Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fr. Robert Barron: Turning the Dream of Vatican II Into Reality

The following comes from the NCR:

New-media evangelist Father Robert Barron says the dream of Vatican II is still unrealized: that Catholics in every walk of life embrace the missionary call to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world outside their doorsteps.

Father Barron, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, theologian and the founder of the media apostolate Word on Fire Ministry, has followed up his 10-part award-winning documentary series Catholicism.

The second part, called Catholicism: The New Evangelizationwill debut this fall and addresses both the challenges the Catholic Church faces in bringing the Gospel to contemporary society and the innovative ways Catholics are helping others encounter Jesus Christ.

Father Barron spoke with the Register June 19 at the Catholic Media Conference in Denver, where he was the keynote speaker, and he shared his thoughts about the New Evangelization and why discovering the authentic spirit of Vatican II is the key to its success.

Father, one thing that’s been on the minds of many Catholics is the “New Evangelization.” We talk about it, but many of us really still don’t quite understand what it means. What do you think is the essence of the New Evangelization?
I agree with you. I think that term has been floating around for a long time, but it’s vaguely defined. What I’ve done is follow John Paul II, who, in 1983, said the New Evangelization is the Old Evangelization — meaning declaring Jesus Christ is Lord — but it’s new in ardor, new in expression and new in method.

The new ardor — I think [John Paul II] saw a new recovery of Vatican II’s missionary spirit. I came of age right after Vatican II, so I know the Church was not an ardent Church. It was dissenting, doubting, wondering about itself and unsure about itself. John Paul, I think, sensed that and said we needed a new ardor, a new fire, a new confidence: the Vatican II missionary spirit.

New in expression — and this is something I think about a lot in dealing with the secular culture, the New Atheists and all that. You have to find new ways to express the age-old faith: so certain areas like how to understand God and Jesus, how to express the Church and how to express salvation in a way that people today are going to find compelling.

What attitude should we have in order to keep the New Evangelization “new” or fresh?
We should have that confidence or conviction that we are entering mission territory whenever we step outside our own homes, even in the United States of America. We have to have this ardor born of the faith in the Resurrection and be finding new ways to express this age-old faith.

Like with technology?
No, that’s more methods. That’s the third step. I would say this one is more theological.

Yes. How do you say that God is worthwhile to a culture that thinks God is a medieval superstition or an afterthought? How do you say the Bible is the central book of your life to a culture that says the Bible is just old superstitions? How do you say that the Church’s sexual teaching is liberating when the culture sees it is as enslaving? So that’s the challenge: to read the cultural signs and, working with those, find a new way to say it.

How is it new in method?
That’s where the media come in, I think. We’ve had this explosion of media, the greatest that’s happened in 500 years. The Church has to be willing and able to use all these methods of communication to get the message out.
So in the video [Catholicism: The New Evangelization], I explore and present a number of those approaches.

You would say the Church ignores these new methods to its peril, right?
Oh, absolutely. We have to be on the cutting edge of it. We shouldn’t be just catching up, and for too long — even though Fulton Sheen was the pioneer — we got behind. I want the Catholic Church to be on the cutting edge of new technology.

It’s interesting. You’ve mentioned how the vision of the Second Vatican Council has not been realized yet, but being on the cutting edge of communications is exactly what Vatican II talked about in Inter Mirificathe decree on social communications. Why are we so behind?

I think what happened is we lost the missionary verve of the Council and turned inward. Vatican II was an outward-looking Council. It was trying to get the Church to be a more apt vehicle for the “Christofication” of the world. But its focus was not so much inside, but outside. What happened though, in the wake of the Council, for all kinds of reasons, is that we tended to turn inward.

That self-referential Church Pope Francis has been talking about?
Exactly. When I was a kid, it looked like “unsure of this, unsure of that; we’re reassessing this; we’re re-examining that. What do we hold about sex, authority, Jesus?” ... That’s not what Vatican II wanted. If you read the texts themselves, you see this missionary élan, this missionary spirit. And I think that’s the new ardor that John Paul insisted upon.

What did you decide would make Word on Fire Ministries different from existing, traditional Catholic evangelization efforts?
I guess it was the use of the new media. There were some presence of Catholics on radio and TV — and, obviously, EWTN [parent company of the Register] made a huge contribution there — but the new media was not being exploited adequately, and I thought Word on Fire could do that.

How should we see the relationship between the bishops and the laity in the New Evangelization? If the old model was “pray, pay and obey,” then what does Pope Francis and the Council expect of laypeople?
To be a great Catholic businessman, to be a great Catholic businesswoman, to be a great Catholic journalist, a great Catholic doctor, a great Catholic nurse, a great Catholic politician. Not just in name, but that it informs everything that you’re doing.

Bishops and priests can’t do that. We’re priests, prophets and kings: We teach, sanctify and govern, but the governance, the teaching and the sanctifying is for the sake of sending: “Go; now you’ve been sanctified, taught and governed. Go into the world and change it.” But again, that, too, has been unrealized.

Who’s a good patron saint for the New Evangelization?
Ours is [St. Thérèse] the Little Flower. I think she is a saint for the New Evangelization. She wanted to be a missionary. She had that heart of love to carry it out into the world. Fulton Sheen — we have a picture of him in our Word on Fire office — he’s a great patron saint, obviously, for the use of the media.

At Mundelein [Seminary, where Father Barron is rector], we’re redoing our house chapel, which has never been named for a saint, and I’m naming it for John Paul II, and I’m going to fill the windows with 16 evangelists who have some connection to him.
So I claim those three: the Little Flower, Fulton Sheen and John Paul II.

You were appointed rector at Mundelein Seminary. How is that going so far?
So far, so good. I’ve liked it. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was a complete surprise. We had just come out with the Catholicism series, we were planning this new video, and the office was going strong —  when the Cardinal [Francis George] asked me to come out and be rector of the seminary.

But I honestly have enjoyed it.

Any challenges?
Yeah, a lot of challenges. We’d actually changed a lot and done a lot the first year. What I’ve tried to do is give the whole seminary a New Evangelization focus. That’s what we’re about: We’re creating priests for the New Evangelization — so the formation program and the academic program I’ve kind of revamped to get them ordered that way.

The John Paul II Chapel has been a big priority of mine. We’ve also changed from a quarter system to a semester system to make it more contemplative. So (there are) a lot of things we’ve done to give it that New Evangelization focus.

We’ve talked a lot about truth in the New Evangelization, but what’s the role of beauty?
I think we should lead with beauty. It’s the Catholic strong suit, and it’s the transcendental that has the least offensive quality today. I think when you lead with the true and the good, people today tend to get defensive in a postmodern context.
But if you lead with beauty, it’s less threatening. It’s more winsome, and that’s our strong suit. We are a beautiful religion.

Thank you so much, Father. And good luck on the second Catholicism series on the New Evangelization. Do you have plans for a third in the future?
Thank you! We have one that we are cooking that I’m calling “the Pivotal Players.” This will take me around the world again to talk about the 10 or 12 key figures in Catholic history who have shaped the Catholic imagination. So that’s something we're thinking about, and we’re looking forward to it.

Meet Pope Francis

Fr. Robert Barron comments on Conscience and Morality

Saturday, June 29, 2013

For Love of You by Audrey Assad

Pope Francis: Mass and Angelus on Sts Peter and Paul

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul with Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, during which he imposed the pallium on thirty-four of the metropolitan archbishops installed over the past year. The pallium is the white, shawl-like woolen liturgical vestment worn over the shoulders of a metropolitan archbishop, which is the peculiar sign of a metropolitan’s office: it specifically symbolizes authority and union with the Holy See. Each year on the feast, the Metropolitan archbishops installed during the course of the preceding year travel to Rome to receive the vestment. The solemnity is also one of the two days in the liturgical year in which the ancient bronze statue of St Peter in the basilica is symbolically vested in an ornate red silk cope and crowned with the triple tiara. 
After processing into the basilica with the thirty-four new metropolitans and hearing the readings, Pope Francis delivered a homily in which he focused on the mystery of the Petrine ministry as one particularly ordered to confirming all Christians everywhere in faith, love and unity. “Faith in Christ,” said Pope Francis, “is the light of our life as Christians.“ Addressing himself to the new metropolitans, the Pope said, “To confess the Lord by letting oneself be taught by God; to be consumed by love for Christ and his Gospel; to be servants of unity. These, dear brother bishops, are the tasks which the holy apostles Peter and Paul entrust to each of us, so that they can be lived by every Christian.”
This was a theme to which the Holy Father returned after Mass, in remarks to the faithful gathered in St Peter's square for the Angelus prayer. “What a joy it is to believe in a God who is all Love, all Grace,” he said. Also at the Angelus, Pope Francis also greeted the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, led by Metropolitan Ioannis Zizoulas. “Let us not forget that Peter had a brother, Andrew,” said Pope Francis, “who met Jesus first, spoke of Him to Peter and took Peter to meet [the Lord].”
Then Pope Francis asked all the gathered faithful to join him in praying a Hail Mary for Patriarch Bartholomew.
In conclusion, the Holy Father greeted all the pilgrim faithful who, from every part of the world, were come to celebrate the feast in Rome.

American Church by Russell Shaw

The following comes from Russell Shaw at Catholic Lane:

In the question period after a talk I’d given on my new book, American Church, a woman raised an important point: “If the Church in the U.S. faces as many problems as you say, why is it doing so much better here than in much of Europe?”
Great question. My answer–which I also give in the book–was along these lines:
“It has a lot to do with the First Amendment principle of separation of Church and State. Yes, I know–’separation’ sometimes is used as a club by secularists who want to drive religion out of the public square. But on the whole it’s been a great blessing for the Church and for religion in America.
“For one thing, church-state separation has generally kept government out of religious affairs, while also keeping clerics out of inappropriate involvement in politics. In combination with Cardinal Gibbons’ wise decision to embrace the emerging labor movement in the late 19th century, this spared the Church the sort of virulent anticlericalism found in countries like France, Spain, and even ‘Catholic’ Ireland as a reaction against the political clericalism of the not so distant past.”
Almost always, I might have added, clericalism breeds anticlericalism. That we’ve largely escaped the worst sort of clericalism in America means we’ve also been spared the worst sort of anticlericalism.
But granted all that, the situation of the Catholic Church in America today is increasingly perilous. American Church explains why. In brief, the explanation goes like this:
Nearly 40 years ago, reacting to the Supreme Court’s then-recent decision legalizing abortion as well as other social and political developments, I published a magazine article with the title “The Alienation of American Catholics.”
The point I was making was that American secular culture had lately shifted in directions radically opposed to central Catholic values and beliefs. Hence the rising sense of alienation from that culture being experienced by Catholics like me.
What I wasn’t so conscious of then was that millions of my fellow Catholics had for years been becoming part of this hostile culture–accepting and adopting as their own its world view, its value system, its patterns of behavior, even when these clashed with their Catholic faith.
This was painfully apparent in matters of sexual morality, but it also applied to marriage and the family, many issues of social justice, capital punishment, abortion, and the whole bourgeois consumerist lifestyle. More and more, Catholics were becoming nearly indistinguishable from other Americans on questions like these.
Looking for an explanation for what was happening, I hit upon the process that sociologists call cultural assimilation–in this case, assimilation into American secular culture–that Catholics had experienced since the 19th century and, with great rapidity and in huge numbers, especially since World War II.
It’s a complex, fascinating tale, not well understood by many Catholics themselves, yet central to the situation in which the Church now finds itself. The subtitle of my book sums it up: “The remarkable rise, meteoric fall, and uncertain future of Catholicism in America.”
There’s a solution, but it isn’t easy. It requires rebuilding a strong Catholic subculture committed to sustaining the religious identity of American Catholics and forming them for the task of evangelizing America. Can that be done? Perhaps. Will it be attempted? That has yet to be seen.
This 4th of July, say a prayer that it is. Remember to say thanks for church-state separation. Things would be a lot worse without it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Nothing Ever (Could Separate Us) by Citizen Way

Fr. George Rutler: The surest way to persecution is to say, “It can't happen here”

By Father George Rutler at New Advent:

Our parish is blessed with a shrine to Saint Thomas More. The young artist who painted it after Holbein was a refugee from communist Eastern Europe. He did such a good job that Cardinal Egan, dedicating it, said that he would not be surprised if this were the original. 

We recently celebrated the joint feasts of Thomas More, who was Chancellor of England, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Their personalities were different in many ways, and it was almost a miracle that an Oxford man and a Cambridge man got on so well and eventually were canonized together. The Act of Succession and the Act of Supremacy were the challenges that King Henry VIII threw at them, and the saints returned the challenge. The issues were rooted in natural law: the meaning of marriage and the claims of government. These are the same issues that loom large today. Whatever our courts of law may decide about these matters, Saint Thomas says: “I am not bound, my lord, to conform my conscience to the council of one realm against the General Council of Christendom.” In 1919, G. K. Chesterton predicted with powerful precision that great as More’s witness was then, “he is not quite so important as he will be in a hundred years’ time.” 

For every courageous saint back then, there were many who instead took the safe path of complacency. More’s own family begged him to find some loophole, and — after the sudden deaths of eight other bishops — Fisher was the only one left who acted like an apostle. Those who opted for comfort and wove the lies of their world into a simulation of truth had a banal and shallow faith that Pope Francis has called “rose water.” It is a good image, for rose water is not blood and cannot wash away sin. 

The “Man for All Seasons” wrote to his beloved Margaret from his cell in the Tower of London: “And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.” 

The “Fortnight for Freedom” extended from the vigil of the feasts of Fisher and More to July 4, but its prayers continue, as the Church’s many charitable and evangelical works are threatened by our present government’s disdain for the religious conscience, most immediately evident in the Health and Human Services mandate and the redefinition of marriage. In 1534 Henry VIII’s arrogation of authority over the Church was quickly followed by a Treasons Act which made it a high crime to criticize the King. In contemporary America as in Tudor England, the surest way to let that happen is to say, “It can't happen here.”

Pope Francis: The Mystery of God's patience

(Vatican Radio) The Lord asks us to be patient, after all He is always patient with us. Moreover there is no "set protocol" for how God intervenes in our lives; sometimes it's immediate, sometimes we just have to have a little patience. This was the lesson drawn by Pope Francis from the daily readings at Mass Friday morning in Casa Santa Marta. Emer McCarthy reports:
The Lord slowly enters the life of Abraham, who is 99 years old when He promises him a son. Instead He immediately enters the life of the leper, Jesus listens to his prayer, touches him and preforms a miracle. Pope Francis went on to speak of how the Lord chooses to become involved "in our lives, in the lives of His people." The lives of Abraham and the leper. "When the Lord intervenes - said the Pope– He does not always do so in the same way. There is no ‘set protocol’ of action of God in our life", "it does not exist ". Once, he added, "He intervenes is one way, another time in a different way” but He always intervenes. There is "always - he said - this meeting between us and the Lord".
"The Lord always chooses His way to enter into our lives. Often He does so slowly, so much so, we are in danger of losing our 'patience', a little. But Lord, when? 'And we pray, we pray ... And He doesn’t intervene in our lives. Other times, when we think of what the Lord has promised us, that it such a huge thing, we don’t believe it, we are a little skeptical, like Abraham – and we smile a little to ourselves ... This is what it says in the First Reading, Abraham hid his face and smiled ... A bit 'of skepticism:' What? Me? I am almost a hundred years old, I will have a son and my wife at 90 will have a son? '.
Sarah is equally skeptical, the Pope recalled, at the Oaks of Mamre, when the three angels say the same thing to Abraham. "How often, when the Lord does not intervene, does not perform a, does not do what we want Him to do, do we become impatient or skeptical?"
"But He does not, He cannot for skeptics. The Lord takes his time. But even He, in this relationship with us, has a lot of patience. Not only do we have to have patience: He has! He waits for us! And He waits for us until the end of life! Think of the good thief, right at the end, at the very end, he acknowledged God. The Lord walks with us, but often does not reveal Himself, as in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. The Lord is involved in our lives - that's for sure! - But often we do not see. This demands our patience. But the Lord who walks with us, He also has a lot of patience with us. "
The Pope turned his thoughts to "the mystery of God's patience, who in walking, walks at our pace." Sometimes in life, he noted, "things become so dark, there is so much darkness, that we want - if we are in trouble - to come down from the cross." This, he said, "is the precise moment: the night is at its darkest, when dawn is about to break. And when we come down from the Cross, we always do so just five minutes before our liberation comes, at the very moment when our impatience is greatest ".
"Jesus on the Cross, heard them challenging him: 'Come down, come down! Come '. Patience until the end, because He has patience with us. He always enters, He is involved with us, but He does so in His own way and when He thinks it's best. He tells us exactly what He told Abraham: Walk in my presence and be blameless', be above reproach, this is exactly the right word. Walk in my presence and try to be above reproach. This is the journey with the Lord and He intervenes, but we have to wait, wait for the moment, walking always in His presence and trying to be beyond reproach. We ask this grace from the Lord, to always walk in His presence, trying to be blameless'.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Confession by Scott Hahn

Settling in for a Fascinating Journey

The following comes from John Thavis:
The first 100 days of a pope are not like the first 100 days of a president or prime minister or a CEO. A pope thinks long-term, and is under less pressure to put forward a series of short-term goals or programs. Most of the issues facing a pope transcend the pragmatic and the political. They require careful thought, prayer and consultation, not a string of policy statements.
For journalists, though, 100 days is a marker that requires evaluation and commentary. It was certainly the hot topic at the Catholic Media Conference this week in Denver, where I gave a talk this morning to several hundred Catholic communicators. 
So what do we know about Pope Francis after 100 days in office? We’ve had no important documents, few significant appointments and no earth-shaking reforms of the Roman Curia.
But we do have a healthy dose of papal thinking and papal preaching – on everything ranging from clerical careerism to sweatshop employment. And we have a number of papal gestures that speak volumes to people inside and outside the church.
I don't want to recap Pope Francis’ 100-day “greatest hits” here. Instead, I’d like to identify a few core characteristics and directions that seem to be emerging:
1. Francis has relocated the papacy outside the Roman Curia.
First, choosing to live in the less formal Vatican guesthouse instead of the papal apartments has turned out to be a crucial decision, because geography counts at the Vatican. The papal apartments are surrounded by Roman Curia offices, deep inside the Apostolic Palace, and Francis would have been much more isolated there. He is a people person, after all.
Second, the pope has named a group of eight cardinals – now to be expanded to nine – to advise him on matters of church governance and Roman Curia reform. Only one is a member of the Roman Curia. Nothing said more clearly that Francis intends to rely less on Vatican insiders and more on the world’s bishops when it comes to governing.
Third, much of the pope’s preaching has come in morning Masses at the Vatican guesthouse, in off-the-cuff homilies that are brief, insightful and sharply worded. The Vatican bureaucracy doesn't even consider these homilies part of the pope’s real Magisterium, and has yet to publish full texts. One reason, I think, is that unlike formal papal speeches, these extemporized talks don’t go through the usual bureaucratic machinery. They are less controlled by the Curia.
2. Francis has begun his “reform” of the Vatican by evangelizing.
The people who attend the pope’s morning Masses are groups of Vatican officials and employees, and his words are directed at them in a particular way. In that sense, Pope Francis’ reform of the Vatican has already begun. Not in the way the world was expecting, through high-profile appointments of Roman Curia heads – though that will come in due time. Instead, the pope is evangelizing the Vatican. He’s laying the spiritual groundwork for reform, by preaching the Gospel in his own back yard. For him, “new evangelization” begins at home.
3. The pope’s vision of the church’s role is less about internal identity and more about external influence.
He wants the church to be present in people’s lives. For priests, that means getting out with their faithful and sharing their problems – as he put it in his memorable and earthy phrase, pastors should have “the odor of sheep.” For bishops, it means an end to careerism (today he told nuncios that when evaluating candidates for bishop, they should avoid ambitious prelates and choose pastors who are close to the people.)
For lay Catholics, it means being willing to live the Gospel and proclaim it joyfully in word and deed, especially to those who are suffering. Although this takes courage, evangelization is not a burden, and shouldn't seem like one, the pope said.
4. The pope’s social justice agenda is slowly taking center stage. 
His sharply worded challenges to the global economic system (“We live in a world where money rules … “We need to flip things over, like a tortilla: Money is not the image and likeness of God.”) indicate that his planned encyclical, “Blessed Are the Poor,” will not be easily spun by the defenders of an unrestricted free-market economy.
But his economic Gospel is not merely aimed at international agencies and power brokers. He wants the church to embody concern for the poor and suffering, and has cautioned priests and bishops to resist the lure of the business model. “Proclaiming the Gospel must take the road of poverty.” He understands that practicing what one preaches is the key to church credibility in the eyes of many people today.
5. He has confidence in his own spontaneity. 
So far, he’s willing to be unscripted in “safe” settings like the morning Mass or an audience with children, but also in “unsafe” settings like his conversation with the officials of the Latin American Conference of Religious. I’ve seen other popes go down this path (even Benedict like to extemporize at first) but top Vatican officials would pretty quickly convince them that a prepared text is better for everyone. It seems to me that Francis has decided otherwise, and I think the reason is that, for him, being a pastor is not the same as being a speechgiver.
At 100 days, I think we’re beyond the “honeymoon” period. We’re settling into a fascinating pontificate.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Are by Colton Dixon

Man of Steel and Cross of Wood

The following comes from the Catholic World Report:

Among the great Christ figures of world literature, Superman is our country’s best such figure by, literally, leaps and bounds. And Man of Steel is his best depiction yet, a towering achievement of both entertainment excellence and theological inspiration. It demonstrates how to make a Christological story the right way, complete with a villain that is both disturbing and appropriate for our post-modern age.

It is the end of the world, for Krypton at least. This world is dying in exactly the same fashion as ours: overdependence on science, disrespect for the human person, and unrepentant pride. Krypton is a haunting view of the secular revolution brought to its climax. The scientist Jor-El has a secret hope that will save at least one of his people: he and his wife have a son, the first natural birth in hundreds of years. The villainous General Zod calls this an act of “heresy,” because on Krypton children are bred for specific, socially conditioned lives and harvested only for the good of the state.

Fortunately for Earth, Jor-El’s son makes it to our planet and is adopted by a loving family in Kansas, taking the name Clark Kent. His supernatural abilities of flight, strength, and x-ray vision come from alien DNA but his dignity, goodness, and sacrificial love from human parents. Aware of his uniqueness, he patiently waits for years, learning to be human and helping people quietly. His decision to reveal himself comes in a conversation with a Catholic priest, a scene that is beautifully reminiscent of the Baptism in the Jordan and the Wedding Feast of Cana. Clark goes to the priest as if to receive confession, but there is no absolution. Instead, the priest affirms that he needs to trust that humanity is ready for him to begin his public ministry. If you needed any further proof that Superman is meant to be a Christ-like figure, Clark is 33 years old.

Superman has always been compared to Jesus, and he is certainly not unique in that sense, in literature or on film. Just in the last few decades, we’ve had The Matrix, Terminator 2, Harry Potter, and The Brave Little Toaster. Zack Synder’s Superman not only includes the traditional Christ-figure characteristics, but hefeels like Jesus. He understands both the cosmic power and the need to cry when a loved one dies. Jesus never sinned but understood the horrors of a sinful world. His care and sacrifice were dutiful but also intimate and loving. 

Synder’s ability to create a compelling Superman is impressive enough, but the nemesis General Zod is also a wonder to behold and fear. He seems so familiar because he does not portray a stereotypical boogeyman but a current mindset that is both old (political and racial totalitarianism) and new (sexual totalitarianism). Like Satan, he has chosen to be evil when he could have been good. He fights Superman to create a vision of Earth formed in his own likeness and ideology. This gives Superman the opportunity to demonstrate a concept rarely seen in movies, especially superhero films: love of enemy. Zod is one of the last of Superman’s people. Our hero will not allow this monster to destroy the Earth and its inhabitants, but neither will he kill his enemy unless it is undeniably necessary.

Man of Steel represents everything that a great Catholic film ought to accomplish. It is a thrilling superhero film that demands overpriced candy and 3D glasses. Its special effects are amazing but rarely noticeable over the beautiful script, morally uplifting themes, and well-developed characters. People were wailing and gnashing their teeth a year ago when it was announced that Henry Cavill, who is British, would play America’s first son; we should have crossed the Atlantic a long time ago. No less impressive is Michael Shannon, who creates a villain of truly evil actions and intentions yet never manages to lose the audience’s pity.

I don’t give out many five reel reviews, maybe one or two a year. In order to get five reels, a film must compel the audience to leave the theater and change their lives. Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet, asks the question: “Imagine how our world would react if they came face to face with this.” How would you react if you knew Superman was real? Well, he is. He really is! There is a super-man who not only can transform your life here but forever in the next. Synder’s man of steel is but a shadow of this man on wood. The best thing you can do this weekend is go to Mass and receive Jesus Christ, true God and true man. The second best thing is see Man of Steel.

Pope Francis: The joy of fatherhood

(Vatican Radio) The desire to be a father is ingrained in all men, even priests, who are called to give life, care, protection to their spiritual children entrusted to them. This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at morning Mass Wednesday, in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta. Mass was concelebrated by the Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Palermo, Salvatore De Giorgi, who was celebrating the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Emer McCarthy reports:
"When a man does not have this desire, something is missing in this man. Something is wrong. All of us, to exist, to become complete, in order to be mature, we need to feel the joy of fatherhood: even those of us who are celibate. Fatherhood is giving life to others, giving life, giving life… For us, it is pastoral paternity, spiritual fatherhood, but this is still giving life, this is still becoming fathers. "

Pope Francis was inspired by Wednesday's passage from Genesis, in which God promises Abram the old joy of a child, along with descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. To seal this covenant, Abram follows God's directions and prepares a sacrifice of animals which he then defends from attack by birds of prey. "It moves me - said the Pope – to picture this ninety year old man with a stick in his hand", defending his sacrifice. "It makes me think of a father defending his family, his children":
"A father who knows what it means to protect his children. And this is a grace that we priests must ask for ourselves: to be a father, to be a father. The grace of fatherhood, of pastoral paternity, of spiritual paternity. We may have many sins, but this is commune sanctorum: We all have sins. But not having children, never becoming a father, it like an incomplete life: a life that stops half way. And therefore we have to be fathers. But it is a grace that the Lord gives. People say to us: 'Father, Father, Father ...'. They want us to be this, fathers, by the grace of pastoral fatherhood. "
Pope Francis then turned to Cardinal De Giorgi, who is marking the 60 the anniversary of his priestly ordination. "I do not know what our dear Savlvatore did," but "I'm sure that he was a father." "And this is a sign," he says pointing to the many priests who accompanied the cardinal. “Now it's up to you” he said, adding: every tree "bears its own fruit, and if it is good, the fruit must be good, right?". So, the Pope concluded lightheartedly , "do not let him look bad ..."

"We thank God for this grace of fatherhood in the Church, which is passed from father to son, and so on ... And I think, finally, these two icons and one more: the icon of Abram who asks for a child, the icon of Abraham with a stick in his hand, defending his family, and the icon of the elderly Simeon in the Temple, when he receives the new life : this is a spontaneous liturgy, the liturgy of joy , in Him. And to you, the Lord today gifts great joy. "

St. Josemaria Escriva: Work is a sign of God's love

I came across this quote at The Deacon's Bench:

“We have reminded Christians of the wonderful words of Genesis which tell us that God created man so that he might work, and we have concentrated on the example of Christ, who spent most of His life on earth working as a craftsman in a village. We love human work which He chose as His state in life, which He cultivated and sanctified. We see in work, in men’s noble creative toil, not only one of the highest human values, an indispensable means to social progress and to greater justice in the relations between men, but also a sign of God’s Love for His creatures, and of men’s love for each other and for God: we see in work a means of perfection, a way to sanctity.”
– St. Josemaria Escriva.

Arizona Hermitage to Foster Deep Prayer and Priestly Renewal

The following comes from the NCR:

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has established a local house of prayer for priests, where they can come for solitude with Christ and renew themselves for their ministry to the people of God.

Merciful Heart Hermitage is “a place of prayer for priests ... to be drawn into Jesus’ own heart, and through his heart coming into deep relationship with the Father and the Father’s heart,” director Father Eugene Florea, director of the hermitage, told CNA June 19.

“As priests are renewed here, and more deeply united to the heart of Christ, then they’re able to go back into their ministry more deeply united to the heart of Christ to bring to the people of God, the Father’s love and mercy in a deeper way.”

Merciful Heart was established on May 21, and was named for its mission to draw priests into the hearts of Christ and God the Father.

The hermitage “has been used” already, Father Florea said, and has drawn interests not only from the priests of Phoenix, but those “from different parts of the country.”

The facility consists of a central chapel, with four poustinia (hermitages), where retreatants can stay in solitude. Each poustinia has its own kitchenette, The Catholic Sun, the newspaper for the Diocese of Phoenix, reported June 12; that way, priests are able to maintain quiet and separation as much as possible.

“There's also a main house, with some extra rooms if necessary, but really the central part of the retreat experience would be in those poustinia,” said Father Florea.

The hermitage is located in Black Canyon City, just 47 miles north of the center of the Phoenix metro area, where many of the diocese's priests are assigned.
The site was formerly the home of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of Solitude Monastery, who now have a new location to the west of Phoenix.

“Jesus himself said to the apostles, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,’ and this place kind of answers that need,” Father Florea reflected.

The need, he said, “to be renewed in prayer, to be in conversation with the Father, and really be more rooted in that way as beloved sons of the Father, and let all of our ministry flow from that identity.”

On a limited number of occasions each year, the priest will offer some directed retreats in the Ignatian tradition, “so in that case they would meet daily for spiritual direction during that retreat.”

These directed retreats will be a five to eight day experience of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, which were composed to help retreatants choose to live for Christ and meditate on his life.
Father Florea was introduced to Ignatian spirituality at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Neb., noting that he “went through their training program in spiritual direction for diocesan priests.”

A pastor of the Phoenix Diocese, Father Florea said he “sensed a call to a deeper contemplative life.”

“I brought that sense of a call to Bishop Olmsted, and he asked if I might be able to live that call out in such a way that I could live at this facility and welcome other priests who want to come and pray ... and receive spiritual direction and retreat.”

Bishop Olmsted wanted somewhere for his priests to be able to spend in prayer and solitude on monthly “desert days,” or days of recollection.

“Priests are free to come and just be on their own in solitude ... some might want to receive spiritual direction,” Father Florea explained, or the sacrament of confession.“Others might want to come for a longer time of retreat,” he said, and “they might meet with me at some point during their stay.”

Father Florea thinks the hermitage is “going to be a great blessing for the Church.”

“I really see it as being so needed, and I think it'll help contribute in a small way to the renewal of the priesthood.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My God by Jeremy Camp

Catholics are called to 'daily martyrdom,' says Pope Francis

 During his June 23 Angelus reflection, Pope Francis said the faithful are called to follow the example of the martyrs in losing their lives for Christ, even if they do not suffer violence for their faith.

“Both in the past and today, in many parts of the world there are martyrs, both men and women, who are imprisoned or killed for the sole reason of being Christian,” he said, noting that there are more martyrs dying violent deaths in modern times than in the early centuries of the Church.

“But there is also the daily martyrdom, which does not result in death but is also a loss of life for Christ.”
This “daily martyrdom” consists of people “doing their duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus,” said the pontiff from the window of the Apostolic Palace to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

He delivered his Angelus comments reflecting on the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells his disciples “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Pope Francis stressed that there are fathers and mothers who put their faith into practice concretely by devoting their lives to the good of their families each day.

“There are many priests, monks, nuns who give generously with their service to the kingdom of God and the young people who give up their interests to devote their time to children, the disabled and the elderly,” he stated.

“Those who serve the truth serve Christ,” he underscored.

The Pope also spoke of St. John the Baptist, whose feast day is June 24, and pointed to him as an example of a man who gave his life for the truth.

“John was chosen by God to prepare the way before Jesus,” he said, explaining that the saint “devoted himself entirely to God and his messenger” and ultimately died for the truth.

Pope Francis entreated everyone, particularly young people, to “have the courage to go against the tide of current values that do not conform to the path of Jesus.”

The Rosary: Our Weapon

Religious Liberty; Rooted In Dignity Of The Human Person

The following comes from Bishop Paul Etienne:

As our Fortnight For Freedom progresses this summer, today seems an appropriate moment to reflect upon the innate freedom of every human person to give expression to their relationship with God. 

Today the Church celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist.  We read in Sacred Scripture that this birth was announced to Zechariah by an angel of the Lord. The angel even goes so far as to describe the life mission of John.  (Luke 1: 525)

The Sacred Scriptures give plenty of other evidence that we are all created by God, from the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4)  Most memorable is the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1: 26-38) as well as Samson (Judges 13,) and Isaac (Genesis 15:2-6; 18:9-15; 21: 1-8.)

Other passages speak of the work of God forming each of us in the womb.  “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!”  (Psalm 139: 13-14)  Also, the Prophet Isaiah: “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.”  (Is 49:1)

These Scripture passages teach us that each human person is intimately known by God, who calls us into being.  This fundamental understanding of the origins of every human person speaks to the importance of religious freedom.  This is not just a freedom bestowed upon us by others. 

Religious freedom is a part of our DNA.  We are created by God, for relationship with God and the entire human journey is destined to return to God.  The dignity of every human person is rooted in this Divine Origin of all human life. 

This relationship with God is carried on in the intimate realm of human conscience, and is given visible expression in many ways, not the least of which is worship.  But worship is not the limitation of religious freedom.  One’s relationship with God gives expression to love and service of others.  It is guided by moral light that dictates “Do this. Do not do that.”

The Second Vatican Council in its document on Religious Liberty states:

“…the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person as known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.  This right of the human person to religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.”  (Declaration of Religious Liberty, #2)

St. John the Baptist was a voice preparing the people of Israel for its Savior.  Jesus Christ is the Word spoken by God for all eternity.  Still today, freedom is fundamental to exercise our voice in favor of the instructive Word. 

St. John the Baptist did not limit his voice to a temple.  Rather, he spoke wherever and whenever and whatever the Spirit prompted.  This is true religious freedom, in search of and at the service of Truth.  The Truth of our faith, Jesus Christ, desires only the good for all people.  His desire is the desire of the Father, that all come to sanctification.  (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

 Let us continue our prayer for a proper respect for religious liberty, and its due protection from unwarranted intrusion by any individual or institution.  Let us pray that each person will have a well formed conscience and the freedom to live freely according to its guidance toward the Truth and the common good.