Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lawless People of God and the New Evangelisation

The Lawless People of God and the New Evangelisation

Cardinal Burke in Nairobi

Knowledge and respect for Canon law is indispensable to the Church’s response to the call to a new evangelization.

So declared Cardinal Raymond Burke (64), the chief jurist of the Holy See,  at the Canon Law Conference in Nairobi yesterday organized by the Canon Law Society of Kenya. He is the highest ranking Prelate in the area of law in the Church. His official title is the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

The conference is being attended by 100 priests from all over Kenya, including  10 bishops. A general ignorance of canon law must be overcome. The false conflict between canon law and the pastoral nature of the Church, between truth and love, must be addressed. All forms of manipulation of the law to advance particular agenda redound to the grave harm of the faithful and of the Church as the Body of Christ. Liturgical law must enjoy the primacy among canonical norms, for it safeguards the most sacred
realities in the Church. These were some of the key ideas covered by His Eminence.

Quoting Blessed John Paul, he said “Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church.”

The remaking of “the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community,” which is necessary for the “mending of the Christian fabric of society,” will have as a fundamental element a new knowledge of and respect for the canonical discipline of the Church. he emphasized the hypocrisy of exalting charity when we do not practice justice in obedience to God’s law.

Cardinal Burke placed his reflections within the context of the
present situation of the Church in a totally secularized culture and
the response of the Church to the culture of our time. The response is
a new evangelization.

While the question pertains to the life of the universal Church he
noted that its application to the life of the Church in the Kenya is

Drawing heavily on the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul, he described
it as a tireless call to recognize the Church’s challenge to be
faithful to her divinely-given mission and to respond to the challenge
by means of a new evangelization. He referred to “On the Vocation and
the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World,”
“Pastores Dabo Vobis”, “On the Consecrated Life and Its Mission in the
Church and in the World,” and  “Novo Millennio Ineunte”.

The Cardinal then proceeded to say that for the Church to remake her
own fabric requires that she acknowledge a rupture in her life caused
by the failure to see the organic nature of her life, received from
Christ, faithfully down the centuries, the gift of the Holy Spirit for
the evangelization of the world.

He referred to some aspects of the nature of the Second Vatican
Council as being basically misunderstood. There had been a mentality
that talked of the elimination of an old constitution and creation of
a new one.

The State of Canon Law in the Church

He shared some personal experiences as a student of Canon Law in
September of 1980, he experienced how much the Church’s discipline was
disdained by her priests, in general.

“When I answered the question of a brother priest regarding my area of
study, the fairly consistently reaction was expressed in words like
these: “I thought that the Church had done away with that,” and “What
a waste of your time.”
Some elements had tried to highjack the renewal mandated by the Second
Vatican Ecumenical Council and this had a particularly devastating
effect on the Church’s discipline.

 “It is profoundly sad to note, for instance, how the failure of
knowledge and application of the canon law, which was indeed still in
force, contributed significantly to the scandal of the sexual abuse of
minors by the clergy in our some parts of the world.”

“Indeed, in the United States of America, my homeland, in which the
scandal has been great, it is often asserted that it was caused by the
absence of a proper discipline in the Church to deal justly with such
abhorrent situations. It is assumed that the Church lacked the proper
canonical discipline with which to investigate such crimes and
sanction them. The truth of the matter is that the Church had dealt
with such crimes in the past, which should come as a surprise to no
one, and that she had in place a carefully articulated process by
which to investigate accusations, with full respect for the rights of
all parties involved, including the protection of potential victims
during the time of the investigation; to reach a just decision
regarding their truth, and to apply the appropriate sanction. The
discipline in place was not followed because it was not known and, in
fact, was presumed not to exist.”

“Pope Paul VI repeatedly confronted the loss of respect for the
service of canon law in safeguarding and fostering our life in Christ
in the Church.

His repeated appeals for a new appreciation of the Church’s discipline
are an indication of the gravity of the weakened situation of canon
law, at the time.

Confronting a general opinion that somehow the Second Vatican
Ecumenical Council had repudiated the service of Canon Law, he
declared: On the contrary the Council not only does not repudiate
canon law, the norm that spells out the duties and defends the rights
of the members of the Church, but wishes and desires it as a
consequence of the power bequeathed by Christ to his Church, as a
necessity of its social and visible nature, its communitarian and
hierarchical nature, as the guide of religious life and of Christian
perfection, and as the juridical safeguard of liberty itself.”

Canon law is not opposed to freedom but serves “what is needed to
safeguard the common good – including the basic good of exercising
freedom – which only a well-ordered social order can adequately

Cardinal Burke referred to the fact that years of a lack of knowledge
of the Church’s discipline and even of a presumption that such
discipline was no longer fitting to the nature of the Church reaped
gravely harmful fruits in the Church.

For example, the pervasive violation of the liturgical law of the
Church, the revolution in catechesis which often rendered the teaching
of the faith vacuous and confused, if not erroneous;  the breakdown of
the discipline of priestly formation and priestly life,  the
abandonment of the essential elements of religious life and the
devastating loss of fundamental direction in many congregations of
religious sisters, brothers and priests;  the loss of the identity of
charitable, educational and healthcare institutions bearing the name
of Catholic; and the failure of respect for the nature of marriage and
the time-proven process for judging claims of nullity of marriage in
ecclesiastical tribunals.

A frequent manifestation of the confusion and error regarding the
irreplaceable role of canon law in the life of the Church has been the
claim that the Church’s discipline is, somehow, in opposition to her
pastoral care of the faithful. Blessed John Paul confronted this false
opposition between Church discipline and her pastoral care on many
occasions. Pope Benedict XVI recently recalled his words “The judge…
must always guard against the risk of misplaced compassion, which
could degenerate into sentimentality, itself pastoral only in
In marriage cases, he said, one must avoid pseudo-pastoral claims that
would situate questions on a purely horizontal plane.
The supreme good of readmission to Eucharistic Communion after
sacramental Reconciliation demands, instead, that due consideration be
given to the authentic good of the individuals, inseparable from the
truth of their canonical situation

Canon Law in the Magisterium of Blessed Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II pursued with vigor the revision of the 1917 Code of
Canon Law.
There was no question in his mind, as a Father of the Second Vatican
Ecumenical Council, about the Council’s desire that the perennial
discipline of the Church be addressed to the present time.

Clearly, the Council’s desire regarding Church discipline did not
intend the abandonment of her discipline but a new appreciation of it
in the context of contemporary challenges.

The renewal of Christian living was the intention of the new code.
These words point to the essential service of canon law in the work of
the new evangelization, that is, the living of our life in Christ with
the engagement and energy of the first disciples. Canonical discipline
is directed to the pursuit, at all times, of holiness of life.
The discipline of the law which opens the way to freedom in loving God
and our neighbor.

Far from hindering the living of our life in Christ, canonical
discipline safeguards and fosters our Christian life.

By their very nature canonical laws are to be observed.

The theme of the Conference is “Canon Law at the service of justice
and freedom in the Church as the People of God”.

Bishop Sulameti, Patron of the Kenya Canon Law Society, and Bishop
Dominic Kimengich, President of the Society, in their welcoming
addresses said it is an honour for the Church in Kenya to be visited
by such an expert. It will give encouragement to the recently set up
diocesan tribunals, one of the fruits of previous conferences.

Fr Aphonse Diaz, organiser of the conference for the past 10 years,
has spoken of the increasing interest and attention to canon law in
this country. This he said is expressed by the regular one hundred or
so priests from every diocese who attend the conference each year.
Students from CUEA (Catholic University of East Africa), including
some nuns, also attend as well as participants from Uganda and

Msgr Cormac Burke (85), retired judge of the Roman Rota or high court
of the Church, who lives in Nairobi, former colleague of Cardinal
Burke, a namesake but not a relative, has said that Cardinal Burke
made global news recently with his unequivocal support for the US
bishops in their ongoing debate with President Obama over Obamacare,
which wants to force Catholic health care institutions to prescribe
contraceptives and perform abortions, this has threatened these top
notch services.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Demographics as the Grim Reaper

Stephen Mosher

More and more countries are hearing the death knell of low birth rates.
We live in an age unique in human history. Per capita incomes have never been higher, lifespans have never been longer, and people are better fed and educated than ever before. At the same time, birth rates have fallen to historically low levels. In fact, they have fallen to levels so low that they will extinguish whole populations unless something is done.
The developed countries are suffering a severe birth dearth and, as a result, an enormous shift in global power will soon be upon us. Europe will recede demographically, while America will be hard-pressed to hold its own against younger and more populous countries. More and more countries are undertaking programs to raise their birth rates, although none of these policies has as yet made much of a difference.
Let’s take a quick tour around the world, thanks to the research of our own Elizabeth Crnkovich:
In Japan, the headlines are increasingly strident: “The Asian Tiger - Japan - is in Danger of Extinction,” “Number of Children in Japan Falls for 31st Consecutive Year,” “Japan’s Population Marks Sharpest Drop Since 1950,” and “Japan Underpopulation So Bad Families Resort to “Rental Relatives.” Even The Economist, normally staid, has noted that “Japan is ageing faster than any country in history.”
The bare facts are shocking enough: Japan’s fertility rate, at 1.1 children per woman, has never been lower, and it is still falling from year to year. Japan already has the oldest population in the world and, with virtually no immigration, there appears to be no way out of the looming democide. The elderly will die, and there will be fewer people and far fewer workers in the Home Islands in the years to come. The solution is obvious, but the Japanese people have to want more children for there to be more children.
China’s lower birth rates have a different cause. The Chinese people want more children, but the government for the past three decades has said no. The one-child policy has decimated China’s younger generations, and created a society where the young are not replacing the old.
While China currently has the world’s second largest economy, all bets are off if the birth rate remains depressed for another generation. The economy will follow the falling numbers of young workers downward.
Taiwan’s birthrate is “dropping like a stone...” says an editorial in the Taipei Times. The majority of people realize there is a demographic problem. It could hardly be otherwise, since the total fertility rate—the number of children per woman—is an anemic 0.9. Few are motivated to do anything about it, however. Taiwan is now heavily urbanized, and city folk tend to have very small families. When asked, younger Taiwanese say that they are not interested in having children because they cost too much money, or take too much time. Women are more motivated to get a college degree and seek professional employment than to marry and have children. In this highly secularized society, children are not seen not as a blessing, but as a burden tying down the women who bear them. Goodbye, Taiwan.
Singapore, whose fertility rate stands at an anemic 1.1, is a dying city-state. The average Singaporean is now 39 years of age and climbing. While the city’s economyappears to be doing quite well, and the city itself is replete with new buildings, offers top-notch health care, and enjoys low crime rates, its population is aging fast. In order to keep everything running smoothly, Singapore must rely on immigration, the last resort of a once-reproductive population.
Hong Kong has a birth-rate of 1.09, slightly lower than that of Singapore. As a result, its government has reversed its policy on family planning. Instead of promoting smaller families, as it once did, the government now urges its citizens to have more children to help offset population aging.
It may be a matter of “too little, too late,” however. People already have ingrained in their heads that small families are better, or they just don’t think they have the means to support bigger families. Governments telling people to have more children is not going to change an anti-child mentality at this point. One might call this a voluntary one-child policy.
To illustrate this point, consider that the South Korean government beginning in 2010 hasspent billions of dollars in an attempt to raise the country’s birth rate. The jury is still out on this effort, but the latest total fertility rate of 1.15 is still way below the replacement level. Seoul is spending money that it hopes will make it easier for young couples to make ends meet, and to support pregnant women. We at PRI are not sanguine that this belated effort will make much of a difference, since the birth rate was so low to begin with. The economy of this “Asian tiger” is hurting for lack of “cubs.”
The situation in Europe is no better. In Italy the dawn of the sexual revolution has meant the death of the family. Young people are now not as eager to start families, and the TFR is hovering at 1.4. Young people are happy living the single life and only marry, if at all, after they have reached their thirties and forties. Adult children see no shame in living in their parents’ homes well into middle age.
Venice, famous as a destination for honeymooners, is a dying city. It is losing inhabitants and becoming more and more just a tourist attraction. The city even held a mock funeralfor itself when its population dropped below 60,000. Will holding a mock funeral boost the birth rate? It seems unlikely.
Another Catholic country with an anemic birth rate is Spain, whose TFR is 1.48. The Spanish parliament reacted to the problem by promoting births and instituting pro-natal policies. But the relatively small bonuses and benefits offered seem insufficient to resurrect population growth. The problem is exacerbated by that fact that many Spaniards, unable to find employment at home, seek it abroad in countries such as Germany. When the young flee, this hardly helps Spain’s declining birth rate anddecreasing population.
We’ve told you before about Russia, whose women average 1.2 children. The nation is hemorrhaging people, a bleeding wound which a huge baby bonus has failed to staunch. The countryside is full of ghost villages as the remaining Russians move to a few large cities.
Germany’s fix for falling fertility, now standing at 1.4 children per woman, is to rely on immigrants, immigrants drawn in by the strong German economy. Spaniards and other Europeans help to bolster the German economy, to be sure, but that is not going to help their native countries.
Other countries with very, very low birth rates include, but are not limited to, England, Greece, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, and France. As the Telegraph put it: “We are not so much living in an age of crisis as facing a crisis of age.”
Where is the population bomb when you need it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine August 28, 2012

1)      Conversion: “Augustine became a Christian by conversion and not by birth. And in the two great conversions that divide his life into its main periods we today can still clearly discern the real mission and meaning of Christianity. For it is a permanently valid principle that a human being becomes a Christian not by birth but by conversion. Just as the waters of the earth, obeying the law of gravity, naturally  flow downward but can be controlled by man’s mind and technology and be made to flow in another direction, so the waters of human existence flow downward of themselves, and only by conversion to faith, hope and love can they be made to flow in the new direction that leads men and women to their authentic stature as human beings.” [1]

Else where, Ratzinger writes that “belief signifies the decision that at the very core of human existence there is a point which cannot be nourished and supported on the visible and tangible, which encounters and comes into contact with what cannot be seen and finds that it is a necessity for its own existence.

            “Such an attitude is certainly to be attained only by what the language of the Bible calls ‘reversal,’ ‘conversion.’ Man’s natural center of gravity draws him to the visible, to what he can take in his hand and hold as his own. He has to turn round inwardly in order to see how badly he is neglecting his own interests by letting himself be drawn along in this way by his natural center of gravity. He must turn round to recognize how blind he is if he trusts only what he sees with his eyes. Without this change of direction, without this resistance to the natural center of gravity, there can be no belief. Indeed belief is the con-version in which man discovers that he is following an illusion if he devotes himself only to the tangible. This is at the same time the fundamental reason why belief is not demonstrable: it is an about-turn… it is a turn that is new every day.”[2]

The Instrumentum Laboris for the “Year of Faith” 2012-2013 begins with the following:

“Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:5) is the Apostles’ prayer to the Lord Jesus, when they realize that faith, which is a gift from God, is the only way of having a personal relationship with him and fulfilling their vocation as disciples. Their plea arose from an awareness that their limitations kept them from forgiving others. Faith is also needed in performing signs which illustrate the presence of the Kingdom of God in the world. Jesus used the fig tree, withered to its roots, to encourage his disciples. “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mk 11:22-24). St. Mark the Evangelist also emphasizes the importance of faith in accomplishing great works. “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’, it will be done” (Mt 21:21).
On various occasions, the Lord Jesus admonishes “the Twelve” for their lack of faith. To the question of why they were unable to cast out a demon, the Master responds:“Because of your little faith” (Δια την όλιγοπιστίαν ύμών) (Mt 17:20). On the Sea of Tiberias, before calming the storm, Jesus reproves his disciples: “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” (όλιγόπιστοι) (Mt 8:26). They were to entrust themselves to God and to Providence, and not worry about material things. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” (Mt 6:30; cf. Lk 12:28). A similar situation takes place before the multiplication of the loaves. Faced with the realization that the disciples had forgotten to take bread in crossing to the other side of the lake, the Lord Jesus says: “O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” (Mt 16:8-9).
Matthew’s Gospel gives special attention to the account of Jesus’ walking on the water and reaching the Apostles in the boat. After calming the Apostles’ fear, he accepts the challenge of St. Peter: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water” (Mt 14:28). At first, St. Peter walks towards Jesus on the water without any difficulty. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Mt 14:30-31). Afterwards, Jesus and St. Peter together get into the boat and the wind ceases. The disciples, witnesses to this great happening, prostrate themselves before the Lord and make a full profession of faith: “Truly you are the Son of God!” (Mt 14:33).
In our times, St. Peter’s experience can be reflected in many of the faithful as well as entire Christian communities, especially in traditionally Christian countries. In fact, because of a lack of faith, various particular Churches are witnessing a decline in sacramental and Christian practice among the faithful to the point that some members can even be called “non-believers” (άπιστοι; cf. Mt 17:17; 13,58). At the same time, many particular Churches, after initially displaying a great enthusiasm, are now showing signs of weariness and apprehension in the face of very complex situations in today’s world. Like St. Peter, they grow fearful of opposing forces and temptations of various kinds as well as challenges that surpass their human capabilities. But, just as salvation came to St. Peter from Christ alone, so too the faithful, when they become personally involved as members of an ecclesial community, can experience Christ’s saving grace. Only the Lord Jesus can extend his hand and indicate the sure path in the journey of faith.

These brief reflections on faith in the Gospels can help illustrate the topic of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. The importance given to the faith is further emphasized by the decision of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate a Year of Faith, beginning on 11 October 2012, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Both observances will take place during the celebration of the synod. Once again, the Lord’s words to St. Peter the Apostle, the rock on which he built his Church, have particular meaning (cf. Mt 16:19): “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32). “The door of faith” (Acts 14:27) will again be open to all of us.

Augustine’s Three Conversions

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

Ratzinger on the Three Conversions:

“Only by reading St Paul's Epistles within the faith of the Catholic Church was the truth fully revealed to him. This experience was summarized by Augustine in one of the most famous passages of the Confessions: he recounts that, in the torment of his reflections, withdrawing to a garden, he suddenly heard a child's voice chanting a rhyme never heard before: tolle, lege, tolle, lege, "pick up and read, pick up and read" (VIII, 12, 29). He then remembered the conversion of Anthony, the Father of Monasticism, and carefully returned to the Pauline codex that he had recently read, opened it, and his glance fell on the passage of the Epistle to the Romans where the Apostle exhorts to abandon the works of the flesh and to be clothed with Christ (cf. 13: 13-14). He understood that those words in that moment were addressed personally to him; they came from God through the Apostle and indicated to him what he had to do at that time. Thus, he felt the darkness of doubt clearing and he finally found himself free to give himself entirely to Christ: he described it as "your converting me to yourself" (Confessions, VIII, 12, 30). This was the first and decisive conversion….

Thus, (Second Conversion): renouncing a life solely of meditation, Augustine learned, often with difficulty, to make the fruit of his intelligence available to others. He learned to communicate his faith to simple people and thus learned to live for them in what became his hometown, tirelessly carrying out a generous and onerous activity which he describes in one of his most beautiful sermons: "To preach continuously, discuss, reiterate, edify, be at the disposal of everyone - it is an enormous responsibility, a great weight, an immense effort" (Sermon, 339, 4). But he took this weight upon himself, understanding that it was exactly in this way that he could be closer to Christ. To understand that one reaches others with simplicity and humility was his true second conversion.
But there is a last step to Augustine's journey, a third conversion, that brought him every day of his life to ask God for pardon. Initially, he thought that once he was baptized, in the life of communion with Christ, in the sacraments, in the Eucharistic celebration, he would attain the life proposed in the Sermon on the Mount: the perfection donated by Baptism and reconfirmed in the Eucharist. During the last part of his life he understood that what he had concluded at the beginning about the Sermon on the Mount - that is, now that we are Christians, we live this ideal permanently - was mistaken. Only Christ himself truly and completely accomplishes the Sermon on the Mount. We always need to be washed by Christ, who washes our feet, and be renewed by him. We need permanent conversion. Until the end we need this humility that recognizes that we are sinners journeying along, until the Lord gives us his hand definitively and introduces us into eternal life. It was in this final attitude of humility, lived day after day, that Augustine died.
This attitude of profound humility before the only Lord Jesus led him also to experience an intellectual humility. Augustine, in fact, who is one of the great figures in the history of thought, in the last years of his life wanted to submit all his numerous works to a clear, critical examination. This was the origin of the Retractationum ("Revision"), which placed his truly great theological thought within the humble and holy faith that he simply refers to by the name Catholic, that is, of the Church. He wrote in this truly original book: "I understood that only One is truly perfect, and that the words of the Sermon on the Mount are completely realized in only One - in Jesus Christ himself. The whole Church, instead - all of us, including the Apostles -, must pray everyday: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us" (De Sermone Domini in Monte, I, 19, 1-3).
Augustine converted to Christ who is truth and love, followed him throughout his life and became a model for every human being, for all of us in search of God. This is why I wanted to ideally conclude my Pilgrimage to Pavia by consigning to the Church and to the world, before the tomb of this great lover of God, my first Encyclical entitled Deus Caritas Est. I owe much, in fact, especially in the first part, to Augustine's thought. Even today, as in his time, humanity needs to know and above all to live this fundamental reality: God is love, and the encounter with him is the only response to the restlessness of the human heart; a heart inhabited by hope, still perhaps obscure and unconscious in many of our contemporaries but which already today opens us Christians to the future, so much so that St Paul wrote that "in this hope we were saved" (Rom 8: 24). I wished to dedicate my second Encyclical to hope, Spe Salvi, and it is also largely indebted to Augustine and his encounter with God.” (Benedict XVI, February 27, 2008.)

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 119.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 25.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Autonomy and Responsibility of the Laity In the Year of Faith

International Catholic Action Forum is sponsoring an event under the rubric:  “eccesial and social co-responsibility”.

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 24, 2012: Benedict XVI remarked to the gathering: “It is  [a] highly significant and timely subject for the laity on the eve of the approaching Year of Faith and Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

“Co-responsibility requires a change in mentality, particularly with regard to the role of the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as “collaborators” with the clergy, but as persons truly “co-responsible” for the being and activity of the Church. It is important, therefore, that a mature and committed laity be united, who are able to make their own specific contribution to the Church’s mission, in accordance with the ministries and tasks each one has in the life of the Church, and always in cordial communion with the bishops.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Locution" (Divine Communication): 8/23/1971

August 5, 1982 was the date that John Paul II approved Opus Dei as a Personal Prelature and ordered it established and published on August 23, 1982, the anniversary of the locution received by8/23/71 by St. Josemaria Escriva: “Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gloriae ut misericordiam consequamur.

Explanation of St. Josemaria afterwards: "Voy a deciros algo que Dios Nuestro Senor quiere que sepais. Los hijos de Dios en el Opus DeiAdeamus cum fiducia – hemos de ir con much fe – ad thronum gloriae, al trono de la gloria, la Virgen Santisima, Madre de Dios y Madre Nuestra, a la que tantas veces invocamos como Sedes Sapientiae, ut misericordiam conse- quamur, para alcanzar misericordia (…).

"Que lo tengais muy en cuenta en estos momentos y tambien despues. You diria que es un querer de Dios: que metamos Nuestra vida interior personal dentro de esas palabras que os acabo de decir. A veces las escuchareis sin ruido ninguno, en la intimdad de vuestra alma, cuando menos lo espereis. Adeamus cum fiducia: id – repito –en confianza al Corazon Dulcisimo de Maria, que es Madre nuestra y Madre de Jesus. Y con Ella, que es Medianera de todas las gracias, al Corazon Sacratisimo y Misericordioso de Jesucristo.”

Footnote 55 on p. 426 of V. de P Vol III: “Archbishop Julian Herranz tells us something interesting. He heard about this supernatural incident from the founder himself, shortly after the return from Caglio. At this time the work on Cavabianca… had already begun, and the Father asked that they put there a stone bas-relief which would show our Lady seated on a throne and being crowned by the Blessed Trinity. At its base would be engraved the words of the locution. The Father suggested that while they awaited the juridical solution to the institutional problem of the Work, those words should be prayed as an aspiration, to obtain from our Lady the desired solution. That was a suggestion that his children acted on for years. ‘And so,’ concludes Archbishop Herranz, ‘very great were our joy and our gratitude to the Blessed Virgin when the Pope (who knew nothing about this) made public his decision to establish Opus Dei as a personal prelature on August 23, 1982 – the anniversary of the special divine light received by the founder eleven years earlier.”

Opus Dei was not publically proclaimed a Personal Prelature until November 28, 1982, the first Sunday of Advent.  The reason it was not proclaimed on August 23 to coincide with the above locution (as the pope wanted)was a mistaken leak of those constitutional documents to the media which jeopardized the privileged silence of office needed for the private and free consultation with the respective bishops throughout the world for their free acceptance of Opus in their dioceses as a Personal Prelature. John Paul II, being informed of this state of affairs, for the sake of prudence, decided to delay the public notification from the Vatican until November 28 when everyone and everything would be in place and duly notified and consulted with no surprises.
cf. Vazquez de Prada Vol. III 425-430. 
After  the locutions of 1970 and 1971, consider the following flurry of apostolic activity:  Summer of 1972: Two months of Catechesis is thought up and begun – interspersed with the Escriva’s three “Last Madnesses.” The building of Cavabianca, the building of Torreciudad and Morir a Tiempo [to die on time]. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

W. Chambers on Western Civilization

Whittaker Chambers to William Buckley August 5, 1954

[On Western Civilization] -see Ratzinger at the end.

Dear Bill,

“(…) No, I no longer believe that political solutions are possible for us. I am baffled by the way people still speak of the West as if it were at least a cultural unity against Communism though it is divided not only by a political, but by an invisible cleavage. On one side are the voiceless masses with their own subdivisions and fractures. On the other side is the enlightened, the religious roots of the civilization – the roots without which it is no longer Western civilization but a new order of beliefs, attitudes and mandates. In short, this is the order of which Communism is one logical expression, originating not in Russia, but in the vulture capitals of the West, reaching Russia by clandestine delivery via the old underground centers in Cracow, Vienna, Berne, Zurich and Geneva. It is a Western body of belief that now threatens the West from Russia. As a body of Western beliefs, secular and rationalistic, the intelligentsia of the West share it, and are therefore always committed to a secret emotional complicity with Communism of which they dislike, not the Communism, but only what , by the changes of history, Russia has specifically added to it – slave labor camps, purges, MVD et al. And that, not because the Western intellectuals find them unjustifiable, but because they are afraid of being caught in them. If they could have Communism without the brutalities of ruling that the Russian experience bnred, they have only marginal objections. Why should they object? What else is socialism but Communism with the claws retracted? And there is positivism. What is more, every garage mechanic in the West, insofar as he believes in nuts and bolts but asks: “The Holy Ghost, what’s that?” that he is simply echoing Stalin at Teheran: “The Pope – how many divisions has the Pope?” That is the real confrontation of forces. The enemy – he is ourselves. That is why it is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and buy them secret ly in a flowerpot against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe that there was once something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of that it was, and the fortifying knowledge tha there werew those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to presaerve the tokens of hope and truth.



Keep in mind: Ratzinger wrote in 2006: "The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized - so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals - the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man's original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger - above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler" ("Without Roots" Basic Books  (2006) 73-74).

Quote For The Day from Ivan Illich

I invite all to shift their gaze, their thoughts, from worrying about health care to cultivating the art of living. And, today, with equal importance, to the art of suffering, the art of dying.

Friday, August 17, 2012

NYT "Tapping Into the Land, and Dividing Its People"

Article New York Times, Thursday August 16, 2012: “Tapping Into the Land, and Dividing Its People.”

Ground is Sacred Because Related to Persons:
Always surprising, God became  man and took on a human body. Since God is what we mean by “person” in Christian revelation – and Christian revelation is the source of the notion of person - , the body and everything it can connect to is personal. By personal I mean “relational” since the meaning of “Person” in God is relation as Father, Son and Spirit. Therefore, the body and all matter that can possibly be connected to it has a relational and therefore a personal character.
            Notice that the Old Testament – Second Book of  Chronicles (2 Cronicles 36, 21) – reads: “The land enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” Benedict XVI explains: “What this means is that the people had rejected God’s rest, its leisure, its worship, its peace, and its freedom, and so they fell into the slavery of activity. They brought the earth into the slavery of their activity and thereby enslaved themselves. Therefore God had to give them the Sabbath that they denied themselves. In their ‘no’ to the God-given rhythm of freedom and leisure they departed from their likness to God and so did damage to the earth. Therefore they had to be snatched from their obstinate attachment of their own work. God had to begin afresh to make them his very own, and he had to free them from the domination of activity. Operi Dei nihil praeponatur: The worship of God, his freedom, and his rest come first. Thus and only thus can the human being truly live.”[1]
The Times story tells that “there is beauty here on the Blackfeet reservation, but there is also oil, locked away in the tight shale thousands of feet underground. And tribal leaders have decided to tap their land’s buried wealth. The move has divided the tribe while igniting a debate over the promise and perils of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a place where grizzlies roam into backyards and many residents see the land as something living and sacred….
“The divisions within the tribe are more than disputes over the economy and environment — they represent two visions of the land where Blackfeet members have lived for centuries. Ms. Matt and the women who oppose the fracking speak about the streams and meadows and mountains as if they were family members. They go on vision quests in the mountains. They braid native sweetgrass to burn in prayers and collect berries and herbs for food, medicine and ceremonies.
“The drilling companies, the local Bureau of Land Management and tribal officials say there has been no evidence that the fracking has affected the reservation’s water supplies or soured its air. But to opponents, the damage to the land is still being done.
“You see this butterfly, you hear those birds?” asked Crystal LaPlant, as she sat on Ms. Matt’s back porch one evening, the meadows alive with sound. “Once they start drilling, we aren’t going to have those things anymore.”
Ron Crossguns, who works for the Blackfeet tribe’s oil and gas division, has oil leases on his land, a 10-foot cross in his yard, and little patience for that kind of pastoral veneration. He called it “movie Indian” claptrap, divorced from modern realities. Mountains, he said, are just mountains.
“They’re just big rocks, nothing more,” Mr. Crossguns said. “Don’t try to make them into nothing holy. Jesus Christ put them there for animals to feed on, and for people to hunt on.”
What’s involved here, of course, are two perceptions of reality depending on whether the self  is engaged in living the image of God’s personhood as relation, has an experience of self as gift and relation, and therefore is able to perceive the land within the context of experienced and perceived relationality of the self.  It comes down to having only a reductive perception of the sensed reality or a relational perception.  To my joy, I found this telling reflection of Ivan Illich commented on by David Cayley:
“In  ‘H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness’ (1985), Illich reflected on what he called ‘the historicity of “stuff.” The ‘stuff’ in question was water, and Illich’s reflections were prompted by an invitation from The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture to comment on the city’s plan to engineer an artificial midtown lake. He spoke of the way in which the imagination ‘sings reality,’ giving a different shape and substance to things in different epochs, and he traced the history of how water had been imagined, from the classical age when the waters of Lethe carried the memories of the dead to the pool of Mnemosyne, right up to Dallas’s plan to wash away care with a ‘public display of recycled toilet flush.’ His point was that industrial treatment beyond a certain intensity, deprives water of the metaphorical resonance it has always possessed and turns it into the technically managed scarce resource that he terms “H2O.” It can styill serve as a cleaning solvent or add a beguiling sparkle to Dallas’s downtown, but it can no longer mirror the water of dreams.”[2]
This is that task that Benedict XVI is putting before the Church and the world in “broadening reason” to enable it to escape the trap of objectified reduction to conceptual categories of use and experience again the relational absolute that is inevitably tied up with personhood and everything connected to personhood. In a word, what’s at stake is the capacity to see reality as it really is. Failure to achieve that leaves us with mountains that are just rocks, and oceans that are not Mystery but simply H2O.  

[1] J. Ratzinger, “In the Beginning…” Eerdmans (1986) 32.
[2] David Cayley, “The Rivers North of the Future – The Testament of Ivan Illich,” House of Anansi Press (2005) 25-26.