accidentally wound up on the same list with the persecuted brothers and sisters. (Hippolytus reports that this was through extortion and connniving on Callistus' part.) Apparently, everyone, including the Pope, realized Callistus did not deserve his new freedom but unwilling to carry the case further the Pope gave Callistus an income and situation -- away from Rome. (Once again, this is a point for suspecting Hippolytus' account. If Callistus was so despicable and untrustworthy why provide him with an income and a situation? Leaving him free out of pity is one thing, but giving money to a convicted criminal and slave is another. There must have been more to the story.)

About nine or ten years later, the new pope Zephyrinus recalled Callistus to Rome. Zephyrinus was good-hearted and well-meaning but had no understanding of theology. This was disastrous in a time when heretical beliefs were springing up everywhere. One minute Zephyrinus would endorse a belief he thought orthodox and the next he would embrace the opposite statement. Callistus soon made his value known, guiding Zephyrinus through theology to what he saw as orthodoxy. (Needless to say it was not what Hippolytus felt was orthodox enough.) To a certain extent, according to Hippolytus, Callistus was the power behind the Church before he even assumed the bishopric of Rome.

When Zephyrinus died in 219, Callistus was proclaimed pope over the protests of his rival candidate Hippolytus. He seemed to have as strong a hatred of heresy as Hippolytus, however, because he banished one of the heretics named Sabellius.

Callistus came to power during a crucial time of the Church. Was it going to hang on to the rigid rules of previous years and limit itself to those who were already saints or was it going to embrace sinners as Christ commanded? Was its mission only to a few holy ones or to the whole world, to the healthy or to the sick? We can understand Hippolytus' fear -- that hypocritical penitents would use the Church and weaken it in the time when they faced persecution. But Callistus chose to trust God's mercy and love and opened the doors. By choosing Christ's mission, he chose to spread the Gospel to all.

Pope Callistus is listed as a martyr but we have no record of how he was martyred or by whom. There were no official persecutions at the time, but he may well have been killed in riots against Christians.

As sad as it is to realize that the only story we have of his life is by an enemy, it is glorious to see in it the fact that the Church is large enough not only to embrace sinners and saints, but to proclaim two people saints who hold such wildly opposing views and to elect a slave and an alleged ex-convict to guide the whole Church. There's hope for all of us then!