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In an article in Religious Life magazine, Very Rev. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. was asked about the resurgence of men entering contemplative Benedictine life. What is drawing them, specifically, to his monastery San Benedetto? It is, he said, the experience of a radical faith in God lived out among like-minded brothers.
Father Cassian views monastic life as the perfect instrument for the New Evangelization. It is the best medicine for the God-lessness that pervades society for it is a life imbued with God at every turn, a life filled with His presence and beauty.
Over and over again, people have come into San Benedetto “by chance” and have emerged changed by their experience of the liturgy, reverently celebrated. The Benedictine’s witness of prayer and awe-inspiring liturgy is the contribution the monks can make to the New Evangelization.
Father also mentions the eight vices that are part of the pre-Benedictine tradition: gluttony, lust, avarice, acedia, vainglory, anger, pride and sadness. It is interesting that sadness is mentioned because there is a lot of sadness and aimlessness in the world today. It seems to me that this is the age-old sadness with the age-old answer: Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.
Here at An Undivided Heart, we will be examining the statements of the Holy Father as he concludes his ad limina meetings with the U.S. bishops at the Vatican with an eye toward capturing the Pope’s thoughts on the subject of vocations.
Unlike the first ad limina address, Pope Benedict did not explicitly address the subject of vocations in his address to the bishops of region II, which includes the Catholic dioceses of New York. However, he did discuss the need for re-evangelization and interior conversion, as well as the importance of engaging college students. Here are some excerpts from his address:
“[T]he seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated. The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularized culture also affect the lives of believers, leading at times to that “quiet attrition” from the Church which you raised with me during my Pastoral Visit. Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts. Evangelization thus appears not simply a task to be undertaken ad extra; we ourselves are the first to need re-evangelization. As with all spiritual crises, whether of individuals or communities, we know that the ultimate answer can only be born of a searching, critical and ongoing self-assessment and conversion in the light of Christ’s truth. Only through such interior renewal will we be able to discern and meet the spiritual needs of our age with the ageless truth of the Gospel. . . .
“In the end, however, the renewal of the Church’s witness to the Gospel in your country is essentially linked to the recovery of a shared vision and sense of mission by the entire Catholic community. I know that this is a concern close to your own heart, as reflected in your efforts to encourage communication, discussion, and consistent witness at every level of the life of your local Churches. I think in particular of the importance of Catholic universities and the signs of a renewed sense of their ecclesial mission, as attested by the discussions marking the tenth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and such inititiatives as the symposium recently held at Catholic University of America on the intellectual tasks of the new evangelization. Young people have a right to hear clearly the Church’s teaching and, most importantly, to be inspired by the coherence and beauty of the Christian message, so that they in turn can instill in their peers a deep love of Christ and his Church.
For the complete text, click here.
Theologians gathered in Washington, D.C. earlier this month for a symposium to help prepare them for the new evangelization. The event was open to selected non-tenured theology or religious studies faculty members who have received their doctoral degrees within the last five years.
The speakers looked to the Church’s rich history as they offered advice on how to present the Gospel in a modern university setting.
One of the speakers that caught my attention was Archbishop J.A. DiNoia, O.P., who serves as the secretary for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He addressed the symposium participants on the nature of theology as a field of study having internal roots within man.
God’s immense love for us is not something that we could have figured out simply “on the basis of thinking about God,” he said.
The infused theological virtue of faith received in Baptism allows for “the participation in God’s knowledge of Himself,” he added.
Therefore, the archbishop explained, the principles of theology come from the knowledge of God infused in us.
The challenge for the new evangelization, said Archbishop DiNoia is “securing the integrity and finality of theology as a distinctive field of inquiry.”
He urged the symposium participants to resist the “fragmentation of theology into disparate subviews and specializations,” as well as internal secularization within the Church.
In addition, he called for them to be courageous in recognizing the “compatibility between an academic profession and an ecclesial vocation,” seeing their work not merely as a job, but as a calling.
Courtesy of Catholic News Agency. For more on the vocation of the theologian and his or her relationship to the Magisterium, see this 1990 instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith.
As Catholics, we try to balance in our lives of faith the active Martha and the contemplative Mary. Sometimes in the process Martha gets a bad rap. She’s anxious and worried about many things (Luke 10:41), so at times we might picture her as a frantic busybody flitting about, doing 101 things, while the serene Mary sits at the feet of Jesus.
But today is the feast of Saint Martha. She is a full-fledged saint, with all the rights and privileges that go with it! While activism without prayer can quickly turn into mere workaholism; prayer without active apostolate also lacks authenticity.
At this exciting time in the Church, priests, religious, and laity are called to roll up our sleeves and actively participate in the great work of the new evangelization. There’s plenty to do to keep all of us Martha’s busy.
May we imitate the faith of St. Martha, who said, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (John 11:27). And, like St. Martha, may we express this faith in active works of charity.
As we do so, we must keep in mind the clear teaching of Scripture. Our Lord said that Mary chose the better part, the one necessary thing (Luke 10:42). Our Lord is truly present at every Mass and in every tabernacle throughout the world. If we truly desire to be saints, to become the holy men and women God calls us to be, we do well–frequently and with much love and devotion–to return to the Source: Jesus, Our Eucharistic Lord.
I think St. Martha would wholeheartedly agree.
Our readers are encouraged to visit the the new Facebook page of the Institute on Religious Life and, if you’re so inclined, click the “like” button.
Just last week, the Catholic News Agency published an article on the immense popularity of religion-themed pages on Facebook. These pages attract many people. In fact, a page about Jesus and the Bible received nearly 2.3 million interactions during the week of May 9-15, beating out pop icons like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
This trend is by no means limited to the English-speaking world. For example, coming in ninth place with 460,000 user interactions was the Spanish religion-themed page “Dios Es Bueno!”
And now as the Catholic Church prepares for a worldwide Synod on the new evangelization, we can expect even more of an emphasis on Facebook and other social media sites in the months and years to come.
So please visit our Facebook page and give us feedback, so we can continually improve our outreach in the area of promoting religious life and vocations.
Last Friday, the Jamaica Plan (NY) Gazette published an upbeat article on the Daughters of St. Paul, whose motherhouse is located in Jamaica Plain. The Daughters are known for their use of the media in spreading the Catholic faith.
The article, entitled “High-tech nuns living on the edge (of JP),” highlights many of the Daughters’ projects, including their award-winning “Ask a Catholic Nun” page on Facebook, which has 13,745 fans.
What particularly struck me, however, was the discussion of the Daughters’ expansion into the world of smartphone apps:
“There is a whole new audience, a whole new space to share with God,” Sister Kathryn said. “People can snatch a few moments here and there to commune with God,” she added, showing off their latest app, “Beginning Contemplative Prayer,” a companion app to Sister Kathryn’s book of the same name.
The app boasts eight 25-minute audio prayers, prayer ideas and a five-week personal plan for growth in contemplative prayer, which includes a different morning, midday, and evening prayer for each week. Sister Kathryn has written several books, mostly self-help books, for Pauline Books, their publishing arm.
Another of their apps features the Rosary being prayed out loud. It has an email function that allows the user to let others know that a prayer has been offered on their behalf.
“We pray while we create these things and we pray for the people who will receive them,” said Sister Patricia, who works on the apps.
The Catholic Sentinel recently published an uplifting piece entitled, “Friar who evangelizes in the mall: ‘‘We are an absolutely passive church,’” on Dominican friar Fr. Tony Wall. Rather than passively wait for people to come to him, he sets up shop in a mall in the Portland area where he engages shoppers every day.
“People are hungry to have the Church stand up and say, ‘Come, come, come,’” Father Wall says. “I think every big mall in the country should have a Catholic presence. All I think the Church needs to do is rent a chair and have a priest sit there and have a sign that says, ‘Have a question? Ask a priest.’”
I’m not sure how many malls in the country have something like this, but one that springs to mind is St. Francis Chapel at the Prudential Center in Boston, run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, an IRL affiliate, for over a quarter of a century.
Last time I was there, I think there was an Au Bon Pain on one side and a Dunkin Donuts on the other. But once shoppers and businesspersons step inside, they are in God’s house. The chapel has Masses, devotions, and Confessions going on all day, meeting busy people where they are. What an impressive manifestation of the “new evangelization.”
The Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications are organizing a gather of Catholic bloggers in Rome on Monday, May 2, 2011, the day after Pope John Paul II’s beatification.
The aim of the meeting is to allow for a dialogue between bloggers and Church representatives, to listen to the experiences of those who are actively involved in this arena, and to achieve a greater understanding of the needs of the blogging community. The meeting will also allow for a presentation of some Church initiatives to engage the new media technologies, both in Rome and at the local level.
The first panel of presenters will consist of five bloggers, representing five different language groups. Simultaneous translation will be provided in Italian, English, French, Polish and Spanish.
The second panel will draw on people involved in the Church’s communications outreach, such as Fr. Lombardi from the Vatican press office, who will speak of their experiences in working with new media and initiatives aimed at ensuring an effective engagement by the Church with bloggers.
The meeting is taking place on the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II in order to take advantage of the presence in Rome of many bloggers. Those who wish to attend need to apply by email and send a link to their blog. As space is limited to 150 seats, those who are interested should apply now.
This upcoming conference serves to reinforce the importance of this year’s National Meeting of the Institute on Religious Life, which is devoted to the subject of utilizing the new media–including blogging!–for the new evangelization. The National Meeting will be held on April 29-May 1, 2011 at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. For more information and/or to register for the event, click here.
Courtesy of Vatican Radio.
Let’s once again unite our prayers this month with those of Pope Benedict XVI. Here are the Holy Father’s intentions for April 2011, as published by the Apostleship of Prayer:
- Evangelizing the New Generations. That through its compelling preaching of the Gospel, the Church may give young people new reasons for life and hope.
- Missionary Expansion. That by proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of their lives, missionaries may bring Christ to those who do not yet know Him.
All of us have a role to play in the evangelistic, missionary activity of the Church, and a great way to start is by praying for these intentions each day.
Also, It just so happens that the national meeting of the Institute on Religious Life at the end of the month is focusing on the theme of using the new media for the new evangelization, as proclaiming Christ to a new generation is the perennial mission of the Church.
I hope you can join us for this fantastic conference. I’m especially interested in hearing the presentation by Tom Peterson, the founder of Catholics Come Home, one of the most dynamic “new evangelization” programs in the Church today.
The Institute on Religious Life cordially invites you to attend its annual regional conference this coming Saturday at the Franciscan Prayer Center in Independence, Missouri. This year’s theme is “Go Make Disciples: The Consecrated Life and the New Evangelization.”
Pope John Paul II devoted the last twenty years of his pontificate calling for a “new evangelization,” a call now taken up by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, who has even made the “new evangelization” the subject of the next worldwide Synod of Bishops.
Yet do we really understand what this “new evangelization” is all about?
The glossary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “evangelization” as “the proclamation of Christ and His Gospel by word and the testimony of life, in fulfillment of Christ’s demand.” In short, it involves putting people in touch with the person of Jesus Christ.
The new evangelization must not degenerate into mere activism, be it social or political. Rather, it must be rooted in our desire to allow Christ to transform us. Therefore, it requires learning once again to direct our gaze upon the face of Christ, the one Savior of the world.
This year’s regional meeting will offer reflections on Christ’s command to “Go Make Disciples,” with special emphasis on how it relates to the consecrated life. Everyone is welcome to attend this day of spiritual
renewal, reflection, and affirmation of the consecrated life. I will be there and look forward to seeing many of you!