Leaving the Jail

March 13, 2010

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.  What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Have you ever wondered what the pre-incarnate Christ was up to before the incarnation?  I have never really thought about it before.  He was in the beginning.  He is the word of God.  The word was with God in the beginning.  I never thought of the pre-incarnate Christ standing next to the father in the beginning.  All things were made for him and through him- Christ participated in creation.  God the father made creation out of love for the son.  He made us for Christ and both have loved us like they love each other. 

Now, imagine how they felt when Adam and Eve fell to temptation and forever separated themselves from the love of God.  Imagine how devastated they were when the effects of that fall passed through the generations and their beautiful creations chose to die rather than be with God.  Imagine how desperate they were to find a way to save us from ourselves.  So, they came to our level.  They came to us.  Christ took upon our humanity to bring us the message of God’s love.  And then he paid the price for our sin.  He showed us God’s unending and overwhelming love for us by dying an innocent and horrible death so that we may have a way back to God. 

Christ’s death on the cross is such a mystery to me.  I am a very logical thinker and logic is not very clear in this act by Christ.  My finite brain has a hard time wrapping itself around this event which is frustrating because this is the major event for Christianity.  This is the defining moment for us.  This event restored our relationship with God and allowed him to touch us with his love in a whole new way. 

Dying for someone is the ultimate act of love.  But Christ didn’t just die for us.  It’s not like he pushed us out of harm’s way from a speeding train and ended up getting killed.  No, Christ’s death was a lot more complicated.  Our punishment for original sin is separation from God- a spiritual death.  We were not going to be spending eternity with God because of our sinful nature.  Our sin got us the death sentence.  That is our punishment.  So, imagine your children get into trouble and end up on death row.  What would you do?  Not only can you not share in the wonderful life you dreamed for them, but you know that they are going to die there and you will never see them again.  That is what God felt for us.  So, he went to work.  You can see him working all over the Old Testament making covenants and making more covenants when covenants were broken.  He molded a nation so that at least some of his earthly children would be somewhat prepared to recognize him when he did come to earth to bargain for our lives.  And then he did come and walk among his children- he came to the jail.  He taught about life outside of the jail.  And then he talked the jailer into taking his life instead of ours.  He volunteered to serve our death sentence- our horrible death sentence.  And when the hour came, he was killed.  And at that moment, we were set free.  We were free to leave the jail.

I think that is where we are.  We are all sitting in the jail and God is inviting us out.  He is inviting us to take his son’s hand and walk out.  He wants us to feel the sun on our face and the fresh air in our lungs.  He wants us to see the vivid colors he painted in the sky as the sun takes upon a new day.  He wants us to feel the warm sand between our toes and hear the beautiful songs he gave the birds.  He wants us to experience life the way he created it for us.  All we have to do is take Christ by the hand and walk out.

Sounds inviting doesn’t it?  It sounds like a dream come true for us criminals.  But, I think that it is harder to walk out of that jail then we realize.  We are taken care of in that jail.  They give us meals, a roof over our head and provide books and TV and the like to help us pass the time.  We are comfortable.  We have been in the jail so long that we have forgotten about what the outside world is like.  The experience of God’s perfect world has become a myth- a story of long ago meant for dreamers or crazy people.  The world we know is the jail and the world outside the jail is the unknown.  Leaving that jail takes faith. 

God knows how hard it is for us to leave.  Although it breaks his heart that the children he died for are so reluctant to claim their lives with him, he understands that leaving the jail is a struggle.  That is why he gives us so much to help- scripture, the sacraments, the church, angels, graces, and most of all, the Holy Spirit.  He is hoping that we will leave and not go back.  That we will take Christ by the hand and follow him to the life God wants us to experience.  That we will accept the love poured out to us in the cross and live in it.  He is waiting for us with open and loving arms.  So, will you do it?  Will you step into the unknown and leave the jail?  I can only imagine the joy on Christ’s face when you reach for his hand.

Lori is a stay-at-home mom to her two boys and the children she loves on during the day at her home daycare.  She loving supports her Husband’s calling as a High School Band Director.  Originally from New Orleans, she was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and converted to the Catholic faith while in college.  When she has a rare free moment, she publishes her thoughts and musings at www.lorislifeandtimes.blogspot.com.

Parishes bringing “New Age” Teachings to the MetroPlex?

February 17, 2010

Courtesy of Jim & Vickie Middleton

rupp

(taken from Larry Roach’s article)

A ‘women’s retreat’ is being held Feb. 20th at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Plano. The retreat is being given by Sr. Joyce Rupp. Based on prior knowledge of these retreats, it will essentially consist of Sr. Rupp lecturing a number of women for the better part of a day.

The retreat is sponsored by five north Dallas area parishes:

  • St. Mark in Plano
  • St. Elizabeth in Plano
  • St. Joseph in Richardson
  • Our Lady of Angels in Allen
  • Prince of Peace in Plano

Why is this a problem? Why would I care that a female roman catholic religious is speaking at a catholic parish in Plano? Well, unfortunately, there are many religious, male and female, whose communion with the Church, whose thoughts and practices being in accord with Church teaching, is doubtful at best. Sr. Donna Quinn of the Sinsinawa Dominicans in Chicago is one.

Another is Sr. Joan Chittister. There is strong evidence that Sr. Rupp, while not as at odds with core Church doctrine as Sr.’s Chittister and Quinn (and Fr. Reese, and Fr. Drinan), is at best a pretty poor choice for a Catholic speaker in the Dallas Diocese, and at worst poses a grave threat to the souls of all those who attend this ‘retreat.’

On her own website, Sr. Rupp makes plain that she is very friendly with New Age beliefs. She constantly refers to God in the feminine with the name of ‘Sophia,’ ostensibly a ‘goddess of wisdom,’ she incorporates eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism into much of her ‘theology,’ and she gives strong hints that she has been involved in, or is involved in, active homosexual relationships. The Church counsels that New Age practices, such as astrology, power crystals, dreamcatchers, and the like, pose a mortal threat to one’s soul. New Age beliefs are fundamentally self-centered, drawing on supposed mystical powers of the universe to make one have improved self-esteem, or to gain insight into the future, or to understand and contact those in ‘other dimensions.’ Much New Age belief is strongly associated with the work of Carl Jung, an Austrian psychologist who was a strong proponent of the interpretation of dreams, while at the same time a vociferous opponent of the Church. Sr. Rupp has a master’s degree in Jungian psychology, in addition to a degree from the ‘leading center of New Age’ study.

Find out more about Sr. Rupp:

*This article represents the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of MetroCatholic.  The links provided in this article are to web sites not published by MetroCatholic and therefore we cannot attest to the accuracy of the information provided.

Parents Prayer for Vocations

January 11, 2010

This is National Vocations Awareness Week

Parents Prayer for Vocations

Almighty and eternal God,
in your unfailing love your provide
ministers for your Church.
We pray for those whom you call
to serve the Church as priests.
Inspire in them a generous response.
Grant them courage and vision to
serve your people
May their lives and service call your
people to respond to the presence
of your Spirit among us
that, faithful to the Gospel and
hope of Jesus the Christ, we may:
announce glad tidings to the poor
proclaim liberty to captives,
set prisoners free
and renew the face of the earth.

O God, Father of all Mercies, Provider of a bountiful Harvest, send Your Graces upon those You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor; preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.

Open the hearts of Your children that they may discern Your Holy Will; inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.

Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life guided by Your Divine Word and Truth. Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers and grant Your Church’s needs, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

http://www.usccb.org/vocations/prayereng.shtml

Most voters favor abortion ban for federally subsidized health plans

January 6, 2010

ballotWashington D.C., Jan 5, 2010 / 10:22 pm (CNA).- A new national telephone survey reports that a majority of American voters favor a ban on abortion coverage in federally subsidized health insurance plans, with 39 percent saying they strongly favor it.

About 53 percent of American voters surveyed by Rasmussen Reports said that they support the ban. Another 40 percent said they were opposed, with 26 percent saying they were strongly opposed.

A slight majority of those who strongly support the proposed health care plan were opposed to the provision on abortion funding, while 65 percent of those who strongly oppose the overall plan favor the provision.

Thirteen percent of respondents said they wanted mandatory coverage of abortion.

Overall, about 39 percent of Americans surveyed by Rasmussen support the health care legislation.

The Rasmussen Reports survey, whose results were released on Jan. 3, focused on abortion in federally subsidized insurance plans.

Opposition to direct government funding of abortion is reportedly stronger. A Dec. 22 Quinnipiac University survey said that 72 percent of Americans oppose public funding of abortion in health care legislation.

Zoogle.com launches Catholic social networking venture

January 6, 2010

wwwCNA STAFF, Jan 5, 2010 / 02:09 am (CNA).- A new Catholic social networking website named Zoogle is claiming that a “new era” in mass communications gives the Church an opportunity to bypass a “media blackout” as older media outlets and first generation websites lose influence to social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

“The newspaper giants of yesteryear who shaped public opinion in every area of life are now dinosaurs in demise,” Zoogle said in a press release. “It is precisely in this flux of disruptive technologies and dynastic destruction that we locate the Church’s greatest opportunity in post-modern times.”

Zoogle.com says it aims to help Catholics socialize and evangelize, giving the Church a platform in the easily accessible medium of the internet. The website aims to link the “global physical network of the Church” with a virtual social network monitored by cardinals and bishops.

“Zoogle offers the Church the opportunity to be at the forefront of the next generation of mass communications media while sharing her message of salvation and the means of sanctification with hundreds of millions of people on a 24/7 basis,” the press release says.

The website also explains that it will help parishes, Catholic organizations and charities gain exposure and earn more revenue.

Zoogle reports that it has the support of Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and other Catholic bishops.

Medjugorje bishop says Cardinal Schönborn’s visit brings greater suffering to his diocese

January 4, 2010

mary statueMedjugorje, Bosnia, Jan 4, 2010 / 06:58 pm (CNA).- Most Rev. Ratko Peri?, the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia-Herzegovina, released a statement in which he criticizes Vienna, Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn for making a highly publicized “personal visit” to the region in which Mary is said to have been appearing since 1981.

In his statement, released on January 2, Bishop Peri? noted that it was his “duty, as diocesan bishop, to provide information to the faithful” regarding the nature of the apparitions, the divide they have caused in his diocese and the official position of the Church on the anomaly.

The apparitions have not been officially recognized by the Church.

Peri?’s statement explained that due to the ongoing apparitions and the ensuing debate, his diocese now unwillingly hosts a number of “new communities and associations of the faithful who, in disobedience, live at Medjugorje.” These communities, he said, “may become encouraged in their ecclesial disobedience because of the cardinal’s visit.”

The statement also called into question a November 13, 2009 statement from Vienna’s Kath.net claiming that during Schönborn’s visit, “there will also be a meeting with the local bishop and the critics of Medjugorje.” However, as of the release of the bishop’s statement, the Diocese of Mostar had received no official communication from Schönborn’s office of the cardinal’s intent to visit the shrine. This lack of notification, Peri? said, displays the lack of a “certain ecclesial courtesy” among prelates who are want to inform their brother bishops when one is about to visit the other’s diocese.

The bishop concluded that Schönborn’s visit, especially his actions and statements, “have added to the current suffering of the local church.”

Bishop Peri?’s complete statement is as follows:

On the occasion of the visit of Cardinal Schönborn to Medjugorje

Since the media have announced, and been present during the visit and the public presence of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, to Medjugorje, which has thus sparked a wrong impression that the Cardinal, by his presence, has recognized the authenticity of the “apparitions” of Medjugorje, I regard it to be my duty, as diocesan bishop, to provide some information to the faithful, noting that I have already sent a personal letter of similar content to the cardinal.

  1. Before we begin, some media have propagated the news story that, on Sept. 15, 2009, at the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna a meeting took place, at which his eminence Cardinal Schönborn was present during which Marija Pavlovíc-Lunetti, the daily “visionary” who has allegedly witnessed the daily “apparitions” of June 1981, spoke of how the “apparitions had influenced the changing of her life. On that occasion, the Cardinal, responded in a speech: “ It is a great gift that the Mother of God wants to be so close to her children! She has demonstrated this in so many places in the world. And she has been demonstrating this in a very special manner at Medjugorje for years and years.”
  2. Then, on Nov 13, 2009, Kath.net of Vienna announced: “The Archbishop of Vienna will visit the well-known Marian shrine at the end of the year, including the parish and the Cenacle Community. There will also be a meeting with the local bishop and the critics of Medjugorje.” The curia of this diocese was not informed by the office of the archbishop nor by the Medjugorje parish office of the Cardinal’s visit.
  3. On Nov 16, 2009,the Catholic News Agency published the news story: “Cardinal Christoph Schönborn will visit Medjugorje, the small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina where six young people have allegedly been witnesses of apparitions from the Virgin Mary. But according to the Archdiocese of Vienna, the trip is ‘completely private’ and does not imply a statement from the cardinal on the veracity of the apparitions. It was supposed to be a completely private visit, it was not supposed to go out to the Internet,’ said Fr. Johannes Fürnkranz, personal secretary to the Archbishop of Vienna.”
  4. On December 29, 2009, Cardinal Schönborn arrived in Medjugorje. The media accompanied him the next day and on others as well. According to the news, he delivered a speech at the church of St. James the Apostle that highlighted the mercy of God the Father. In that speech, he said: “Who could put these things in motion? Who could invent them? A man? No, this is not the work of a human being.”

On December 31, 2009, journalists transmitted: “While some were expecting that the Cardinal’s visit to Medjugorje would be private, he has nevertheless surprised the locals by being very visible. He has spent time celebrating Mass at the Church of St. James the Apostle, walking up the hill where the apparitions occur with the visionary Marija Lunetti, praying in the silence of Adoration, and perhaps the most significant thing, delivering a speech at the parish church in the company of the Franciscans.”

  1. In all of this, I have to admit that, as diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, I have remained very surprised. I understand that a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church enjoys the faculty to confess and preach the gospel in all the Catholic Church. But when it comes to public appearances outside of his own diocese, there is, among us bishops, a certain ecclesial courtesy: the bishop or the cardinal who is planning on coming to another diocese and appearing publicly, announces himself to the local bishop first, something suggested by ecclesial prudence. I believe that such ecclesial prudence, and such a rule, deserved to be applied especially in this case.
  2. I am surprised that the office of Cardinal Schönborn has not, to the day of the publication of this statement, contacted us. I suppose that the Cardinal is aware of the Church’s position regarding Medjugorje, a position based on the investigations and conclusions according to which it is not possible to say, “The apparitions or revelations are supernatural.” His visit to the Cenacle Community, that is to say, to Sister Elvira, who obiter dicendo, as a religious does not have the permission to live or work in this diocesan territory, could be interpreted as a support for her. It can not only be interpreted as support to her, but also to the conspicuous number of new communities and associations of the faithful who live in Medjugorje in disobedience, and may read an encouragement to their ecclesial disobedience into the Cardinal’s visit.
  3. As bishop of the diocese, I will highlight and repeat some painful facts:
  • First of all, I highlight the painful “Herzegonvinian case” of the parishes which are linked to the “Medjugorje phenomenon:” from the beginning, some Franciscans, who were then in disobedience, have decisively taken the side of the figure of Medjugorje, accusing the then-diocesan bishop of causing the local crisis. One of them has since left the order and the priesthood.
  • In the territory of the diocese, we now have nine ex-Franciscans who were dismissed by the superiors of the Order of Friars Minor. The Holy See has confirmed such their dismissal. Despite being suspended a divinis, they operate in the usurped parishes as legal priests. While the alleged figure of Medjugorje responds to the most frivolous questions of the curious, we have never heard a word against the grave abuses that are damaging the unity of this local church.
  • We have had a tragic experience in 2001: A few Franciscans, some of whom had already been dismissed by their order, and some others who had not yet been dismissed, invited an “old-Catholic” (a small European schismatic community) deacon who introduced himself as an “archbishop” who “confirmed” more than 700 young people in the usurped parishes. All of this occurred invalidly and sacrilegiously. He also celebrated the Mass invalidly as a deacon in some parishes. The apparition of Medjugorje doesn’t even mention this abuse of the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Eucharist!
  • We have also had another sad episode: Two of these priests have gone to an “old-Catholic” bishop in Switzerland requesting to be ordained bishops and to separate themselves from Mostar and from Rome in order to create a formal schism. This is something the “old-Catholic” bishop has declined to do.
  • We also have had problems with the presence of two particularly charismatic promoters of the “Medjugorje phenomenon.” One of who is the profoundly disobedient Tomislav Vlaši?, who was dismissed from the Franciscans last year, and who the Holy See has relieved, upon his own request, from any priestly duty or responsibility. The other is Brother Jozo Zovko, who has been deprived from any priestly duty in the territory of this diocese since 2004, and who, according to news stories, has been pulled out of the territory of Herzegovina by his religious superiors and has been forbade from any contact with Medjugorje.
  1. The Cardinal remained enthusiastic about the many confessions heard at Medjugorje where the Father’s mercy was expressed. We believe that the mercy of the Heavenly Father is equally expressed in Medjugorje as in any other parish of our diocese, before or after the Medjugorje phenomenon. Just take a look at the long lines of faithful in front of the confessionals in all of our parishes, especially before Christmas, Easter, liturgical feasts, or confirmations. Many claim that the confessions at Medjugorje are a strong proof that our Lady “appears.” According to such conclusions regarding to the numerous confessions, our Lady would appear in all of our parishes, and not only to those three persons to which she appears once a year at Medjugorje and the other three to whom she appears every day, both inside and outside of Medjugorje, and even at the Vienna cathedral, as they say. In total, up to now, some 40,000 “apparitions!” Moreover, we have the impression that some of the “visionaries” decide where and when Our Lady will “appear,” since she appears where and when they want. Isn’t this an unacceptable manipulation of Our Lady, and of the sacred in general?

As diocesan bishop, I wish to inform the faithful with this statement that the visit of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn does not imply any recognition of the “apparitions” related to Medjugorje, I am saddened by the fact that the Cardinal, with his visit, presence, and statements, has contributed to the current suffering of the local church, and even added to it, which does not contribute to the much needed peace and unity.

Ratko Peri?, bishop

U.S. Postal Service recognizes Mother Teresa

January 4, 2010

MTeresaStampWashington D.C., Jan 4, 2010 / 12:02 pm (CNA).- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta will appear on a U.S. postal stamp in 2010, the postal service announced last week. “With this stamp,” notes the press release, “the U.S. Postal Service recognizes Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work.”

“Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years. Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations,” the statement adds.

The U.S. Postal Service also recalls that President Ronald Reagan presented Mother Teresa with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, the same year she began work on behalf of AIDS sufferers in the U.S. and other countries. In 1997, Congress awarded Mother Teresa the Congressional Gold Medal for her “outstanding and enduring contributions through humanitarian and charitable activities.”

In 1996, President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Congress awarded Mother Teresa honorary U.S. citizenship, an honor bestowed only on five others: British Prime minister Winston Churchill; Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved hundreds of Jews from the holocaust; British William Penn and Hannah Callowhill Penn, founders and administrators of the province of Pennsylvania; and the Marquis de Lafayette in 2002. With the exception of Hannah Callowhill Penn, each of these figures also appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.

The stamp features a portrait of Mother Teresa painted by award-winning artist Thomas Blackshear II of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sebelius: Senate health care plan will pay for abortions

January 4, 2010

ultrasoundWashington D.C., Jan 4, 2010 / 06:53 pm (CNA).- In a little-publicized interview given with the Feminist blog, “BlogHer.com,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised the language in the Senate version of the health care bill because it upholds publicly-funded abortion coverage.

In the interview with BlogHer’s Political Director Morra Aarons-Mele, Sebelius stated that the Senate bill takes “a big step forward from where the House left it with the Stupak amendment.”  Sebelius went on to note that she thinks it does “a good job making sure there are choices for women, making sure there are going to be some plan options, and making sure that, while public funds aren’t used, we are not isolating, discriminating against, or invading the privacy rights of women.”

According to Sebelius, Harry Reid’s version of the health care bill would establish “an accounting procedure,” but “everybody in the exchange would do the same thing, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re 75 or 25.” That procedure “would all set aside a portion of your premium that would go into a fund, and it would not be earmarked for anything, it would be a separate account that everyone in the exchange would pay.”

When Aarons-Mele observes during the interview that the explanation is “a bit confusing,” the HHS Secretary explains, “it is a bit confusing, but it’s really an accounting measure that would apply across the board.”

Finding My Evangelism

January 1, 2010

As I enter the New Year, I can’t help but reflect upon the past and be hopeful about the future. Lately, my refection has been upon my experience with church. I have thought long and hard about my decision to leave the realm of Protestant life. My humanity questions this decision. Although my family is supportive of my faith, I did severe something when I left my childhood church- the church that raised four generations of God-fearing Protestants, and followed Christ to the Catholic faith. Being that I am right smack in the middle of the Bible belt, I am also surrounded by my Protestant friends who find my path confusing if not troubling. In my weaker moments, when I let my humanity overpower my spirit, I find myself in a lonely place.

I’m not lonely because I left the Protestant faith. I’m sad because my Protestant family and friends do not experience Christ like I do. Because I am a convert, I have done a lot of justifying of my Catholic faith. One reason I believe Christ is in the Eucharist is through John chapter 6. There are many references to the Eucharist throughout the Old Testament and St. Paul also writes about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in his many letters. I believe in the authority of the Catholic Church because it was established by Jesus and has endured for 2000 years. I believe in the intersession of Angels and Saints- especially Mary because in his dying breath, Jesus established her as our Mother. She is a beautiful window to Christ. For me, the Catholic faith is a complete package.

But, here is my problem. In all of my justifying, I have become closed minded to other Christian faiths. I have drawn clear boundaries between what is right about the Catholic faith and wrong about other Christian faiths in order to justify my path. In doing so, I have built a wall. I have drawn a line in the sand. I have forced others to choose a side or not play the game. Obviously, this isn’t a step towards unity. Christ wants us all to be united under one church. My wall building is not a positive step toward that goal.

I want so much for my Protestant friends to see and experience Christ like I experience Him. I want them to be in a church where scripture makes sense because church doctors and apologetics have been interpreting it for 2000 years. I want them to be in a church where heaven kisses earth every time we gather around the Lord’s Table. I want them to experience a mass where the focus isn’t on the human delivering the message but the divine coming to humanity. But my wants have built this wall. My past experiences have clouded my ability to reach out to them. My human justification has not allowed Christ to work through me. And although I have worthy desires for my Protestant friends, my humanity is driving them away from the Church.

So, once again, my humanity is getting in the way. I must die to my desires in order to let Christ work in me. I must set aside my justification and allow Christ to use my passion. I have my reasons for embracing the Catholic faith, but I cannot make the people around me share those same reasons. They have to find their own path in order for Christ to light that fire in their hearts. My role is set aside my justification and share the joy Christ has placed in my being. I must let go of the old and embrace the hope in the new.

Lori is a stay-at-home mom to her two boys and the children she loves on during the day at her home daycare.  She loving supports her Husband’s calling as a High School Band Director.  Originally from New Orleans, she was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and converted to the Catholic faith while in college.  When she has a rare free moment, she publishes her thoughts and musings at www.lorislifeandtimes.blogspot.com.

Venerable John Paul II’s life gives answers to society’s problems, Supreme Knight says

December 22, 2009

pope jpii statueCNA STAFF, Dec 21, 2009 / 03:21 pm (CNA).- Following the declaration by Pope Benedict XVI that his predecessor John Paul II lived a life of “heroic virtue,” CNA spoke with Carl Anderson, the head of the  Knights of Columbus, who is very familiar with the late Pope. According to Anderson, John Paul II’s life speaks directly to the problems society confronts today.

Reflecting on the timing of the declaration that the late Pontiff is Venerable, Anderson told CNA, “I think the timing of this declaration should remind us all that suffering is a necessary component of life - something with value that cannot be avoided and shouldn’t be feared - especially not to the point of destroying life to eliminate suffering.”

If John Paul II was still alive, he would tell the faithful “to continue the new evangelization of our culture here, by working to create a just society in which the dignity of every human was respected,” the Supreme Knight said.

Asked how he thought Catholics today could work to build the civilization of love called for by John Paul II, Anderson said that they should imitate the late Pope’s example of bringing the view point of faith to every issue.

The full interview with Carl Anderson can be read below.

CNA: Could you please explain what this declaration means for those unfamiliar with the process? How long do you think it will be before he is declared a saint?

Anderson: The declaration of venerable means that the Church has found that John Paul lived a life of “heroic virtue.” It is an important step forward in his cause for sainthood. The next step would be - after further investigation by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints - would be for him to be declared blessed, which would require among many other things certification of a miracle, then after additional investigation and another certified miracle, he could be declared a saint. I don’t think anyone can really predict how quickly this will happen. It’s a process, a careful process, that takes time, but certainly things have been moving forward as quickly as is prudent.

CNA: Given the cultural and moral climate of the world, what do you think this says about God’s timing for the declaration?

Anderson: I think it’s really interesting timing because as the world continues to struggle with issues of suffering, and the dignity of life, John Paul is a reminder to us of a man who championed the dignity of the human person - from conception to natural death and at every moment in between. And in both his life and death he was an unmistakable witness to the Gospel. For one thing, he showed that suffering had meaning by living with it with such joy for decades. He lived a life in the most difficult political and family circumstances imaginable. He saw suffering in World War II, in the death of his mother, father and brother, and in his work -even from a young age - with the sick. I think the timing of this declaration should remind us all that suffering is a necessary component of life - something with value that cannot be avoided and shouldn’t be feared - especially not to the point of destroying life to eliminate suffering.
CNA: How did John Paul II’s papacy impact the United States and the Church here? What message do you think John Paul II would give to the Church in the U.S. if he were alive today?

Anderson: Even before he was Pope, John Paul II had visited the United States in the 1970s, and had a great understanding of this country. He saw this country before it saw him, and I think that was a very providential thing. In addition, John Paul’s several visits to the United States and his call for a new evangelization were important to the United States and more broadly to the “American hemisphere.” He considered America a great hope for the Church precisely because it is in this hemisphere that we have “a continent of baptized Christians.” It is here - in this hemisphere - that the majority of people in most countries are Catholic, and even in those countries where Catholics are not the majority, like in the United States, they make up a significant minority. But even more important, the Church has remained vibrant here in this hemisphere, while the same cannot be said of Europe. I think John Paul would want us to continue the new evangelization of our culture here, by working to create a just society in which the dignity of every human was respected.
CNA: What was it like to be in John Paul’s presence? Was he as jubilant and joyful as he appeared in front of crowds? How did you feel in his presence?

Anderson: When you were with John Paul, you definitely had the sense that you were in the presence of Christ’s vicar on earth. For me, and for many others, his holiness was unmistakable, but so was his humanity, his sense of humor, his keen intellect. He was an incredible figure, intellectually, religiously, and personally, and it didn’t take much time with him to see that.
CNA: Where do you think John Paul II drew his great hope for society from, despite the history of his own life and the past century?
Anderson: The Catholic Church - as Pope Benedict has pointed out - is based on the hope of constant and continual improvement because our ultimate hope is in God and our union with him in heaven. So we are, and John Paul was par excellence, people of hope. But his hope was also practical. He didn’t just hope, he preached that hope and gave humanity a road map to a brighter future through a more just society in which every human person would be respected as a subject not an object based on their inherent human dignity as children of God.

In the end, John Paul had seen the worst of society, Naziism, Communism, etc., but he also understood that there was one thing that survived even in the midst of that oppression: love. Love, in John Paul’s mind, was the force that could reshape the world.

CNA: How important is John Paul II’s theology of the body for the Church and society?

Anderson: John Paul’s theology of the body is very important because it shows the inherent value of marriage and the family as the fundamental building blocks of society. It also gives lay people a theology that is readily adapted and crafted for their own lives. Part of John Paul’s brilliant legacy was his involvement of the laity, his empowerment of the laity, his encouragement of the laity to take action in, and evangelize in, the public square - in the sphere that was naturally theirs.

So in an era when marriage and family are under attack from a variety of forces, John Paul’s explanation of the importance of both, through his theology of the body, is a great service to those trying to understand what the Church teaches and why. Our bodies, our marriages and our families are not merely for this sphere. They have an eschatological significance that John Paul helps us to properly understand.

With the theology of the body, married couples are empowered to take up their marriages theologically, to see God in the equation and to see the importance of giving to each a very great gift: the total gift of themselves.
CNA: How do you think John Paul II advises building a civilization of love? What should the average Catholic be doing to pursue this?

Anderson: I think many people - especially non-Catholics - tend to see John Paul’s legacy as his role in the reshaping of Europe and the fall of Communism. But there is an important lesson there. John Paul was able to help facilitate such an important event precisely because he came to every political problem from the point of view of his faith. His faith was not something he thought should just be lived at home. No, his faith was what informed his every statement, his beliefs in what constituted a just society, his articulation of that belief. He took seriously the precepts of the faith including: “preach to all nations.” And then, he led by the example of his own life.

We are called to do the same. To lead by example and bring our Catholic beliefs to bear on the problems we face in public or in private. Like John Paul we must be Catholics in all seasons.

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