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♦ THE FATHER’S TALE ♦ A N OVEL B y
Michael O’Brien “ The best of O’Brien’s novels. He creates characters like Dickens, explores human relationships like Austen, and has the epic scope of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I believe this novel will merit inclusion in any list of the world’s greatest novels.” — Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
“An epic tale of the complex and mysterious workings of love. O’Brien takes us on a harrowing intercontinental odyssey, in which the dark incongruities of divine providence reorder faith and hope so that love becomes fully possible.” — David Lyle Jeffrey, Baylor University
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n this modern retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son, Canadian bookseller Alex Graham, a middle-age widower, has his quiet life turned upside down when his college-age son disappears without any explanation or trace. With minimal resources, the father begins a long, arduous journey that takes him for the first time away from his safe and orderly world. When he stumbles across the merest thread of a trail, he follows it in blind desperation, and is led step by step on an incredible odyssey that takes him to fascinating places and to frightening people and perils. Through the uncertainty and the anguish, the loss and the longing, Graham is pulled into conflicts between nations, as well as the eternal conflict between good and evil. Stretched nearly to the breaking point by the inexplicable suffering he witnesses and experiences, he discovers unexpected sources of strength as he presses onward in the hope of recovering his son—and himself. FT-H . . . 1076 pages, Sewn Hardcover, $29.95
other novels by Michael o’brien
“A magnum opus in quality as well as quantity . . . like a thousand sunrises.” — Peter Kreeft, Boston College
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“O’Brien’s achievement in this novel is titanic.” — Thomas Howard Author, Dove Descending: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets
♦ Father elijah: an apocalypse
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♦ strangers and sojourners
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✦ Saint PhiliP neri
I Prefer Heaven n epic feature film on the famous “Apostle of Rome”, and great friend of youth in the 16th century. One of the most popular saints of all time, St. Philip Neri was known for his great charity, deep prayer life, and tremendous humor. He sought out the abandoned, poor youth of Rome to catechize them in the faith and help them find a better life. He was also the founder of the religious congregation, the Oratory, that worked with the youth and also worked to re-evangelize Rome. This film highlights Neri’s great love for youth, his warm sense of humor, his deep spirituality, and his amazing gift for miracles. Actor Gigi Proietti gives a winning performance as St. Philip in this beautifully produced film that is directed by Giacomo Campiotti, director of the acclaimed films Bakhita: From Slave to Saint and St. Giuseppe Moscatti.
• Italian with English subtitles • Includes 16 page Collector’s Booklet SPNE-M . . . 190 mins, $24.95
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his special double DVD film package includes an acclaimed new film on the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Servant of All, along with five of his most popular television programs from his #1 rated TV series, Life is Worth Living. For decades Fulton Sheen was a shining example of what it means to serve God and men. His TV series reached 30 million viewers weekly, and his profound words were captured in over 100 books. Millions were influenced by the way he lived and the witness of his personal relationship with God. This powerful new film introduces the great bishop to a new generation that needs his inspiring example of love for God and neighbor, revealing how Sheen’s prolific life and works continue to inspire those whose lives he forever changed. The bonus five films from his award-winning TV series present Sheen himself with his unique, captivating teaching style on the crucial importance of faith, love and spirituality.
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Defender of the Immaculate Conception he inspiring story of the holy Franciscan priest and theologian who won a famous debate against the Dominicans in the 13th century as he defended Our Lady’s great privilege of her Immaculate Conception, preparing the groundwork for the Church to later define that as a dogma of the Catholic faith. Shot in beautiful ancient monastery locations in Europe, Scotus is presented as a courageous apostle of the Faith against the oppressive anti-Catholic government in power. An important film for Americans since the Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of the USA, this acclaimed feature film stars Italian actor Adriano Braidotti as Blessed John Duns Scotus, who was Beatified by John Paul II. The film won major awards for Best Movie and Best Actor at the International Catholic Film Festival.
• Italian with English subtitles. • Includes Collectors Booklet BDS-M . . . 85 mins, $19.95
SOA-M . . . 200 mins, 2 DVDs, $24.95
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“Andreas Widmer gives us a true gift by sharing his firsthand experience of Pope John Paul II’s personal habits so that we can incorporate these in our own leadership journey. He gives us a role model who is truly worthy of the word; Andreas shows us that it is possible to achieve the sanctity of leadership even in the context of business.” —Carolyn Y. Woo Dean, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame; newly named President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services
THE POPE & THE CEO John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard by Andreas Widmer
Foreword by George Weigel
ormer Swiss Guard and accomplished CEO and business leader Andreas Widmer gives a behind-the-scenes look into “the most authentically human person I’ve ever met,” and reveals how those memories shaped and reared the success of the corporate executive. In what papal biographer George Weigel calls “a powerful example of leadership at work,” Widmer recounts with anecdotal lure his personal experiences serving Blessed Pope John Paul II in the Swiss Guard, and the secrets of successful leadership that he learned at the feet of the great pope. 978-1-931018-76-0, $12.95
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Taking the Evangelization Initiative by Mike Sullivan
e all have experienced the sad reality of friends or loved ones who have fallen away from the Catholic faith. It seems that everyone I talk with has one or several family members who have drifted into apathy or converted to some other religion. There are obviously many reasons for this, and all-too-often it is the result of a misunderstanding or misplaced frustration toward the Church or a pastor. This problem is compounded by constant, vicious attacks on the Church by the mainstream media and educational establishments. A good friend of mine, who had been a very faithful Catholic, recently said that his young family didn’t go to Mass anymore because the cry room at church was uncomfortable and unwelcoming. “Really? The cry room?” I thought. Now that’s a pretty lame excuse for not going to Mass! In my friend’s case, I suspect there’s something more, something much deeper, that has kept him from taking his family to Mass on Sundays. If I knew the answer, I could delicately try to bring him along. But if I argue with him and tell him he’s making a huge mistake, it will likely do greater harm by driving him farther away from the Church. What are we supposed to do when confronted with such situations? What is the best way to engage our friends and loved ones, and help them to live lives of heroic virtue? The Church has given us a blueprint for proclaiming Christ to the modern world just as the Apostles proclaimed Christ to the ancient world—but using new methods to convey timeless truths. This “blueprint” is the new evangelization, and although the 2012 World Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization convoked by Pope Benedict XVI is less than a year away, we don’t need to wait for the eventual release of the post-synodal documents to know what evangelization is and what we’re supposed to do about it.
“Ultimately, evangelization is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are merely His poor instruments.”
The Catechism defines evangelization as “the proclamation of Christ and His Gospel by word and the testimony of life, in fulfillment of Christ’s command,” and it is the duty of every Christian by virtue of our baptism. Since we already have received our mandate from Christ Himself, we can begin fulfilling our call to evangelize today, and it requires little more than simply living in the world as faithful Catholics. Here’s how. Be prepared. The Boy Scout motto applies to evangelization: In order to share our faith effectively, we must first know and embrace our faith. Evangelization is not primarily an intellectual enterprise, but it is beneficial to have the tools necessary to offer thoughtful answers should questions of doctrine, tradition, or practice arise in our conversations with others. Live as if your faith depends on it. Even more importantly, if we want to lead others to Christ, we must know Him intimately ourselves. This requires regular attention to prayer, the sacraments, charitable works, and service to others. Everything about how we live should reflect the essence of our faith and our love of God and neighbor. If we lead lives of integrity and joy, then the faith and values that motivate us will become attractive to others. Pope Paul VI said: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” Meet people where they are. Evangelization is not like street-corner preaching, where we begin by eloquently articulating spiritual and moral truths in hopes that something sticks. Not everyone we meet will have a Christian worldview, so we have to tailor our language and approach to our specific audience. Quoting the Catechism will not impress someone who doesn’t accept Church
authority; citing Scripture will likely be ineffective to one who rejects the inspiration of the Bible. And if the individual denies God, he or she must first be persuaded of God’s existence. Evangelization, in effect, requires that we accompany the individual on the journey of faith. If we want to direct him or her to the truth, we must point to it from where he or she is standing. This doesn’t mean watering down the faith in any way, but it can mean approaching faith from the standpoint of reason and human experience so as to explain it even in secular terms. Remember: It’s God, not you. Ultimately, evangelization is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are merely His poor instruments. We can only try to help others draw closer to faith and allow God to use us for His holy purposes. If we see positive results, then the glory belongs to God. If we do not recognize spiritual progress in those we attempt to evangelize, then we can only hope and pray that we have helped plant seeds that will be harvested later, perhaps by others. In the meantime, we simply must live exemplary lives of commitment to our faith, remain faithful in prayer, and watch for every opportunity to share our faith with others in a natural way. God willing, we will make a difference. lw
Mike Sullivan Sullivan is the president of Catholics United for the Faith and publisher of Lay Witness magazine and Emmaus Road Publishing. He resides in Toronto, Ohio, with his wife, Gwen, and their nine children. November/December 2011
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
hile the 2012 Synod on the new evangelization called for by Pope Benedict XVI is still almost a year off, we see many hopeful signs that this joyous task is already in full swing. Dioceses across the country are revitalizing parish life with Bible studies and outreach programs, social networking provides opportunities for Catholics to interact with one another (as well as nonbelievers) in the digital arena and find support and encouragement for their faith, and various apostolates are meeting the specific needs of today’s Catholics in cooperation with the Church’s hierarchy. But no matter how compelling these efforts are one thing remains the same: every venture in the new evangelization is ultimately fruitless unless it is rooted in a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. In John, the encounter between the Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus has such a transformative impact on her life that her testimony leads others to an openness to Christ. John tells us, when the townspeople see Jesus for themselves, they say to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (4:42). But this ripple effect would not have been initiated without the woman’s personal experience with Christ and the corresponding desire to share the gift she had received. In this issue of Lay Witness, Regis Flaherty gives an overview of what we are to expect in the 2012 Synod and offers practical tips on how to open wide the doors to Christ. Kathryn Jean Lopez writes poignantly about the need for the Sacred Heart in the midst of the brokenness of our world. Authors Michael Miller and Br. Silas Henderson recount stories of witnesses recognized by the Church for their holy example. Chris Sparks outlines basic steps of evangelizing to strangers. Lastly, guest columnist James Monti reflects on Our Lady’s love of her Son and her God depicted in Federico Barroci’s “The Nativity” in our Looking at a Masterpiece column. The real reason for hope during this season of evangelization is that our God is alive and still speaks to the hearts of men today. May you encounter Him ever more deeply and be inspired to share the joy of His love with others! lw
FROM OUR FOUNDER The Holy Father, speaking in the name of God, calls us to stir up the faith that is in us and, in that faith, to realize that the hour has struck to give our lives, in love, for Jesus Christ crucified on Calvary, and for Jesus Christ crucified in His members. H. Lyman Stebbins September, 1974
Melissa Knaggs Editor
web exclusives@ Features...
Access these and other web exclusives at www.cuf.org/laywitness. 2
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Fr. James A. Wehner gives an introduction to the new evangelization in an excerpt from his book The Evangelization Equation: The Who, What, and How. Longtime CUF employee Kristi Sands shares about her experience with child sponsorship in “The Joy of the Journey.”
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2011 / VOLUME 32 / NUMBER 6
Publisher Mike Sullivan
Editor Melissa Knaggs
Layout & Design Theresa Westling How to Reach Us E-mail: email@example.com Lay Witness magazine Postal Mail: 827 North Fourth Street Steubenville, OH 43952 Tel: (740) 283-2484 Fax: (740) 283-4011 How to Get Lay Witness Lay Witness (ISSN 1541-602X) is the bimonthly publication of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), an international lay apostolate founded in 1968 by H. Lyman Stebbins “to support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.” Annual CUF membership is $40 ($60 outside the U.S.), which includes a one-year subscription to Lay Witness magazine. To learn more about CUF membership, visit www. cuf.org/membership or call (740) 283-2484. To order back issues or to inquire about bulk rates, please e-mail or call.
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Catholics United for the Faith Officers: President, Mike Sullivan; Vice President of Operations, Shannon Minch-Hughes Board of Directors: Chairman, Michael Mohr; Vice Chairman, Thomas Pernice; Spiritual Advisor, Rev. Ray Ryland; Gail Buckley, James Likoudis, Frank Lum, David Rodriguez, John H. Stebbins, Anne M. Wilson. Episcopal Advisory Council: Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, Most Rev. Fabian W. Bruskewitz, Most Rev. Daniel M. Buechlein, Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson, Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, Most Rev. Thomas G. Doran, Most Rev. Robert W. Finn, Most Rev. Roger J. Foys, Most Rev. Peter J. Jugis, Most Rev. James P. Keleher, Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino, Most Rev. John J. Myers, Most Rev. Joseph F. Naumann, Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Most Rev. Michael J. Sheridan, Most Rev. Edward Slattery, Most Rev. John W. Yanta. Advisory Council: Terry Barber, Rev. Robert I. Bradley, S.J., Jeff Cavins, Dr. John F. Crosby, Dr. William Donohue, Marcus Grodi, Dr. Scott Hahn, Sally Havercamp, Daniel K. Hennessy, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, George Sim Johnston, Karl Keating, Dr. Peter Kreeft, Rev. Robert J. Levis, Patrick Madrid, Msgr. Charles M. Mangan, Curtis A. Martin, Dr. William E. May, Rev. Brian T. Mullady, O.P., Rev. James T. O’Connor, Rev. Frank A. Pavone, Steve Ray, Patrick Reilly, Dr. Charles E. Rice, Rev. George W. Rutler, Russell Shaw, E. William Sockey, III, Rev. Peter Stravinskas, Leon J. Suprenant, Jr., Charles M. Wilson, Stephen Wood, Jeff Ziegler.
4 The New Evangelists: You and I Regis Flaherty
0 Living Between the Now and Not Yet 1 Paul Abbe 12 His Heart, the Heart of the New Evangelization Kathryn Jean Lopez 20 The Witness of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Br. Silas Henderson, OSB 23 Mother, Mystic, Missionary Bl. Marie Guyart of the Incarnation Michael J. Miller
29 Bait the Hook Unobtrusive Evangelization Chris Sparks
Columns 1 Open Mike Mike Sullivan
8 The Art of Living Edward P. Sri
18 Master Catechist
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., with Michael Mohr
31 Rethinking Joy Emily Stimpson
32 Looking at a Masterpiece James Monti
2 From the Editor’s Desk 11 The Road to Emmaus
The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right An Interview with Emily Stimpson
6 Ask CUF 1 19 Reviews
Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us by Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God: The Story of Ruth Pakaluk by Michael Pakaluk Apostolic Religious Life in America Today A Response to the Crisis by Fr. Richard Gribble
27 The Pope Speaks On the Cover / Buzz Salutes the U.S. Flag / NASA / commons.wikimedia.org /
Design by Theresa Westling
hile in Catholic grade school, I read Saint Francis of the Seven Seas, a biography of the great Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier. His story captivated me. I pored over the atlas searching for the places where the saint had preached—Goa, Manaar, Malacca, and Kagoshima, among others. I was heartbroken when I read of Xavier’s death on an island just off China’s coast before fulfilling his dream of bringing the Gospel to the mainland. As I traced his travels in the Far East, I wondered if there was some island or distant city where the Gospel had not yet been preached. Perhaps someday I too could bring the truth of Jesus to people who were ignorant of the Christian message. 4
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I never joined a missionary order and I never went to distant shores. Yet, that desire to proclaim the Good News—to be an evangelist—has stuck with me. Indeed, it is a part of the call of every baptized Catholic. Before ascending to His Father, Jesus told the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mk. 16:15). That marching order remains as relevant today as it was in the first century. In light of that, Pope Benedict XVI’s recent actions to stimulate the spread of the Gospel message are not surprising. In 2010, he established a new Vatican dicastery, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. The Church is now preparing for a Synod of Bishops in October 2012 that will discuss the topic of
the new evangelization. The Lineamenta (outline) for that synod was released by the Holy See in February of this year. Yet, does something called a Lineamenta relate to you and me, committed Catholics with families and secular jobs? The answer is: Yes, indeed! The document, “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” (I’ll refer to it as the NE for the remainder of this article) states, “The responsibility of announcing and proclaiming is not the work of a single person or a select few, but a gift given to every person who confidently responds to the call of faith. Nor is transmitting the faith a specialized work assigned to a group of people or specifically designated individuals, but an experience of every Christian and the entire Church” (no. 12, emphasis added). Evangelization is for all of us Catholics and it is not an act of drudgery. Did you notice the word “gift” in the above quote? The task of evangelization is gift from God to each of us and also our gift to the world. When you think of gifts, does Christmas come to mind? The gift of that first Christmas was the birth of the GodMan in a stable in Bethlehem. The angels were the evangelists who proclaimed “good news of a great joy . . . to all people” (Lk. 2:10). We twenty-first century proclaimers are heirs of those Christmas angels. We witness to the great gift of new life in Christ and have the privilege of sharing it with others. According to the NE, when we spread the Gospel message we “rediscover” our identity, “experience” Christ’s presence, and “discover God as Father” (no. 12). All of these are gifts of the greatest value.
since the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, guards and teaches the one, true Faith handed on from Jesus to the apostles. Nonetheless, the story of our personal relationship with our Savior is an important instrument in leading others to Christ. Our testimony puts flesh on the bones of God’s Word. Our story can open an individual’s heart to God. People can hear about and see the difference that lived faith brings to an individual. The Gospel “placed in context through one’s sharing of personal experience in seeking God and recounting . . . the personal encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (no. 5) comes alive for the hearer. Through our personal testimony we lead others to “a personal encounter with Jesus” (no. 11). So, we should reflect on our relationship with Jesus. How has He, and how does He, make a difference in my life? Then “relying on the grace of the Holy Spirit” we should share with a “sense of boldness” our encounter with Christ (no. 11).
The word “boldness” appears several times in the NE. It certainly required holy boldness for Saint Francis Xavier and other famous missionaries to leave their homes and head into the unknown to spread the Gospel. The NE tells us, “today all Christians . . . are called to have the same courage that inspired the missionaries of the past, and the same readiness to listen to the voice of the Spirit” (no. 5, citing the Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio). How do we foster a “courageous manner” (no. 6)? We cultivate the theological virtues that we first received in Baptism: faith, hope, and love. The “New” Evangelization “The lack of missionary zeal is a lack of zeal If the great commission to proclaim the for the faith” (no. 10). There is a corollary between Gospel goes back to the first century, why depth of faith and the ability to effectively evangelize. have Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI The deeper our faith the more zealous we will be in called for a “new” evangelization? Certainly, making our Lord known, loved, and served. those mission lands to which Francis Xavier Also, “reclaiming the meaning of hope” (no. 7) traveled even today need to hear is important for the proclaimer of the the Gospel. But in our time and, Gospel. Grounded in hope, we can “The deeper our faith the more zealous particularly in Western culture, many persevere in our efforts even when they have drifted away from the Catholic seem futile. we will be in making our Lord known, faith or remain Catholics in name only. Of course, as Paul tells us, the most These drifters, and indeed the entire lasting of the theological virtues is love. loved, and served.” culture in which they live, need to hear It is an absolute necessity for an evangethe Gospel anew. list. “Love is the response to the gift of love with which God draws The NE is worth reading in this regard. It looks at some of the near to us” (no. 11). To truly love, God leads us to love all those for big-picture issues that inhibit both the living and the proclaiming whom Christ died. When we practice charity, we want the best for of the Gospel. Many “isms”—secularism, relativism, consumerism, our fellow man. We can do no greater good for those we meet than skepticism, militant atheism, etc.—are mentioned in the NE. For to introduce them to the great Lover. this article, however, I’ll focus on six themes that we can immediately Joy: Singing in the Grass implement in our personal lives. It is most interesting that the word “joy” appears sixteen times in Your Testimony the NE. When one word is used so often in a text, it is important to Many evangelical and Pentecostal Christians put great emphasis take notice and ask why. on a “personal testimony” of their journey in faith as a tool of evanJoy is a virtue in short supply in our culture. Oh, people can be gelism. We Catholics tend to focus on apologetics and rightfully so, happy, delighted, or excited, but those are only fleeting emotions. Joy November/December 2011 5
is a bedrock quality for a Catholic—or at least it should be. When the choices that are necessary for a follower of Jesus. Since the people encounter someone who exudes joy, especially in the midst of culture no longer reflects the Judeo-Christian ethic, the gap between trials, struggles, difficulties, or unpleasant circumstances, they take the demands of the Gospel and the lifestyle of many people who notice. Let me give you a personal example. have embraced popular Western culture is ever widening. Think When I was in college, my summer job was cutting grass in a of homosexual “marriage,” abortion, euthanasia, and a plethora of large Catholic cemetery. I cut grass for eight hours a day, for five issues relating to sexuality. We can’t water down the Gospel. We must or six days a week. It was a tedious and boring job, yet I loved it. It always proclaim the truth in its fullness. Nonetheless, there are issues was a refreshing change from my school work. I could daily see with that we need to get beyond if our witness is to be productive. Let satisfaction what I had accomplished—the cemetery looked better me give you one example. because of my efforts. Also, the work left my mind free to reflect and About twelve years ago my next-door neighbors were an Italian pray. In fact, like the seven dwarfs in the fairy tale, I whistled while couple in their fifties. The wife went to Church every Sunday. Her I worked. Well, actually, I sang. husband, John, cut the grass, shoveled the snow, or drank a beer One afternoon, one of the cemon the porch while she was at Mass. etery trucks stopped on the road Eventually, I mustered the courage Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out to approach John with a question. near where I was working. The driver called me over and asked, “What are “John, I know you’re a Catholic. May your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your I ask why you never go to Mass?” you doing?” I was perplexed by his question and responded, “Cutting He was not shy about sharing. ropes and make firm your stakes. For you shall In fact, he spoke angrily: “Several grass.” “No, no, I mean with your ago I had a heart attack and spread abroad to the right and to the left; your years mouth. What are you doing with that priest never visited me while I your mouth?” descendants shall dispossess the nations and was in the hospital. If he couldn’t “Ah, singing,” I replied. visit me in the hospital, I’m sure not He gave me a puzzled look and going into his Church!” I was taken shall people the desolate cities. said, “You’re either crazy or the aback by his reason for not going to —Isaiah 54:2, 3 quoted in Lineamenta, happiest man I’ve ever met.” Mass and by his harsh tone. Also, The New Evangelization for the Indeed! the priest who hadn’t visited him Transmission of the Christian Faith, no. 2 That driver rode away trying to had already been dead for about fathom how someone doing such a three years. I think it was the Holy monotonous job could be so joyful. Being Christian and “being Church” means being Spirit that jogged my tongue. “John, I hope that over time he learned that you’re right. Someone should have missionary. God and His love were at the center visited you in the hospital. I’m a of my happiness. I think he did. member of that parish; so I’m as —Lineamenta, The New Evangelization for the Joseph Holzner, while discussmuch to blame as anyone else. John, Transmission of the Christian Faith, no. 10 ing St. Paul’s injunction to rejoice I apologize for our failure.” always, writes, “Joy is . . . one of the Apparently, that was not the re“I go all round the country, bringing the natives ply that strongest motives to invite the faith John expected. He fumbled a of those who are without. When othbit, trying to formulate his response. into the fold of Christ, and the joy that I feel in ers note the joy of a true Christian Finally he said, “Well, thank you, but they will see that here is the source of this is far too great to be expressed in a letter, or he should have visited me.” “You’re life; they will say, ‘The Lord is nigh’ probably right,” I agreed. It was only (Phil. 4:5).” then, with his objections moved even by word of mouth.” Forgiveness, generosity, and honaside, that our conversation could —Letter of St. Francis Xavier to the Society of Jesus esty speak volumes, but I believe the move in a productive direction. in Rome, January 27, 1545 virtue that most gives a witness is joy. Recall that as the twentieth People thirst for it and find it so elucentury was drawing to a close, Bl. sive. How many conversion stories include this statement or a similar Pope John Paul II did something startling. He asked forgiveness for one: “When I saw his joy, I knew that I wanted it too.” the many sins committed by the members of the Catholic Church The NE points out that joy is not only a means of evangelism but over the previous twenty centuries. also a result. As we proclaim the Good News to others, we will find You may remember that it caused quite a stir. Was it appropriate? joy in cooperating in that work of God. “We will learn the sweet and Didn’t it compromise the essential truth of the Church as divinely comforting joy of evangelizing” (no. 25). established and guided? I think, in retrospect, it has borne great fruit and for many reasons. For one, it swept aside a stumbling block to real dialogue about faith and conversion. It forestalled those obGetting to the Real Issue Sin and its fallout are huge obstacles to the reception of the jections that invariably came up in conversation with unbelievers. Gospel in the twenty-first century. People are just reluctant to make “What about the crusades and what they did to innocent people?” 6
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“How could I ever believe in a Church that condemned Galileo and put all those folks to death in the Inquisition?” Faced with these objections, we tend to spend precious time trying to clear up those mistaken or exaggerated statements when what we really want to do is tell this other person about the glory of the Trinity, about the divine love of Jesus, about the life-Blood that courses through the Body of Christ, and about those seven spiritual wonders of the world, the sacraments. The side arguments and objections are just frustrating and counterproductive! In one profound event, Pope John Paul swept aside all of those “yes, buts” and returned the discussion to what was important and life-changing. More recently, some people point to the sexual abuse cases involving a small percentage of priests as a reason to disregard the Catholic faith. Finding ways to move beyond these issues is vital. I think we can say, “Yes, you’re right. It is a scandal.” We then can move the conversation forward. “Indeed, we are all sinners, so it’s not surprising to find sin even where we would like to think it wouldn’t exist. That does, however, point to our need for a Savior.”
The Holy Spirit will Open Doors In all evangelization, there are three parties involved: the proclaimer of the Good News, the person who hears, and the Holy Spirit. NE emphasizes “the entire process is not in her (i.e. the Church’s) hands but in the hands of God” (no. 2). “The Church
knows that the Holy Spirit guides her evangelizing activity, revealing the times, places and instruments required in her work of proclaiming the Gospel” (no. 3). It’s important not to lose sight of this truth. It is vital that each of us be attuned to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Most of my career I’ve worked for Catholic organizations but for a short time I worked for a paper company, visiting designers and promoting the company’s line of fine papers. I almost didn’t get the job. It took three interviews. At each interview, I could tell that the manager liked me, but there was something holding him back from offering me the job. On the third interview he gave me the reason. “Rege, it’s obvious that your faith is important to you.” I agreed. He continued, “You know not everyone you visit will be a Christian. There will be Jews, agnostics, and atheists. Will that be a problem for you?” “No,” I replied, “that won’t be any problem.” “Well, you know some of the people you visit will be homosexuals. Is that going to be a problem?” Again, I responded, “No problem!” He then readjusted himself in his chair and added, “You say ‘God bless you’ a lot. I can’t have you doing that when you’re talking to a client.” I did pause for a moment before responding. “I will try, but, I’ll be honest, that’s a habit. I can’t promise I won’t slip and say ‘God bless’ once in a while.” He was satisfied and offered me the job. continued on page 22 . . . November/December 2011 7
THE ART OF LIVING
The Lost Art of Apprenticeship
Modernity’s Suspicion of Tradition and the Culture of Independent Thinkers by Edward P. Sri
never imagined taking my son to piano lessons would be so fascinating. At each early Thursday morning lesson, I find myself learning so much—not just about the piano, but about life itself. At first, the experience was painful. The teacher demanded a lot of her students: one hour of practice each day and mastery of each piece before moving on to the next song. Could my six-year-old boy handle this? With his previous piano instructor, Paul had whizzed through several new pieces every couple of weeks. He seemed quite successful, but now it looked like he was going backwards. Each lesson was packed with corrections and instructions on how to improve. The teacher focused on small details: posture, hand position, relaxed arm muscles, curved fingers, how to touch each key. She emphasized proper fingering, rhythm, dynamics, and just the right balance between the left and right hand. Crescendos and diminuendos, soft piano notes and loud forte notes, accents, ornaments, and trills all had to be mastered. She also shared stories of the great classical composers—lessons from their lives, their work ethic, their technique, and the innovations they brought to the world of music. Over time, I began to see that Paul was undergoing a beautiful apprenticeship. He was learning from a master who was passionate about her craft and was immersing her students in the long tradition of piano playing that she had come to love. She herself had undertaken a thorough training from her childhood through her graduate studies in which she learned from the masters of her day and became an accomplished pianist in her own right. Now, in her late 70s, she was carefully passing on to a new generation of pianists the basic knowledge, skills and techniques necessary not simply to play the piano, but to do so with excellence. 8
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Soon, words such as glissando, fermata, and andante were becoming part of Paul’s regular vocabulary. Through her stories Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were, in a sense, becoming some of his mentors. And after mastering a number of the basic skills in his early months of piano boot camp, he quickly started moving along from Happy Birthday and Silent Night to Haydn’s Piano Concerto in C.
The Craft of Life Mastering any craft requires an apprenticeship in which one is mentored by those who have been formed in a certain tradition and who have mastered the skills associated with it. The same is true with life. Life is like a craft. To live it well requires knowledge of what the “good life” is (so that one knows how to direct one’s life), and it requires the skills, or virtues, needed to live in that way. As discussed in previous reflections, a human life is fundamentally about relationships— our relationship with God and with those He has placed in our lives. A good life, therefore, is one in which someone fulfills his relationships. And one needs the virtues—patience, humility, self-control, generosity—to live relationships well. Fortunately, there is a long tradition on the virtues and how to raise children, how to build a good marriage, how to be a good friend, and how to grow in a relationship with God. We can learn from those who have gone before us and from those presently among us who have mastered the tradition of living life with excellence. From a Catholic perspective, this tradition is found in the wisdom of the Bible, the Church’s teachings, the liturgy, and the saints. Through the centuries it has found expression culturally in literature, music, art, and poems inspired by the Catholic faith and in many books and
manuals on the virtues, the spiritual life, and on human relationships. But most of all, this tradition, this “art of living” as Pope Benedict has called it, is passed on personto-person, heart-to-heart, within a Christian community of men and women who embody the virtues and impart the “good life” to the next generation. Unfortunately, modernity has taught young people to view the Christian tradition with suspicion—to see it not as an aid to living a happy life, but as an oppressive, restrictive force that prevents us from discovering for ourselves the meaning of our existence and charting our own course in life. The eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant famously challenged European intellectuals to question the traditions they had received and to become “independent thinkers” who are “free from outside direction.” No longer was the Christian path seen as a helpful apprenticeship in which one learns the art of living from the Christian tradition and a virtuous community. For Kant, willingness to submit to such an apprenticeship or tutelage was infantile. He instead called men and women to grow up and achieve enlightenment, which for Kant meant “man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage.” Kant celebrated the enlightened man for “throwing off the yoke of tutelage” and “thinking for himself.”
A Culture of Independent Thinkers But what happens when the Christian tradition is viewed as an oppressive yoke, as something that should be thrown off so that each person can “think for himself ”? This new outlook on life cuts one off from the very resource that helps him flourish. A wise piano student would not view the tradition of musical notation, chords, tone, and technique as oppressive. And he would not refuse
the mentoring of a good teacher, saying “I don’t want anyone’s help! I’m an independent thinker! I want to learn it all by myself!” Yet imagine if you were a young child wanting to learn how to play the piano and were told by society to go figure it out on your own. No one mentioned that there were piano teachers who could help you. No one gave you any books. No one taught you how to read music. You were simply told with a smile, “Be your own piano player. There’s no right way to play the piano. It’s up to you to discover what kind of piano player you want to be. You can play your piano whatever way you want. You’re special.” You might figure out some basics, but you probably would not advance very far. Imagine if after years of pecking at the keyboard, you, at the age of 22, discover others who play the piano a lot better than you. You are inspired by them and have a burning desire to play like they do. They perform beautiful pieces by Chopin, Beethoven, and Vivaldi—composers unfamiliar to you. You hear your new piano friends talking about major and minor scales, chords, and cadences—words that sound like a foreign language to you. Moreover, you find out that there are many books about how to play the piano that could have been very helpful. On top of all that, you discover that there have been many teachers who would have happily formed you into an excellent pianist. Perhaps this grand tradition of piano playing was kept from you because your community, your government, your teachers at school, your heroes in Hollywood, and maybe even your own parents or church mistakenly viewed it as something irrelevant and out-of-date, or even worse, as something harmful and oppressive for your development as a pianist. Whatever the case may be, you now realize that you have been cheated. You come to see that the “independent thinking” approach to learning the piano has left you with a kindergarten level skill and that your self-taught rendition of Three Blind Mice does not hold a candle to what these trained pianists have achieved. You sadly realize that the withholding of this formation has left you unable to play the piano with excellence.
Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me? Similarly, there is a great tradition of the virtues and the “good life” that is no longer being passed on from generation to generation. Many parents, teachers and leaders do
not even know such wisdom for life exists. And others who do know of it deliberately hold it back because they view it as something negative, restrictive, and harmful. Thus, while many young people are trained to become good doctors, businessmen, and engineers, they do not receive an apprenticeship in what matters most—the art of living. They might be prepared to build successful careers, but are they successful in their marriages? In raising children? In authentic friendship? In their relationship with God? When it comes to a vision for life, the only clear guidance young people get from our relativistic culture is, “Do whatever you want. Be whoever you want to be. There is no right way to live. It doesn’t matter how you live your life, as long as you are happy.” With such meaningless advice, it’s no wonder many college students today find themselves anxiously trying to figure out what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, how to date, and how to interact with the opposite sex. Many young couples enter marriage not knowing the basics of how to build a good marriage and very unsure about how to raise children, discipline them, and form them in character. We learn the
Periodic Table of Elements and key dates in American history but have not been taught the art of living. When people later in life discover the rich wisdom of the tradition of the virtues and the “good life,” they often feel cheated by their upbringing, their education, and the culture. When college students and young adults learn the Church’s teachings on love, relationships, and sexuality, they often cry out, “Why didn’t anyone teach me this earlier in life? It would have saved me from so much pain and heartache!” When married couples come across the Christian vision for love and marriage, they say, “We wish we had learned this a lot earlier in our marriage!” Parents regretting choices they made in raising their children lament, “I would have done things so differently with my children if only I had known all this earlier in my life.” It is crucial, therefore, that society recovers and imparts once again the tradition of the virtues. If the art of living is passed on, more people will be prepared to succeed in life—and fewer will grievingly have to say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?!” lw
Edward P. Sri Edward Sri is provost and a professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado (www.augustineinstitute.org). He is the author of or contributor to several Emmaus Road books, including Queen Mother, which is based on his doctoral dissertation. He resides with his wife, Elizabeth, and their six children in Littleton, Colorado. Sri’s books may be ordered at www.emmausroad.org or by calling (800) 398-5470. November/December 2011
Living Between the Now and Not Yet by Paul Abbe
Between Now and Not Yet It was a somewhat traumatic milestone in my life when I came to the realization that even eye contacts weren’t going to provide the correction I needed in order to see both near and far. The prescription could correct for the one (distance vision, or lack thereof ), but then I would need something for the “near” (the quintessential sign that you are officially over-the-hill): those focal accessories known 10
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“And in the midst of our pain and suffering, our waiting and watching, our deep and prayerful longing, He comes.” as “readers.” Often these lenses are set within larger plain (or “distance prescription”) lenses and then referred to as “bi-focals.” Which brings me to Advent. The readings we encounter during the early days of Advent often have two distinct points of focus, a “near” and a “far” or, for us, a past and a future. We hear prophecies having to do with the Messiah’s Second Coming and almost in the same breath proclamations of His First Coming. This need to see both the “near” and the “far” at the same time requires us to use a “bi-focal” interpretative lens in order to read and hear, to bring into focus and comprehend both the proclamation of the past and the prophecy of the future advent of which we are reminded. And they both urge us to the same action.
Prepare the Way During this season of Advent we hear the cry of the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Whether we are hearing the proclamation of His First Coming or the prophecies of His Second Coming, the command to prepare ourselves to rightly receive Him is not to be ignored. As the people of God, as those sealed with the Cross and called to serve the King, we must understand that the most necessary preparation that needs to take place during these days is not decorating the house for Christmas or buying gifts to put under the tree. The most crucial preparations are cleansing our heart and mind, preparing our soul, and straightening the path of our life so we might rightly receive Him. It is a time for sober reflection, for examination of conscience, for putting away all things that keep us from being formed in the image of Christ. This is how we are called to live as the people of God, this is how we are called to live in between the “now” and the “not yet.” lw
Paul Abbe, a former Lutheran clergyman, is the founder of Spiritus Gladius Ministries.
he Catholic Church marks time in a way different from the world around it. Our calendar is liturgical, and our New Year’s Day is not January first. Rather, our new year begins on the first Sunday of the liturgical season of Advent. Advent (from the Latin, “to come”) is a season of preparation and anticipation, a time of longing, waiting, and watching for the long-promised Messiah who is to come. Thus we sing a hymn in which every phrase echoes a deep longing of the heart: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” Our hearts are filled with infinite longings; not just wants or even needs, at least not in the material sense. The deepest longings of our hearts are spiritual and emotional. We are weary of the pain and suffering on earth, weary of the “wars and rumors of wars,” weary of seeing, again and again, the rich and powerful consuming the poor and powerless. We long for peace—true peace, peace in our hearts and peace in our world. We long for a new kingdom, a kingdom of justice and righteousness; we long, in fact, for a new heaven, and a new earth. And so we cry out with Isaiah, “O Lord, why do you make us err from your ways and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? . . . Oh, that you would rend the heavens, and come down . . . ” (Is. 63:17; 64:1). And in the midst of our pain and suffering, our waiting and watching, our deep and prayerful longing, He comes. Daily. On altars all around the world, through the hands of His priests, He deigns to take on sacramental “flesh and blood” to feed His flock, to strengthen His people, to heal the lame of spirit and sick of soul. And so we live, day by day, in the hope of His promise and longing for the day when our faith shall be sight.
THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years: The Nuts and Bolts of Staying Sane and Happy While Waiting for Mr. Right An Interview with Emily Stimpson
A title like The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years is pretty selfexplanatory, but who is your book written for? And who is it not written for? The book is mainly for unmarried Catholic women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who believe they’re called to marriage but haven’t yet found Mr. Right. Although divorced or widowed Catholics are not the primary audience, they might find some parts helpful, as will women discerning their vocation. As for whom it’s not written? Men. It’s a total chick book, pink cover and all. What are the hallmarks of authentic femininity? Well, they’re not what the culture says they are. Authentic femininity has nothing
to do with being slinky, sexy, and hot. It’s not about a dress size or looking like the bikini babe on a billboard. At the same time, it’s also not about becoming a plasticized version of St. Thérèse and feeling like we have to conform to some idealized or unrealistic conception of Catholic womanhood. Rather, authentic femininity is about being the woman God made each of us to be, with all our attendant quirks and gifts. Doing that requires being submissive to God, to His will and His truth. It also requires receiving all He has to give us, and nourishing and nurturing the souls He sends our way. It requires loving faithfully and tenaciously, never giving up on anyone. And it requires being lovely, truly beautiful in body and soul, knowing we’re always beloved and desired by the only perfect Man who ever lived. Not, of course, that doing any of that is easy. It’s not. But it’s a heck of a lot easier than trying to look like the billboard babe. It’s also more life-giving. During the writing process, whose inspirations of feminine genius encouraged you? Basically anything good in the book has been cribbed from Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), Gertrude von Lefort, and John Paul II. When it comes to articulating the feminine genius, they’re the best. I just repeat what they say using smaller words and shorter sentences. What is the one best piece of advice you’d give a single Catholic woman? Just one? How about three? First, trust God. He loves you, He wants what’s best for you, and He knows what He’s doing even when it doesn’t seem like it. Second, get
yourself to Mass, Adoration, Confession, and whatever other sacramental opportunities present to you as often as possible. Sacramental graces are the quickest path to happiness and sanity, husband or no. Third, Buy yourself pretty flowers. Often I’m a pink tulip girl myself, but roses, daisies, or sunflowers work well too. What is the one best piece of advice you’d give a married Catholic woman? Um, buy my book for all your single friends? Kidding. Sort of. In all seriousness: don’t envy your single friends and don’t pity them. We all have our blessings and crosses, and a woman’s singleness is usually a bit of both for her. Do love her though, do affirm her, and do go out of your way to include her in your family. Don’t worry about her being bothered by the chaos. Most single women, believe it or not, will like it. Those who don’t will learn from it. Plus, having her around means you get an extra pair of hands to help you deal with the chaos. It’s a winwin relationship. This survival guide is not just about finding a spouse. What should every Catholic girl take away from the book? That God has a plan for her, and that plan doesn’t start the day she says “I do.” Right now is part of that plan. Right now, God has something for her to do and learn. He has something He wants her to become, and someone (most likely many someones— friends, family, neighbors) He wants her to love. Joy comes with seeing that and saying yes to it, not in waiting for a “better” plan to come along. lw November/December 2011
His Heart, the Heart of the New Evangelization by Kathryn Jean Lopez
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Whole countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith, are now put to a hard test, and in some cases, are even undergoing a radical transformation, as a result of a constant spreading of an indifference to religion, of secularism, and atheism. This particularly concerns countries and nations of the so-called First World, in which economic well-being and consumerism, even if coexistent with a tragic situation of poverty and misery, inspires and sustains a life lived “as if God did not exist.” This indifference to religion and the practice of religion devoid of true meaning in the face of life’s very serious problems, are not less worrying and upsetting when compared with declared atheism. —John Paul II, Christifideles Laici: On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World
t’s not pretty stuff. But if we deny it, we deny reality. If we preLosing Our Devotion tend it’s not hard, we will miss the source of all comfort and It’s striking, reading the late Fr. John Hardon, S.J., now. “Most light. If God is, as He was recently described on—ironically—a of us know that devotion to the Sacred Heart is part of our Catholic Sunday talk show, but a “safe harbor,” we are not truly living our call religion,” he wrote. “We have known from childhood about the as Christians. We need to live sacramentally. We need to embrace nine First Fridays. We often recite the Litany of the Sacred Heart. the Cross. And to do this, we need a devotion to the Sacred Heart. Annually, we celebrate the solemn feast of the Sacred Heart. I am Now more than ever. sure that we know several aspirations like ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, I Oftentimes, when we speak of a new evangelization, if the phrase place my trust in Thee.’ Over the years, every time I pick up the conjures up any image, it might be that of Bl. John Paul II with telephone, before I talk, I make an aspiration to the Sacred Heart. It open arms. Or of young people braving the relentless heat and then helps; you never know who is on the other side.” rain of Madrid this summer at World Fr. Hardon urged: “I would like to Youth Day. recommend that every home have at least But it is also John Paul II in pain. There “The more overwhelmed my body was, a picture or a statue of the Sacred Heart.” is also suffering, and the grace that is so inOn reading that, I am struck by the last timately tied to it, of course. And it is also the more my spirit rejoiced and was at few places I saw them: Convents. Schools. not only an acceptance of the Cross, but a It’s a small thing, but it’s a presence— desire for it. That desire rests in His Most liberty to be occupied with and united to by no means capital p, of course—that Sacred Heart. It’s our inspiration and our helps. And we need help. consolation. It’s our focus and our motiva- my suffering Jesus, for I had no greater A conversation has begun about outtion. It’s everything. ward signs of our faith and sacrifice, inJesus chose to reveal His Sacred Heart very desire than to make of myself a true and spired by our Catholic brothers and sisters deeply to St. Margaret Mary in seventeenthin England who recently returned to meatcentury France. When you read her words, perfect copy and representation of my less Fridays. what’s missing today becomes clear: There are more options, too, of course. Jesus Crucified.” Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York I assure you that without the Blessed blogged about some of these things this Sacrament I could not live, nor could summer: “Holy days, feasts, fasts, saints’ names, genuflection, holy I bear the length of my exile in this valley of tears, where I water, candles, bowing one’s head at the Holy Name of Jesus, Ember have never wished to see my sufferings diminish. The more Days, First Fridays, First Saturdays, frequent confession, parish aloverwhelmed my body was, the more my spirit rejoiced and legiance, novenas, devotions, only to name a few other such ‘signs’ was at liberty to be occupied with and united to my suffering of Catholic identity—are of the essence of the Faith.” He wondered Jesus, for I had no greater desire than to make of myself a true aloud if “we have lost some spice from Catholic life with their deparand perfect copy and representation of my Jesus Crucified. ture” and added that “scholars of religion report that such exterior He gave her deeper insight into the depths of His love. It’s the marks of membership help make a religion cohesive and attractive.” An image on the wall can have tremendous impact. And no meat love of One who makes that elusive joy real. It’s the love of One who is all merciful, despite our rejection. It’s the love that is the only real on Fridays isn’t that big of a deal when you think about it. And yet it could be an inconvenience. It is a small sacrifice. Not quite healing of our own hearts. November/December 2011
suffering. But it’s a beginning. To build into our regular routine more reminders that we’re not just living life for the next paycheck. To help better integrate what we say we believe. And to offer our Lord consistent thanksgiving. And, as the shepherd suggests, it might be a window into the source of all peace for others.
The Sacred Heart brings our Christian call, our reason for being and for continuing, to life more than any mere representation of the Cross perhaps can. Let that next gold crucifix you see or cross on a church steeple remind you of what was still beating while our Lord and Savior was willingly hanging from the Cross on Calvary, having carried it up there Himself, with precious little help, with most of us Our Bleeding Hearts watching, even jeering. I don’t know about you, but I feel sadness and pain when I look The urgency of a focus on and a devotion to the Sacred Heart around. How can one not? At any given moment, of course, there becomes clear again, when you read Fr. Hardon. In Devotion to are the ugliest of affronts to human dignity and stewardship afoot. the Sacred Heart, he writes: “It is impossible to identify the Holy For ten years, we’ve been at war, losing blood and treasure, and there Eucharist too closely with Jesus Christ. We should remember He is was a war waging even before that, and before that. Go to the far- in the Holy Eucharist not merely with His substance.” He continues: thest reaches of the world, and genocide isn’t a foreign word. But “Christ in the Holy Eucharist is here with His human heart. Is it you don’t even have to find the worst, most obvious evils to see a living heart? Yes! That is why the revelations Our Lord made to the kind of confusion that casts a dark St. Margaret Mary about promoting shadow over a culture sowing confusion devotion to the Sacred Heart were all and pain. made from the Holy Eucharist.” How can you not feel sad and see and He again emphasizes: “The Holy feel pain, turning on the TV, going to Eucharist is the whole Christ with His vote, looking around? I felt it the night human heart. . . . Devotion to the Sacred my home state of New York formally re- “With all the pain and confusion I’m not Heart is devotion to the Holy Eucharist. defined marriage—in no small part unIt is infinite Love Incarnate living in our der the leadership of a Catholic governor. sure any new evangelization is possible midst in the Blessed Sacrament.” I feel it and sense it among my brothers What greater gift can our world have and sisters whenever I walk through a without an embracing of and yearning for or need? trendy-bar section of a city or sit in traffic. Keep a window open in a Lexing- suffering. We need to add to the pain, with Apostolic Courage ton Avenue office in Manhattan on any “Courage” is the name of the given workday, and you’re bound to hear Catholic ministry to those struggling a different kind of pain.” expletives fly at high-traffic hours. with homosexual attractions. Cardinal The pain I can see all around in varyRaymond Burke recently spoke of the fuing degrees of clarity is but the smallest ture of the group, pointing in the direcpeephole of a window into the pain Our tion of the Sacred Heart. As he put it in Lord must feel for those He loves. Us. a piece in the National Catholic Register: Every one of us, whether we’ve got the First of all, the future must continue to develop the profoundSacred Heart in every room or have never heard of such a thing. ly spiritual nature of the Courage apostolate, not reducing it With all the pain and confusion I’m not sure any new evangelizato a method for attaining sexual abstinence, but presenting it tion is possible without an embracing of and yearning for faithfully as a way of encountering Christ the Chaste One in suffering. We need to add to the pain, with a different order to live chastely in Him. kind of pain. Again, read the words of St. Margaret While the discipline of the apostolate, based on the Mary. She wanted to suffer for love of God. If you are “Twelve Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous, is irreplaceable, it reading Lay Witness, you’re probably open to this. We fundamentally opens the space within the heart to grow spiriall need to be open to this. tually, to come to know Christ more fully and to love Him We must pray for conversion. We must comfort more ardently. and instruct and go through the beatitudes and A most fruitful tool for the future development of the the corporal works of mercy. But we must also apostolate would be, in my judgment, a more systematic remember the Cross, always, and seek to be development of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, the united to it. spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as the full context We often talk about “the heart of the in which sexual abstinence is practiced for the sake of a purer matter.” We give one our heart. The heart beats and more selfless love of God and neighbor. There is need and keeps us going but also symbolizes to develop more fully the implications of the practice of what we hold most dear, who we are. [Courage founder] Fr. [John] Harvey to begin the recovery of the person affected by the homosexual condition by teaching “the art of meditation, or prayer of the heart.” Prayer of the heart leads a person to recognize his true identity as a child of God, loved unconditionally by God, and 14
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to conform himself to the truth of his identity by loving God in return. Prayer of the heart is the way to the union of heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.1 If you pay attention, look around a bit, yes, even some of those of us who profess to be religious seem to live like atheists—save for maybe 40 minutes a week at Mass. But there are also people, often young people, sacrificing a lot to answer a call. As if they are the first disciples, picking up a backpack and going to New York University and living among students as missionaries, the men and women with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students at NYU in Greenwich Village make many sacrifices. They are responding to Christ’s call in New York and throughout the country. As Bl. John Paul II reminded us in Christifideles Laici, the command of Jesus to “go and preach the Gospel” always maintains its vital value and its everpressing obligation. Nevertheless, the present situation, not only of the world but also of many parts of the Church, absolutely demands that the word of Christ receive a more ready and generous obedience. Every disciple is personally called by name; no disciple can withhold making a response: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). There is great, deep, overwhelming pain around us. It’s playing itself out in our culture and our politics. Perversely, movements today seek to mainstream activities which serve only to further confuse things. At the same time, those who see, on some level, the truth of things find themselves discouraged. By their own self-consciousness. By fear. By the knowledge that it’s hard to herald the need for traditional marriage when heterosexuals haven’t been the best stewards of the institution. Could there be a clearer manifestation of our fallenness in the modern age? This is why we need the bloody image of the Sacred Heart. It’s jarring. It’s at the same time horrifying and consoling. If truly gazed upon, if truly taken into our hearts, how can we not be changed, every time, every day? How can the door of our own hearts not open, just a small amount? In 2004, The Passion of the Christ became a hit, churches packed theaters of silent—sometimes weeping—audiences. It seemed to provide nourishment. The more “sophisticated” among us tried to explain it as latent (or not-so-latent) anti-Semitism. But there was something necessary about the graphic nature of the scourging scene. In a time where our movies’ depictions of death and destruction are all too real, for a Christian culture not familiar with the Passion plays, more comfortable with Easter baskets than Good Friday, the silver screen provided something oddly real. It both
spoke to the pain of our age and the depths of the pain Our Lord endured.
Game Changer Fr. Thomas Williams wrote a book of reflections on the Sacred Heart. Reflecting on the role of the Sacred Heart in the new evangelization he says: “In a time when New Age, ‘spiritual but not religious’ is one of our biggest faith trends, devotion to the Sacred Heart focuses on the personal character of Jesus’ love for us, and the wholly real, even earthy nature of God’s singular love for each of us. The Heart of Jesus is not ‘the force’ or ‘the universe,’ but a real human heart symbolizing an intensely personal, passionate divinehuman love.” He continued, “Evangelization happens when a person realizes that Jesus lived and died for them and this experience grounds that person’s understanding of God and friendship with Him from that moment on.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church borrows from St. Augustine: The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is He who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; His asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for Him (no. 2560). It goes on: The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant (no. 2563). Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing continued on page 28 . . . November/December 2011
UF with Eric Stoutz
My sister is into universal salvation for everyone. She is quoting from the early Church Fathers, even quoting statements by Bl. John Paul II and other popes. I need some guidance in this area. Please help me. The traditional understanding of salvation is that those who die in relationship with God go to heaven (some through purgatory) while those who reject God go to hell. The Church has not concluded that anybody is actually in hell, but maintains the real possibility. Universalism adds that the love of God and His desire for all to be saved is so great that even the worst sinner will be restored in Him. There are different views of how this is accomplished, but a useful definition, provided by Fr. John Hardon is that hell is essentially a kind of purgatory in which sins are expiated, so that eventually everyone will be saved. Also called apokatastasis, it was condemned by the church in AD 543, against the Origenists, who claimed that “the punishment of devils and wicked men is temporary and will 16
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eventually cease, that is to say, that devils or the ungodly will be completely restored to their original state” (Denzinger, 411). Universalism is a good example of the need for a magisterium: No matter how great the thinker, speculation about the truths of the faith can lead to error. It would be good to recall, moreover, that early thinkers did not have a great corpus of magisterial statements from which to draw. So, yes, there were early Church fathers who were universalists. Origen (185–254) receives much of the blame. Mike Aquilina, who has made writings of the Fathers accessible to the non-scholar, offers an apology in The Fathers of the Church: Being first in any field has its dangers, however, being first in systematic theology is perhaps most perilous of all.
Origen’s speculations sometimes took him into uncharted waters, and he did not always sail as surely as those who came after him. Though he always sought to think and write only with the Church, subsequent generations would judge him to have fallen into heresy on several points. Contrary to Church teaching that was only later expressed explicitly, he taught the Platonic doctrine that the soul existed before the creation of the body; and that all creatures, even Satan and the demons, would be restored in Christ at the end of time. Later Fathers would make an important distinction here: that, though Origen had taught heresy, he himself was never a heretic, because he had never wished to teach heresy; he had spoken his errors in ignorance. [Mike Aquilina, The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1999), p. 106]. Following Origen was St. Gregory of Nyssa (335–394), who actually presented the apocatastasis as a doctrine. For St. Gregory, hell is a furnace where gold is refined; intense heat is necessary for purification. Thus, the pains of hell improve the person, separating the good in the soul from the evil; the greater the evil, the greater the pain. When evil is destroyed, all will have turned to God (even Satan) and “God will be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). As with Origen, St. Gregory is not considered a heretic. Further, scholars dispute the authenticity of some writings attributed to him. Nevertheless, it is possible for proponents of universalism to find a number of quotes from this early Church Father. St. Clement of Alexandria and St. Jerome are also thought to have taught versions of the restoration. A quote can be misinterpreted or misused, especially if taken out of context as a prooftext (a person begins with the conclusion and finds a passage that can be interpreted in a manner that “proves” the conclusion, rather than beginning with basic question, “What is this writer saying?”). Individual statements are understood in light of other statements made by the same writer. Take for example a quote from Pope John Paul II, in Crossing the Threshold of Hope:
The position of the Council is inspired by a truly universal concern. The Church is guided by the faith that God the Creator wants to save all humankind in Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man, inasmuch as He is the Redeemer of all of humankind. The Paschal Mystery is equally available to all, and, through it, the way to eternal salvation is also open to all (p. 81). A person might use this quote to show that the Pope has a universalist approach to eschatology. But upon further reading, it is clear that the Pope must mean something different than “everybody goes to heaven”: The problem of hell has always disturbed great thinkers in the Church, beginning with Origen and continuing in our time with Mikhail Bulgakov and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the “final apocatastasis” according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction and every creature would be saved; a theory which indirectly abolished hell. But the problem remains. Can God, who has loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal torment? And yet, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel He speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt. 25:46 [“ . . . and those who have done evil will go to the resurrection of condemnation”). Who will these be? The Church has never made any pronouncement in this regard. This is a mystery, truly inscrutable, which embraces the holiness of God and the conscience of man. The silence of the Church is, therefore, the only appropriate position for Christian faith. Even when Jesus says of Judas, the traitor, “It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Mt. 26:24), His words do not allude for certain to eternal damnation. At the same time, however, there is something in man’s moral conscience itself that rebels against any loss of this conviction: Is not God who is Love also ultimate Justice? Can He
tolerate these terrible crimes, can they go unpunished. Isn’t final punishment in some way necessary in order to reestablish moral equilibrium in the complex history of humanity? Is not hell in a certain sense the ultimate safeguard of man’s moral conscience? (185–186). This example presents a few general points for discussion: When the sister uses a quote, does she actually look into the mind of the person quoted? Has she simply accepted the quote uncritically from someone else whom she has chosen as her authority? Would it be significant if these authorities were wrong in how they were using the quotes? Was she aware of John Paul II’s mind on the subject of heaven, hell, and who will be saved? Was she misled or was she herself intentionally misrepresenting the Pope? Do other quotes she utilizes stand up to similar scrutiny? Another point about quotations concerns the authority we give to the person quoted. The Pope mentioned how great Christian thinkers have struggled with the problem of hell, from the early Church Fathers to modern theologians. Only by the standard of faith does the Church judge their writings as expressive of truth, not because they are great thinkers. Conversely, the Church has not condemned the early Church Fathers because of their errors (St. Gregory of Nyssa is a saint, after all), but has gratefully received what can be approved as a witness for the Faith. The general idea is to engage in actual study of the sources, and not simply to follow someone chosen as an authority. It can be helpful to identify fundamental questions, such as how a person comes to know things and whether other people influence the attainment of truth (or error). Another approach might be to study the history of the belief. Presumably, the first Christians were generally correct in their understanding of the basics of the faith. Perhaps only a few ecclesiastical writers each century arrived at a universalist conclusion. It wasn’t until more recent times that universalism has gained popularity. People can be historically myopic in their thinking, not giving predecessors credit for passing down the faith. The question of whether people go to hell is so central that it seems odd universalism, if true, was not widely taught and handed down from the beginning. lw
Quick Quiz Although they are members of the largest Christian Church represented in India, Catholics make up less than 2% of the country’s population. Which of the following did not preach the gospel in the mission territory of India? a) St. Thomas the Apostle b) St. Francis Xavier c) St. Ignatius of Loyola d) Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Visit www.cuf.org/laywitness to answer! Less than 20% of respondents answered correctly that Pope Benedict XVI has not been an instructor at the University of Cologne.
CUF members may submit questions to Ask CUF by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and including “Ask CUF” in the subject heading. Please note that Catholic Responses’ policy is to answer questions from members only. Visit www.cuf.org for more information about how to become a CUF member.
Pope John Paul Speaks to Americans by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., with Michael Mohr
Servant of God Fr. John Hardon identifies the most distinctive virtue of Christianity as selfless love of God and selfless love of others out of love for God. Like reproduces like. He calls it the “iron law of spiritual reproductivity, that we shall be conduits of divine grace to generate loving Christians in the degree that we are personally living loving Christian lives.” It is our duty to God and country, and our most effective method of evangelization.—Michael Mohr
uring [one of John Paul II’s pilgrimages] to the United States, the successor of St. Peter did not hesitate to thank God “for the extraordinary human epic that is the United States of America.” He assured his audience that “the Church is alive in you! God, who is the Master builder of His holy temple, has poured His love into your hearts through the Holy Spirit. You have received the gift of new life. You have been charged with bringing the Good News to all creation.” Having said this, the Pope drew the obvious conclusion. A nation as blessed by God’s gifts as America has the corresponding responsibility to share these gifts with the rest of humanity. This means nothing less than the stirring challenge of the new evangelization. The new world was discovered by Christopher Columbus because he wished to spread the Gospel of Christ to what he believed were the people of the Indies. Providentially the Catechism of the Catholic Church was issued exactly five hundred years, to the day, after Columbus sighted the new world. By the middle of the sixteenth century, no less than ten million native American Indians became professed Roman Catholics. In the five centuries since then, the faithful of both North and South America have performed wonders in spreading the true faith to the farthest reaches of the globe. What the most materially prosperous nation of the Americas needs to be told is 18
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“American Catholics are to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the joy of every heart. “ the duty it has to evangelize. Pope John Paul called it the new evangelization. He also identified its purpose: “The aim is to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the center of history, the hope of humanity, and the joy of every heart.” American Catholics are to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the center of history. The history of the human race has two parts. The first period is before Christ (BC); the second period is since Christ (AD). The most important earthly event has been the Incarnation, when the Creator of the universe was conceived in the womb of His Virgin Mother Mary. Everything before that was a preparation; everything since has been the possession of such blessings as only God can confer on His creatures. American Catholics are to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the hope of humanity. The United States has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Every 15 minutes an American takes his own life. In one state after another so-called assisted suicides are practiced by the medical profession. Why do people take their own lives? Because they lack the virtue of hope which gives meaning to the trials of this life. People without faith cannot have hope. Only faith in Jesus Christ is the ground for hope in what He promised to those who believe in His name. We who have the Christian faith are obliged to share this faith with those millions whose lives seem hopeless because they do not believe. American Catholics are to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the joy of every heart. What is joy except the experience of doing the will of God. Our Lord could not have been more plain. He tells us that He came into the world to teach us the secret of true happiness. “These things I have spoken to you,” He said,
“that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn. 15:11). All that the world has to know is what is God’s will in their lives; and then do it. The result is joy. What a grave responsibility we have to make people happy. What more can we do for others than to bring joy into their hearts? How is this done? By following the message of the angel to the shepherds in Bethlehem when he told them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:10-11). Evangelization brings satisfaction. As people come to believe in Christ and put His teaching into practice in their lives, they experience the deepest satisfaction in this valley of tears. It is the satisfaction of knowing that I am loved by the One who died on the Cross out of love for me. lw
Fr. John Hardon, S.J. Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., (1914–2000) was a distinguished theologian and a prolific writer, speaker, and catechist. He founded a number of Catholic organizations, including the Marian Catechists, and he was a good friend of the CUF apostolate. Learn about the cause of Fr. Hardon’s beatification at www.mariancatechist.com Michael Mohr is chairman of CUF’s board of directors and a consecrated Marian Catechist. He and his family live in Tucson, Arizona.
(Ignatius, 2011) “God makes use of evil in such a superb way and with such skill that the result is better than if there had never been evil.” This quote, which comes less than three pages into chapter one, gives some indication of the challenges the reader will work through in the short but profound book Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us. The author, Carmelite Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, cites as his impetus for this work the idea that complete surrender to the Father encompasses all practices of importance on the journey to God. Like the great spiritual writers, Fr. Stinissen provides stages to achieving this surrender. The first stage is accepting God’s will: submission, or what the author calls the “passive dimension of surrender.” The second stage is obeying God’s will: carrying out His will, the “active dimension.” The most challenging reading and implementation is found in the third and final stage: being God’s instrument, or “passive activity.” In the first two stages we “do” for God; in the final stage God “does” through us. By no means a replacement for other works on spirituality (one needs to understand the aforementioned “practices of importance” first), the careful reader should make good use of a pen or highlighter to permanently note concepts to refer back to while progressing toward the surrender to God that the author finds absolutely vital. —Richard Grebenc
(Ignatius, 2011) I’d like to introduce you to a new friend of mine, Ruth Pakaluk: student, wife, mother, Catholic convert, and pro-life activist. You too can meet her in The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God: The Story of Ruth Pakaluk. Ruth was many things, but above all, Ruth was God’s. In the ordinariness of her 41 years of life, countless people were moved by the extraordinary way she lived life to its fullest and personally touched every person she met. And now, she is touching the lives of even those who have never met her, like me, and perhaps you. Michael Pakaluk, Ruth’s husband until her death from cancer in 1998, draws readers into the intimate circle of friends of this simple but remarkable woman in a way that is moving and powerful. Through a biographical overview of Ruth’s life; the sharing of her own letters to family, friends, and community leaders; and finally through the presentation of some of Ruth’s prepared talks, The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God left me feeling edified and inspired to live my own life with greater intensity and zeal on behalf of the new friend I had just made, a true friend of God. I hope that many others will befriend Ruth through this book, and similarly feel called to live a life of greater virtue, holiness, and unreserved love. —Leslie Elliott
(CUA Press, 2011) Apostolic Religious Life in America Today: A Response to the Crisis, edited by Fr. Richard Gribble, is an excellent volume disclosing in depth the reasons for the dramatic and prolonged crisis in which the consecrated life of men and women religious found itself in the tumultuous years following the Second Vatican Council. Cardinal Franc Rodé, Bishop Robert Morlino, three priests, and three women religious explain the real meaning of religious life as found in Catholic tradition and the documents of Vatican II, lamenting the attrition in numbers of religious, the closing of corporate apostolates (especially in the area of education), and the “virulent streak of secularism” that invaded religious communities to the great harm of the Faith. A bogus “spirit of Vatican II” spread by dissenting theologians and journalists after their rejection of Humanae Vitae in 1968 would also affect the fidelity of “progressive” religious to the magisterium. As Bishop Morlino observed, “The advent of ideological pluralism and public dissent from Church teaching” led to the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience being “deconstructed after the Council.” This fine collection diagnoses the crisis of religious life in American Catholicism and explains why there is real hope for its vigorous revival, since, as Fr. Gribble noted, “one can hardly overestimate the importance of consecrated life for the good of the Church and of humanity at large.” —James Likoudis, President Emeritus
The Witness of
Blessed Alojzije Stepinac by Br. Silas Henderson, OSB
Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960)
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e live in an epoch of the Church’s history in which the saints are largely regarded as quaint, somewhat embarrassing remnants of a simpler, more pious age. While certain early saints still continue to hold a place in the hearts and minds of Catholics (we might think of St. Francis of Assisi or St. Jude), there are even fewer saints of the modern era who are as easily recognized and honored (Bl. John Paul II, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Thérèse of Liseux being among the notable exceptions). This shift in the Church’s hagiographical tradition is the result of a number of factors including, but not limited to, a more Christocentric ecclesiology following Vatican II, a renewed emphasis on liturgical prayer (as opposed to individual devotions), and a loss of identity and traditions among recent generations of Catholics. Another, perhaps surprising factor might be the proliferation of new saints and blesseds added to the martyrology in recent decades. John Paul II celebrated dozens of beatifications and canonizations during his pontificate, introducing a dizzying number of new saints and beati from every corner of the globe with names and faces that were unfamiliar and strikingly disconnected to the experiences of most people in the pews. Of course, for the religious communities or countries represented by those newly honored members of the Church, these events were important, even dramatic affirmations of their lives and charisms and the faith of the people. And yet, even in the more limited sphere of religious communities and nations, these individuals were often overlooked. I think of my own Benedictine Confederation that largely ignored the 2009 canonization of the monastic founder St. Bernardo Tolomei or the American church’s seeming unawareness of the canonization of
St. Théodora Guérin, the emigrant foundress of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-ofthe-Woods, whose motherhouse is in Terre Haute, Indiana. In an age that is desperately in need of spiritual renewal it would seem that the saints of our past would be indispensable tools for the new evangelization called for by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Whatever the reason, whether it be ignorance, apathy or benign neglect, the dynamism of the saints is largely lost on contemporary Catholics. The lives of the saints are profound sermons on the Gospel. Studying the life and teachings of saints can be a sort of lectio of the Christian life. During his recent trip to Croatia, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted a contemporary bishop and martyr who, in his ministry, defied both Nazis and communists, giving his life upholding the Gospels and defending human life.
A Zealous Apostle Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960) was, as the Holy Father called him, “a fearless pastor and an example of apostolic zeal and Christian fortitude, whose heroic life continues today to illuminate the faithful of the dioceses of Croatia.” Although he has proven to be a somewhat controversial figure, with non-Catholics questioning his “martyrdom” and his war-time actions, he stands before the people of Croatia, and all of us, as one who “endured in his own body and his own spirit the atrocities of the Communist system” (from the beatification homily of Cardinal Stepinac on October 3, 1988). Bl. Alojzije (or Aloysius) Stepinac is one individual amid the ranks of martyrs who, in the offering of their own lives, testify to the transitory nature of our present life and to the ultimate reality that is the Resurrection. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church the martyr bears “witness to Christ
“These saints, our spiritual ancestors, call us to imitate them, just as they imitated the One who completely offered Himself for the good of the whole world.”
who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity” living out in a particularly dynamic way the universal call that all Christians have to act as witnesses of the Gospel—a witness that “is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds (no. 2473). Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known” (no. 2472). Cardinal Stepinac embodied this truth in a particular way as he put into practice his faith in the Risen Jesus by resisting the totalitarian dictatorships that threatened not only the rights of the Catholic Church in Croatia but also violated the rights of the Jews and other ethnic groups. As he stated in 1943, “We always stressed in public life the principles of God’s eternal law regardless of whether we spoke about Croats, Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, Muslims, Orthodox or whoever else. . . . The Catholic Church does not recognize races that rule and races that are enslaved.” He was especially mindful of the situation of the priests entrusted to his care who were being persecuted and murdered because of their clerical status. This was an undeniably dark period in the history of the Church when Eastern European Catholics, especially the clergy and religious, were the focus of antireligious propaganda and the frequent victims of abuse and oppression. In evaluating the life of the Church in our own day, we do find pockets of systematic opposition to the Gospel and persecution of the faithful. It was his intense opposition to these realities in his own land that won Bl. Alojzije the esteem of his countrymen. And yet, he realized that simply standing against one’s oppressor was not enough. He worked for a reform of the conscience of his society. This call for reform and renewal is just as much a part of his legacy for Christians today as is his defense of the rights of those victimized by governments and ideologies. When visiting the martyr’s relics in Zagreb, the Holy Father recalled Stepinac’s words: “One of the greatest evils of our time is mediocrity in the questions of faith. Either we are Catholic or we are not. If we are, this must be seen in every area of our life” (Homily for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, 1943). This strong statement re-presents the Gospel’s call for us to live as “light of the world” and “salt of the earth.” This is, as Cardinal Stepinac understood, both our right and dignity as disciples of Jesus.
Faithful in the End When Stepinac died on February 10, 1960, at the age of 61, from complications of a rare blood disorder and poisoning by his captors, he left behind his witness of fidelity to the Church and the Gospels and a call to honor the rights and dignity of all God’s children. A martyr in the truest sense of the word, he offered himself in imitation of the Sacrifice of Christ (cf. Hebrews 10:14). Our call is to imitate this self-offering, epitomized by those other martyrs who lost their lives seeking to reform minds and hearts in their particular time and place. When we consider martyrs like Bl. Alojzije, St. Thomas Becket, St. Wenceslaus, Bl. Titus Brandsma, or the Martyrs of China, we discover men and women who opposed expediency and relativism, preferring instead a strong and faithful adherence to the values of the Gospel. Countless times over the past two millennia this fidelity has led to suffering and even death, and yet this willingness to not only carry the cross but to present it to the world is a fundamental aspect of the life of the Christian. We recall that martyrdom is founded “on the death of Jesus, on His supreme sacrifice of love, consummated on the Cross, that we might have life” (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience August 11, 2010). The total gift of self that is embodied in martyrdom is, however, also the vocation of each Christian. This was a truth understood not only by that “white-robed army of martyrs” but by everyone who strives to follow the Lord to the end, seeking union with Christ, accepting the responsibility that is an inseparable part of the call to holiness that we have each received. This call is first and foremost a commitment to grow in holiness day by day, manifesting that love for God and our brothers and sisters that is enshrined in the lives of those saints. These saints, our spiritual ancestors, call us to imitate them, just as they imitated the One who completely offered Himself for the good of the whole world. lw Br. Silas Henderson is a Benedictine monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. He currently works as an associate editor for Abbey Press and is the author of a number of articles and reflections on Mary and the saints. November/December 2011
Flaherty continued from page 7 . . .
Two weeks later, I reported for my first day of work. When it was time for my lunch break, I headed to the cafeteria and sat at an empty table. Almost immediately I was joined by a woman who introduced herself before sitting down. With her next sentence she asked, “I understand you’re a Catholic. Is that right?” I will admit that my first thought was that this was a test from my new boss! So, my yes probably lacked a little conviction. My tablemate then launched into a list of questions that she had about the Catholic faith. She was delighted to find someone who had the answers. We shared many, fruitful discussions about the Faith while I worked there. It was a sign to me that the work of the Holy Spirit transcends our limitations—our own and those imposed by others. Moses and Jeremiah were poor speakers, yet God effectively proclaimed His Word through them. St. Paul in his epistles gives testimony to his shortcomings and the opposition to the Gospel that he encountered. Yet has there even been a more effective evangelist? What is the issue that you believe limits your ability to proclaim the Good News? Remind yourself that the Holy Spirit is an expert at using those who are weak to build the Kingdom.
responsiveness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and for those who have not accepted the Gospel or who have fallen away. We especially need to pray for the conversion of those in our immediate sphere of influence. One family relative regularly tells my wife that she is an atheist. She is respectful of our beliefs but lets us know that she has no desire to hear anything about our Catholic faith. My wife and I comply with her wishes. Yet, when her family was beset by serious problems she sought our prayers. It is true. There are no atheists in foxholes; they are places of either prayer or despair. Our Holy Father is calling you and me to an adventure no less exciting than that of Saint Francis Xavier. The majority of us are not being called to bring the Gospel to the far-off shores. Our mission field is close at hand. It’s in our families, neighborhoods, social settings, and places of employment. Let’s step out in boldness and let the adventure begin anew. I’m sure that St. Francis Xavier will be interceding for us. lw
Let us Pray This brings me to a final point that is absolutely central to the new evangelization—prayer. We need to pray for God’s work, for our own 22
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Regis J. Flaherty is the director of Gilmary Retreat Center near Pittsburgh, PA. Flaherty is the author of God’s on the Phone: Stories of Grace in Action (Servant Books).
Mother, Mystic, Missionary Bl. Marie Guyart of the Incarnation by Michael J. Miller
he city of Tours in central France was already noteworthy in the days of the Gallic tribes as a crossing point over the Loire River. It became part of the Roman Empire in the first century. Over the next three hundred years its strategic and commercial importance grew by leaps and bounds until it was a provincial metropolis with a large amphitheater. By then Christianity had become established in the province, and in 370 AD a former soldier named Martin, who had once cut his cloak in half and shared it with a beggar, was made the third bishop of Tours by popular acclaim. Martin converted thousands in the region by his preaching and prodigious miracles, toppling sacred oaks and pagan shrines by prayer alone. According to a reliable contemporary chronicler, he even raised the dead on more than one occasion. The burial place of St. Martin in Tours became a major shrine in Western Europe, in part due to the historical writings of Bishop Martin’s successor, Gregory of Tours, in the sixth century. In 1429 Joan of Arc traveled to the city to have her suit of armor made there. The tomb of St. Martin was destroyed in 1562 by the Huguenots during a civil war between those Reformed Christians and the Catholic majority. Tours was the capital of France in the time of Louis XI and remained a permanent residence of the kings and court until the sixteenth century. Just before the turn of the seventeenth century, a great missionary was born in that storied city in the Loire Valley. Her name was Marie Guyart.
Bl. Marie Guyart Marie Guyart was born on October 28, 1599, probably in a house on the rue des Tanneurs (“Tanners Street”), the fourth of
Convent of the Uruline Sisters in Quebec, which was built after 1640. The Indian tents in the foreground are meant to show that the Indians entrusted their daughters to Mother Marie of the Incarnation. eight children of Florent Guyart, a master baker, and his wife Jeanne (née Michelet). The family was fairly well off, since the father owned a shop and employed help. Theirs was a Catholic household, and the parents encouraged the children to learn to read and write. Marie was a bright and diligent pupil, but even as a child she was more inclined to meditate. Her first prophetic dream was granted to her at the age of seven. When she was 14 she heard an interior voice calling her to devote her life to Christ as a nun. Her busy parents had little understanding of or sympathy for religious life, and when Marie reached the age of 17 they decided
that she would marry Claude Martin, a master silk weaver. Their marriage was a happy one, blessed with one son, also named Claude, but it lasted only two years. Claude senior died in October of 1619, six months after the child’s birth and shortly before Marie turned 20. The young widow had to liquidate her late husband’s failing business and pay off the debts. Relatives urged her to remarry, but she was determined to pursue a religious vocation after raising her son. At first she and the baby moved in with her father and she served as his housekeeper. In the midst of her troubles, Marie led an intense spiritual life. On March 24, November/December 2011
1620 while walking to church, she had an overwhelming experience of the love of God. That morning, right there on the street, she saw herself immersed, so to speak, in the Blood of Christ. For the first time Marie Guyart-Martin knew that God loved her infinitely and that He had given His Son for her salvation. More than 30 years later she still remembered vividly her experience on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation and described it in a letter to her son: “I returned from it to our house transformed into a different creature, indeed, so powerfully changed that I no longer knew myself.” Marie took a secret vow of obedience in 1621 and went to work as a servant in the household of her older sister. For four years she heroically practiced the virtues of humility, self-denial, and charity while performing her daily duties. She continued to advance in her prayer and meditation. On May 19, 1625, she had her first vision of the Holy Trinity, which left her with a profound insight into the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. On that occasion she received the grace of mystical union with Christ and saw Christ take her heart and join it to His own. At that time she made additional private vows of chastity and poverty, so that while living in the world as a working mother she led the spiritual life of a consecrated religious. Soon Marie was working for the transportation company of her brotherin-law, Paul Buisson, who shipped goods throughout the region on riverboats and wagons. She started with the bookkeeping and caring for sick employees. She proved to have excellent administrative and managerial skills, and eventually she ran the business for her brother-in-law during his frequent journeys. Again in 1627 Marie received a revelation about the inner life of the Blessed Trinity. Although she does not mention the Sacred Heart of Jesus (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had not even been born yet), she saw the Son of God, from whom flowed “impetuously a river of love that recreated all of heaven.” She was confirmed in her vocation to live “the maxims of the Gospel” and to go wherever God sent her. As her son approached his 12 birthday, when French youths customarily began their apprenticeship in one trade or another, Marie decided to enter the Ursuline community that had just been founded in Tours. On January 25, 1631, Claude junior walked with her to the convent gate, where Marie entrusted him to the care of her sister. Two months later, on the Feast of the Annunciation, she took the veil and the religious name Sr. Marie of the Incarnation. She then started her two-year novitiate, during which she had a third Trinitarian vision that brought her into mystical communication with the Three Divine Persons.
arie of the Incarnation relates that “one evening while I was in our cell, discussing the conversion of souls with the Eternal Father and wishing with an ardent desire that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ were accomplished, it seemed to me that the Eternal Father was not listening to me…. This distressed me, but at that moment I heard an interior voice that told me, ‘Ask of Me through the Heart of My Son; through Him I will grant your prayer.’”
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Paradoxically, right after reaching the height of mystical union with God, Sr. Marie of the Incarnation experienced unending dryness and apparent abandonment in the spiritual life. This “dark night of the soul” is utterly mysterious but not unusual in the lives of the saints; God uses the spiritual suffering and external trials to make apostolic work fruitful. Sr. Marie of the Incarnation made her final profession in January 1633. On Christmas Eve of that year she had a prophetic dream in which a lady demanded that she travel to Canada as a missionary. In 1634 she was appointed assistant novice mistress. Again, the Lord used a seemingly ordinary task close at hand to prepare Marie for her ultimate vocation of “expanding his kingdom.” “My body was in our convent,” she wrote in her autobiography, “but my spirit could not be shut up. The Spirit of Jesus took me to the Indies, Japan, America, the East, the West, to the parts of Canada and the Huron area, and to all inhabitable land where there were rational souls that I saw belonging to Jesus Christ” (see sidebar).
A Fledgling Mission In February 1639 Sr. Marie met a benefactress from Alençon, Madeleine de la Peltrie, and recognized her as the lady in her prophetic dream who would provide the funds necessary for her transatlantic voyage. Following an almost-miraculous cure, the widowed Madame de la Peltrie had sworn to dedicate her fortune to the conversion of young American Indian girls. The Ursuline nun also glimpsed what awaited her in the New World: “An endless cross, interior
“Paradoxically, right after reaching the height of mystical union with God, Sr. Marie of the Incarnation experienced unending dryness and apparent abandonment in the spiritual life. This ‘dark night of the soul’ is utterly mysterious but not unusual in the lives of the saints; God uses the spiritual suffering and external trials to make apostolic work fruitful.” abandonment by both God and creatures to a degree that was truly crucifying, and with that a life of complete obscurity.” The late Msgr. Ferdinand Holböck, a canon lawyer and hagiographer, neatly summarizes what was involved in relocating the French Ursuline nun to the colony of Quebec, which had been started only 31 years before: On February 22, 1639, Sr. Marie of the Incarnation, accompanied by young Sr. Mary of Saint Joseph, left the cloister in Tours and traveled to Paris, where during a two-month stay everything necessary to found a convent in Canada was arranged. On May 4, 1639, [she], together with three Augustinian nursing Sisters, boarded the ship Saint Joseph, which set sail for Canada. On August 1, 1639, she went ashore at Cape Diamond and settled in the city of Quebec, where she founded her first Ursuline community. Their voyage was one of the longest and most perilous in the history of New France: the nuns braved multiples storms, a tainted water supply and a near collision with an
iceberg. When they finally arrived, Quebec was a small market-town with 200 or 250 inhabitants on the edge of a vast wilderness. The fledgling community faced a harsh climate, an uncertain food supply, and a constant threat from hostile Iroquois tribes. The first Ursuline convent in Quebec was promptly built with the money donated by Madame de la Peltrie. With the help of the Jesuit missionaries, Mother Marie of the Incarnation composed the Constitutions for her religious community in Canada and became its first superior. The nuns started their teaching apostolate by taking in about 20 American Indian and French girls as boarding students. Their parents paid for their room and board with firewood, pots of butter, a quarter of a moose, maize, kegs of eels or fatted pigs. Although she was a cloistered nun, Mother Marie of the Incarnation consulted with leaders of the colony, speaking through a grating as the guests sat in the parlor. Her extensive correspondence with her son Claude, who had become a Benedictine monk, shows that she took an interest in farming, fishing, commerce, and local government. The Ursuline Superior learned several Indian languages—so well, in fact, that she
Apostolic Prayer of Bl. Marie of the Incarnation It is through the Heart of my Jesus, my way, my truth and my life, that I approach You, O Eternal Father. By this divine Heart I adore You for all those who do not adore You; I love You for all those who do not love You; I adore You for all the willfully blind who because of their contempt do not know You. By this divine Heart I want to make satisfaction for all mortal men. I go around the world in search of all the souls redeemed by the most precious Blood of my divine Spouse: I want to make satisfaction to You for them all through this divine Heart. I embrace them all so as to present them to You through Him. I ask You for their conversion; do You intend to tolerate the fact
that they do not know my Jesus? Will you permit them not to live in Him who died for all? You see, O Divine Father, that they do not yet live. Ah! Make them live by this divine Heart. Upon this adorable Heart I present to You all the laborers for the Gospel; fill them with your Holy Spirit through the merits of this divine Heart. You know, my Beloved, all that I want to say to the Father through Your divine Heart and through Your holy soul: In telling Him I say it to You because You are in Your Father and Your Father is in You. Grant therefore that all this be accomplished and join me in bending the will of Your Father by Your Heart. Act according to your promise that, since You are one with Him, all the souls that I present to You may also be one with Him and with You.
November/December 2011 25
A Light in the New World
were disrupted by the Treaty of Paris that ceded Canada to England. During her 33 years in Canada she had written more than 13,000 letters, which are a treasure trove for historians. Furthermore, they contain important writings on spirituality and mystical theology. Mother Marie of the Incarnation was beatified in Rome on June 22, 1980, together with Bishop Montmorency-Laval, Kateri Tekakwitha and two other North American missionaries. In his homily during the ceremony, Bl. John Paul II said, “A teacher of spiritual life, to the extent that Bossuet described her the ‘Teresa [of Avila] of the New World,’ and a promoter of works of evangelization, Marie of the Incarnation united contemplation and action admirably in herself. In her, Christian woman was fulfilled completely and with unusual balance, in her various states of life: wife, mother, widow, businesswoman, religious, mystic, and missionary, and all that in faithfulness to Christ, always in close union with God.” lw
The foundress of the Ursuline community in Quebec was immediately venerated as a saint. She just missed being beatified in the eighteenth century; the proceedings
Michael J. Miller translated New Saints and Blesseds of the Catholic Church, 1979-1983 and Martin of Tours: Soldier, Bishop, Saint for Ignatius Press.
Photo of the Ursuline Convent circa 1865. composed an Algonquin-French dictionary, and a dictionary and a catechism in Iroquois. The convent burned to the ground in the dead of winter only eight years after it was constructed. They rebuilt. The Iroquois Wars (1653-1663) and a smallpox epidemic decimated the indigenous peoples and threatened the French colony. Although they might have returned to France, Mother Marie and her Sisters stood fast. The convent was transformed into a hospital on several occasions. In March of 1659 Bishop François de Montmorency-Laval, a clergyman of noble lineage who had helped to found the Paris Foreign Missions, arrived in Quebec as Vicar Apostolic for the Church in “New France.” Mother Marie recognized that he was a zealous, holy pastor and wrote, “He is a man of great merit and outstanding virtue; it is not men who have chosen him; I will say in all truth that he lives like a saint and like an apostle.” The Bishop founded a series of parishes and fought against the oppression of the native peoples. By 1670 the Bishop had seminarians from three Indian tribes (Algonquins, Montagnais, and Hurons)—all former students of the Ursuline nuns. That year Mother Marie of the Incarnation, “the soul of the French missions,” declined another term as Superior because of illness; she became novice mistress instead. She died on April 30, 1672. 26
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THE POPE SPEAKS
The Listening Heart of the Politician by Pope Benedict XVI
n the First Book of Kings, it is recounted that God invited the young King Solomon, on his accession to the throne, to make a request. What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment? Success, wealth, long life, destruction of his enemies? He chooses none of these things. Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God’s people, and discern between good and evil (cf. 1 Kings 3:9). Through this story, the Bible wants to tell us what should ultimately matter for a politician. His fundamental criterion and the motivation for his work as a politician must not be success, and certainly not material gain. Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace. Naturally a politician will seek success, without which he would have no opportunity for effective political action. Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right, and to the understanding of what is right. Success can also be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice. “Without justice,” as Saint Augustine once said, “what else is the State but a great band of robbers?”
To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right? How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right? Even now, Solomon’s request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today. For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough: everyone in a position of responsibility must personally seek out the criteria to be followed when framing laws. In the third century, the great theologian Origen provided the following explanation for the resistance of Christians to certain legal systems: “Suppose that a man were living among the Scythians, whose laws are contrary to the divine law, and was compelled to live among them . . . such a man for the sake of the true law, though illegal among the Scythians, would rightly form associations
with like-minded people contrary to the laws of the Scythians.” This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and other totalitarian regimes, thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole. For these people, it was indisputably evident that the law in force was actually unlawful. Yet when it comes to the decisions of a democratic politician, the question of what now corresponds to the law of truth, what is actually right and may be enacted as law, is less obvious. In terms of the underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is in no way simply self-evident today. The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become harder still. As he assumed the mantle of office, the young King Solomon was invited to make a request. How would it be if we, the lawmakers of today, were invited to make a request? What would we ask for? I think that, even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart—the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace. Excerpted from the Holy Father’s address to the German Parliament on September 22, 2011. lw
The Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions November 2011
General: That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.
General: That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect.
Mission: That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops.
Mission: That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation.
Lopez continued from page 15 . . .
forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man (no. 2564). Bringing the world to that meeting place, making the world that meeting place, is the reason for the new evangelization. Sr. Mary Elizabeth is a Sister of Life in New York. The Sisters, an order of consecrated women founded by the late Cardinal John O’Connor, are called to tend to the wounds of abortion, to be the construction workers of a true culture of life. Sr. Mary Elizabeth reflects: “The new evangelization in our experience is most effective when it is engaged in relationally. People today for the most part aren’t converted by teaching but by relationships, by friendship— like Andrew and Peter. Andrew meets Jesus and is fascinated by this man who is unlike any other and he brings Peter to Him. I believe this is what is at the heart of the new evangelization. You encounter the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it heals, purifies, and strengthens you and you are forever changed by that living, ongoing encounter. Then you share this experience with others, like the woman at the well: Come and see one who knows everything about me—and still loves me! In encountering the Sacred Heart of Jesus our deepest and truest identity is revealed to us. . . . The new
evangelization is really going back and recovering Christ’s original method: encounter, relationship, friendship.” It’s really no surprise that it would be that great communicator to individuals and the masses, John Paul II, who would steer us in this direction. In the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the campus of the Catholic University of America, there is a little chapel of thanksgiving to Pope Pius X, who gave the green light to the shrine project during his pontificate. Pilgrims and the occasional wandering politician are reminded that his motto was “To Sanctify All Things in Christ.” He was also a promoter of the faithful receiving Holy Communion early and often. How do we go from making that but a trivia point in a Catholic game of Trivial Pursuit? The Sacred Heart of Jesus has the answer—is the answer. It is the source and the summit and the heart of the new evangelization—of any evangelization. 1
Cardinal Raymond Burke, “The Future of Courage.” National Catholic Register, August 14, 2011.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online (www.nationalreview. com) and a nationally syndicated columnist.
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Unobtrusive Evangelization by Chris Sparks
ou’re sitting on a plane, hoping there’s no problem with the luggage, that the flight attendant will bring another round of snacks, wondering if that clanking noise is normal. Then the person next to you turns and says, “Is it alright if I ask you . . . what’s that book about?” If you are prepared, this could be one more success in the new evangelization. And you wouldn’t have to knock on doors or stand on street corners to do it. But where to start?
(God and) Me First When does God command us to be selfish? When it comes to a relationship with Him. “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mk. 8:36). That applies to evangelization as much as to worldly gain, pleasure, or power. We are told, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:30). The First Commandment is all about God . . . and you. So put prayer and the sacraments first in your life. Let them undergird everything else that you do. Indeed, let your service to your neighbor, your family, your friends, all flow from the life of grace given through the body of Jesus Christ. Love the Lord your God first and foremost, and His love will come right back at you. By the power of His love, you will then be able to love others as they deserve, as they need, as God does. That’s the secret of saints and the servants of God. Dorothy Day could love the poor because she loved God first. Bl. Mother Teresa required her nuns to have adoration every day and always testified to the blessings God gave as a result. When you’ve said yes to God in prayer and are participating in a healthy sacramental life, work on the resistant patches of sin in your life. Everyone tends to have certain sins they struggle with the most, and most people have one or two that never attract them (blessed are you!). Work on your vices, exercise your virtues, and no matter what happens, never stop praying and receiving the sacraments. Your first convert needs to be yourself.
This doesn’t mean only the perfect can evangelize. God can (and does) use everyone—just look at the saints and sinners in the Bible! When you are called on to speak a good word, do so, but don’t plan to evangelize others until you’re trying to evangelize yourself.
Know the Word Once someone’s talking to you, would you know what to say? In this age of widespread literacy and the Internet, you have the ability to learn more about your faith than ever before in history. Read the Bible and an excellent catechism, whether YouCat, the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, or the full Catechism of the Catholic Church. Seek out good books, magazines, websites, and CDs or DVDs. One valuable rule of thumb: the best people to learn the Catholic faith from are those with an “St.” in front of their names.
A Word in Edgewise You’re receiving the sacraments regularly, praying, studying, and trying to observe the teachings of the Church. What next? As the popes have said, the new evangelization is proclaiming the Gospel to people who have traditionally been Christian. That is, it’s evangelizing the evangelized. What’s the point of that? Many formerly Christian countries are hemorrhaging believers from their churches at alarming rates. People are losing faith of any kind, or leaving the Catholic Church for Protestant denominations and other religions. And it needs to stop. So we preach the Gospel to the people who think they know what it says. We have to repropose Jesus Christ and His Church— not an easy task. We have to struggle around assertions from people who think they know what they’re talking about when they casually criticize the Church or make claims about her teachings. But it can and must be done. So come back to the plane for a moment. To get a word in edgewise, it’s best if the other person asks you for an answer. Be cunning. We’re out fishing for souls. Bait the hook. November/December 2011
“As the popes have said, the new evangelization is proclaiming the Gospel to people who have traditionally been Christian. That is, it’s evangelizing the evangelized.” When you take public transportation, do you read? Make sure you’re reading something by the pope, or a good Catholic writer, or magazines like Lay Witness, or some other material that has “churchy” language on its front cover. One woman on a plane ride asked me what I was reading, saw the cover of Sandra Meisel and Carl Olson’s great response to the Da Vinci Code craziness, and said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for a book exactly like that!” Having good books with you may make all the difference for a soul. Another option is to wear a cross, Miraculous Medal, or other sacramental publicly. Don’t be ostentatious about it. Just don’t hide your Catholicism, either. The key is, again, a baited hook.
All the Nations Members of other religions will ask why you believe Catholicism is right and their religion is wrong. Remember that Vatican II says we are to respect the teachings of other religions that reflect a ray of the truth about God and our salvation (Nostra Aetate, 2). If someone preaches truth, we agree with them. Show them your respect for the good in their religion, and then gently explain the reasons for our disagreement.
Share what you know and love. For instance, I love to share stories about the saints and miracles. You won’t believe which Speaking the Word stories only Catholics have heard! When someone bites— Fatima, the miraculous survival of a group share! Wondering where of Jesuits at Hiroshima when the bomb to begin? Answer what dropped, the apparitions at Lourdes and they ask. An Evangelical Kibeho, the miracles of St. Padre Pio Protestant, for example, and St. Jean Vianney—the list is endless. will not usually need to know Telling stories of approved apparitions, and your reasons for believing in God. the wonders done by our brethren, and Do: You can presume some common the mighty power of God working in the • Pray. God converts people, not you. ground—love of the Triune God, modern day can open someone’s eyes to • Be polite. Nothing gives Christians a bad name acceptance of the Bible as the vast reaches of recent history they never faster than pride or anger. inspired and inerrant Word of God, knew existed. • Love them. Even if they’re annoying, even if and so forth. Acknowledge the And honestly, who wouldn’t want they’re not open to the Faith. shared articles of faith, and then to speak of their brother Pio the • Start with yourself. Evangelize your own mind answer their specific questions as wonderworker, or their sister Teresa the and heart first. best as you can. Protestants will mystic, or our Mother Mary, the Queen often ask whether certain Catholic of all things, because her Son Jesus, the Don’t: teachings and practices have any King of Glory, has crowned her with • Be afraid. There’s nothing to fear—Jesus wins biblical basis. Be prepared to menstars and clothed her with the sun? We everything in the end! tion passages and stories in the have an awesome family because we have • Be impatient. You are called to sow seeds and Bible. You don’t need to have every an awesome God. Share your love and leave the rest to God. citation and verse memorized. excitement! • Push too hard. Provide the information they’re Often, it’s enough to tell a bit of Don’t be afraid of questions you can’t interested in. the story or recite the part of the answer. Just be honest and point the per• Forget to leave them a way to find out more. passage you remember from hearing son in the direction of good answers. Be Mention authors and titles. at Mass, and the Protestant will tell polite, be loving, but most of all, be youryou where to find it in Scripture. self—a Catholic who loves Jesus Christ and the person next to you enough to Help Their Unbelief introduce them to each other. Evangelization is within the reach of Atheists will want to know your reasons for belief. Why are every Christian, every day, at every moment of your day. you a Christian? They’ll want strictly intellectual arguments, not You can be part of the new evangelization without a lot of fuss— arguments from the Bible or Church teaching. Any explaining you just be creative in sharing your faith! lw do for them will have to come from reason, history, or the sciences— the beauty and intelligibility of creation pointing to a Creator, the miracles and wonders of the Church’s history, etc. Remain calm, especially if you’re faced with one of the new atheists. If they just Chris Sparks recently received his MA in theology from Franciscan University of can’t handle a courteous conversation, plan to pray for them and Steubenville. He has traveled a lot in his short life and recommended a lot of books disengage gracefully. to people on airplanes.
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The Surprising Joy of Labor, Laundry, and Lice by Emily Stimpson
here were many things my German great-grandmother Rose understood: the necessity of disciplining children, the art of making chicken and noodles, and especially the truth of the Catholic faith. What Rose didn’t understand, however, was depression. Whenever she heard about someone battling the problem, she’d shake her head in bewilderment and ask “Don’t they have floors to scrub?” Like I said, she didn’t understand. She couldn’t grasp that for some depression is a serious problem requiring medical and psychiatric care. Yet, at the same time, there was something to her question. “Sweet is the sleep of the laborer,” Ecclesiastes tells us, “whether he eats little or much” (5:12). Wise King Solomon’s words, albeit in fancier form, express Rose’s sentiments exactly. Physical labor, both held, is good for the soul. It can be, at times, both a source of joy and an antidote to sadness. As to why? Well, I’ve been giving that some thought as of late. No need to go into the reasons. Suffice it to say, I had a rough summer. To shake the sadness, I tried all my usual remedies: pretty dresses, sybaritic meals, good wine, even a trip across the ocean. I also did the daily Mass, Adoration, constant offering up thing. But no cigar. Then came the Great Lice Plague of 2011. And things started looking up. You see, my best friend in town lives next door, which means she and her four children spend copious amounts of time at my house. Normally, that’s delightful. On one ill-fated August vacation, however, those four children contracted lice. By the time their mother discovered that, the creepy, crawlies had already moved into my house as well as hers. For brevity’s sake, I’ll spare you the tale of our experiments with lice treatments and nit picking. What matters here is the cleaning. There was loads of it. Literally. Between
washing every piece of fabric in my house, some multiple times, not to mention about half the pieces of fabric in my friend’s house, I went through three bottles of laundry detergent in a mere 13 days. Then there was the vacuuming—vacuuming carpets, vacuuming furniture, vacuuming drawers. All followed by intensive disinfecting with nasty chemicals humans should normally avoid During the long two weeks of the Great Lice Plague, I fanatically scrubbed and reorganized every drawer, closet, and cupboard in the house. Not a corner was left untouched. Not a rag was left out of place. And not a tear was shed. Or, at least, a lot fewer. Although the sadness (for which I had good enough cause) lingered, my ability to cope with it, keep it in perspective, and hand it over to God improved immeasurably while I labored. Partly, that’s because I was too exhausted to expend the energy crying over matters beyond my control. More importantly, however, the work that normally occupies my days—writing— doesn’t demand anything of my body. Cleaning, or any intensive physical labor, does. It requires that one be a body as much as a mind, using hands and arms, backs and legs, abs and feet to carry out the brain’s commands. With the whole person, body and soul, laboring away, the whole person, body and soul, is drawn into the task, absorbed completely by the work at hand. Which leaves little emotional space for naval gazing, selfpity, or heart-wrenching reflections. Long hours of labor also make the few still moments of rest all the sweeter. For me, the little bits of leisure time I stole—stopping to eat scrambled eggs and toast, laughing with my friend over our nasty bugaboos, just sitting and staring into space—all became little Sabbaths, more restful, more precious, more joyful, because of the labor which preceded and followed.
Plus, when I was done, my gleaming, well-ordered house could have made Martha Stewart burn with envy. I could see the fruit of my labors everywhere I looked. And they were good. During those long days of washing and vacuuming, I found myself thinking much of the God-man, who chose to spend His time on earth covered in sweat and sawdust, rather than bent over ink and parchment. I also thought of centuries of men and women who knew nothing of counselors’ couches and Prozac prescriptions, men and women who never could have fathomed the existential sadness of post-modern ennui because they were too busy plowing fields and scrubbing floors. They, like my Great-Grandma Rose knew more than our mechanized, whitecollar, labor-saving-device world is wont to give them credit for. They knew what it meant to do the work of men, eminently human work that neither angels nor animals can do. And they knew that in doing it they could find a type of joy, a healing, life-giving joy born of aching muscles and tired bones that can temper many, although not all, strains of sadness. God bless Great-Grandma Rose for her simple wisdom. And God bless those nasty little lice. lw
Emily Stimpson Emily Stimpson is an award-winning Catholic writer based in Steubenville, OH. A contributing editor to Our Sunday Visitor newspaper, her work has also appeared in Franciscan Way, First Things, Touchstone, Faith and Family, Loyola’s Best Catholic Writing series, and elsewhere. She is also the co-author with Stacy Mitch of a forthcoming series of Bible studies for teenage girls from Emmaus Road Publishing. November/December 2011
LOOKING AT A MASTERPIECE
The Nativity A Christmas Gift from a Grateful Son of Mary by James Monti
Lay Witness / www.cuf.org
“Here we see Mary, the holiest of saints and the greatest mystic who ever lived, contemplating her God, who has become her Son.” There is no natural source of light in the stable. It is night, and there are no lamps or candles. It is from the face of the Christ Child that all the light in the image flows forth, illuminating the face and dress of Mary, and even the faces of the ox and the ass near Him. We thus see Christ as the Light of the World. He gives light to His mother, for all her holiness comes from Him. He is not slumbering; rather, His eyes are wide open, looking intently upon His mother, for as God He looks upon her with an immeasurable love as the masterpiece of His creation. Barocci depicts Mary’s twofold vocation as both the Mother of God, with all the duties of a mother, and as a consecrated virgin. Our Lady’s hands express her total giving of herself to God, her “Totus tuus” that she offers to her divine Son. She seems to be repeating within her heart the words she uttered at the Annunciation, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). There is a deep serenity in her face, a serenity that I believe is Barocci’s depiction of the highest state of prayer, even higher than ecstasy, the prayer of union with God, known as “mystical marriage.” She appears in the full blossom of her youth, yet in her face can be seen a wisdom beyond her years. She is arrayed in splendor, testifying to the Psalmist’s words that have been understood as a prophecy of the immaculate, sinless, virginal, and all-holy vesture of her soul: “The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; in
many-colored robes she is led to the king” (Ps. 45:13-14). She looks as radiant as a newlywed bride, for she is also the living image of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and the Heavenly Jerusalem, “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). The Christ Child and the Blessed Virgin appear here side by side as the New Adam and the New Eve, who are to lead us into the New Paradise and the Celestial Jerusalem. Barocci has also imparted to his painting an allusion to the death of Christ. The divine infant is laid in a manger adjoining the wall to the right, suggesting a likeness to the “burial couch” in Christ’s Holy Sepulchre. We sense a foreshadowing of that moment years later when, after the Body of Christ had been laid in the tomb, the Blessed Virgin was to contemplate her slain Son before the closing of the sepulcher with the stone. A man of high morals, Barocci became a Third Order Franciscan. Pope Clement VIII kept as a holy card in his breviary a tiny portrait of the Christ Child painted for him by Barocci. May the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to keep the Christ Child in our hearts this Christmas and always. lw James Monti, “Editor for the Saints” of Magnificat, is the author of A Sense of the Sacred: Catholic Worship in the Middle Ages and The King’s Good Servant but God’s First: The Life and Writings of Saint Thomas More (Ignatius Press).
Nativity/ Barocci, Federico (1526-1612) / Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain / Scala / Art Resource, NY
ederico Barocci (c. 1535-1612) was a promising Italian artist in his late twenties when he was stricken with an incurable illness that brought his painting to a standstill. In desperation, he turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary, begging her to intercede for him. The Queen of Heaven responded swiftly. Although Barocci was never fully cured, he soon recovered sufficiently to resume his painting. In gratitude, he painted as a votive offering to Mary a depiction of her clasping the Christ Child, with St. John the Apostle kneeling at her feet. Thereafter Barocci produced one religious masterpiece after another, in many of which he portrayed the Blessed Virgin as a maiden of incomparable beauty. One of these, a painting of the Visitation, so deeply moved the Oratorian founder St. Philip Neri that he prayed before it daily. It was around 1597 that Barocci completed his greatest tribute to the Mother of God, “The Nativity,” a painting preserved in the Prado Museum of Madrid. This portrayal of the Nativity differs markedly from others, for the Madonna and Child are depicted as looking into each other’s eyes, unlike depictions of them looking toward the viewer or toward those visiting the newborn Christ. What Barocci portrays is even more than simply the look of a loving mother gazing with admiration upon her child. Here we see Mary, the holiest of saints and the greatest mystic who ever lived, contemplating her God, who has become her Son. To the left is St. Joseph, opening the door to the shepherds, who peer inside as he points excitedly with his right hand toward the Christ Child. Our Lady, however, is oblivious to the commotion at the door.
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