Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What is the New Evangelization?

The Church's Devotion to the Virgin Mary

The following comes from the Canterbury Tales site:


In his Apostolic Letter entitled Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI states "the Church's devotedness to the Virgin Mary is an intrinsic element of the Christian Religion." His Holiness even states that we "cannot be Christians without being Marian." Father Stefano Manelli of the Franiciscans of the Immaculate focuses on this passage from Marialis Cultus as a true summary of Catholic teaching regarding Marian devotion.

If a Christian refuses to see God's glorious election in choosing the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect Mother of His Divine Son, then that soul does yet see the beautiful plan of human salvation. The incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ for our salvation requires that God the Son have a human mother. It is integral to every single Christian doctrine revealed by God.

I write "refuses" to see the beauty of Marian devotion because it is something that God disperses in the soul through grace. If I person says, "I love Jesus, but I don't love Mary," something disingenuous has occurred. 

The typology of Adam and Eve in relation to Christ and Mary is helpful here. One cannot credit Adam alone for God's curse over the human race. One cannot credit Eve alone. Certainly, Adam was chief and our fall from grace derives chiefly from him.

But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come. (Romans 5:13)

So then, Adam is the Peccator and Eve is the Co-peccatrix. Eve's role is relative, but integral.

The same is true for the New Adam and the New Eve. Christ is God. Mary is not. Nevertheless, Mary's role in the Incarnation and her consenting presence at the foot of the cross does not by itself merit human salvation (a finite human person cannot merit the salvation of anyone). Nevertheless, her role in the saving action of Christ is also relative and integral. One cannot imagine the sacrifice of Christ on the cross without her since she is the loving means by which God the Son gained a human body.

If you struggle with devotion to Mary, take the helpful advice of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He says that we only gain knowledge and understanding of Mary "on our knees." It is something that cannot be learned in a book. This is yet another reason to pray the Rosary daily.

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.”

Ss. Damien of Molokai and Marianne Cope and a man named Joseph

The following comes from Fr. George Rutler:

The canonization of Marianne Cope, along with Kateri Tekakwitha, on October 21, occasioned the publication of a stunning photograph showing Marianne standing beside the funeral bier of St. Damien in Kalaupapa, Molokai. That was in 1889, and the picture is so sharp that it could have been taken today. It must be the first photograph of two saints together. The holy friendships of Teresa of Avila with John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales with 
Jane de Chantal illuminated civilization before photography. 

St. Damien’s body is scarred with leprosy but vested in the fine chasuble in which he used to offer Mass. St. Marianne, in her timeless religious habit, shows no sorrow for she obviously knows she is looking at a saint, not knowing that she is one herself. 

Studying that photograph, one thinks of how hard they worked, not only among the outcast lepers, but all their lives. Damien, born Jozef de Veuster in Belgium, was a farm boy, and Marianne left school in Utica, New York, after the eighth grade to support her family by working in factories. 

Not in the picture was their helper, Joseph Dutton, a Civil War veteran who was so traumatized by the ravages of war and his broken marriage that he became an alcoholic. He reformed his life, went to Molokai and worked with the lepers for 45 years — cleaning latrines, scrubbing floors, and binding sores — until his death in 1931. Their great happiness would have been clouded to see how much unhappiness there is in our land today. 

As a typical eighteenth-century rationalist, Edward Gibbon was cynical about Christianity, but as an historian he analyzed the decline of once-great civilizations in terms of natural virtue: “In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.” 

I expect that Gibbon would have understood modern saints no better than he did the early martyrs and confessors, but he would have seen in them a selfless energy that builds noble societies, and the neglect of such energy pulls them down. Our own nation is facing these realities as it decides what it wants to be. The present crisis in culture cannot be resolved if it is addressed only in terms of economics and international relations. The real leaders are not those who hypnotize naïve people into thinking that they are the source of hope. Those who can rescue nations from servility to selfishness are not on slick campaign posters, but in stark black and white photographs like that taken on Molokai in 1889.

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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saint of the day: Anthony Mary Claret


The following comes from St. Patrick's Church:

Today we remember St. Anthony Mary Caret. Born in Sallent, Spain, December 23, 1807; died in Narbonne, France, October 24, 1870; canonized 1950.

"When I see the need there is for divine teaching and how hungry people are to hear it, I am atremble to be off and running throughout the world, preaching the Word of God. I have no rest. My soul finds no other relief than to rush about and preach."

"If God's Word is spoken by a priest who is filled with the fire of charity--the fire of love of God and neighbor--it will wound vices, kill sins, convert sinners, and work wonders."

"When I am before the Blessed Sacrament I feel such a lively faith that I cannot describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me. . . . When it is time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from His sacred presence."

--St. Antony Claret

As the son of a weaver, Antony became a weaver himself and in his free time he learned Latin and printing. At the age of 22 he entered the seminary at Vich, Catalonia, Spain, and was ordained in 1835. After a few years he began to entertain the idea of a Barthusian vocation but it seemed beyond his strength, so he travelled to Rome to join the Jesuits with the idea of becoming a foreign missionary. Ill health, however, caused him to leave the Jesuit novitiate and he returned to pastoral work at Sallent in 1837. He spent the next decade preaching parochial missions and retreats throughout Catalonia. During this time he helped Blessed Joachima de Mas to establish the Carmelites of Charity.

He went to the Canary Islands and after 15 months there (1848-49) with Bishop Codina, Anthony returned to Vich. His evangelical zeal inspired other priests to join in the same work, so in 1849 he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians), dedicated to preaching missions. The Claretians have spread far beyond Spain to the Americas and beyond.

In 1850, Queen Isabella II, appointed him archbishop of Santiago, Cuba. The people of this diocese were in a shocking state, and Claret made bitter enemies in his efforts to reform the see--some of whom made threats on his life. In fact, he was wounded in an assassination attempt against his life at Holguin in 1856, by a man angered that his mistress was won back to an honest life.

At the request of Queen Isabella, he returned to Spain in 1857 to become her confessor. He resigned his Cuban see in 1858, but spent as little time at the court as his official duties required. Throughout this period he was also deeply occupied with the missionary activities of his congregation and with the diffusion of good literature, especially in his native Catalan. He was also appointed rector of the Escorial, where he established a science laboratory, a natural history museum, and schools of music and languages. He also founded a religious library in Barcelona.

He followed Isabella to France when a revolution drove her from the throne in 1868. He attended Vatican Council I (1869-70) where he influenced the definition of papal infallibility. An attempt was made to lure him back to Spain, but it failed. Antony retired to Prades, France, but was forced to flee to a Cistercian monastery at Fontfroide near Narbonne when the Spanish ambassador demanded his arrest.

Anthony Claret was a leading figure in the revival of Catholicism in Spain, preached over 25,000 sermons, and published some 144 books and pamphlets during his lifetime. His continual union with God was rewarded by many supernatural graces. He was reputed to have performed miraculous cures and to have had gifts of prophecy. Both in Cuba and in Spain he encountered the hostility of the Spanish anti-clerical politicians.

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

Saint Marianne Cope


The following comes from the American Catholic site:

Though leprosy scared off most people in 19th-century Hawaii, that disease sparked great generosity in the woman who came to be known as Mother Marianne of Molokai. Her courage helped tremendously to improve the lives of its victims in Hawaii, a territory annexed to the United States during her lifetime (1898).


Mother Marianne’s generosity and courage were celebrated at her May 14, 2005, beatification in Rome. She was a woman who spoke “the language of truth and love” to the world, said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Cardinal Martins, who presided at the beatification Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, called her life “a wonderful work of divine grace.” Speaking of her special love for persons suffering from leprosy, he said, “She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother.”

On January 23, 1838, a daughter was born to Peter and Barbara Cope of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. The girl was named after her mother. Two years later the Cope family emigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York. Young Barbara worked in a factory until August 1862, when she went to the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After profession in November of the next year, she began teaching at Assumption parish school.

Marianne held the post of superior in several places and was twice the novice mistress of her congregation. A natural leader, three different times she was superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much that would be useful during her years in Hawaii.

Elected provincial in 1877, Mother Marianne was unanimously re-elected in 1881. Two years later the Hawaiian government was searching for someone to run the Kakaako Receiving Station for people suspected of having leprosy. More than 50 religious communities in the United States and Canada were asked. When the request was put to the Syracuse sisters, 35 of them volunteered immediately. On October 22, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for Hawaii where they took charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu; on the island of Maui they also opened a hospital and a school for girls.

In 1888, Mother Marianne and two sisters went to Molokai to open a home for “unprotected women and girls” there. The Hawaiian government was quite hesitant to send women for this difficult assignment; they need not have worried about Mother Marianne! On Molokai she took charge of the home that St. Damien de Veuster [May 10, d. 1889] had established for men and boys. Mother Marianne changed life on Molokai by introducing cleanliness, pride and fun to the colony. Bright scarves and pretty dresses for the women were part of her approach.
Awarded the Royal Order of Kapiolani by the Hawaiian government and celebrated in a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mother Marianne continued her work faithfully. Her sisters have attracted vocations among the Hawaiian people and still work on Molokai.

Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918 and was beatified in 2005 and canonized seven years later.

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".